Rush Street is smack dab in the middle of Culver City where Washington and Culver Boulevards have a brief fling as one street for a few blocks before parting ways just as quickly. Named after the famous bar heavy street in Chicago, Rush Street describes itself as having a “Chi-Town Vibe.” Now I believe it’s true regardless of where you’re from, that when a place describes itself as an homage to your hometown it is impossible not to arch your eyebrow and utter the words “We’ll see about that.” It’s weird. It’s like a nervous tic. For some reason we’re obsessed with authenticity even though we know we will be disappointed. A Chicago bar in Los Angeles will not feel like Chicago. It just won’t. I know this. And yet, I’m going to offer a few suggestions about how to make it better anyway. (Yes, I know. This is a burger blog. I’m getting to that. I promise.)
Let me start off by saying the place is lovely. Huge open ceilings lined with metal beams, exposed brick walls, and dark wood tables. Over the gigantic bar are flat screen TVs showing sports and there’s a party loft where people can schmooze freely. They have drink specials nearly every night of the week and any time there’s a Chicago team playing, it’s a party.
That being said, they could have put a little more effort into Chicago-izing the menu. They have something called Tataki Nachos as an appetizer which is seared ahi, avocado, sambal aioli, unagi sauce, asian slaw, and wonton chips. It’s the most Californian thing I’ve ever heard of. If you ate nachos at a bar in Chicago with seared ahi and unagi sauce, I can promise you will be staring at the bottom of a toilet all night. Where are the salutes to Polish, German, and Italian culture? Where are the pierogis? The Vienna Beef Chicago style hotdogs? Forget the avocado fries dude, make some schnitzel instead.
Where Rush Street excels is its burgers. They’ve got a variety of options all around twelve bucks: The Mesquite Turkey Burger, the Moroccan Lamb Burger, the Shrimp, Crab, and Scallop Burger, the Ragin’ Cajun Salmon Burger, but the one that reigns supreme in my mind is their signature Rush Street Dry-Aged Burger. Most restaurants will offer you the ingredients on this burger as a side for extra money. You know a dollar extra for bacon or onions. This baby gives you everything you’re too sheepish or too broke to order on your own. This beef patty is nestled next to crispy applewood bacon, Tillamook Sharp cheddar, shoestring onions (aka crispy onion rings), arugula, and confire sauce (BBQ sauce) on a brioche bun. It’s one satisfying mess. The smoky sweetness of the confire sauce goes perfectly with the saltiness of the bacon and the onion crispies, and the medium rare dry-aged burger will drip down your hands no matter how you hold it. It is lovely.
Word to the wise, they will offer you many kinds of alternatives to the fries for extra money: sweet potato fries, truffle asiago fries, or a salad. Hold firm. The Rush Street shoestring fries are in a class all their own. They are crunchy little strips of golden perfection that feel like you’re eating nothing. These spuds don’t get eaten…they get inhaled. Rush Street is one of the few establishments where I insist on a box for my fries if I don’t finish them. They’re just as delicious the next day with a side of eggs.