When the Chicago Public Schools sixth-grade teacher Nicole Masse O'Brien went on strike this fall, she never went back to the classroom. Instead, she worked on Leadbelly Burgers.
Her husband, Steve O'Brien, brought his chef experience (Carlos', Mike's American Ale House next door to Leadbelly) to bear on the menu, which features burgers with toppings like the Gallows Pole, Leadbelly's standard chuck-and-pork-belly burger patty, with caramelized onions, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and bearnaise. For a seafood twist, try the Good Night Irene: the patty, a crab cake, pico de gallo, and spicy remoulade. But the real treat are the fries, which come in varieties like the 24-hour double-fried french fries with sea salt and pepper and fries topped with pork belly, onion straws, and Carolina mustard sauce.