Dinner Out @ Zips Cafe - Mount Lookout

The Food: 5 out of 5 stars
Zips is a Cincinnati landmark that's known for its burgers. My wife and I met there on a blind date a few years ago so we try to stop in on a fairly regular basis and we've never been disappointed. Our bartender/server (we tend to prefer the small bar located in the back of the restaurant) informed us that the burgers have no special preparation or secret ingredients - they're not even salted, but the meat is brought in fresh every day except for Sunday and they're broiled on a grill that sears them on both sides. The method insures that the burgers hold their juices.
An odd variation from the traditional "Zip Burger" is the "Girth Burger", a burger with a met, sliced long ways, on top. Ordinarily, I wouldn't want to subject my digestive system to this monstrosity but for the sake of our review I figured I'd better give it a shot. Turns out, the "Girth Burger" was pretty good. The first bite all I could taste was the met but as I continued the hamburger flavor showed up too. The two meats complimented each other more than I expected.
The burgers are served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and (surprisingly) miracle whip (my wife and I always substitute real mayonnaise). They come with your choice of salad or fries, which are thin but good. One side item of note is the chili-cheese fries. We've never had 'em but have noticed them coming out of the kitchen and thought they looked amazing.

The Setting: 4 our of 5 stars
Zips was established in 1926. It's changed hands a few times since then and the current ownership has had it since 1996.
As you walk through a narrow hallway at the entrance and through a set of saloon doors, you'll notice a relatively small dining room with booths on both sides and a few long tables in the middle. A model train slowly makes its way along the outer wall, on which is painted a mural depicting Mount Lookout as it was a few years ago. In the back you'll find another set of saloon doors, behind which is a small bar that seats about 10.
Don't try to show up at normal dinner hours and expect to find an open table immediately (especially on weekends). We suggest you wait until later in the evening before arriving. That way you'll avoid the noisy and crowded atmosphere and you'll get better service. Lots of families with young kids frequent this place.

The drink: 4 our of 5 stars
Zips is almost as much a bar as it is a restaurant. Knowledgeable bartenders serve up cold draft or bottled beers, liquor and mixed drinks. You don't see much wine consumption, though. Our friend, Sarah, ordered the bloody mary and said it was a good one. The bartender said he used a pre-mixed concoction and added olive juice, Guinness and horse radish.

About Zips Cafe:
  • Location: 1036 Delta Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208 (North end of Mount Lookout Square)
  • Phone: (513) 871-9876
  • Hours: Sunday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

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Dinner Out @ City View Tavern - Mount Adams

The Food: The menu is small, but I'm all for sticking with what you know. City View's burger consistently wins "best of" status in Cincinnati, so on my first visit for food (my other couple trips have been post-kitchen close) I tried something else - the BBQ Beef. Not the healthiest choice - although it should be noted that City View has a few vegetarian options (with American cheese as the main attraction) - the sandwich was passable. A side of Grippo's barbecue chips accompanied the spicier than sweet and somewhat dry bites, which have an interesting topping of coleslaw that's actually a pretty good original twist.

This is bar food. And for bar food it's not too bad. I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars.

The Drink: City View also consistently wins for it's Bloody Mary's, and the 2 of us at my table who made the order were not disappointed. Presentation was solid, with a spicy, seasony salt rim with a pickled green bean (which wasn't gross, as I have to admit it I thought it looked). My girlfriend said "as a connoisseur, I was satisfied." She noted it wasn't exactly to her taste though - it's a bit sweet. In other news, Bell's Oberon and Christian Moerlien OTR are both on tap, so even your beer snob buddies will be happy. But don't order a tequila or Jagermeister, see The Story for details...

For a small place, the selection was more than solid. 5 out of 5 stars.

The Setting and Service:
City View Tavern's location is hard to beat. The P&G towers and Cincinnati's beautiful skyline are highly visible in the distance. The river is just below your outdoor deck seat, and the jukebox jams with old school R&B, classic rock, and more. With an owner tending bar, a pool table in the front, and a side street location that's as unpretentious as Mount Adams gets - this is a great spot. One small note though, it's a skinny little street, so if you're scared of parallel parking (or having more than a couple drinks), take a cab.

5 out of 5.

The Story: This place has a history. You can tell when you walk in the door, see postcards from patrons on the walls, and look at the photographs rich with Cincinnati history. But when my girlfriend tried to order a shot of tequila, and was told no, we got a very interesting explanation as to why. Apparently, there was a regular who lived down the street from City View Tavern, who drank quite a bit of tequila in the early 60's. The guy would talk about how he was going to jump off the deck when he got drunk. Well, he didn't jump, but his name was Charles Manson. Yup, the Charlie Manson - who grew up in Cincinnati. Gotta love this city.

5 out of 5. The City View Tavern has personality.

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