Review: Sammy’s Gourmet Burgers

Whenever I post about burgers, someone invariably says, “Hey! Why isn’t such-and-such on the list! It’s so much better than what you picked!” Usually, “such-and-such” is a burger I don’t particularly like, but every once in a while, it’s one I haven’t tried. In an effort to be as well-informed as possible, I’m trying to hit up these burger places. The Fiance doesn’t mind, since after a week of eating fairly healthfully, the first thing he wants is a burger. Two weeks ago, our Saturday burger involved a trip up to Sammy’s Gourmet Burgers in Blue Ash, which several of you readers suggested as your favorite.

Sammy’s is very near to Through the Garden, at the intersection of Creek Road and Kenwood Road in Blue Ash. Being so close to Ethicon and several office complexes, I’m sure it gets great weekday lunch business. On weekends, it’s all sports bar, with a bunch of TVs showing soccer and football.  The atmosphere is pretty casual, which is appropriate for a burger joint. The menu is very sports bar too– deep fried everything, including jalapenos, “Bengal striped” onion rings (I’m not sure I want to know how this is achieved), quesadillas, chili, and nachos.  The menu has a lot of Mexican influences, which is appropriate, since the same family owns El Pueblo Mexican Restaurant, also in Blue Ash.  There are a lot of dishes with “Mexican Melting Cheese” (I assume to be asadaro) and sauces like sabi (a hot sauce), ranchero (tomato-based) and ragita (based on chilis, but I’m not entirely sure it’s Mexican, and extensive searches of Chow, Epicurious and a couple of food dictionaries didn’t help).  They also have Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and a couple of them are prepared Sonoran-style, that is, wrapped in bacon with a variety of toppings.  I’ll try one next time I pop in.  With all of these Mexican touches, I’m surprised that the nachos were cajun.  Ah, well.  We weren’t there for the nachos: we were there for the burgers.

We took a quick look at the burgers, and decided that we’d emphasize the “gourmet”.  Terry picked the Hawaiian Burger, which included teriyaki, mayonnaise, ham, pineapple and Swiss cheese.  The presentation (and, frankly, the recipe) reminded me of Red Robin: so many toppings it has to be wrapped up, or else you’d end up wearing the burger.  The burger itself wasn’t much to write home about, and after a bit of deliberation, we realized it was probably frozen.  The “gourmet” is necessary in order to make the burger anything other than average.  Unfortunately, this too fell short, since the pineapple was canned, and the ham, though grilled, was bland.  Upgrading the ingredients could make this a pretty good burger.

My burger fared slightly better.  Same mediocre patty, but the combination of the ragita chili sauce, ranchero-cilantro dressing and “Mexican melting cheese” was very flavorful.  It was spicy without being overwhelming (I don’t like hot for its own sake; so hot you can’t taste anything else), and just a little different and creative.  We agreed that my burger was by far the better of the two.

Lastly, the fries.  As we walked in, we saw a cook from the kitchen shaking a gigantic bag of frozen fries in the doorway to the kitchen.  Not a good sign.  And, to be honest, they weren’t much to write home about.  They’re described as “famous beer-battered bottleneck fries”, but I’m certain that they’re famous at every restaurant that has them. They’re okay– crispy– but taste pretty processed.

Sammy’s Gourmet Burgers unfortunately falls short.  They’ve got the burgers part right– they do have them, and some of them aren’t bad– but the gourmet part is lacking.  They need to upgrade their ingredients– fresh burgers, fresh pineapple, better ham, fresh fries– to truly be “gourmet”.  This isn’t a bad stop if you’re in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t make a special trip.

Sammy's Gourmet Burgers and Beer on Urbanspoon

  • bshermcincy

    @winemedineme they lose me at “sammy”. Not a fan of that abbreviation. From the review I am glad my bias saved me a trip.

    • http://twitoaster.com/country-us/winemedineme/ winemedineme

      @bshermcincy I don’t think they’re abbreviating sandwich (agreed: horrible abbrevation) but yeah, not worth the trip.

      • bshermcincy

        @winemedineme good point. It is ideally sammie.

        • http://twitoaster.com/country-us/winemedineme/ winemedineme

          @bshermcincy I mean, I think it’s an owner’s name or something. Sammy, being short for Samuel.

        • http://twitoaster.com/country-us/winemedineme/ winemedineme

          @bshermcincy yes: Samuel Flores, the owner.

    • http://twitoaster.com/country-us/winemedineme/ winemedineme

      @bshermcincy mind you that day I had also left my wallet at home and was accidentally running on fumes.. should have been a sign.

      • CincyConeyQuest

        @winemedineme I’m always skeptical of a place that calls their burgers “gourmet”. I’m almost always disappointed in them.

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  • http://flourpowerz.blogspot.com becky

    I enjoyed the hot dogs that they had. We were going to stop in on Saturday night but they were too packed. Ended up at InCahoots instead. That “mexican melting cheese” is of the sticky, shiny variety but tasted fine. They do have great beer specials during games.

    The most confounding thing I find about Sammy’s is that they’re on OpenTable. Weird.

  • Kevin

    My first thought was that maybe “ragita” was supposed to be called “raita” but raita is an Indian cucumber sauce, not a Mexican pepper sauce. Maybe it is some obscure sauce Sammy Flores remembers from back home in Mexico?

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Yup, when you google “ragita” it asks you if you mean raita. Definitely doesn’t seem to be the same. Tried rajita (as it’s pronounced like it’s got the j/h sound and not the “g’ sound). No luck. Ragita also seems to be a first name of Indian origin. I’m stumped.

  • Kevin

    As far as the “sammie” abbreviation goes, I never really liked Rachel Ray, but it turned to loathing when I saw her calling her sandwich a “sammie” one day and then giggling to herself as if she thought she was clever. Glad she seems to be fading from the cooking channels I watch.

  • http://jackiedanicki.com Jackie D

    Ugh, “gourmet”! You are more tolerant than I am; won’t give a dime to restaurateurs who feel the need to tell people their food is “gourmet”. Sure sign that it’s sub-par.

    And really, frozen fries and canned pineapple? They’re not even trying.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com julie

      Yeah, the canned pineapple really threw me for a loop. Why even bother? As far as frozen fries, I agree, no excuse. If a place like Penn Station can do on-demand, fresh-cut fries (that are ridiculously good), any place can. I know most places use frozen sweet potato fries for logistical reasons, but for white potato fries? C’mon.

      If I ignored every restaurant that had a bad name, I’d have missed quite a few gems! Unfortunately, not the case in this post.

  • TheRealFadi

    I have had Sammy’s many times, since i live and work close by, but it is FAR FAAAR from gourmet. i normally get the cordon blue sans the ham and it’s nothing spectacular but mediore (slightly better than mediocre). I frankly don’t like the setup of the place much, but i still go there for lack of a better alternative when i don’t feel like driving.

  • Jeff in Middletucky

    Well, good to know that the original Blue Ash location pretty well sucks as much as does the Sammy’s/El Pueblo mash-up in Springboro. I’ve eaten at that location twice, and, really, that was one time too many.

  • Craig

    Sounds like Sammy’s is not a good place….

    Does anybody know of a better burger in the vicinity of Sammy’s?

    • Tracy M

      I like SmashBurger which is further north on Kenwood Rd…Left on Cornell, and it is in the stripmall on the right. Can’t go wrong there, and shakes are to die for!!!!

      • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

        I’ve been to Smashburger elsewhere– they’re becoming a pretty big chain, right?