Morton's The Steakhouse Wasn't Originally Known For Its Steak

Morton's The Steakhouse is a chain restaurant that's right at the top of the food chain, price-wise because Morton's specializes in prime cuts of beef. You might expect that any establishment that has "The Steakhouse" right in its name would be all about steaks, steaks, and more steaks, and you would, of course, be correct in this assumption, although the dinner menu does extend so far as to offer lamb and pork chops and even chicken and fish. (Vegetarians, however, are out of luck unless they want to make a meal out of sides alone.) What brought the restaurant's two co-founders together, however, was a different dish entirely: the humble hamburger.

As legend (or rather, Morton's website) has it, Arnie Morton and Klaus Fritsch were both working at the Playboy Club in Montreal, an establishment known for its, er, scantily clad waitstaff. While posterity does not record how Fritsch looked in bunny ears (if he ever wore them, which is unlikely as he worked in the kitchen), he apparently cooked the tastiest burger Morton had ever eaten. While the website does not actually spell things out, the implication seems to be that this "Million-Dollar Burger" inspired the partnership that resulted in a restaurant empire. What started with a single location in 1978 has grown to over 65 steakhouses.

Some Morton's do still offer burgers on the menu

If you're a Morton's regular and you're shaking your head and saying "Burgers? Never seen such a thing on the menu," we don't doubt you. Quite a few Morton's, it seems, are dinner-only establishments, and dinners are devoted to less sandwich-like offerings. There are some Morton's, however, such as the one in Chicago, where lunch is served, as well. The lunch menu is where you will find not only a steak sandwich and a chicken sandwich but yes, something called the "original" Morton's prime burger.

The Prime Beef Burgers Morton's serves today can be quite a bit more upscale than the first Million Dollar Burgers, which were topped with nothing fancier than tomato, onion, and lettuce. A current and far more elaborate iteration is adorned with arugula, bacon-onion jam, and an extra-creamy type of blue cheese called cambozola. Fancy as this sounds, the restaurant has gone even more upscale in the past – 2016's Million Dollar Burger was made of braised short ribs topped with foie gras and truffle butter.

If you're curious about Morton's burgers but the one in your neck of the woods does not offer lunch, you may be able to order mini burgers as an appetizer at most restaurants if you're seated at the bar. Morton's has also been known to offer burgers as a special for National Burger Month (May), which means that they may then be available at most restaurants during dinner hours as well.