bopNgrill off Loyola: great (KoreaN) burgers

PSA to Northwestern students: If you have some extra time and feel like going out to Evanston to grab dinner, DON’T.

Instead, take the L or catch the intercampus shuttle (free to students!) to the Loyola stop. There, a Korean-American fusion restaurant by the name of bopNgrill is changing lives, one burger at a time.

The best part? It’s just a 1 minute walk from the bus/L stop.

The restaurant, featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, offers a unique and unconventional alternative to the Chipotle next door. An outdoor patio lit with stringed lights would probably be inviting in warmer months, but even though the storefront is pretty easy to miss, there’s a lot going down inside.

Before you order, take a moment to appreciate the huge Chicago flag hanging on one of the walls, the chalkboard menus, and the simple wooden tables and chairs aesthetic set against modern music vibes, courtesy of artists like Ne-Yo, Maroon 5, and Fall Out Boy.

Filled with what I presume are predominantly Loyola students and locals, this Korean joint is offering a twist on the traditional gourmet burger concept.

My advice is to grab a lot of napkins, because you’re going to need them.

Their menu focuses on Korean-American fusion concepts, offering rice “bop plates” overflowing with Korean barbecued meats and burgers. While their burgers reflect both traditionally American and unconventionally Korean influences, bopNgrill keeps it interesting with additions such as short-rib gravy, onion rings and sun-dried tomato confit.

IMG_2730My umami burger ($9) featured a medium rare beef patty stacked with bacon, smoked Gouda, sun-dried tomato confit, and something called “truffled mushroom duxelle”. This was all sandwiched between two soft, sweet toasted Brioche buns. It turns out that the duxelle, a chopped mushroom mixture made with pork fat and fish flakes, imparted a salty, earthy flavor to the burger.

Named for the 17th-century French Marquis d’Uxelles, Duxelles is an adaptable, delectable mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots, and herbs. –

IMG_2709My order of kimchi fries ($6) was a delicious and comforting mass of crispy sesame fries (remarkably similar to those I’ve had at Hankook), fairly mild kimchi, crumbled bacon, cheese, green onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. It was filling, satisfying and something straight out of a dream.

Even better, this place is vegetarian friendly. In fact, a fairly substantial vegan menu is available, so don’t let that concern make you hesitate. Shreya, a vegetarian, had a tofu burger that did not miss out on any flavor, and even had the kimchi fries order custom-made vegetarian. What you lack in meat, you make up for with ingredients such as tofu, fried egg, kimchi and more.

Things I definitely want to try next time: a bop plate, and an eggroll. Their menu said that each customer was limited to 2, but on a Friday evening, they had already sold out by 7PM.

Pro-tip: don’t get carry-out from this place. Eat your food as soon as possible to minimize sogginess, which will weigh down both your burger and your fries.

6604 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60626

(773) 654-3224

Check out their Belmont location!

921 W BelmontĀ Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

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