Small Cheval review: The perfect late-summer date for the patient at heart

Au Cheval‘s infamously juicy burgers – most recently lauded by the Food Network as the best in the nation – can now be had with shorter wait times and more table space in Bucktown at Small Cheval.

We arrived just as the dinner rush hit at 7 p.m. A line outside of about 15 had already formed, with around 10 inside. We waited about half an hour before placing our order, but at least once you make it within the doors, you’re able to order drinks to keep yourself company while standing in line.

What we drank: Their beer and cocktail selection is small but well curated: my husband had the seasonal Founders Brewing, and I the seasonal Local Option (a Lincoln Park brewery).

After waiting half an hour to order from a surprisingly unfrazzled cashier, we received a pager that would inform us when our order was ready. We snagged the end of a communal picnic table on the lovely patio, which seemed to be filled with every quintessential Bucktown character: thirty-somethings on a first date, med school residents from Saint Elizabeth’s, fledgling yuppie families.

Ordering is easy at Small Cheval, as there are only two entree options and one side. Choose a hamburger or cheeseburger, toppings (bacon, basic lettuce and tomato), and fries. Sadly, they don’t provide the option of a fried egg on top like its older sibling restaurant does.

Small-Cheval-Chicago
The author and her guest devoured every last bite of Small Cheval’s not-so-small burgers.

What we ate: I’m not a frequent burger orderer, and when I am overcome with the rare desire for red meat, it’s rarer that I finish it. I ate every damn bite of Small Cheval’s cheeseburger.

My hungry husband and I could’ve easily shared one side of fries between the two of us, which are delightfully crispy.

The lowdown: Take advantage of these last days of summer to indulge in a juicy burger on Small Cheval’s patio, and share a side of fries with Sir Kensington dipping sauces with your date.

Pro tip: You don’t need to jump back in line to order a milkshake for dessert. Discreetly let the cashier know and she’ll take your money in between cashing out the customers in line.

Also, be sure to arrive before 6:30-7 p.m. for a shorter wait!

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