Our culture is over-saturated with movies, books, and shows written by and for people jumping on the bandwagon for zombies, who are arguably among the most iconic monsters of all time. Being one of those bandwagon-jumpers myself, I knew I had to try Zombie Burger the moment I heard about it. Personally, I love a good zombie depiction just as much as a bad one, and I adore when people can take a previously mastered concept and make it original. Fortunately for me, I have family living in Des Moines, Iowa (the birthplace of this living-dead restaurant), so I had a good excuse to swing a trip up to this unique burger place.
My trips to Iowa have been limited to Christmas-time over the past few years since I’ve known about this restaurant, therefore, I lost hope thinking I’d never step foot inside Zombie Burger. With my zombie-themed food-consuming future looking bleak, work approved my days off for Christmas and I headed to Iowa. At first, my excitement went unmatched for several days. Nothing compared to this moment of undead burger possibilities, not even seeing my family whom I love dearly. I had to control myself and reel in my expectations…I could end up hating the food or staff, the menu could be small, the interior could be filthy, the service might be slow!
So I casually dropped it in conversation one night and my relatives had nothing but good things to say about Zombie Burger, which just fueled my excitement all over again. My family recommended that we arrive right when they open, so the following day I grabbed my mom and dad as early as I could, and we arrived at the restaurant at 10:50am. Zombie Burger had their doors open even though they don’t officially open until 11am, and there was already a line! We were happy to see that the line forming consisted of people who wanted the full-service experience. Instead, we opted for their to-go side, where we picked up our food and fought several other people for adequate counter space.
Let me talk about the inside of this place. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, they have a small sign above the door and a purple LED zombie face, but the inside oozed fun! I immediately fell in love. Although we did not dine in the full-service side, I noticed they had a mural all along the walls of a cityscape infested with zombies. It wasn’t scary or gross, rather it was full of color and cartoonish.
There were also several stuffed zombie dummies at the entrance that my father insisted on taking a selfie with.
The worst (and only truly bad) thing about Zombie Burger is ordering, but only because you don’t know what to order. Everything sounds mouth-watering and the menu is full of zombie pop culture references,so it can become slightly overwhelming. However, I controlled myself and tried to be optimistic. I thought realistically about my eating habits and knew I could eat a full burger, but would need to share if I ordered anything else. So I convinced my family to indulge me and order several burgers.
I ordered the Dead Moines: single patty with smoked gouda, ham, prosciutto, and truffle mayo. Prosciutto and ham are naturally salty products, but the saltiness wasn’t overpowering thanks to the smoke from the cheese taking over and the truffle mayo hitting you at the end. I thought my patty was a little charred on the outside, but the inside was juicy and not at all overcooked.
My dad ordered The Flamethrower: single patty with fried onion rings, blue cheese, ranch dressing, and buffalo sauce. Personally, I didn’t find this burger very spicy, but an IV runs straight from a Sriracha bottle to my arm, so I typically have a pretty high tolerance for heat. My dad found the heat level comfortable for him, which means if you enjoy spicy foods only on occasion, this burger won’t be too hot for you. One thing my dad and I both agreed on was how much blue cheese came on the burger; I don’t know if the person in the kitchen felt a little generous, but it had too much (and I adore blue cheese). My favorite part about that burger was the fried onion rings, which gave a nice crunch in an otherwise juicy burger.
My mom ordered The Boomstick: single patty with fried chili, American cheese, sliced red onion, and pickles. This burger is something else. I’ve never had chili on a burger before, nor have I had it fried, but I’m still trying to figure out how they did it. My mother’s only complaint was that the chili “squirted” at her and burned her lip (at least you know it’s hot), but she said she didn’t care because the burger was “damn good.”
We did get a fry basket to share, which is plenty for three people. They serve small, thin fries, which are my personal favorite. They came out hot, perfectly salted, and a great complement to my burger.
I did order a cake shake, because why not! I shared this with my mom because I knew on my own I wouldn’t be physically able to finish it after my amazing burger and phenomenal fries. We shared the Chocolate Cake Shake, which tasted just like drinking chocolate cake batter. So yummy. Their drink sizes are also realistic, and I appreciated that they didn’t serve it in a glass the size of my arm. Proper portion sizes make me happy.
With burger names like “The Walking Ched” and “They’re Coming to Get You Barbara”, Zombie Burger goes all out on impressing you with their wit and the fun atmosphere. Even if you don’t like zombies but love a good burger,absolutely try this place out.
Overall rating: 4 / 5 stars