The Burger Issue: Cincinnati’s 23 Reader-Voted Best Burger Joints (Plus Some Staff Favorites)

The Burger Issue

click to enlarge Zip's Cafe Double Zip Burger - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Zip's Cafe Double Zip Burger

Hamburgers tend to adhere to a tried-and-true culinary equation. At the nucleus of a burger is a ground-beef patty (or two), topped with assorted accoutrements — lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, pickles, bacon, over-easy eggs, etc. — sandwiched between either side of a bun. If a burger isn’t made with beef, it typically boasts a modifier like “turkey” or “veggie” (not sure what happens if you have a “ham” burger) and if it isn’t in a bun, restaurants will generally use a phrase like “bun-less” or “low-carb” to describe the burger’s condition. 

But within those parameters, building a burger is a bit like shopping for toothpaste. An almost overwhelming amount of variations on the same general concept can be achieved by substituting slightly different ingredients — switch up the sauce and cheese combo from a standard squirt of ketchup and slice of American and you get an entirely different flavor profile. 

And each restaurant that puts a burger on its menu seems to want to excel at either a damn good basic or to push the limits of our understanding of the meat sandwich to extremes, trying to achieve ultimate flavor artistry (or ~insanity~). 

With that in mind, this Burger Issue tips its hat to local restaurants that have captured the hearts and stomachs of the people, featuring the best burger joints as voted by CityBeat readers in the 2019 Best Of Cincinnati issue. It also includes our readers’ favorite top 10 veggie burgers and top neighborhood-specific burger spots, as well as a handful of staff picks sprinkled in (because we just can’t keep our opinions to ourselves).

Top 10 Best Overall Burger Joints

click to enlarge Zip's Cafe - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Zip's Cafe


1. Zip's Cafe 

Open since 1926, Zip's Cafe is an East Side institution. And the cafО’s claim to fame — besides the little toy train that runs along the ceiling — is having some of the best burgers in town: fresh, flame-broiled Avril-Bleh beef patties (sourced locally every day), served on a honey-egg bun. The fan-favorite Girth burger — named by former Bengal punter Pat McInally — features a classic Zip burger topped with a split, grilled Avril-Bleh mettwurst. If that isn’t enough, opt for the Train Wreck, a step up from the Girth with the addition of shaved ham and three types of cheese. With worn wood flooring and dark wood paneling, the small space is separated into a dining area and a bar by a saloon-style door. Zip’s owner Mike Burke says that years ago, the bar area or “code room” was where customers placed illegal bets on horse races. The code was that “if the blinds are open, the books are open.” Today, head to the code room to grab a local beer on draft while you wait for space at a booth or a seat at one of the shared family-style tables. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (East Side). 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, zipscafe.com.

2. Arthur’s

Arthur’s is a relaxed gathering place on Hyde Park Square that prides itself on serving local brews on tap. The menu includes salads, soups, sandwiches and — their specialty — burgers with deals on toppings during “burger madness” days. For less than $10 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, top an original Arthur’s burger (a half-pound of seasoned lean meat), a Sally burger (five ounces of lean ground beef), a housemade vegan black bean burger or a turkey burger with whatever the hell you want for no extra charge — well, with two caveats: you must limit yourself to six cheeses (you monster) and gourmet toppings (fried egg, avocado, boursin, et al) are excluded from the deal. If you’re smart, you’ll ask for a side of pink salsa (salsa, sour cream and a splash of mayo) to dip your fries. If you’re even smarter, you’ll start with an order of fried cheese. These aren’t your typical frozen mozzarella sticks: gigantic chunks of provolone cheese are beer-battered, fried to order and come to the table with a flaky crust. Arthur’s, originally opened on the square in 1947, opened a second location in Anderson Township in 2014. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (East Side). 3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park; 8221 Beechmont Ave., Anderson, arthurscincinnati.com.

3. Krueger's Tavern (see Top 10 Veggie Burger write-up below)

click to enlarge One of Nation's Bit burgers - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
One of Nation's Bit burgers


4. Nation Kitchen and Bar 

Nation Kitchen and Bar might not agree with the anti-booze ideology of its namesake, the axe-wielding teetotaler Carrie Nation, but it has embraced her love of hatchets. The restaurant offers a new burger every month called “The Bit,” named after the part of the axe that makes the most impact. Past versions have included a pizza burger and one that made it onto the permanent menu as The Nation burger, featuring a brisket patty, smoked cheddar, whiskey barbecue sauce, onion straws and horseradish aioli. For every Bit Burger sold, $1 goes to a local charity. “We knew we wanted to do something to give back,” says General Manager Brittany Pyles. “We’re always focused on the community because we were the first restaurant (in Pendleton).” What makes all of Nation’s burgers stand out is their locally sourced Sixteen Bricks buns and Avril-Bleh meat — each burger consists of two three-and-a-half-ounce patties instead of a single large “hocky puck” patty, which Pyles says improves the structure and texture of the sandwich. If the burgers don’t do the trick, you can also try one of “The Others,” such as a fried bologna sandwich. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots  (Downtown/OTR). 1200 Broadway St., Pendleton, nationkitchenandbar.com.

5. Tickle Pickle (see Top 10 Veggie Burger write-up below)

click to enlarge Flipdaddy's Chilly Willly - PHOTO: PROVIDED BY FLIPDADDY'S
Photo: Provided by Flipdaddy's
Flipdaddy's Chilly Willly


6. Flipdaddy’s 

Open since 2010, local chain Flipdaddy’s is celebrating its ninth anniversary this month and business is booming — they currently have four restaurants in the Tri-State. A self-proclaimed “brilliant burger and craft beer bar,” Flipdaddy’s custom patties are a blend of fresh short rib, brisket and beef chuck, with bread and buns from local Klosterman Baking Co. Menu names are punny with signature options including the Chuck Norris, topped with Roundhouse Kick sauce, fire-roasted green chili and jalapeЦo compote; the Mac Daddy, with grilled macaroni and cheese and bacon on a pretzel bun; and the Chilly Willy, smothered with amber-beer-infused homemade chili, cheddar cheese, onion straws and yellow mustard. Speaking of beer, Braxton makes both the Flipdaddy’s amber and lager and the rest of the taps are dedicated to mostly local crafts. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (NKY) and (Burbs). 7453 Wooster Pike, Mariemont; 12071 Mason Montgomery Road, Symmes Township; 8863 US Route 42, Union; 165 Parkway Pavilion, Newport, flipdaddys.com.

7. Roney’s

Giant glowing chuck wagon sign? Check. The same classic Roy Rogers menu? Check. Nothing much has changed except the location for this nostalgia-inducing Cincinnati favorite. Opened in 1969 in Union Township as part of the Roy Rogers chain of fast food eateries, Roney’s (as the restaurant came to be called after Roy’s dissolved) shuttered its original location in 2012 only to reopen in Milford in 2015 with the same food and same neon marquee. Well known for its fried chicken and roast beef, Roney’s also serves cult favorite burgers including the Lucky R Burger (formerly known as the Double R Burger): a quarter pound of beef topped with American cheese and a slice of ham on a sesame seed bun. Head to the “fixins bar” to add your own lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and condiments. Fun fact: Roy Rogers, king of the cowboy actors, was born Leonard Franklin Slye in Cincinnati in 1911, which makes this local connection all the more sentimental. 314 Chamber Drive, Milford, facebook.com/roneysrestaurant.

click to enlarge Bard's Bardzilla Challenge - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Bard's Bardzilla Challenge


8. Bard’s Burgers & Chili 

So, you like burgers but do you really love burgers? Located in a former chili parlor in Latonia, Bard’s specializes in both burgers and Cincinnati-style chili (hence the name). Burgers are made with fresh, never-frozen ground chuck, infused with spices, seared on a flattop and served on a toasted bun. Their Chili Cheese Burger is made with their own Cincinnati-style chili and topped with American cheese, lettuce, pickle and mayo; the Purist strips it down to just beef and the bun; and the Donut Burger comes topped with American cheese, lettuce, pickle and mayo on a donut bun from neighboring Moonrise Doughnuts (add bacon and make it a 5.0 Burger). But if you want to go big, like really big — and we’re not just talking deep-fried Twinkie big (also on the menu) — Bard’s offers the Bardzilla Challenge. For this food feat, diners must eat an 11-patty Bardzilla burger (each topped with cheese and weighing in at one-third of a pound), plus two pounds of fries in 60 minutes or less. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (NKY). 3620 Decoursey Ave., Latonia, bardsburgersandchili.com.

9. Quatman Cafe

This no-frills grill has been serving Norwood patrons since 1966, when it was founded by high school buddies Albert “Albo” Imm and Ken Talmage. Their half-pound burgers are the epitome of simple: no special spice mix, standard 80:20 meat to fat ratio, served with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle on a plain old paper plate. Current owner Matt Imm says what makes them stand out is the fresh, local ingredients (everything but the tomatoes and lettuce are purchased from Cincinnati companies). Fans of the burger especially love dining on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, when $8 will get you a cheeseburger, fries or onion rings and a soda or draft beer. It’s hard to go wrong with that, but if you want to change it up, Quatman’s also sells some grub you don’t find very often — fancy a bowl of mock turtle soup? Quatman’s also has a second location in Mason. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (Central) and (Burbs). 2434 Quatman Ave., Norwood; 224 W. Main St., Mason, quatmancafe.com.

10. Gas Light Cafe

A friendly neighborhood dive that might be Pleasant Ridge’s worst-kept secret, the Gas Light Cafe’s unassuming exterior belies its excellent burger reputation. Celtic green paint and a hammered tin ceiling create a cozy atmosphere in which to enjoy a well-seasoned, straightforward cheeseburger and a local beer on draft. The Gas Light Burger features a quarter pound patty topped with a slice of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and mayo. It’s basic and comforting — the Platonic ideal of a Burger. Burgers are typically served with chips but get the fries: they’re crinkle cut. 6104 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, gaslightcincy.com.

Top 10 Best Veggie Burgers

click to enlarge Krueger's Tavern veggie burger - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Krueger's Tavern veggie burger


1. Krueger’s Tavern

Krueger’s Tavern is part of the rapidly expanding Thunderdome empire, which also owns Maplewood, Bakersfield, Currito and The Eagle. And Krueger’s has one of the best and most inventive veggie burgers — possibly ever. The housemade patty is a blend of beets, breadcrumbs and other binding ingredients, all mushed together into a sort of disc, then dropped in a fryer. Deep frying anything is a good idea, especially vegetables, and this is no exception; the end result is falafel-like in texture. The burger is crispy on the outside and super flavorful on the inside, with a nice reddish hue. Topped with melty provolone cheese, pesto mayo, mixed greens and housemade pickles on a challah bun, it’s got substance, tang and crunch. If you aren’t here for the veggies, Krueger’s also accommodates meat-eaters with house-ground, hand-packed burgers. The Chicago Burger upends convention by replacing a hot dog with two burger patties, topped with tomatoes, relish, onions, sport peppers, mustard and celery salt on a challah bun. No ketchup! Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (Downtown/OTR). 1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, kruegerstavern.com.

click to enlarge Tickle Pickle - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Tickle Pickle


2. Tickle Pickle

Earth-conscious, locally sourced Rock & Roll burgers are exactly the kind of thing one would expect to find in Northside. And Tickle Pickle happens to serve just that. Patrons order their Rock-themed burgers — like the Nom Petty (a beef patty with mushrooms, Swiss cheese and mayo) and Meatallica (a beef sandwich with mayo, American cheese, bacon and egg with the option to add goetta) — from the counter and then take a seat. Vegetarians have two burger options on the menu, the Buns N Roses (a housemade vegan black bean burger on a vegan bun topped with ketchup, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle) and When Buns Cry (a mushroom cap topped with balsamic, spinach, tomato and caramelized onion on a pretzel bun). Tickle Pickle also happens to be one of the local spots where you can grab an uber-popular plant-based Impossible Burger…when there isn’t a shortage. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (Central). 4176 Hamilton Ave., Northside, ordertickle.com.

3. S.W. Clyborne Co. Provisions and Spirits

Helmed by executive chef Mark Bodenstein, formerly of Piccolo Casa and Nuvo at Greenup, S.W. Clyborne Co. offers its titular provisions and spirits in a lineup of New-American-meets-Italian-meets-Southern dishes: fried chicken with macaroni and cheese, sweet corn and tomato carbonara, Queen City poutine, etc. But we’re here for the veggie burger. The mushroom lentil burger is a housemade patty crafted with roasted mushrooms and black beluga lentils, topped with lettuce, pickled onions, avocado and Sriracha aioli on a toasted potato bun. 5948 Snider Road, Mason, clybornes.com.

4. Arthur's (see Overall Burger Joint write-up above)

5. Sleepy Bee Café

The Sleepy Bee CafО serves bee-friendly, non-GMO and local foods from head chef Frances Kroner and caters to all palates from toddlers to tipplers at their Oakley, Blue Ash and downtown locations. The breakfast-and-lunch destination does tofu scrambles, buckwheat pancakes, Moroccan chicken salad sandwiches and a clever “food for the brood” kids menu along with craft coffee and “stingers” — cocktails like a kombucha mimosa or a Hugo with sparkling wine, mint and elderflower. And while they offer plenty of meats — goetta, bacon, salmon — their novel housemade “bacon” is a treat. Try the Vegan Mushroom “Bacon” Sammy, featuring fake bacon made with mushroom, topped with cashew-garlic aioli, chimichurri and arugula. 3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, sleepybeecafe.com.

6. Flipdaddy's (see Overall Burger Joint write-up above)

7. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

Maplewood serves up dishes and ingredients that would be right at home on the West Coast: cold-pressed juices, superfood salads, egg-white omelets and somewhat nutritious cocktails, like the roasted tomatillo bloody mary. Made with Tito’s vodka, house tomatillo bloody mary mix and cold-pressed Super Greens juice (kale, celery, spinach, romaine and pineapple), it’s topped off by a purple cabbage accouterment. Helmed by Thunderdome, the same team behind the No. 1 veggie burger at Krueger’s, the Maplewood veggie burger offers a different, non-fried take on a meatless sandwich. A housemade black-bean veggie patty is topped with havarti cheese, avocado, lemon-caper dijonnaise and mixed greens on a Sixteen Bricks sesame bun. The addition of havarti — a sort of buttery, nutty Danish cheese — really separates this option from the pack. 525 Race St., Downtown; 5065 Deerfield Blvd., Mason, maplewoodkitchenandbar.com.

8. Arnold’s Bar & Grill

Open since 1861, Arnold’s is the oldest continuously running tavern in town, complete with dark wood walls, vintage memorabilia and a big ol’ bathtub in the dining room, rumored to have been used to make gin during Prohibition. A Cincinnati classic, it serves up a nice range of lunch and dinner options — pasta, sandwiches and burgers, plus vegan and gluten-free options — at bargain prices. Enjoy a local draft in the outdoor beer garden and almost daily live music. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine, they also have a large selection of bourbon. For burgers, they offer a Yo Mama Burger (seen on the Travel Channel) featuring a custom Avril-Bleh beef blend topped with American cheese, goetta, a potato cake, sunny-side-up egg and chipotle mayo. But if you don’t want to ingest several animals, the veggie burger is a solid and delicious alternative. A housemade vegan patty is topped with lettuce, avocado and chipotle mayo and served on a Sixteen Bricks bun. Also voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (Downtown/OTR). 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

9. Harvest Pizzeria

Columbus-spawned chain Harvest Pizzeria does in fact specialize in pizza, and very good pizza at that. Harvest manages to create a ’za with a magically crunchy-yet-chewy and light-but-substantial crust with gourmet toppings like fennel sausage, almond pesto and vegan chorizo. But the menu is rounded out by yummy small plates, salads and burgers. The meat burgers are grass-fed, pasture-raised Ohio beef — all hormone-free, antiobiotic-free and non-GMO — but they also offer a veggie burger. The Harvest veggie patty is made in house with mushrooms, walnuts, basmati rice (fun!), carrots, pickles, peppers and sweet potatoes and then topped with cheddar cheese, giardiniera, iceburg lettuce, red onion and house aioli, served on a sesame bun. It’s nutty, well-textured and substantial — something different than a black bean patty. The burg comes with a side of smashed fingerling potatoes, but also try the buttermilk-fried pickles with zesty remoulade. They’re addictive. 1739 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, harvestpizzeria.com.

click to enlarge Bones' Burgers - PHOTO: HOLDEN MATHIS
Photo: Holden Mathis
Bones' Burgers


10. Bones’ Burgers

Owner Curtis “Bones” Bonekemper started serving burgers out of a food truck in 2011. He wanted to create a great burger from locally sourced, grass-fed beef, and did just that, winning over enough converts to open two storefronts: one in Montgomery and one in Oakley. Despite his focus on beef, however, Bones has served veggie burgers from the start. Originally supplied by Veg Head in Loveland, this patty got an upgrade a year ago when vegan manager Jason Kelly came on board. Kelly developed a rice-based patty (now gluten-free, unlike its forebearers) packed with black beans and other veggies. With all his burgers, Bones uses as many local ingredients as he can, including in-season produce from farmers he met while running his food truck at local markets. You can sub a veggie patty for any of Bones’ creations or build your own, but his most popular veggie burger draws its inspiration from further away; it’s the California Roll, with goat cheese, local microgreens and fresh avocado. 9721 Montgomery Road, Montgomery; 3235 Madison road, Oakley, bones-burgers.com.

Best of the Rest

Staff favorites and best neighborhood burger winners from the Best Of Cincinnati

Chandler’s Burger Bistro

With burgers made from ground chuck sourced daily from Bridgetown Finer Meats — and buns from Servatii Pastry Shop — this West Side burger bistro and sports bar plays on its heritage with #bestside menu names like The Panther, The Westsider and the Who-Dey Burger. While The Panther burger is not Elder High School purple, it comes as close as possible with Cajun seasoning and blue cheese crumbles. The Westsider is beautifully basic with grilled pickles and onions, two slices of American cheese, tartar sauce and lettuce. And the signature Who-Dey is a spicy tailgate in a bun with ghost pepper cheese, Cajun Sriracha sauce, lettuce, applewood smoked bacon and gouda cheese bites. Voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (West Side). 6135 Cleves Warsaw Pike, Delhi; 10533 Harrison Ave., Harrison, chandlersburgerbistro.com.

click to enlarge Delwood Burger with salsa criolla, avocado, huancaina - PHOTO: BRITTANY THORNTON
Photo: Brittany Thornton
Delwood Burger with salsa criolla, avocado, huancaina


Delwood

Nestled at the intersection of Delta and Linwood avenues in Mount Lookout Square, Delwood is a family-friendly Peruvian-inspired gastropub from owner Trevor Snowden, formerly of the Thunderdome Group. Snowden comes by his Latin American inspiration honestly; his mother is Peruvian and that country’s recipes and ingredients infuse the menu with an uncommon flair. The Delwood Burger comes topped with salsa criolla (a sort of vinegary red onion and pepper mixture), avocado and Peruvian huancaina sauce made from aji Amarillo chile peppers and cream. It’s slightly spicy and served on a standard bun. For something more traditional, there’s also a double cheeseburger with cheese, pickle and special sauce. Instead of french fries, try the yuca fries or tostones (twice fried plantains) and keep an eye on the drink menu for an equally transportive experience with options running the gamut from a caipirinha and pisco sour to a paloma. 3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, delwoodcincy.com.

click to enlarge Dutch's burger - PHOTO: BRITTANY THORNTON
Photo: Brittany Thornton
Dutch's burger


Dutch’s

Dutch’s knows burgers. The pony keg has been open since 1947, the bar since 2010 and the kitchen since 2012. And every Thursday night from 6 until 9 p.m. — or until they run out — it’s Burger Night. Each week is a different burger, but we’ll place a bet that the burger is delicious. Recent creations have included beefy burgers — featuring a meat blend sourced from Findlay Market — topped with caramelized fennel, provolone picante and ghost pepperoni and a burger topped with pickled green tomato and deviled crab. If you can’t make it Thursday, every Friday lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., they serve up two three-ounce patties with a cheddar blend, bacon, shredded lettuce, burger sauce and their house spicy ketchup. 3378 Erie Ave., East Hyde Park, dutchs.squarespace.com.

click to enlarge Gordo's Pub & Grill Korean Burger - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Gordo's Pub & Grill Korean Burger


Gordo’s Pub & Grill

In the middle of Norwood on Montgomery Road sits Gordo’s, an unassuming neighborhood bar with glowing neon signs in the window and your standard dive-bar awning. But inside, this Xavier University hang kicks things up with a menu of incredibly insane burgers (and an amazing craft beer selection). Opened by a friend of chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, these half-pound burgers are deliciously clever creations boasting fever-dream ingredients. For example, there’s the Jean-Robert, a burger infused with blue cheese, then topped with more blue cheese, goat cheese, grape compote, mayo and lettuce. Or the BPJ, with fried banana, chunky peanut butter cream cheese and jam. Or the Korean, with kimchi, a fried egg, pork belly, pepper jack cheese and Sriracha mayo. Imagine a country or a flavor profile, and you can find it a Gordo’s. French? How about a burger with brie? Mexican? A giant patty topped with avocado, jalapeño, lettuce, tomato and housemade cilantro mayo will fit the bill. And what if you just want it all? Try the hangover: smoked gouda, smoked sausage, cheddar, Canadian bacon, American cheese, smoked bacon, onion strings and chipotle barbecue mayo. Bonus: Vegetarians can sub in a black bean burger for any Gordo’s creation. Voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (Central). 4328 Montgomery Road, Norwood, gordospub.com.

Herb & Thelma’s Tavern

Opened in 1939 as Heine’s Café, the small drop-ceilinged dining room is what some may call a “hole in the wall,” but the simple and delectable burgers are made to order and served by an incredibly friendly staff. The burgers are basic — a juicy meat patty topped with cheese, onions and pickles — and a short list of sides includes chili, soup or Husman’s chips. The joint recently added craft beer to its program of PBR, Bavarian’s and Budweiser. One note: Herb & Thelma’s is cash only, but burgers ring in at less than $5 (as does the fried bologna sandwich with cheese). 718 W. Pike St., Covington, herbandthelmas.com.

click to enlarge Incline Public House House Burger - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Incline Public House House Burger


Incline Public House

Open for around six and half years, Incline Public House is the definition of dinner with a view. Their house-blend seasoned patties are cooked to order and the toppings make the burger as big as the customer’s head, says Kevin Geers, IPH’s bar/catering manager. The favorite burger around the neighborhood is the House Burger: black Angus ground beef, bacon, cheddar cheese, mixed greens, tomatoes and crispy onions on a brioche bun. Every Monday night is Burger Night featuring a creative burger concoction ranging from mac and cheese to breakfast. If not burgers, come for the view, which looks out to downtown Cincinnati. From burgers to pizza to fish, the menu can be overwhelming. Geers says customers can literally close their eyes and point to the menu for inspiration. “If something looks goods, it is good,” he says. Voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (West Side). 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, inclinepublichouse.com.

Mad Mike’s Burgers and Fries

Mad Mike’s certainly isn’t fancy but the burgers — made with black angus beef — are really good. These two-patty sandwiches are juicy with crispy edges and the topping options might be one reason for the “mad” adjective. Signature offerings include the Rockefeller, a blissful combination of blue cheese, tangy-sweet cranberry chutney, crispy fried onions and cilantro mayo. Or the bigger-than-your-head Hawaii-Five-O, with caramelized crushed pineapple, beer-battered onion strings, barbecue sauce, American cheese and bacon. And if you needed more food on your food, the Goliath burger comes with American cheese, bacon, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, barbecue sauce and a half pound burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches for buns because, why not? In regards to the “fries” portion of the name, those are hand-cut daily. 194 N. Brookwood Ave., Hamilton, madmikesburgers.com.

Mount Adams Bar & Grill

This former George Remus speakeasy is now a cozy little pub nestled on Hatch Street in Mount Adams. Fun fact: It was the first bar in Ohio to obtain a liquor license after the repeal of Prohibition. With some kitschy flair and autographed photos of celebrities and actors from the nearby Playhouse in the Park, it’s got a neighborhood vibe, which plays well with the casual eats. The food here is easy and solid and the menu boasts multiple burger options, including the Broadcaster (a quarter pound of beef or turkey topped with grilled onions and chopped green olives between two slices of melted Swiss, served on grilled Jewish rye) and a housemade veggie burger. The veggie burger itself is a “combination of oats, tofu, wheatgerm, sesame seeds and a variety of seasonings” and tastes kind of like a Gardenburger. It comes served with lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion, mustard and Monterey Jack cheese, and you should definitely order a side of housemade ranch dressing to dip or spread on top. 938 Hatch St., Mount Adams, mtadamsbarandgrill.com.

Oakley Pub and Grill

A true-to-its-name pub and grill in the heart of Oakley, this drinking destination serves up comfortable and approachable bar food: good quality, not super fancy. There are nachos, quesadillas, chicken tenders, wings, handmade chili and a nice selection of burgers. Grilled premium angus chuck comes topped with any variety of options and is served on a Cubano bun with a side of waffle fries. Try the Memphis Burger, topped with housemade barbecue sauce, bacon and cheddar cheese, or the Soul Burger with jerk spices, bacon, grilled onion and American. On Wednesdays, build your own burg with five toppings for just $8.95. Voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (East Side). 3924 Isabella Ave., Oakley, oakleypubandgrill.com.

The Public House

Formerly known as The Black Sheep and featured on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, The Public house is alive and thriving with a slew of “perfect pint pourers” certified by the Guinness brewery in Dublin. But if you aren’t here to drink a beer, try some stout on your burger. The Guinness Burger features grilled angus beef topped with Irish stout cheddar and Guinness-braised onions on a toasted bun. If you want to go a little more German, the Bah Bah Black Sheep comes topped with goetta, bacon, egg and your choice of cheese. Voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots (West Side). 3807 North Bend Road, Cheviot, thepublichousecheviot.com.

Sammy’s Craft Burgers & Beer

Opened in 2009, Sammy’s gourmet steak burger base is ground fresh daily with a blend of brisket, short rib, ball tip and tri-tip; each burger is then hand-pattied, seasoned and char-grilled to order and served on a challah bun with a side of beer-battered french fries. The Fretboard Burger comes topped with beer cheese made with Blue Ash’s Fretboard Brewing Co. beer, pancetta, a sunny-side-up egg and crumbled bacon and is served with Fretboard beer cheese fries. The Anthony Muñoz Legendary burger is a 50/50 blend of beef and chorizo topped with guac, bacon, pepper jack cheese and Mexican street corn fritters; a portion of proceeds go to the Anthony Muñoz Foundation. And if you can’t decide from the 20-plus burger options, go for the party of three to mix and match any three craft burgers. Voted one of the Top 3 Best Neighborhood Burger Spots  (Burbs). 4767 Creek Road, Blue Ash, sammyscbb.com.

Tela Bar & Kitchen

Wyoming’s Phish-leaning Tela Bar & Kitchen offers high-level pub grub in a laid-back atmosphere. Burgers start with Longdale Farm Ohio beef patties and then branch out with options like the Multibeast — a beef patty plus a chorizo patty topped with bacon jam, whipped goat cheese, bibb lettuce, roasted tomato and caramelized onion on a Sixteen Bricks challah bun. They also have a SoCal-style quinoa burger if you ain’t ‘bout that beast with alfalfa sprouts, roasted red pepper hummus and roasted tomato on a Cubano bun. 1212 Springfield Pike, Wyoming, telabarandkitchen.com.

Cincinnati Burger Week

Hosted by CityBeat Events, the upcoming Cincinnati Burger Week (July 15-21) is a seven-day food frenzy featuring $5 specialty burgers at more than 75 area restaurants, bars and bakeries (they serve dessert “burgers,” not like meat donuts). The creations run the gamut from straightforward quarter pounders to veggie burgers and really wild monstrosities. This little shameless self-promotion sidebar highlights some of the more indulgent options. Proceeds from Burger Week help benefit Childhood Food Solutions, a nonprofit that works to help kids secure access to food during school breaks. Get more info and details at cincinnatiburgerweek.com.

click to enlarge Taste of Belgium's B3 Burger
Taste of Belgium's B3 Burger

B&A Street Kitchen: South + Southwest Burger — An Angus burger is topped with housemade jalapeño jelly, Tajin-spiced pork rinds, lettuce, tomato and bourbon mayo on a toasted brioche bun. 1500 Race St., Over-the-Rhine.

Barleycorn’s: Cincy BBQ Grippo’s Burger — A half-pound burger comes topped with blue cheese dressing, Grippo’s Bar-B-Q chip crumbles (true!), lettuce, tomato and pickles. 1073 Industrial Road, Cold Spring; 2642 Dixie Highway, Lakeside Park; 8544 U.S. 42, Florence.

Brown Dog Café: Beef Brat Burger — A housemade beef bratwurst is served on a pretzel bun with pickled red cabbage, New York white cheddar, a Kaiser pickle, red onion and Brown Dog brat mustard. 1000 Summit Place, Blue Ash.

The Birch: Wasabi Burger — A beef burger comes topped with wasabi mayo, hoisin ginger sauce and sesame slaw, served on a brioche bun. 702 Indian Hill Road, Terrace Park.

Gold Star: Chili Burger — Gold Star was once Hamburger Heaven, a Mount Washington hamburger joint purchased by the Daoud brothers in 1964. Since then, the menu has expanded to include Cincinnati-style chili, among other options. For Burger Week, Gold Star is highlighting their burgers, but you can get both specialties on the Chili Burger: two beef patties topped with Gold Star chili, Fritos, diced onions, mustard and cheddar cheese. 24 locations including 504 W. Fourth St., Covington.

House of Orange: Dutch Lion Burger — Locally sourced beef comes topped with bacon, a slice of gouda, an additional gouda wedge (lots-o-gouda), spicy orange mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. 433 Johnson St., Covington.

The Mac Shack: Cheeseburger in Paradise — Burger meat is plopped on top of a pile of Lovin’ Spoonful macaroni and cheese, which is then topped with lettuce, tomato, Heinz 57 sauce, french fries and a pickle spear. 249 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights; 5655 Harrison Ave., Green Township.

Taste of Belgium: B3 Burger — A short rib/brisket/chuck blend burger is topped with candied bacon, cheddar, tomato jam and Belgian barbecue sauce on a cheddar-grit waffle bun. 1135 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine; 2845 Vine St., Corryville; 3825 Edwards Road, Rookwood; 16 W. Freedom Way, The Banks.

Washington Platform: The Fat Boy — A burger topped with American cheese, fried oysters, tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle on a toasted sesame seed bun. Washington Platform also has a fancy vegetarian option: a housemade vegan red bean and rice burger with fried green tomato and chimichurri slaw. 1000 Elm St., Downtown.