August 20, 2012

LonnieBurger Baskets: Zip's

The Girl and I had a free day this late summer and headed into Mount Lookout Square to try a burger at Zip's Cafe, one of dozens of places around town that claim to have the best burger in Cincinnati.

They, of course, are wrong, but let's take a look at their claim (from their FAQ page)...
"So what makes the Zip's Burger so tasty?" 
It's the fresh meat delivered daily from Bleh-Avril & Sons, Inc., flamebroiled and served on toasted honey-egg buns from Klosterman Bakery, and topped with your choice of condiments... and you have before you a Cincinnati favorite since 1926... the "Zip's Burger."
...and then at just how wrong they were - by the numbers, of course.


  • That's The Girl's burger up top and mine just below. Mine's flipped upside down, so don't worry about the lack of topping for right now. We'll get to those a little later.

    The Zip's burger is supposedly fresh made and delivered daily. The burger does have a good beef flavor but lacks anything else. There seems to be no spice at all in the burger, and it could certainly use something to - ironically - give it a little zip. The beef is good and loosely packed - in the vein on a Steak 'n' Shake burger (sorry to go back to that well again and again, but it's a style most people know).

    The patty was nicely tender and well cooked - though no question was asked about how either of us wanted the burger cooked, so mine ended up a little more done than I would have requested. The outside also lacked the deeper browning that I would like to see on a burger. Burger - 6 

  • Bacon doesn't seem all that odd a request, but it's one request that Zip's couldn't fulfill. I didn't see bacon on the menu, so I told our waitress I wanted a bacon cheeseburger and asked what was the closest they could get to it. She said they could do shaved ham on a cheeseburger, and I decided to give it a go.

    Shaved ham - even when they've browned it a bit on the griddle - is a poor substitute for bacon.

    Pickles were fine, though The Girl actively disliked her cup of pickled (on the side). She found the spices in them were offensive.

    The lettuce was shredded. The tomato was pale and watery. Toppings did not impress. Toppings - 5


  • Nothing much to say here. The fries came our luke warm and without and salt (or at least not much if there was any). They were, however, made of fried potato, so at least they had that going for them. Fries - 5 

  • Sorry for the blur there. The camera had little enough light to work with, and with the zoom and my apparently shaky hands, this is what I get.

    Zip's is a neighborhood place that the locals love to death. The rest of us, however, have to look to see if the place if worth much. On the day we were there, the Reds were on the tube - about to sweep the second-place Pirates, and the dozen folks in the bar (through those swinging doors there) were into the game. The bar is friendly enough, as is the rest of the place with lots of wood paneling and old sports equipment on the walls - not memorabilia, just sports stuff. Ambiance - 6
  • Little tough to figure this. The menu says the burger is $4.75 plus another $0.50 for the cheese. No notice of how much ham is, though. Fries are $2.25. The Diet Coke isn't on the menu.

    So let's go another way and work backwards since we didn't get an itemized receipt. The total was $25.20 for the two of us. OH food tax is 5.5% (7% on booze and soda, though), so that means our bill was probably around $23.75 before tax.

    Knock out The Girl's $3.50 beer, $5.25 cheese burger, and $2.25 fries, and that leaves me on the hook for...$12.75 for burger, fries, and a soda. That's bordering on highway robbery for what we got. Cost - 2
Other Stuff
  • The place doesn't serve bacon. -1
  • The beer was cheap. +1
  • There's a model train set constantly running around the track near the ceiling, and it travels through an updated scene of Mount Lookout Square. That's kinda cool. +2
  • The men's restroom was lit by a 15-watt bulb. It's a dark wood room, and you can't even see the door handle or latch because of how the bulb is placed and how pathetically dim it is. If the room were bigger than one toilet (the sink is though a different door even), I woulda worried about getting rolled. -2
  • Pretty much a wash there...
And the numbers say Zip's is full of burger meat...24 points...

I feel that might be a little low, but not much. Zip's doesn't have anything near the best burgers in Cincy.

They lie.

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