Established in 1934 by William “Billy Goat” Sianis, who acquired the nickname when he adopted a wandering billy goat, the Billy Goat Tavern is an establishment that is bursting at the seams with history. It is famous for the Billy Goat Curse, an entertaining SNL skit based off of the antics of the original Billy Goat Sianis and a host of off-the-wall publicity stunts perpetrated by the character that was Sianis. After all the hype and history, I swung by the tavern to see whether the burgers were as special as the establishment.
The burger itself was solid, and I will say one thing to begin: never get a single cheezborger. The patties are incredibly thin, which sears the meat due to how quickly the patties cook. One slim patty would be swallowed up by the large, baked-daily Kaiser bun, so order as many as you feel you can handle. I’m a huge proponent of the right bun to meat ratio, and my recommendation would be at least three patties. The Kaiser buns are meant for heavy lifting, so stack your patties and have faith in the bun to keep your burger in order.
I personally prefer a thick burger that falls apart in my mouth, but I was still thoroughly pleased with the juicy flavor of the sear, which also added a nice layered texture to the triple cheezborger I ordered. The fresh, juicy meat in the patties blends well with the melted cheese, but unfortunately there’s nothing here that’s going to amaze you.
That said, the Billy Goat Tavern is the ideal iteration of the fast food joint, delivering a high-quality, fresh burger that is cheap, ready in minutes and filling. While the tavern doesn’t offer the sort of experimental foods and exotic, mouth-melting flavors offered by some of the more modern restaurants in the city, it does deliver in personality. The atmosphere is engaging, the walls are covered with memorabilia and pictures of those who have come before. All in all, the personality of the Billy Goat Tavern, immortalized through the years and in pop culture phenomenons like that SNL skit, is the biggest draw.
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri: 6:00 AM – 2:00 AM
Sat & Sun: 10:00 AM – 2:00 AM
Address: 430 N. Michigan Ave at Lower Level, Chicago, IL