Corn smut is Mexican food porn at its finest.

Cincinnati Bites
Reuben and potato pancake from Decent Deli

Posted Friday, December 14, 2012

In these modern health and environment-conscious times, we carnivores have a lot to feel guilty about. Our insatiable lust for artery-clogging red meat seems to reflect base, Cro-Magnon roots traced back to a time when fire was power and cooked flesh was equal parts char and juicy deliciousness. Mad Mike's Burgers & Fries, a burger joint and fledgling local chain, proudly caters to our seductive, reproachable habit.

Mad Mike's takes its cue from places like 5 Guys Burgers and Fries and Smashburger, slapping the face of those who would denounce our American "super-sized" culture. They're out to prove that, every now and again, people want to shove a half pound of meat and french fries down the gullet, happily abusing their belly with that sweet, sudden rush of 1500 calories.

Housed in an adobe-styled building that looks like it was perhaps once an old Taco Bell, Mad Mike's premier location in Florence offers just enough seating to accommodate a moderate lunch rush. There are three locations altogether, the latest of which opening recently in Newport, operating out of the former Graeter's across from Newport on the Levee.

Most 5 Guys fans will find a familiar menu in Mike's, as both offer large, 2-patty 1/2-pound burgers, quarter-pound "junior" burgers, hot dogs, unlimited burger toppings and, of course, heaping mounds of fresh-cut french fries.

But there's something unique about Mad Mike's meat preparation that makes it better than the big chains: its 100%, Black Angus burgers have a nice, crusty char and a more satisfying, meatier flavor than 5 Guys. The patties rest on fluffy, dusted brioche buns with a split in the middle that begs for a photo op. A frequent haunt for our work crew, Mad Mike's easily wins the prize as one of the best affordable burger options in town.

Shroomin' Burger from Mad Mike's Burger and Fries

Eleven signature burgers headline the menu. Both the "Outlaw" and the cheesier "American Outlaw" are the most recognizable as standard burger fare with lettuce, tomato pickle, grilled onions, and the mayo-riffic "Mad Sauce." Workmates particularly enjoy the "Big Tex," topped with deep-fried bacon, BBQ sauce, onion rings, lettuce and tomato. My personal favorite is the "Shroomin'," which is piled high with grilled mushrooms, bacon, lettuce, Mad Sauce and wispy fried onion rings over molten pepper jack cheese.

Like 5 Guys, Mad Mike's offers orders of fries whose volume surpasses all measure of ridiculousness. On our first visit, we made the mistake of getting the large fry, a huge paper cup overflowing with starchy shards of potato and at least another small cup of fries remaining in an accompanying paper bag. Even the small fry was plenty for feeding two people. Since the ample burger's leaden weight makes it adequate sustenance for an entire day, I stopped ordering fries in subsequent visits, with room later only for a light dinner snack.

Mad Mike's continues to be one of our top burger picks in the city. It's easily in my top five, brushing up against heavy hitters like Gas Light Cafe, Terry's Turf Club, Herb & Thelma's and City View Tavern.

Mad Mike’s Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Mad Mike’s Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Mad Mike’s Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon
Mad Mike's Burger & Fries

Price: Cheap (under $11 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.0 out of 43.0 stars






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Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • 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:
    But...do 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 (http://grillofindiaoh.com/).
    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
  • From Rachel about Bamboo Kitchen:
    Hey there,
    I would recommend Basil Thai and Bangkok Terrace. They have wonderful Thai foods there :)
    posted: Sat., Nov 19th, 2016 @ 11:28 AM
  • From Tabitha about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    Looks good - I definitely have been wanting to try this place!
    posted: Wed., Nov 9th, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
  • From Georgia about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    So you order and pay at the counter before you get your food and they expect you to tip? That's not right.
    posted: Tue., Oct 25th, 2016 @ 10:19 AM
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