This past weekend, the girlfriend and I met up with some friends for dinner at Parts and Labor. This casual diner located in the heart of Logan Square has earned high praise from several of our trusted culinary cohorts, so expectations were high. Impressively, they were able to sit our party of eight immediately on arrival. Props to Parts and Labor on a great first impression. Let’s break down the grub:
This is no frills burger joint offering up a “classic” double burger (two patties of beef and pork topped with cheese, lettuce, pickles, onions and mayo) at very reasonable $7 a pop. Also on the menu were a vegetarian blackbean burger, a couple appetizers and a grilled cheese. That’s it. Fin. Fade to black. I have a lot of respect for a restaurant that knows what they do well and sticks to it. You don’t come to this place for a turkey wrap, you come to shovel some beef into your face and waddle home in a grease coma. Always one to go with the house special, I opted for the $12 combo: the classic double, curly fries and a low-brow domestic beer. The sticker price had me questioning whether I should go ahead and order two right off the bat (also known as The Chris Christie). This spot is already a winner if we’re going off price per ounce.
Rating: 5/5 Jersey Bridge Closures
Falling in line with fast casual spots like Five Guys and Shake Shack, many restaurants are moving towards serving up two thin patties as opposed to a single, more substantive piece of beef. I don’t hate this trend when done right; doubling the surface area allows for twice the crispy exterior to develop on the flat top and a better mouth feel. The downside is you can’t enjoy a perfect medium-rare center on a two-dimensional burger. It’s hard to avoid putting out a dry, lifeless product, and relying on special sauces and high-quality toppings to make up for it (more on this later). At first glance, the two thin grey patties on Parts and Labor’s “classic” had me questioning why this meal didn’t come with a Bobby’s World racecar. That said, the flavor of these meat frisbees was notably present in each bite. All in all, the patty wasn’t a deal breaker, but there’s definitely room for improvement here.
Rating: 3/5 MREs
Electric. This burger was able to turn your most basic toppings (lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles) into a dynamic powerhouse of flavor. To borrow from the lexicon of the polarizing prince of platinum himself: this burger was nuclear reactor in Flavor Town. One perk of the double patties is a chance to double the cheese, and in this burger it came through in spades. The marriage of melty cheese and mayo created a creamy combo greater than the sum of its parts – no need for any special sauce here. Combined with the sharp bite provided by the onions and tang of the pickle, this burger tells a story with a beginning, middle and end. This particular story was bookended by a squishy brioche bun, allowing for a smooth takeoff and soft landing with each bite.
Rating: 5/5 Fieri Bowling Shirts
It’s rare to see curly fries on a menu, but these tater slinkies stand toe-to-toe with incumbent Arby’s in the race to be crowned BEST Mood Food. The flawlessly executed double-helixes of starchy goodness came out hot, crispy and well salted. Fries are the offensive linemen of any meal – silent workhorses filling a thankless but critical role, only acknowledged when done wrong. I’m taking it upon myself to stop the silence and shed light upon fries done right. Am I a hero? A modern-day Newton, bucking the establishment to stand up for what I know and believe in? It’s not for me to decide. I’m just a man looking out for some deep-fried burger buddies. But I digress…
As I mentioned before, $12 at Parts and Labor not only gets you a well-built burger and fries, but also a can of bottom-barrel brew. Not the most exciting beverage, but at this blue collar burger shack that time (and inflation) forgot, it’s a welcome addition to the party.
Rating: 4/5 “Kids These Days…”
I can’t espouse enough how nice it is to find a place this affordable and accessible. Even though the patties themselves get a slight knock, everything else on the plate more than made up for it. This burger bests its competition at twice the price, and I know I’ll gravitate towards this spot whenever I’m in the area. I’m thrilled to kick start this Chicago food Odyssey with a solid…
Overall Rating: 4.25/5 First Blog Jitters