Actually, the Dam’s raison d’etre is soaking up the booze- and adrenaline-fueled hunger that comes over ravenous soccer fans at the adjacent Amsterdam Tavern. Seeing a need for edible offerings at the Tavern, owner Michele Coen-Racanelli (formerly of the now-defunct Big V’s Burger Joint in the Loop) partnered with the bar’s owners to provide food service for its patrons. The result is what is best described as a burger shack — customers order at the counter, usually from Coen-Racanelli herself, and either sit at the stools lining the windows or wait next door in the bar for their order to be delivered. What distinguishes the Dam from other bar-food spots is that it lives by the motto “slow food fast,” using antibiotic- and hormone-free local meats and seasonal, organic produce grown by local farmers. It’s not health food by a long shot, but at least patrons can rest assured knowing that the burgers taking a year off their lives were at least sourced from sustainably raised cows.
Opened as a means to provide food service to ravenous soccer fans at the adjacent Amsterdam Tavern, the Dam is the quintessential burger-and-hot-dog shack. Unlike traditional bar food, however, the Dam lives by its motto “slow food, fast,” using antibiotic and hormone-free local meats and seasonal, organic produce grown by local farmers. The result isn’t exactly health food – menu items include a selection of hot dogs covered in everything from cheese to jalapenos (one is even deep fried and wrapped in bacon), and Belgian-style fries dripping with mayonnaise. The Dam’s signatures are the fresh, hand-packed burgers; its namesake offering is a take on the patty melt served on buttery grilled sourdough with American and Swiss cheese. If one is feeling especially brave, if not slightly masochistic, the Dam’s "Animal" burger lives up to its infamous reputation. It’s three patties, smothered in sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, American cheese, grilled onions and a whole hog’s worth of bacon. The "Animal"’s piece de resistance is the grilled whole jalapeno that sits atop the patties and infuses the entire sandwich with its fiery flavor. Wear your stretchy pants.