Thursday, November 05, 2009

Zippy's Giant Burgers

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

Zippy's Burgers on Urbanspoon


John said...

"I don’t see people waxing nostalgic and craving handfuls of granulated Dixie Crystals."

The fuck you talkin' 'bout, Willis?

I'm going to dig through every post, every tweet.... if I find one fond recollection of pixie sticks, I'm nailing you to a fucking rotisserie.

Love ya! (no, really. So need to get drinks sometime)

Surly Gourmand said...


while I don't like Pixie Stix, I DO love heroin, which is also a powder.

So bring me a big bag of heroin, preferably one with a dollar sign on it, like the bags thieves in cartoons somehow procure when they want to rob a bank.


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

PS Let's drink it up sometime soon. My beverage of choice is a human skull filled with a Virgin's tears.

Anonymous said...

"There's no sugar in pixie sticks."

Vana said...

This place sounds EXACTLY the same as Red Mill. Although Red Mill has a better name and their fries rock.

Michael Natkin said...

Can I salute you for trying and reporting on the veg burger? Most columnists at major metropolitan dailies can't be bothered to tell me what the veg option is at most restaurants, much less whether it is good. Thank you.

Carrie said...

Ditto to what Michael said. DITTO.

p.s. RAWR! ;)

Surly Gourmand said...


while Zippy's in practice might be similar to Red Mill, in spirit it has an anarchic vibe that Red Mill could never capture, especially with all their Rolling Stones crap all over the place.

Basically this philosophical hamburger war boils down to classic rock vs punk: if Red Mill is the Rolling Stones then Zippy's is the Dead Kennedys.

Personally I'm waiting for the hamburger equivalent of Iron Maiden to pop up. Oh wait, it already exists: Spring Hill's monumental cheeseburger is so pompous and majestic, and it shoots for the stars with the same abandon, that it's the gastronomic version of Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

So there.


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Surly Gourmand said...

Michael Natkin,

Thanks. You know you're one of my earliest motherfuckers, dude, so your praise means extra.

The bean burger at Zippy's stands alone on its own merits, which is surprising because it is in no way shape or form an afterthought for people who won't eat flesh.

So don't salute me; I'm just the messenger. Salute Zippy's and their strikingly competent vegetarian menu options.


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Surly Gourmand said...


Rawr, indeed.


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Casey said...

Zippy's > Red Mill. Their hand molded patty's are charred to perfection. Meaty pink goodness in every bite. Now if they can drop one in Fremont or Greenwood I'd fuck Surly's mom's pink meaty goodness.