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The doughnut burger at North Center's Buzz Burgers, Barrels & Beer is surprisingly pleasing, its sugary bun complementing rather than overwhelming the patty, which comes topped with cheese and bacon. Caramelized strawberries add another unexpected kick. But it wasn't just the nontraditional parts of the burger that were notable—the well-cooked slab of Angus beef shows that this place hasn't lost sight of the basics.
Not that basic is the norm. The Ramen Kobe is served on a crispy bun of fried ramen noodles and topped with sriracha and a fried egg. Other options include a Stroganoff burger, an Alamo burger with two types of chorizo, and a "Cubano" with Slagel Farms pork, as well as standard salmon, veggie, and portobello mushroom burgers.
I tried the lamb burger. The chef could have been a bit more generous with the smoked peppers and onions, but feta and garlicky tzatziki make for a nice Greek touch.
There's also an eclectic selection of sides and small plates, ranging from shrimp verde to charcuterie, crispy pig ears to elotes. Vegetarian options include truffle mac 'n' cheese and salads like the apple-beet, which has mango and goat cheese too.
As for the "Barrels & Beer," the bar's ready and waiting, but Buzz, which opened back in September in the former Blue Stem Martini Lounge, remains BYOB for now—bring your own buzz.
Buzz Burgers, Barrels & Beer, 1935 W. Irving Park, 773-880-9810, buzzbbb.com