HAPPY MOUTH — December 2002

Review by Ed Sauerbrunn, ESauers@Mailcity.com

Once again the motley crew so designated as “Happy Mouth” ventured to the local establishment known to many as Zips.

A few of us Happy Mouthers tiring of trolling around the brash, trendy and expensive “It” restaurants (which alone is a juxtapostion here in Cincinnati), venture off to visit a true tavern. It was time for the group to leave the cork and bottle on the pedestal and step down to enjoy the true sense of fine dining.

A favorite to an Eastsider, Zips is a life experience at the local establishment. A tavern that has stood the test of time. Entering this place the ambiance is as if you have been greeted with the warmth of an old friend. Zip’s is a haunt to the college person on break searching for a glass of beer and old high school friends. Generations have passed through this tavern. Saturdays are filled with Hyde Park families looking for a cheap eat to feed their kids and the chance to be seen. At night, the college-bound bring their dates for a cheap eat.

If you have never been to Zips, understand one thing. You are there for the famous Zip Burger and a daft of beer. Its a No-brainer. The menu was written on the large chalk board above the kitchen window long before you were a twinkle in your Daddy’s eye. Don’t go expecting to make a decision about what is for dinner. You’ve eaten burgers all your life. You all ready know what you put on your burger since being a kid. 

Upon entering Zips glass windowed doors, you need not worry about a mater-d or hostess. Its free range here, baby. Find an empty table and grab it. Tables are premium – Booths even more rare. Our group was lucky. A gaggle of tables opened up allowing the 13 of us to seat immediately.

Once we caught the eye of our server, beer populated the table. My end shared a pitcher of Bass ale and a couple of pint glasses. Then again others, who chose not to stray from the pedestal bearing the cork and bottle, picked a safer path odering a bottle Harps Larger or Bud Lite.

A short time later once beer has flowed, and the conversations are running full bore, the server returns with order pad and pencil. Few pleasantries exist, and orders are quickly taken. Zip burgers all around. Some double Zips, some hold the pickles, others with or without cheese. Add fries, onion rings, or a cup of chili. It all works and matches perfectly to the glass of beer.

The Zip burger is a generous hand-formed hamburger patty. Add fresh lettuce, tomato pickles and cheese. Put it all on a fresh bun that fights to share space with the meat. The amount of grease on the patty is perfect. This is what the Zip burger is all about.

A couple of TV’s provide background noise to our conversations. We shouted up and down the table passing the latest gossip, news, or updates of friends. Before you know it, the server is gently reminding you your pitcher is empty and a decision has to be made. Hours have passed and the plates are cleared. The exit is crowded now with hungry patrons lining the doorway waiting for a table to clear of its patrons. We have bid our time. Dessert is an easy one – Graeters.

So we abondon our table(s). Empty bottles and pitchers are the only remanents of our visit. Zips is a true time portal; just as quickly you have arrived – you’ll find yourself leaving – questioning where the time went.

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