Few things bring out the passion, the fire, the tenacity and, most importantly, the hunger of people more than a burger. Whether you're an adventurer looking to load yours up with interesting and creative toppings or a purist who believes that a burger should be simple, easy to eat with one hand and better have a good patty above all else, we definitely have no shortage of options here in the Tri-State.
Here are our 12 picks for Queen City burger spots that you absolutely need to check out, leaving no philosophy out of the picture and holding taste as the ultimate standard above all else. Is your favorite on the list?
The Gas Light Cafe - Pleasant Ridge
Listen. We’re all about trying something new and doing innovative things with burgers. But sometimes, it’s best to forget the never-ending list of artisanal toppings and just go with the classics. That’s where The Gas Light Cafe comes in. Planted right in the heart of the blooming Pleasant Ridge, you’ll find an incredibly delicious, no-frills burger cooked well every time, best served with a pint of local beer and some onion rings. If you’re all about simplicity when it comes to your burger, this is the place to go.
Our pick: The Gas Light Burger
Location: 6104 Montgomery Rd, Pleasant Ridge.
Dutch's Larder - Hyde Park
It’s been voted the best burger in Cincinnati… and it changes every week. Stop by Dutch’s in Hyde Park starting at 6 p.m. every Thursday for their highly acclaimed “burger night.” Each week is a different take on the classic, but underneath the toppings you’ll find the anchor of it all: a fatty, perfectly seared all beef patty taken to the next level with the infusion of some dry-aged prime rib eye trimmings. These guys have pretty much perfected the art of the burger and it’s causing their devoted fan base to keep coming back.
We could keep going about what makes this burger so good. In fact, we did, in a feature video showing you exactly how it’s made.
Our pick: The Thursday “Burger Night” specialty
Price: $12 or pair it with a beer for $15
Location: 3378 Erie Ave, Hyde Park.
Bard's Burgers - Covington
Head south of the Ohio river and you’ll quickly discover that almost everyone in Covington (and beyond) will sing the praises of Bard’s Burgers and Chili. Recently featured on Food Network for being famously “ginormous” Bard’s is definitely the place to throw down if you want a huge meal. Starting with a 1/3 pound 80/20 chuck beef burger, they’ve got a bunch of different versions for all walks of life. Maybe you want “The 5.0” on a donut bun? Or maybe you’re looking for some heat with the capsaicin loaded “Fire Burger.” No matter what your preference, these burgers are big, satisfying and loaded up with a variety of toppings that will keep you coming back.
Our pick: The 5.0 Burger (American cheese, lettuce, pickles, mayo and bacon on a donut bun)
Location: 3620 Decoursey Ave, Covington.
Zip's Cafe - Mt. Lookout
Welcome to Zip’s Cafe, an absolute Mt. Lookout staple where for 90 years, they’ve been laser focused on making a simple, distraction free burger that lives up to everything you’re looking for in the classic sandwich. It stays together when you hold it (one hand friendly) and it’s anchored by some juicy, yet, not too greasy ground beef. For less than $10 you can get the famous Zipburger with your choice of toppings and some fries, onion rings or a cup of chili. Follow it up with a walk around Mt. Lookout square and you’ve got an affordable night out that you’ll probably repeat a hundred times.
Our pick: The Zipburger or Double Zipburger.
Cost: Less than $10
Location: 1036 Delta Ave, Mt. Lookout
Arthur's Cafe - Hyde Park
What can we say? There must be something in the air in Hyde Park that makes their restaurants pump out amazing burgers. That includes the classic neighborhood hideaway “Arthur’s Cafe” where just sitting down at a table and staring at the giant cartoon mural makes you think that you secretly went back in time. As far as the burger goes, this is another place where you’ll create a creature of your own design. You can get a burger every day of the week, but we recommend stopping by Sunday through Tuesday for “Burger Madness” where for just $9 you can get a burger loaded up with as many toppings as you want at no extra charge (gourmet toppings excluded.) Pair it with some fries and the Rivertown “Arthur’s Lager” and you’ll leave happy.
Our pick: Make your own “Burger Madness” Sunday through Tuesday
Location: 3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park.
The Public House - Cheviot
Formerly “The Black Sheep” and famously featured on the hit show Bar Rescue, there’s definitely one thing at The Public House that doesn’t need any help: The “Bah Bah Black Sheep” burger. This is basically Cincinnati transformed into a sandwich, topped with Goetta, bacon, eggs and your choice of cheese served alongside a handful of seasoned fries. If you can handle it, you should probably get it with a glass of Guinness, certified to be the perfect pour by the OG brewery in Ireland. Do this and you’ll have one of the best bites in the neighborhood.
Our pick: The “Bah Bah Black Sheep” burger with a Guinness.
Location: 3807 N Bend Rd, Cheviot.
Nine Giant Brewing - Pleasant Ridge
In addition to their great beer, Nine Giant Brewing is quickly getting a reputation for making seriously delicious burgers in their kitchen. You can get their grass fed cheeseburger every day, but if you’re looking for variety, stop by on a Tuesday for “Burger Night.” Each week is a different one-off version with the option to pair with some fries and a pint of beer for $18 – $20.
Our pick: The Tuesday “Burger Night” specialty
Cost: $10 – $12 with the option to pair with fries and pint for extra.
Location: 6095 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge.
Frenchie Fresh - Norwood
When famed Cincinnati chef Jean-Robert de Cavel announced that he was opening a burger restaurant, local foodies got excited, and rightfully so. Based on his French roots and adapted to be a fast-casual restaurant, you can get your burgers one of two ways here: The Frenchie Way (open faced on a herb-grilled baguette) or The Yankee Way (traditional American bun.) From there, you’ve got plenty of excellent options with the chef’s choices, but we recommend the “make your own” option to experiment with some high quality meats. With choices like Kansas City Beef, Pennsylvania Turkey, Ohio Bison and Texas Wagyu this is the spot to check out if you’re a real protein connoisseur.
Our pick: The “build your own burger” with fries.
Cost: $9 – $15
Location: 3831 Edwards Rd, Norwood.
Krueger's Tavern - Over-the-Rhine
In a neighborhood with so much great food like Over-the-Rhine, it can sometimes be difficult to stand out. Krueger’s Tavern does that and more. They keep it uncomplicated with 5 delicious burger options, and when you take your first bite you’ll immediately tell that each individual ingredient stands out: the veggies are fresh, the Sixteen Bricks bun has the perfect softness and the house ground burgers aren’t too greasy. Grab a seat on the upstairs patio and enjoy one with a local craft can.
Our pick: The Spicy Burger (Two house ground patties, ghost pepper jack cheese, spicy homemade pickles, chipotle habanero slaw, challah bun)
Location: 1211 Vine St, Over-the-Rhine
Quatman Cafe - Norwood, Mason
Like most great burgers spots, Quatman Cafe is a special place for those in the neighborhood. A corner bar with cheap beer, paper plates and friendly staff, you’ll find yourself hanging around Quatman’s after your totally satisfying classic cheeseburger. Get it with some potato chips and a Hudy Delight for an awesome and uncomplicated meal for less than $10.
Our pick: The classic cheeseburger with chips.
Location: 2434 Quatman Ave, Norwood.
224 W Main St, Mason
Chandler's Burger Bistro - Delhi, Harrison
Chandler’s is everything a sports bar should be: relaxed, friendly, packed with good beers and dishing out burgers that will hit the spot every time. On top of all that, with options like the Westsider (grilled pickles and onions, American cheese and tartar sauce) and the Eastsider (roasted red peppers, applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella and fresh guac) you can pledge allegiance just by ordering. You’ve got a lot of options here and a lot of good pairings to try.
Our pick: The Big Chandler (bacon, goetta, grilled onions, cheddar cheese and fried egg. Served with tomato, lettuce and mayo.)
Location: 6135 Cleves Warsaw Pike, Delhi.
10533 Harrison Ave, Harrison.
Mad Mike's - Florence, Newport, Hamilton, White Oak
Multiple locations in the Tri-State prove that Mad Mike’s is doing something right with it’s burgers. Prefaced with the appropriate catchphrase “massive and delicious,” there’s something for everyone with their options. With even the biggest burger (the Goliath) only costing $8, we’re sure you’ll leave surprised at how awesome the burger was compared to how little you paid for it.
Our pick: The Mafioso (Pepperoni, Salami, Grilled Onions, Banana Peppers, Pepper Jack Cheese, Marinara Sauce)
Location: Florence, Newport, Hamilton, White Oak.