1513 SW Holden St
206-763-1347 (but don’t bother calling)
I fucking LOVE hamburgers. Hamburgers are the quintessential American food, and they fucking rock the ever living FUCK out of your FACE. They taste so goddamned good. Actually that’s a generalization. Not every hamburger tastes that great: for instance, the McDonald’s Corporation exists solely to fend off hangovers. Their beef tastes stale and dusty yet humid, like what I imagine a mannequin’s vagina would taste like.
I’m also less than enamored by the Costco- style mega- packs of frozen burgers, ESPECIALLY the ones that have an irregularly shaped perimeter, as though that wavy edge would fool anyone into thinking that their burger was a handmade patty. One big tipoff would be the fact that while the edges of the burger might not be perfectly circular, the top face of the patty is perfectly flat. Flat enough, in fact, for you to use the patty as though it were a writing desk. To paraphrase Lewis Carrol, how is a burger like a writing desk? Answer: when it sucks so bad that you write all over it instead of eating it. Because you see, my friends, the essence of humor is finding an unlikely link between two vastly different things. For example: the esoteric combination of tax- dodging aristocrats and huffy ignorant gasbags with an infinite wellspring of indignation is the reason the Republican party will always be more hilarious than the Democrats.
Like the Republican party, the long line to buy a fucking hamburger at Zippy’s would also be hilarious if it didn’t directly impact my life. Obviously Zippy’s, tucked into a corner of West Seattle and just a whore’s hair north of White Center, is popular, although the line wouldn’t be so long if the place wasn’t the size of a cubicle inside. You can allegedly call in an order in advance, but don’t bother: the one time I tried that, they put me “on hold,” and by that I mean they put me on “ghetto hold,” which means they just put the phone down with me still on the line, so I could hear them taking EVERYONE ELSE’S orders, while ignoring my own humble hamburger request.
Anyway, despite the cluster fuck inside Zippy’s, the hamburgers are so fucking killer it’s totally worth the wait. Despite its awkward name, the Zip Burger with Bacon and Cheese ($5.50) is a fucking classic: a huge sloppy monster on a bun. The patty, juicy and grilled to a lurid and unrepentantly pink medium, barely holds itself together with each bite. Bacon reinforces the smoky charred flavor. The usual vegetable suspects loiter about: iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and red onions all jockey for position. A couple slices of melted cheese mortar the whole thing together.
The enigmatically named “No. 11” ($5.25) features the same obscenely juicy beef patty, along with lettuce, cheese, chipotle sauce, and pickled peppers. Although it doesn’t seem very spicy at first, with each bite the heat mounts progressively, until a sheen of sweat breaks out on your forehead and your nose begins to run. Instead of cryptically labeling it “No. 11” they should have called this burger “Sauna on a Bun.”
All of you hypocritical vegans in the audience should know that the (vegetarian) Zip Bean Burger ($4.75) is VERY GOOD: a black bean and mushroom patty nestles snugly into a bun amongst a big pile of lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and lots of pickles. The patty itself has a nice crusty caramelized char on the outside, while the interior is surprisingly chewy and moist with pleasant woody notes. The Bean Burger would actually be orders of magnitude better with bacon, which as everyone knows is a flavor multiplier. As everyone ALSO knows, beans and bacon go so well together. And I’m pretty sure the “Secret sauce,” a glossy orange concoction, has mayonnaise in it, so the Bean Burger ISN’T vegan. If you’re a vegetarian and you’ve made the tricky logistical commitment of setting foot inside Zippy’s overcrowded 3rd world cubicle, you may as well just go ahead and get bacon on the Bean Burger. Just do it. No one will know.
Fries and onion rings are each $1.50. For this price you get a good amount of rather bland but otherwise good fries. The onion rings are SPECTACULAR: the batter is nicely seasoned, not too thick, and so crisp it crunches almost like a Dorito in your mouth when you bite it. The onions themselves are sliced neither too thick nor too thin. And you get a lot of them. My only complaint here is that Zippy’s gives you a tiny cup of ketchup and “Secret sauce” to dip you rings into, and there’s no possible way it could fit: it’s like trying to shove a hula hoop into a shot glass.
If you’re thirsty there’s a variety of weird local sodas in the cooler (I counted 34 different kinds). Zippy’s is also renowned for its floats, malts, and milkshakes ($3.25, $3.75, and $3.50 respectively), which of course are made from real ice cream. Honestly, though, I don’t see the appeal of milkshakes. People who love to point out obvious things frequently say that the first dude to eat escargot must have been starving, but I posit that the dude who invented the milkshake must have been STONED. Why else would someone want to drink a cup of melted ice cream? Sure, it’s sweet, but a 10 pound bag of sugar is sweet too, and I don’t see people waxing nostalgic and craving handfuls of granulated Dixie Crystals.
I would say that Zippy’s rules your stomach with an iron fist, but it’s so chaotic and goofy that I don’t think an iron fist is an appropriate metaphor for Zippy’s administrative control of your digestive system. After all, an iron fist implies order, authority, and ruthless efficiency, and Zippy’s of course, has none of that. So let’s just say Zippy’s rules your stomach with some kind of floppy, brightly colored clown glove.
Rating: 8 clown gloves out of 10