Would You Wait 3 Hours for a Cheeseburger? I Did.
Today is National Cheeseburger Day, which celebrates all things cheeseburger. My wife and I recently went on vacation to Chicago where we learned about Au Cheval. Chicago has a ton of great places to eat, and Au Cheval is just one of those places...if you can get a table.
So, what is Au Cheval? Think of what an upscale diner might look like and you've got the right setting.
Dark wood, brown leather booths and a long bar where you can watch the cooks work. Au Cheval has a decent sized menu, but what they are known for are their cheeseburgers. According to some, it's the best cheeseburger in the United States.
ThisIsInsider.com gave a pretty good summary of Au Cheval's reviews:
The Food Network named Au Cheval's flagship cheeseburger the No. 1 burger in America; Business Insider included it on our ranking of the best burger joints in the country; Eater called it one of the 21 essential hamburgers of America; and Time Out Magazine said the restaurant is "a master class in textures and proportions."
After reading that, how do you not go and check the place out, right?
There was one small problem. A problem many who have traveled to Au Cheval have encountered. The wait time. Au Cheval has been listed by Zagat as one of Chicago's toughest tables to get. Chicago Eater, which had a great story about Au Cheval, warned that we should be ready to wait for hours. So prepare we did.
My wife and I decided to go early (6 p.m.) in hopes of eating around 8 p.m. When we arrived at Au Cheval, there were already people waiting outside but not too many. For a brief moment, I was excited about the possibility of only waiting 30 minutes to an hour. When we walked inside, the hostess greeted us and asked for our name. She then politely told us how long the wait would be. 30 minutes? Ha! One hour? Nope. Instead our wait was...
Four hours! Four hours for a cheeseburger? I won't wait at most Lubbock restaurants over an hour. Sanity started coming back to me and I looked at my wife with a look that could only be described I'm sure as a look of anguish, sadness, and looking to her to say 'nope, we are out of here.' But then I snapped out of it and thought, 'we are on vacation, let's do it.' The hostess took our name and phone number and we headed out to a bar.
Au Cheval not only wanted you to wait for your burger, but they wanted to play a sort of twisted mind game with you. When you give them your number, you get a text that takes you to the NoWait app, where you can watch your wait time. Why is it a twisted mind game? Instead of getting lost in three hours of drinks and, yes, an appetizer, you constantly watch the app as it counts down how many parties are ahead of you.
After three hours of drinks, conservation and really good crab dip, it was time. Au Cheval alerted us our spot was ready and we had 10 minutes to be there. No problem!
We were seated at the long bar and the service was top-notch. I ordered the double cheeseburger with thick-cut peppered bacon. My wife ordered a single cheeseburger with a fried egg on it. The burgers came with toasted buns, pickles and Dijonnaise sauce.
And yes, the burgers were absolutely amazing. I can honestly say that it was one of, if not the best bacon cheeseburger I've ever had.
Nothing over-powered any of the other ingredients and the thick-cut bacon was fantastic. My wife loved her burger as well. One thing we did learn? The single cheeseburger is actually two patties, and my double was actually three patties plus the bacon. I did not go back to the hotel hungry, that's for sure.
So, would I ever wait 3-4 hours for Au Cheval again? Probably not. If we went back with family or friends, sure, but otherwise I probably wouldn't go back. It's not that it isn't worth it, but I've done it once and I can say that I've had one of the best burgers in America. If you're ever in Chicago, try Au Cheval, but be ready to wait.
Au Cheval, here's to you on National Cheeseburger Day. And here's to all the crazy people like me who have waited hours for what many consider the best cheeseburger in the United States.
The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and are not representative of the opinions of Townsquare Media Lubbock, its advertisers or affiliates.