Vicious Vacation




There are a lot of places I want to see in the world, and quite a few cities I want to visit in the States. I want to go to Austin, Seattle, and up until last week, Chicago was on that list, too. As luck would have it, a dear friend of mine recently moved to Chicago, so my best friend and I took it upon ourselves to descend on her and her boyfriend for the week.

I loved it. I love Chicago. I love being in any town that has coffee shops rather than nine Starbucks on every street corner, and Chicago gave me a glorious coffee shop with an ‘80s theme; there was a DeLorean parked in the shop, along with posters of Ghostbusters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and various other kitschy things like a wall of old lunchboxes. But there was no Ninja Turtles one, and that was my choice of lunch transport in first grade. But I let it slide.

Beyond all that though, Chicago is home to a very special place. A place with unmatched burgers. A place that celebrates heavy metal. A place known as Kuma’s Corner.

Now, I hadn’t really heard of Kuma’s Corner, but when my friend went, “Hey! You like burgers and heavy metal, let’s go!”, I wasn’t about to argue. Although I did feel a slight trepidation as I imagined the restaurant was a Hard Rock Café-type place where music and food go to die in a most undignified way. (I did like looking at Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars’ guitars in the London HRC location, though. Oh come on, my parents took me when I was little and didn’t know any better!)

After trekking for about an hour through nice suburbs and an underpass littered with dead pigeons and their excrement, we finally found it. Kuma’s Corner. It was, as expected, on a corner, and the “Hippies Use Backdoor” sign cheered me quite a bit. At this point, I was also starving and considering eating my friend if she didn’t locate the place within ten minutes.

Luckily, Kuma’s Corner is not a Hard Rock Café. It’s a delightfully divey little place with a bar and seating of maybe forty, so there’s always a line (no reservations), and the clientele varies from touristy un-metal looking folk (I guess me and my two lady friends fell in this category) to burly men with tattoos sloshing their beer all over the squares. The place is unpretentious in its décor, with nice photos of good old boys like Maiden and Motorhead, as well as artsy pics of ladies with sizeable bosoms. I also appreciated that the phrase “Die Emo Die” is written on the blackboard above the specials.

But let’s get to the important part:The food. Oh good God, the food. It is everything you want a burger to be. I didn’t even look at the other stuff they had on the menu. I got the Mastodon. It was a brick of meat slathered in barbecue sauce topped with cheddar, bacon, and frizzled onions. Sweet, merciful food God, it was amazing. It was juicy and thick and cooked just right and tasted so good. Best part? No matter how much the juices and sauces ran, the bun held it together. No pansy, falling apart bread for Kuma’s Corner — this bun did its job.

My friends were also in the same gastronomical heaven I was in. One got the High on Fire with prosciutto, roasted red pepper, pineapple, sweet chili paste and Sriracha. The other went for the Judas Priest with bacon, bleu cheese dressing with apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries. We all had delicious, tall glasses of beer. I think I had Lagunitas, Czech Pils but I don’t remember. Burgers take precedence over beer for me. Sorry.

It was a most intense experience, and we moaned our way through the sizeable burgers — but my girls did me proud. Yes, man with giant arms tattooed in an Egyptian motif, you may have given us side-long glances, but WE all finished our burgers. You had to admit defeat. Bahaha, sucker.

If I had to make a criticism, I’d say the fries needed seasoning. But if you’re going there for fries then really, you’re a jackass.

And then at a tapas place, the next day, I met a lady that was a Bomb Gang Girl with My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. I am a creepy person, so I managed to stalk and find out which one, but I’ll just keep it to myself. But lady, you made my night. While everyone else had their guilty nu-metal phase, I had my guilty industrial metal phase, and can still remember watching The Crow and thinking the band in it was so damn cool. I also had a huge crush on Brandon Lee. I was young and impressionable and ,yes, I may still have certain hits of the genre on my computer. Like any of you boys between the ages of twenty and thirty-five don’t own the theme from the Mortal Kombat movie. That’s going to be my entrance music when I finally get around to a career in professional wrestling.

Anyway, go to Chicago. I love it. More hipsters than you can shake a stick at, but delicious food. Next time I visit Kuma’s, I will be attempting the Black Sabbath: Blackening spice, chili, red onion, and pepper jack. And I’ll probably lie around on my friend’s floor moaning for the rest of the day again. But it’ll be worth it.


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