Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zombie Burger

The other night, Angie and I decided to give Zombie Burger a try since we would be in the area.  Being a fan of zombies in general, I have been wanting to try it since it opened a couple months ago, but this was the first time that it was really convenient...and it is October after all.  This isn't just a slapdash mash-up of pop culture icons. Zombie Burger is the creation of Chef George may know him from such local ventures as Centro and Django, among others.  If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, the food he creates is always excellent.  So what exactly is Zombie Burger?  It is a fun artisan/gourmet burger joint.  Think of a Red Robin but hipper and with zombies and humor.  They are not gourmet burgers, they are "goremet".

The restaurant was brighter than I thought it would be.  I was expecting all black walls with tinted windows...I figured they would go all out with the zombie theme and the whole place would be dark and dreary.  It was really quite pleasant with walls that were a bright green or a muted, neutral tan-grey.  The zombie theme was immediately evident with a couple large zombie murals, chain link fence, and industrial aluminum grates partially covering the windows..."to keep the zombies out or to keep them in," I wondered.  But it wasn't over done...the zombies were definitely just accents.  The zombies were evident but not overwhelming, which I think is better for the long term success.  Tables, chairs, tableware were all simple but nice.  I wasn't expecting cloth napkins but that is always a nice touch...just because you are serving zombie flavored food doesn't mean that you can't be all fancy and stuff.

The menus looked like newspaper, with all articles relating to zombies.  I didn't get a chance to read it all because A) I was hungry and wanted food...braaaaains, B) we were on time schedule.  But the parts I did read were hilarious.  My favorite part was in the Advice Column and the article started off something like "Dear Bill, my boyfriend recently became a zombie (his ex-girlfriend is a zombie, so I am pretty sure that's where he got it)."  It cracked me up.  The whole thing was full of jokes and sometimes subtle humor.  It was done really well.

Zombie Burger offers the following on their menu:

  • Appetizers - the normal stuff like fries, cheese curds, fried pickles, etc... I was a little disappointed that they no longer carry onion rings, but they did have the fried brussel sprouts that piqued my interest (and their fries are supposedly delicious too).
  • Soylent Greens - salads
  • Bashed Brugers - come standard with a Special Grind Patty, but you can also get as a veggie patty, chicken breast, or grilled portobello.  9 times out of 10 I would get the standard patty but I like having options in case I am in a strange mood.  You can also choose your number of patties between one and three (like on a BK Stacker...but good).
  • Rippers - fried hot dogs
  • Brain Freeze - specialty shakes (alcoholic versions available).

I was here for a good burger.  I decided to forgo appetizers and instead get a burger and a ripper (fat guy in the making!).  I had made fried hot dogs myself but wanted to see how they stood up to a restaurant version.  I chose the simple Zombie Dog for my ripper which came only with a house mix of mustard and relish for toppings...I really wanted to focus on the dog itself.  I had heard that the Chef had developed a new recipe for the buns that made them really spongy and soft...and they were.  The buns complemented the smashed burger patty really well, but the bun really stood out on this simple hot dog.  Spongy, moist, and was less like a bun and more like a really thick piece of bread, that just felt good in your mouth. Although the ripper was good, I would have preferred that it had been cooked longer.  I would have liked the skin really crisp and even blackened a little bit.  I know that is not for everyone, but that is how I like my hot dogs.

For my burger, I chose a Undead Elvis single patty.  The Undead Elvis has peanut butter, fried bananas, bacon, American cheese, mayo, and a fried egg.  This was a step into uncertainty for me...I really do not like egg yolk.  Just the thought of egg yolk makes me gag sometimes and to see someone dipping their toast into it on tv makes me feel a little nauseous (why would you do that to perfectly good toast?).  My good friend CT has recommended the Kill Bill Tenderloin at Centro to me many times, but the sunny side up egg always killed it for me.  I thought about getting the Undead Elvis without the egg, but then I steel my internal thoughts and gagging and decide to just go for it.  I can handle one egg.  And I did, the burger was pretty dang good.  The peanut butter and bacon was awesome but the fried bananas kind of got lost in the rest of the flavors...I blame the egg.  Overall, it was a very good burger and I would highly recommend it.

Angie got the Trailer Trash burger and although she only ordered a single, I am pretty sure that the burger they brought out was a double tap.  The Trailer Trash burger contained American cheese, fried pickles, chicken fried bacon, cheese curds, and ranch mayo.  It was also very good, but I preferred mine just a little more.  The deciding factor for me was the cheese was more like one gigantic cheese curd and about half an inch thick.  By the time I tried a bite of her sandwich (which was quite a while after we got our food) the cheese curd had cooled enough that it was no longer gooey inside.  It was just too much rubbery cheese for me.

Can't believe I missed this.
Photo courtesy of
I really enjoyed the food, I look forward to going back and trying more burgers...but the choices are difficult...already there are 4 or 5 I am seriously contemplating for my next visit.  The first visit was could I not get the one with peanut butter and fried bananas, but now comes the difficult choices (and hopefully room for a shake...maybe even an alcoholic one if I am not driving).  Plus I have to see the awesome bathroom signs that I missed the first time around.

Zombie Burger
300 E Grand
Des Moines, IA 50309

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