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Zinburger - Biltmore Fashion Park (first visit)

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Open just a couple of days, my BF & Mom did lunch today at Zinburger. This second outpost of Zinburger (first one in Tucson) from Fox Restaurants is a good addition to the burger scene on Camelback.

Yes, it was crowded with the lunchtime throngs from the mall and nearby offices. Yes, we had to wait a while for a table (a mere 5-7 mins though at 12:15). Yes, the service was fairly slow, but given the crush of patrons on the place's second day, our server & the other staff were quite attentive.

We ordered a crème brûlée shake along with some waters & iced tea. When our server noticed that we didn't plan on consuming the shake until dessert time, she insisted that she take it away & bring us a freshly made one after our meal. Good strategy since it did take quite a while to get our food.

Mom ordered the turkey burger (avocado,swiss cheese,lettuce,mayo), BF had the Samburger (Nueske's bacon,American cheese,1000 Island) and I had the Zinburger (zinfandel onions,Manchego cheese,mayo). Two orders of fries too; truffle fries and sweet potato.

All burgers were cooked to about medium even though the BF said medium well & I requested medium rare. Regardless, all three burgers were juicy and well seasoned. The fries shined too. Truffle fries came with truffle aioli (delicious) and the sweet potato fries with yogurt dip (ala tzaziki).

The Crème Brûlée shake came out for dessert & was decent; more vanilla shake than any brûlée flavor, but good quality nonetheless.

Zinburger decor leans heavily on cows (large mural of cows in a pasture and a cute milk bottle light fixture at the entrance).

We all enjoyed our food, service was slow due to the crowd but attentive and I feel confident recommending Zinburger to my fellow Chowhounds.

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Zinburger - Biltmore Fashion Park
2502 E Camelback Rd Ste 127, Phoenix, AZ 85016

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  1. How does it compare to Delux, right down the street?

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    Delux
    3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      The foccacia bun at Delux is great & holds together throughout. Zinburger's bun is fairly classic & does get soggy in the end, but I loved that it was soggy with such good stuff (the beef juice & the tasty mayo). I would say Zinburger is a really well made traditional style burger. Delux is more of a gourmet burger. I cannot pick one over the other for my taste. Same goes for the sweet potato fries; it's a toss up because the sauces are different but both so good.
      You have to make your own pilgrimage & decide for yourself.

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      Delux
      3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

      1. re: scaheld

        Thanks.

      2. re: ipsedixit

        Delux wins the fries battle hands down, half the zinburger fries are soggy - the truffle fries I did not care for @ zin but my friends liked them so could just be me

        Burger and bunwise there is no comparison delux all the way...much better bun, stays together and the meat quality was better imo @ delux...

        Pricewise delux is a bit cheaper but only by 50 cents here or $1 there

        Beer selection- delux has many more beers on draft

        Honestly I don't ever see a reason to go to zin when there is a better place that is slightly cheaper right down the road

        Oh forgot setup-wise zin does have a cool double bar half in and out going but I like the overall sleekness of delux, zin feels forced and a bit cheesy other than the bar area to me

        True kitchen next door is good though...

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        Delux
        3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

      3. I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but I have to be honest with you, I’ve never been a fan of Sam Fox Concept restaurants, mostly because the emphasis is on the concept, not the food. And they tend to be outrageously expensive. The exceptions are Sauce, which in my opinion serves insipid food, the Counter (it’s 25 cent coffee was the deal of the decade) and the new Zinburger.

        Of course, Zinburger is easy on the eyes, with it’s huge mural of happy cows, and it’s lighthearted use of chartreuse accents. Given that it’s in the the Biltmore Fashion Park,
        $8-14 for various types of burgers isn’t bad - and they’re big enough to share. Sides of french fries, fried zucchini, etc. are $3-5, and salads range from $9-14. There are lots of milkshakes and floats at around $6. The trouble, as I see it, is that you can get better for less bucks at Indulge or BluBurger (particularly if you use a coupon). DeLux is a little less expensive, with a lot more food options, although the ambience isn’t as pleasant. I won’t bore you with what we ate, suffice to say it was merely okay.

        My favorite thing is the irony. Zinburger, with it’s emphasis on meat, sits a few doors down from Sam Fox’s Tru, which specializes in being vegetarian and vegan friendly.

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        Biltmore Fashion Park
        2502 E Camelback Rd # 216, Phoenix, AZ

        Zinburger - Biltmore Fashion Park
        2502 E Camelback Rd Ste 127, Phoenix, AZ 85016

        8 Replies
        1. re: valleyvittles

          Actually, I think many regulars on this board would be inclined to agree with you about FoxRC. Personally, I've never eaten at any Fox establishment other than the Sauce in my neighborhood, largely because most of them are located in Scottsdale and northeast Phoenix, places I don't get to all that often. As a result, I don't have much to say about them. Nevertheless, I don't count a whole lot of Fox fans among this board's regular contributors.

          1. re: exit2lef

            For Sam Fox, it really depends on when you go to his restaurants. For example, when Bloom first opened, it was outstanding and maintained that level for a long time. Now, it has been passed by and isn't remotely on my list of places to dine. North is really good, and, in fact, I've never had a bad meal there, although I know it is possible. Modern Steak is decent. I've had two good lunches there, but I'm hesitant on dinner due to cost, etc. Olive & Ivy stinks, Sauce is mediocre, Greenhouse is excellent (if this is still in his "empire." I don't think I will try ZinBurger as I like Delux, Houston's, LGO, Wally's, 4Peaks, and a few others that I don't get too often enough. One final note, I appreciate what Sam Fox tries to do and we need more Sam Fox's out there - trying to bring new ideas, new foods, and new dining concepts to AZ.

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            Delux
            3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

            Modern Steak
            7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            1. re: danieli10

              Well-stated, Danieli10. I think a lot of people like to be "Fox Haters" because he has been successful at building an empire that may not, necessarily, appeal to food die-hards. I think it's important to recognize that not *everything* has to appeal to fanatical foodniks in order to be credible. Let's face it, Fox has a business to run and has been successful doing it. In the process, he has contributed greatly to the community by creating jobs and tax revenue, and that's good for everyone. A lot of shopping centers would have vacant space without him.

              While a lot of people rule out Fox restaurants just because they're part of Fox, I would agree that North, Greene House and Modern Steak have some merits. Are they "destination dining", per se? Not for me. But that doesn't keep them from being pretty darn busy and I'll give credit where it's due.

              Building a business plan in scope and size of Fox Restaurant Concepts which appeals purely to the food die-hards (and, likely, the people that frequent this board) would amount to a fairly small target audience. He has to appeal to a "lower common denominator" (not that there is anything "lesser" about those people, they just might not care as much about food) in order to be successful and cover his huge overhead.

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              Greene House
              15024 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

              Modern Steak
              7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

              1. re: ejs1492

                Now, I did have a good meal at Greenhouse, but the rest have left me wondering what the fuss was about.

                I feel the same way for the Eddie V's, and also the Maestro's restaurants. None has ever come close to satisfying me at any level.

                Still, people folk to them and sing the praises, so it just must be me.

                I do not begrudge anyone success. I only hope that they show up at one of my charity events and spend a boatload of money on the live auction. We have some restauranteurs, who support these very well, but I would not likely dine there. I will offer a very heart-felt "thank you" though.

                For me, I want great food, great service, a good wine list, paired with the fare from the kitchen, and the rest can take a backseat.

                Hunt

              2. re: danieli10

                Part of the problem with the Fox empire of restaurants is that many times the concept transcends the actual food itself.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  As Bucky Fuller stated, "form must follow function." Too often nowadays, function is put on a distant back burner, and form is all one is left with. Too much "style," and too little "function."

                  Now, I do have to say that not all Fox restaurants have failed me. We had a lovely experience at Green House. Everything was spot-on, and I'd give them a big PLUS on that experience. Cannot say the same for most of the rest.

                  I also feel the same for the Maestro's group. Just never had even an OK meal at any, though I am obviously in the minority on this board.

                  Hunt

                2. re: danieli10

                  While I can't handle Fox restaurants, I think you and ejs1492 have good points. We used to go to Bloom years ago (maybe 8 or 9) as it was right near our office & I liked it. Then the quality just started slipping and we stopped going. The problem for me is that in recent years, Fox seems so focused on the business, the concept, that there is no heart and soul in the restaurants anymore, even the new ones. I get that not everybody lives and dies for food though and that he serves a purpose.

                  The good news is that places like Olive & Ivy and Culinary Dropout keep leave us space to slip in at the magical spots like FnB.

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                  FnB
                  7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                  Culinary Dropout
                  7135 E Camelback Rd #125, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

              3. re: valleyvittles

                You took many of the words right out of my mouth. Have not done Zinburger, but being Fox, and having done too many Fox restaurants, I would not have held out much hope.

                Maybe I have become too jaded in my old age, but I care about food, and not decorations and themes. Delux was good, but not great. I have a few go-to burgers, and have always compared others to those. Few even come close, and I move on.

                Will try Zinburger, and try to keep an open mind, I do not anticipate that much.

                Thanks for the comments and thanks to the OP for taking the time to share the review.

                Hunt

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                Delux
                3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

              4. When I asked about the source of their beef, I received the following email reply from Fox Restaurant Concepts:
                Zinburger uses only C.A.B. and Washimi American Kobe.

                2 Replies
                1. re: johnseberg

                  CAB is short for Certified Angus Beef, a brand name that tells you absolutely JACK about the quality of the meat. I think Filiberto's proudly uses it. American Kobe is to Kobe as California Champagne is to Champagne.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    Good points. "American Kobe," often means twice-ground prime chuck, with some fat added.

                    I really liked your analogies, as they resonate with me.

                    Hunt

                2. I ate there for the first time last night in my ongoing investigation of Camelback Corridor burgers. I ordered the basic burger (lettuce, tomato, hold the mayo) with the braised onions added -- $1.25 extra, $9.25 total. I washed it down with water and a large draft of Left Hand Pilsner.

                  The meat, ordered medium, was pretty good and well-prepared. The bun was too soft and I couldn't detect the tomato. I asked for a little mustard and was provided with some ordinary yellow stuff. The onions added a little to the texture and flavor.

                  I'd give a narrow edge so far to The Grind over Zinburger. Zinburger's space was not particularly comfortable or inviting. The bar stools were good and heavy but lacked backs. The service was friendly but uneven. After I ordered I wandered over to look at a bug blackboard that featured a special that looked intriguing. My sever never mentioned it but the other one described it to another patron in the course or providing the menu; a small thing that experience will clear up. The bill was $17.05, $21 after tip.

                  For all of Fox's ostensible mastery of the details of running a successful restaurant, one was overlooked. After I left I discovered my black pants, fresh from the cleaners, were covered with sticky white lint -- annoying! A little thing, but I don't provide my houseguests with brand-new terrycloth towels; I wash out the lint first. Ask for a paper napkin if you go.

                  I'm reluctant to compare Delux since it's been a loing time since I've had a burger there. I need to re-visit, and I want to check out the burger(s) at LGO/Chelsea's, and Christopher's, too. I also hear Tarbell's serves a good one. Then there's The Vig.

                  They are obviously in a completely different niche so it's not really fair to compare, but at this stage I think Smashburger, and even Culver's, are offering better value in the Corridor than either Zinburger or The Grind. I wish the high-end purveyors would provide a more comfortable experience and perhaps a few nice details like good mustard -- stone ground, Dijon, whatever, peppermills, stuff to justify the price tag.

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                  Delux
                  3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: misohungrychewlow

                    I went last night and had exactly the same burger as Miso but wine instead of beer and cooked medium rare. The burger was, quite simply, awful. It had zero taste whatsoever. The meat they are using in their standard burgers is quite obviously pretty poor quality. The onions were fine but nothing special. Also got the regular fires and the zuchini fries, bothof which were fine, nothing special. With all the choices now there is little reason to visit Zinburger (other than as an excuse to visit my two favorite toy stores, the Apple Store and Williams and Sonoma)

                    1. re: misohungrychewlow

                      Just last week had lunch at Blanco in Tucson, a Fox restaurant, two of us in the party wearing black slacks were given black napkin/silverware rolls the others in lighter colors were given white napkin/silverware rolls. Frankly I was more concerned about not getting salsa drippings on my shirt eating an overstuffed mahi mahi taco.

                    2. I'll echo what other have already said...this place is mediocre.
                      The wife and i hit it the other day after work as (my wife claims) their website clearly said "join us for happy hour' - we got there and, of course, no happy hour.
                      Not a big deal. We ordered beers - a widmer hefe for me and a black butte porter for the wife (you can't fault the beers on tap). They arrived a few minutes later and were COMPLETELY flat. Some people like their beers more carbonated than others, but both of us spent our college years in oregon, and we contributed the majority of our free cash during that period to the Widmer Brothers and the Deschutes brewery - we know exactly how much carbonation is supposed to be there, and these beers were FLAT.
                      We sent it back (which we usually reserve for the terrible) and were presented minutes later with new glasses of beer. Oddly enough, overly carbonated and sort of an odd head on each...we were left wondering if they have a soda carbonator that they blasted our beers with? It was striaght up strange.
                      On to the food...we couldn't decide between the truffle fried with truffle aioli and the fried zucchini...turns out we should have avoided both. Both were very soggy and underseasoned, we left most of both. I mean really soggy. Could have sent it back if I didn't already send the beers back...
                      Burgers were the best part of the meal...but still nothing to write home about. I'm not a fan of delux but they seemed about on par, despite very different ingredients. I'm more of a 25 degrees guy, and I think 25 degrees is so far superior it shouldn't really be mentioned in any kind of a comparison...
                      Bill was damn near $60 if I recall correctly. For mishandled beers, soggy apps and fine but not great burgers, we won't be back.