The 32 Best Places to Find a Burger in Cincinnati — For Meat and Veggie Eaters

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).

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No. 1 Overall Burger: Zip's Cafe 
1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout
Open since 1926, Zip's Cafe is an East Side institution. And the café’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).
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

No. 1 Overall Burger: Zip's Cafe

1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout
Open since 1926, Zip's Cafe is an East Side institution. And the café’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).
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
No. 2 Overall Burger: Arthur’s Café
3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
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).
Photo: Facebook.com/ArthursCafe

No. 2 Overall Burger: Arthur’s Café

3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
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).
Photo: Facebook.com/ArthursCafe
No. 3 Overall Burger: Krueger's Tavern
1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Photo: Facebook.com/KruegersTavern
No. 4 Overall Burger: Nation Kitchen and Bar 
1200 Broadway St., Pendleton
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).
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

No. 4 Overall Burger: Nation Kitchen and Bar

1200 Broadway St., Pendleton
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).
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
No. 5 Overall Burger: Tickle Pickle
4176 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

No. 5 Overall Burger: Tickle Pickle

4176 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
No. 6 Overall Burger: Flipdaddy’s
7453 Wooster Pike, Mariemont; 12071 Mason Montgomery Road, Symmes Township; 8863 US Route 42, Union; 165 Parkway Pavilion, Newport
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 jalapeño 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).
Photo: Provided by Flipdaddy's

No. 6 Overall Burger: Flipdaddy’s

7453 Wooster Pike, Mariemont; 12071 Mason Montgomery Road, Symmes Township; 8863 US Route 42, Union; 165 Parkway Pavilion, Newport
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 jalapeño 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).
Photo: Provided by Flipdaddy's
No. 7 Overall Burger: Roney's
314 Chamber Drive, Milford
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. 
Photo: Facebook.com/RoneysRestaurant

No. 7 Overall Burger: Roney's

314 Chamber Drive, Milford
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.
Photo: Facebook.com/RoneysRestaurant
No. 8 Overall Burger: Bard’s Burgers & Chili 
3620 Decoursey Ave., Latonia
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).
Bardzilla Challenge | Photo: Hailey Bollinger

No. 8 Overall Burger: Bard’s Burgers & Chili

3620 Decoursey Ave., Latonia
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).
Bardzilla Challenge | Photo: Hailey Bollinger
No. 9 Overall Burger: Quatman Cafe
2434 Quatman Ave., Norwood; 224 W. Main St., Mason
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).
Photo: Paige Deglow

No. 9 Overall Burger: Quatman Cafe

2434 Quatman Ave., Norwood; 224 W. Main St., Mason
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).
Photo: Paige Deglow
No. 10 Overall Burger: Gas Light Cafe
6104 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
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. 
Photo: Google Street View

No. 10 Overall Burger: Gas Light Cafe

6104 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
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.
Photo: Google Street View