I recently met a new friend through Instagram. She had a simple question for me – what are my best healthiest restaurant recommendations in Chicago?
I racked my brain, challenged to give her the best answers I could, and at the top of my list, was the last place you’d expect: Grange Hall Burger Bar.
A burger bar?
Yeah. A burger bar. But not just any burger bar.
Chicago’s only Farm To Table Burger Bar dedicated to wholesome Grass-Fed beef, Free-Range turkey and local farm fruits and vegetables.
There aren’t many places in Chi-town that guarantee you a grass-fed, grass-finished burger, served alongside fresh ingredients that were literally picked from a Michigan farm just for your plate with an affordable menu.
Yeah. Grange Hall is where it's at. And it’s where I ended up only a few days after my Instagram friend asked if I’d like to join her on one of my recommendations.
And I am SO glad that I did. Because this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. I’m not sure if that has more to do with the amazing company I had (she’s traveling America for 6 months writing city guides, she has an awesome food blog, and she loves talking good digestion just as much as I do), or the super fresh, super flavorful, super real food at Grange Hall.
But before I get into any of that, let’s start with why. (Thank you, Simon Sinek).
Why grass-fed? Why grass-finished? Why do I care?
Grass-Fed. You may have heard the word being thrown around on restaurant menus or at the butcher counter at your grocery store. And all you know is that it means MORE EXPENSIVE. If you’re not necessarily an animal lover, you most likely have no problem turning it down for the much less expensive, conventionally raised meat.
As always, I am not here to tell you to stop eating what you’ve been eating. If you’re even at the produce section of the grocery store buying real food to cook at home, then you’re already doing better than most. But I do want to point out a few facts that might make you reconsider your meat choices – at least every once in awhile.
Grass-Fed Meat Means…
- Cows (and goats and lamb) were meant to eat green, leafy, natural plants, not grain.
- When cattle eat grain their fat contains a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids.
- When cattle consume green leafy plants, as they were designed to do, their fat contains a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acid.
- When we eat the cattle that ate the greens, our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio improves.
- When we eat the cattle that the grains, our omega-6 to omega-3 levels are scewed, causing inflammation in our bodies.
- An improved omega-6 to omega-3 ratio means decreased inflammation – a very good thing, as its the cause of numerous diseases or just general discomfort, as I’ve posted about before.
- Many grocers label cattle "Grass-Fed" that they still feed grain right before slaughter to fatten them up (AKA Grass-Fed, Grain-Finished). Although a better choice, this kind of defeats the purpose and eliminates the benefits of every point above. Duh.
In short – you are what you eat. If you’re going through all the steps to eat your veggies, stay away from gluten and grains, reduce anti-inflammatory foods, and eat organic when you can, then you should make sure that your food is doing the same. And even if you’re not doing all of those things, eating grass-fed is a good place to start.
Just like butter, meat IS NOT BAD FOR YOU. It’s just the foods that ol' Bessie is eating and the hormones that she's pumping that are. If you're looking for some suggestions for where you can get your grass-fed meat, email me. I'm working on collecting a list together to post on this blog.
Okay, back to Grange Hall. As I was saying, every single lamb, beef and turkey burger is humanely raised and grass-fed. And the result is something mind-blowingly good.
What I Ate
I ordered the same thing I always order: The Michelle Burger. AKA, any burger of your choice atop the seasonal salad. Gluten-free buns are available. But why would I do that when my salad is made of locally-grown and incredibly fresh lettuce, strawberries, blueberry, snow peas, carrots and asparagus? Not to mention the homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing and candied pecans that pair perfectly with a bite of lamb (my burger of choice).
The lamb burger (topped with roasted red pepper sauce, arugula, feta and pickled artichoke) was, unfortunately, only available for the season (and I believe as of this posting, will be gone). But I’m sure they will replace it with something equally as delicious.
The atmosphere is so welcoming. It’s literally housed in a barn (well, a barn-like building) on uber trendy Randolph Street. Open up the cute red door to find vintage wallpaper, quilted fabric and lots of cute little antique thingamabobs. Everybody – from the girls at the host stand to the always-smiley and knowledgeable waitresses – is so genuinely nice. I get the feeling the staff doesn’t just “work” there; they believe in what the owner is providing to the community. A real farm-to-table, know-where-my-food-came-from experience in the middle of downtown Chicago.
The owner, Angela Lee, also just happens to be a farmer as well. OF COURSE SHE IS. She owns White Horse Farm in Southwest Michigan where her Grandpa and Grandma raise 100 head of grass-fed Black Angus cattle, along with hogs and chickens for their family needs. Besides the meat, there are also plenty of blueberries, apples, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and more. Thus the fantastic pie selection and seasonally-based salads and burger toppings. Angela literally drops off the goods at Grange Hall kitchen. So when she says those infamous buzz words, “Farm-to-Table," she really means it.
If you live in Chicago, or are considering paying Chicago a visit, I highly, highly recommend Grange Hall.
844 West Randolph Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Unsolicited Life Lesson
If you've ever thought to yourself,
That girl's/guy's Instagram feed is so cool. I wonder what they'd be like to hang out with?
I would say, Why not connect with them? You never know what amazing experience can come out of it. (Hi @andjelkaj! Safe travels, my friend. Till we eat again).
Like what you read today? Think somebody else would like Grange Hall Burger Bar or want to know more about Grass-Fed meat? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.
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