Over the last few years, various media outlets have entertained nominations and voting for the “Best of…” in a variety of entertainment and culinary categories in Southwest Ohio. In the all-important “Best Burger” category, I noticed 4 Warren County restaurants seemed to rise to the top in Burger dominance – Quatman Café and Wildflower Café in Mason and Village Ice Cream Parlor and Patriot Steakhouse & Tavern in Lebanon. So what’s a blogger to do? When visitors come to the area, they don’t necessarily have time to explore all the meaty options, so I felt it only my duty to test them all – just for you.
Quatman Café – For value, this is a top pick. It is a simple, but large good old fashioned burger and you pick the toppings. To me, this tastes like home-grilled. On certain days, the cheeseburger is part of a combo with fries and a drink for just under $7 as of this writing. (Named a “best” by both Cincinnati Magazine and Today’s Pulse of Warren County.)
Wildflower Café – Wildflower prides itself on serving local grass-fed beef. Accompanied by a dressed field greens salad, this burger is served on a pretzel bun and includes twice-smoked bacon, organic field greens, pickled onion, secret sauce, and your choice of sharp cheddar, bleu or feta cheese. It is hardy in size and quite flavorful. (Named a “best” by Cincinnati Magazine.)
Village Ice Cream Parlor – As the name suggests, this is a nostalgic ice cream parlor straight out of the movies – really, it has been used in more than one Hollywood production! Good old fashioned Single or Double Stacker burgers with traditional toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mayo have made this a local favorite since 1969. The single, weighing in at a quarter pound, is just right for my appetite as it leaves room for one of their signature ice cream treats! (Named a “best” by both Ohio Magazine and Today’s Pulse of Warren County.)
Patriot Steakhouse & Tavern – A 2013 award-winner for “Best Burger in Warren County” led me to test out the Patriot. Currently only open for dinner, the restaurant boasts a wide variety of burger options. From a typical grilled burger to a chili burger to their signature peanut butter, bacon & egg burger, there truly is something for every taste. My 15-year old son and I tried their BBQ/Bacon/Cheddar Burger. The 10 oz. fresh ground, hand-pattied burger came with a choice of side items. It was large, juicy, and tasty. Did I mention large? We actually couldn’t even finish it – and that says a lot if you knew our affinity for burgers! (Named a “best” by Today’s Pulse of Warren County.) (Note: The Patriot Steakhouse & Tavern unfortunately closed as of June, 2015)
Honorable Mentions – And though they haven’t made the list (yet), as I discussed this topic with others in the area, the Golden Lamb in Lebanon and Mason’s Blue Ash Chili were mentioned several times as favorites. So that I could safely say I had done my best to bring you the most complete information, I did indeed try both. At the Golden Lamb, my son declared their Pennsylvania Farms Lamb Burger with toasted fennel, boursin cheese, and tomato chutney his personal favorite. I enjoyed the Premium Angus Beef Burger with aged cheddar, garlic aioli, and garden trimmings. At Blue Ash Chili, there are several options, but I enjoyed the Bacon Cheeseburger. Now I know lots of places offer bacon cheeseburgers, but I counted 16 full slices of bacon on this 1/3 lb. burger, taking it to a whole new level.
Best of the Best – OK, the reality is, I can’t choose a Best of the Best. Mood, taste and appetite all keep this completely subject to your own personal choice. But take comfort in knowing that should you crave a tasty burger while visiting Ohio’s Largest Playground, you have LOTS of award-worthy options.