The best burger in Cincinnati is not 5 Guys, dumbass.

Cincinnati Bites
Painting from inside Jalapenos Mex-Mex

Posted Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Americano Burger Bar claims its burgers are made up of a "proprietary blend" of "steak-cut beef." What exactly does that mean? It sounded like a lot of hooey to me. So, I prodded a co-worker for a visit to find out for ourselves.

The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the new 84.51 building, accessible via its Race St. side. It's the brainchild of Via Vite chef Cristian Pietoso, an Italian immigrant who has gone out of his way to avoid screwing too much with an American classic (although he offers ten burger variations that differ only from their blankets of myriad toppings). The most Italian-like item on his menu, in fact, is the veggie burger, made up of at least two major ingredients ending in vowels: farro and cannellini beans.

No side items accompany the somewhat pricey burgers, so if you want an appropriately American combo of burger and fries, expect to pay between $12 - $17 for your meal. Add a drink and you'll be throwing down an Andrew Jackson. The bar offers a number of bottled and canned beers to wash away your buyer's remorse, along with a handful of signature cocktails and wine. If you're feeling particularly gluttonous, $6 milk shakes are available, which can be spiked with bourbon cream, coffee liqueur or ameretto for an extra $3.

The restaurant's initial press releases indicated "the meat will be made fresh from the trimmings of dry-aged steaks, meaning the burgers will literally be steak burgers." But now their menu simply offers the more cryptic "steak-cut" line. Maybe saying otherwise would get them into trouble with A.1. steak sauce, which claims to make "hamburgers taste like steak burgers." And what is hamburger, after all? Chopped ham? No, says A.1. It's chopped steak."

My co-worker ordered The Americano burger and a side of hand-cut fries ($13). The signature burger comes topped with American cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo and ketchup. I selected the Argentinian burger and a Southwest grilled corn-on-the-cob ($14). The Argentinian is topped with grilled onions, provolone cheese, mayo and chimichurri (a very potent, herby sauce made from chopped parsley, oregano, garlic and vinegar). Burgers can be ordered "pink" (medium) or "no pink" (well-done). We chose "pink."

Argentinian Burger The Argentinian Burger
Southwest grilled corn-on-the-cob Unrecognizable corn-on-the-cob

When the burgers arrived, I was taken aback by how small they were compared to the ridiculous-sized burgers at similar trendy establishments. Their size, however, was a plus in my book: I didn't have to spend half my lunch break making tedious mathematical calculations on how best to fit said burger into my tiny little mouth. Still, a part of me was a little irritated about the price-to-size ratio. "But it's steak-cut beef," I hear the marketing voices coo in my ear. "Can't you taste the proprietariness of Chef Pietoso's blend?" Well, no, I couldn't. What I could conclude was that it was a decent burger. It had an attractive, toasted bun. It was a nicely-formed patty, cooked a perfect medium. It was a burger. And as comedian Louis C.K. might say: the burger didn't offend me. It didn't solve all my problems, but it was fine.

What wasn't fine was my side of grilled corn-on-the-cob. The three-dollar miniature cob was absolutely covered beyond recognition with heaps of mayo, Parmesan cheese and dustings of paprika. It's messiness made it impossible to pick up and eat without looking like a fool. Honestly, if they would have sold the grilled corn for $1, I would have paid them $2 just to keep the rest of the crap off the cob. Grilled corn doesn't need anything to dress it up. The extra toppings only serve to mask something that's naturally tasty. Stop that.

Americano Burger Bar is just one more hyped-up burger joint to add to the din. They offer good burgers and some decent sides. Steer clear of the hokey, over-dressed items on their menu and you might find yourself becoming a regular.

Americano Burger Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Americano Burger Bar

Price: Moderately Expensive ($11 - $16 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.0 out of 43.0 stars

Other Recent Reviews

  1. A Mediocre Lunch at Firehouse Grill
    -posted Sunday, October 8, 2017
  2. Southern Indian Impressions: Udupi Cafe
    -posted Saturday, September 23, 2017
  3. New Downtown Korean Restaurant: Haru
    -posted Tuesday, August 29, 2017
  4. Pleasant Ridge Impressions: Nine Giant Brewing
    -posted Monday, August 7, 2017
  5. Mediterranean Musings at Milya Cafe
    -posted Sunday, July 16, 2017
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From TJ Jackson about Udupi Cafe:
    I do not know if it is truly a match for the product you remember, but Frostop Root Beer is sold at Jungle Jims and is a personal favorite of mine.
    posted: Fri., Sep 29th, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
  • From Jones about Haru Korean Restaurant:
    As a long time reader, I found this review to be one of your loveliest and most enthusiastically vivid. I can't wait to try this place!
    posted: Tue., Aug 29th, 2017 @ 9:48 AM
  • From Jordan about Grand Central Delicatessen:
    posted: Sat., Jun 3rd, 2017 @ 12:16 PM
  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
  • From Tabitha about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
  • From holly may about Urban Grill on Main:
    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
  • From Sommer about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo: they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Swad Indian:
    @MJ: I heard family members of those who'd run Dusmesh now work out of the former Amol India in Clifton. It's called, Grill of India (
    posted: Thu., Dec 29th, 2016 @ 11:45 PM
  • From mj about Swad Indian:
    It seems Swad has changed hands. Have not see the former Dusmesh owners in my last visit (10/1/2016) and the food is just ok. Wonder where they went this time?
    posted: Wed., Dec 28th, 2016 @ 8:22 AM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design