Well, the ballots are in and the readers of Cityview voted Zombie Burger “Best Restaurant Period!” I know what you’re thinking: “WTF is up with these readers?”

Thanks for the love, Des Moines!

Now, I will go on record saying that Tasty Tacos and the Old La Pizza House would easily be in my top five here in Des Moines, and nationally I’d include Katz’s Deli and Shake Shack in Gotham and Pizzeria Uno in Chicago.

But Zombie Burger’s recognition here in Des Moines is really special to me, because it means that although outsiders just see it as a “burger joint,” the community is embracing the hard work and all those little things we do to make it a place any foodie would love. For example:

Creativity and experimentation. Chef Tom McKern (who also received a Cityview “Best Chef” nod) leads our talented team of chefs who use Zombie Burger as a place to let their culinary creativity shine, resulting in unique food you won’t find anywhere else. Just look at our approach to bacon – we braise it, fry it, chicken fry it, slice it and, on occasion candy it. We even roast and pull it for a flavor packed spin on classic pulled pork.

Menu diversity. Zombie Burger’s menu features more non-beef options than beef options – how’s that for a “burger joint?” We have two unique veggie burger options, seasoned portabella mushroom cap option and chicken breast option – all of which can be used in place of beef on ANY sandwich. Plus, we’ve got a huge selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly items so non-meat eaters can join in the fun.

A scene from last summer’s Peace Tree Tap Takeover – a partnership with one of Iowa’s best breweries!

Serious bar selection. We have over 130 beers available, and bar manager John George is always rotating the taps to bring Des Moines the latest and greatest micro brews anywhere. Couple that with our specialty cocktails and our huge selection of famous spiked milkshakes, and you’ve got a beverage Mecca in the East Village.

Focus on service. We’ve got a solid front of house team who put a primary focus on customer service and satisfaction. They have great time at work, and they want you to have great time at the restaurant. They make Zombie Burger the best place to hang out in the city, any night of the week. Their attitude is infectious – people come for the food and stay for the service!

Commitment to quality. Every ingredient we use has been specifically selected for the unique characteristics it brings to a specific dish and that every item on our menu has been tested and retested until the preparation and presentation is perfect. I’ve been working on the Zombie Burger bun off and on my whole adult life – it wasn’t until the winter before we opened that I feel I nailed it.

Like any of my restaurants, Zombie Burger makes their own fries, just a hell of a lot more. As a result, we were forced to take a crash course on gelatinization of starches in order to make high volume fry preparation successful.

The Zombie Burger grill is a custom made beast, designed to replicate the sear of cast iron griddle. To work in tandem with the grill, we ground more than 30 different cuts of meat in different combinations before we settled on the current three-cut blend that resulted in a perfectly juicy burger. We also have an intense process of making our own seasoned salt designed to bring more umami (savory flavor) out in the burgers.

Of any burger on the menu, you can fully experience all this planning when you order a basic, straightforward Double Zombie Burger. The meat, cheese, sauce and bun ratio is spot on, and all the flavors reach a perfect harmony.

So, a big “thanks” to all the folks who voted for us this year – we promise to keep bringing it in 2013! And a shout out to GM Karen and the whole Zombie Burger team – your hard work, creativity and dedication to excellence is what makes this “burger joint” a seriously excellent spot!

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