(Fair warning, there’s a Game of Thrones spoiler below. In a burger article though? I know, weird).
Okay okay, they won’t actually melt your tastebuds off, but they will leave a lasting impression on them. Supremely glorious in all their beefy splendor, these carefully crafted creations will have you kneeling to the Burgered God…I apologize for that, ever since Jon Snow was resurrected Game of Thrones references just kind of slip right out.
In all seriousness though, Ohio’s burger game is strong and these six are no exception. They’re actually at the top of that game.
The Rail – Cleveland/Akron
It’s not like you have to say much after looking at this photo, but try to imagine the feeling you’d get if the Cleveland Browns won the Super Bowl. That’s pretty much what the first bite feels like. You know what I’m talking about Browns fans. The Rail traded up for a first round pick on this one and didn’t select Johnny Football, but more like Russell Wilson. 50/50 all-Ohio lamb, fresh mozzarella, cucumber dill sauce, sautéed peppers & onions, lettuce and tomato — A perfect balance of succulent, sweet and cool.
One of the best parts about The Rail? You can rest assured almost everything you’re munching on comes from Ohio. Beer included. Extra tip: Mike Mariola, owner of said establishment, has another delectable spot in Wooster, Ohio called City Square Steakhouse. Melt-in-your-mouth type of steak situation. Seriously.
(Update) – If you enjoy a nice craft beer and let’s be honest, one can’t have enough places to slug down hoppy beverages, check out the Ohio Beer Garden. Their monthly Beer Exploration Society meetings bring in Ohio brewers that shell out fresh information and beer. Pro tip: Snag the pretzel bites with your beer, you won’t regret it.
Manny’s Sports Tavern – Sandusky
Beer Cheese Burger
Cedar Point, Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie. All great reasons to make your way to Ohio’s north coast, but I’ve found another. Cruising north on Rt. 250 just after Kalahari on your left you’ll come across an unassuming building stamped “Manny’s Sports Tavern.” Do yourself a favor, pull off the road and walk in. To be fair all of their food is fantastic; however, their burgers are off the charts, particularly the Beer Cheese Burger. Reserved as a special, this delightfully cheesy beef bomb is all about timing. Although I bet they might make it for you if you ask nicely. One can hope.
Beer cheese, bacon and fried portobello mushrooms is all I have to say. Mic drop.
The Thurman Cafe – Columbus
After careful consideration I decided not to include a photo of the Thurman Burger, it’s simply too dangerous. This meaty monstrosity may just ruin your dinner, following day’s breakfast and lunch solely by catching a glimpse on the intranets. Almost world renowned at this point, the description reads like a short novel. Bottom bun, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana peppers, 12-ounce burger, bacon, cheddar, another 12-ounce burger, sautéed mushrooms & onions, ham, mozzarella & American cheese and a top bun. Okay my fingers are tired. Just a heads up, make sure to split this work of art with at least one other person. Or two, or three. You get the gist.
Voltzy’s Root Beer Stande – Dayton
“You going to stand there all day?” is what you might hear if the owner Rick Volz deems your burger order procedure sub-par. Slinging insults and jokes as if he owns the place, the colorful proprietor cooks every burger to perfection himself and after tasting one, you’ll see why his slights are worth taking. While the sliders are certainly on the burger bucket list, not to mention perfect traveling companions, The Hog deserves some kind of sparkly cheese crown. 20 ounces with double cheese and double onions, there’s a good chance that this thing will punch whatever vegetables you have in your stomach right in the mouth.
There would be a photo to accompany this, but I was afraid to take my phone out for fear of getting kicked out. Just teasing, it was a long time ago and I still had a flip phone. Google it!
G & R Tavern – Waldo
Let’s address it right off the bat. You are all correct, this is not a burger. But you know what? It sure resembles one and that’s good enough for me. They might as well call it a Bologna Burger, because that’s precisely what it is. This rule breaker has burger written all over it. 3/4 inch thick bologna that looks like it came from an overzealous butcher, melty monterey jack cheese, sweet pickles and onion make this G &R’s opus. A garlicky production brought down to us from the cosmos meant to achieve one sole purpose: Satisfaction. Okay, maybe indigestion too. But it’s oh so worth it.
Terry’s Turf Club – Cincinnati
Apparently All of Them
Honestly I’ve never been here, but that’s not going to stop me from putting Terry’s on my list because it’s on good authority that this place has the absolute juiciest, most savory burgers in Cincinnati. A bewildered, food crazy friend who frequents Cincy recently said this over the phone fresh off a visit. “I’m dead serious, it’s ridiculous. Imagine a unicorn and a cow had a baby and that baby was a burger. And that burger was covered in edible diamonds.” Oddly enough the edible diamond part was the only thing I found weird.
Anyhow, the burger in question was one with a burgundy mushroom sauce and swiss cheese. Needless to say a trip to Cincy is in my near future. He also mentioned there’s a lot of neon signs and that it’s a dive bar. Bonus.
No doubt I’ve missed a ton and even had to omit some other burgers that are amazing, but if you have any suggestions please share below or on Twitter @ItsAlwaysOhio.