Gourmet burger joint on Reynolds Road sizzles.
Gourmet Burgers are the trend in Toledo, and recent addition Zia's Burger Bar certainly has mastered the art of the American classic.
Zia's, which occupies a former fast-food restaurant at 805 N. Reynolds Rd., begins its burgers with 8-ounce beef patties and serves them on a hearty brioche bun.
We sampled the mushroom-swiss burger, the Cowboy, and the Bobby Kennedy Special. All three were cooked to perfection.
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MENU: Zia‘s Burger Bar
★ ★ ★
Address: 805 N. Reynolds Rd.
Menu: American (VIEW)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: ziasburgerbar.com and Facebook page.
The Bobby Kennedy Special ($9) is a standout — topped with chopped onions, mushrooms, jalapeno pepper, steak sauce, and cheddar cheese. I love spicy food, but I don't typically order menu items topped with jalapenos, because I've found that many restaurants use so many peppers that any other flavors in the dish are lost. With the Bobby Kennedy, Zia's has found the perfect blend of savory flavors. The steak sauce serves a great way to tie everything to together.
The Cowboy ($9), layered with jalapeno Monterey jack cheese, barbecue sauce, and caramelized onion, also received high marks. The burger was served with just the right amount of barbecue sauce for flavor, but not so much that it was messy and the sizable onion ring was a great touch. A companion lamented that bacon (available for $1 more) would have been a fitting addition. Then again, when doesn't bacon equal better?
The mushroom-Swiss burger ($9) is a classic standby. At Zia's, it features enough grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, and swiss cheese to complement rather than overwhelm the burger.
All sandwiches are served with hand-cut french fries. The fries had more taste than bland steak-cut fries, but they weren't anything special. Baked macaroni and cheese can be substituted for $2 more. The macaroni and cheese had a good flavor, but the extra cost didn't seem worth it.
The beer-battered fried onion rings ($6 as an appetizer), however, were tremendous. Thick slices of white onions are coated with a perfectly crisp and flavorful batter. The rings also avoided the pitfall of being super greasy. The onion rings aren't available as a side, but if they were, they'd absolutely be worth a surcharge.
Though burgers are clearly the focus, Zia's offers also offers wings and chicken chunks, and a handful of other sandwich options.
We had mixed results with the traditional wings, which are offered with a choice of eight sauces — naked, barbecue, garlic Parmesan, mild, spicy Asian, spicy garlic, hot buffalo, and jerk.
We sampled the garlic Parmesan and the barbecue. The wings are served in portions of eight ($7), 16 ($13), or 24 ($19).
The barbecue wings were outstanding — large, meaty wings grilled and doused with a smoky barbecue sauce that had a good kick. The garlic Parmesan wings were still large and meaty, but the fried breading overwhelmed the cheese and garlic butter flavor.
Zia's Reuben ($9) is a solid take on a classic. The toasted rye had great flavor and the sauerkraut offered just enough tartness to the corned beef.
The smothered-breaded Italian chicken breast ($9), however, was a disappointment. The sandwich is advertised as an Italian-marinated chicken breast topped with house cheese and marinara sauce, but one of my companions said that the marinara was either omitted or it was baked to a crispy, cheese-like brown substance that lacked flavor.
Zia's gained points for its wide selection of draft beers, including Vanilla Java Porter from Detroit's Atwater Brewery, which had a rich chocolaty flavor. Other options were Guinness, Blue Moon, Shock Top, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, a hard cider, Rolling Rock, and other domestic go-to brands.
A full bar accommodates the space that was likely occupied by the fast-food counter. The restaurant also features seven plasma televisions tuned to the latest sporting events.
Overall, seating is limited at Zia's. The dining room can seat about 40 to 50 guests, while the bar can seat another dozen or so.
Though the wait can be a bit long, the servers were attentive, and, on each visit, the cook stopped by each table to get feedback from the diners, which added a nice touch.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics' meals.
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