WIAW Chinese Pizza + Over-hyped Zombies – life+running

WIAW Chinese Pizza + Over-hyped Zombies

Okay, so I totally fail as a food blogger because I managed to not get a photo of the BEST meal that I’ve ever eaten. I can’t even describe it. Mark took me to The Café in Ames on Friday night and I got their special. The waiter was telling us about it and all I heard was “… brussels sprouts with bacon in a cream sauce over a sweet potato hash.” Say what? Yes. Apparently it came with pork, which I nibbled, but ultimately gave it to Mark. I’d draw you a picture, but it would not do it justice.

the plate i didn't capture // lifeplusrunning.com

Kudos, once again, to The Café for being so ultra amazing.

However, I managed to capture the rest of the weekend’s eats.

Last weekend I took my friend Amanda and her boyfriend, Dave, to a couple of Des Moines restaurants. One was an old favorite, and one was a new restaurant that we’ve heard SO much about, so we’ve been anxious to try.

First, we went to Fong’s Pizza on Friday night. Fong’s was where Mark and I had our first official date, but since then, its patronage has grown to necessitating a 1-2 hour wait on weekend evenings (yikes!). Fortunately, they are incredibly nice and will CALL you when your table is ready. So you can leave, and there are plenty of great bars in the area, so we never mind the wait. While we waited, we hit up Court Avenue Brewing Company (CABCo) and The Lift.

Finally, we got a call and got a booth. Here are Dave and Amanda …

dave and amanda at fongs pizza // lifeplusrunning.com

… and here we are. In case you didn’t notice, I just got a haircut (imagine that) and I’m growing out the left side.

me & mark at fongs pizza // lifeplusrunning.com

Turns out that Amanda’s boyfriend Dave and my beef are a match made in heaven. They were really chatty, and decided to split a spicy kung pao chicken pizza. Which worked out for Amanda and me because I ordered a gluten free version of the crab rangoon pizza (thank you, Steph for that tipoff — made my world!) and split it with Amanda.

kung pao pizza at fongs // lifeplusrunning.com

amanda and crab rangoon gluten free pizza  // lifeplusrunning.com

Glad we didn’t do super spicy because we were running a race the next day. Pizza is a great pre-race food, right?

Sunday’s restaurant didn’t fare as well (in my book at least). After our race, we went to Zombie Burger in Des Moines, which I’m not even going to link up because it sucked THAT much. This is owned and operated by a really great Des Moines-area chef, and I’ve been hearing so much about this place since it opened. I had been looking forward to trying one of their spiked milkshakes since most of the rest of the menu isn’t my forté (and also isn’t gluten free). I almost went this summer, but then I instituted the great ice cream embargo of July 2012. However (here’s where this post turns into a rant) …


zombie burger is the most over-rated over-hyped restaurant in des moines. skip it, and go to Fong's PIzza, or get a real burger elsewhere. // lifeplusrunning.com

* I also broke a bunch of my design rules here, but it fits the theme of the restaurant and my feelings toward it. 

the best part about zombie burger is actually the fake zombies // lifeplusrunning.com

Okay, so Zombie Burger doesn’t completely suck. The decor was actually kind of hilarious. 

Not only was the food disappointing, the staff has an attitude. Apparently, they think they’re hot shit because of all the good press (hint: you’re working in a fast food joint, not a high-end restaurant). We were told that we could order and sit outside, get our food fast food style (including PLASTICWARE — seriously?), and do self-serve, unless we wanted to wait to sit inside the dimly lit greasy restaurant. No thanks. Outside and self-serve for me.

I ordered a house salad with the dressing on the side. It featured edamame, corn, red onions and REAL lettuce (not iceberg). I will give them props for having a real option for salad, unlike most fast food places.

house salad from zombie burger // lifeplusrunning.com

I was sent to the bar to order my spiked milkshake. When I asked if they had anything sans gluten, the barmaid told me, “No, you can’t have anything. There’s gluten in everything. It’s a binder, ” and ripped the menu away from me. Who puts GLUTEN in their ICE CREAM. Seriously? What the fuck. Also, um, thanks? Maybe there was something else on the bar menu I wanted?

Extreme disappointment with the shake situation and the bar wench aside, I ended up ordering some fries with my salad, instead of the shake I’d been craving to taste.

grossest french fries ever — from zombie burger in des moines // lifeplusrunning.com

Conclusion: Worst french fries ever. They were like Arby’s curly fries, except without the curl, and with an inhuman (and in-zombie) amount of grease. They were soggy, overly salty, and disgusting. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever left a stray fry — in fact, I left more than half unscathed. I didn’t dare try the “zombie sauce” for fear that there was gluten in it (considering they had a hard enough time confirming their fries were GF), not to mention a ridiculous amount of mayo.

And you probably are thinking, “Gee, she’s picky, but Mark isn’t as picky. I bet he liked it.”

Wrong-o. Mark ordered the “Walking Ched” burger — beef between two fried mac and cheese buns.

more walking ched // lifeplusrunning.com

As you know, Mark is no stranger to the monster burger. But this one? Was entirely too greasy for him. He didn’t finish it (I’ve never seen that happen) and was sick the rest of the afternoon. It didn’t make him full, it just make him feel like crap. Monster burger or not, the grease factor was amped up at Zombie Burger (Oddfellows in Ames wasn’t nearly as greasy) and so was the amount of salt (again, our experience at Oddfellows was less salty).

mark's walking ched burger // lifeplusrunning.com

So if you’re in Ames or Des Moines and are interested in getting a fun and funky burger, do yourself a favor, skip the long and unnecessary wait at Zombie Burger and head down to Oddfellows in Ames.

Edit: For what it’s worth, I’d be willing to give ZB another shot (i.e. order a burger without a bun and see what I think) if it weren’t for the rude wait staff.


Ever been severely disappointed with something that was overly hyped (besides Twilight)? 




25 Comment

  1. Jessie says: Reply

    1. LOVE your haircut! You & the boy are absolutely adorable together. & 2. I am so sorry about your monster burger experience. What a shame 🙁

    1. chimes says: Reply

      Thanks, Jessie! 🙂

  2. LOVE your haircut!
    LOVE The Cafe!

    Never been to Zombie Burger. We thought about going earlier this week actually but chose Americana instead. Their pulled pork, AWESOME! Apple slaw and crispy onion straws. Win!

    1. chimes says: Reply

      Oooh I have been wanting to go to Americana. I’ve heard nothing but good about their brunch. I’m going to have to check it out.

      Side note, helloooo fellow Iowan. 🙂

      1. I’ve not had their brunch but heard good things, also.

        And hi to you, fellow Iowan 😉 I’ve actually been reading for a short time. I’m just a quiet reader. Or lazy commenter…hmmm. I’ll go with quiet. But, quiet no more! Nice to meet you!

        1. chimes says: Reply

          I’ll go with quiet. I’m loud, and I comment on everything. Also quite opinionated, but I bet you already knew that. 😉

          1. Hey opinionated isn’t a bad thing 😉

  3. Um. Mark ordered the burger with fried mac ‘n’ cheese for a bun and was surprised that it was super greasy? 🙂 Personally, i like greasy food (though i’ve never ordered THAT burger), and i think Zombie Burger is awesome. It’s most definitely NOT healthy food, though, and they don’t cater to anyone’s special diet. It’s fun, awful noms, and their beer events are INCREDIBLE. I had the #4 best stout IN THE WORLD, ON TAP there. I agree that their fries could be improved, though.

    1. chimes says: Reply

      Well, if I was given more than a moment with the beer menu, I’d have tried something, but since it was ripped away from me, I didn’t get a chance.

      I didn’t go there expecting healthy food. I went there expecting an awesome boozy shake and some awesome fries. Denied.

    2. chimes says: Reply

      Maybe we will give them a second shot, and I’ll get a beer and a burger sans bun. Mark wanted to try the Undead Elvis anyway.

  4. kim says: Reply

    i will join this train, but i also love the haircut! i have to say, the greasy fries look kinda tasty! haha, but i will take your word for it. and a mac and cheese bun – WTF !! also, chinese pizza? another WTF!! it shouldn’t be a surprise that i never watch cooking shows. 🙂

    here’s to yummy food!

    1. chimes says: Reply

      The chinese pizza is AMAZING. I don’t love greasy food, but I do love that place. Next time you’re in Iowa, we should get a slice.

      1. I’ve had the black bean pizza there. Really good with lots of cilantro! Not tried the crab rangoon pizza but have wanted to for a long time!

        1. Doris says: Reply

          The Crab Rangoon pizza is awesome, and I’ve liked all of them that I have tried. Have not been to Zombie Burger, but I have guy friends that love the place. IT wouldn’t be Frank’s kind of place, so doubtful we will go anytime soon.

  5. Your hair looks amazing!! Kudos for rocking the short length – I’m too scared to do it. 🙂 And the Chinese pizza is making me drool. I’m Chinese and I love pizza, so I feel like it would be right up my alley… and there is a gluten-free option too – how perfect!

  6. Not the first bad review I have heard about Zombie burger. Such a letdown for the downtown lunch crowd.

    1. chimes says: Reply

      ORLY? good to know. I had a few people pissed at me for this review.

      And I’m super sad that I didnt’ take a pic of the Café meal from Friday. I left my phone in the car and forgot my point and shoot at home.

  7. I kind of had a feeling our “beefs” would get along…although I didn’t know they were BOTH engineers!!

    Again, I can’t believe she ripped the menu out of your hand. I don’t see why we didn’t go all crazy on her for that…lol

    Maybe in a couple of years you can try the Elvis burger sans bun? 🙂

    1. chimes says: Reply

      I tend to make a scene, and I didn’t want to embarrass you guys. So, I let it slide this time. 🙂

      I might see if Mark wants to give it another shot. And I heard their fried brussels sprouts are amazing. Though, I’d have to trust Mark on that one.

  8. Jaci says: Reply

    Well, I like Zombie Burger’s food…I do agree that there service is shit. The first time I went, I walked in said that I needed a table for 4 and was told there was a 2 hour wait. I could see at least 10 empty tables! I knew they didn’t take reservations so I asked why there was such a long wait and they replied: “well, there are groups in front of you.” I quickly counted seat and said “46 people in front of me? B/c I don’t see anyone waiting…” Then they got snooty and I made a point of saying, “you know, I just moved back from NYC and even there you typically don’t wait two hours for food unless it’s amazing and the restaurant has been around for a long, long time. This is a new restaurant, so I doubt cheeseburgers are really worth that long of a wait. Making people wait to create hype is not the way to build a loyal customer base.”

    They got snooty and then objected to my remark but insisted that I give them my phone number so they could call me when a table was ready. I did, but walked outside to the rest of my party so we could decide where to go instead. Funny thing, five minutes later my phone rang. I walked in and sassed, “so…the 46 people didn’t show up? How lucky I am.”

    Our food was good – I agree the fries are gross. The burger Mark got is gross, I’ve seen someone else with it. I had something with guacamole and bacon and it was devine. Oh, and good beer. Awesome beer. And, our actual server was awesome.

    Anyways, try them again, but stick up for yourself. They grew too big for their britches and if you let them know you aren’t fooled they will serve you properly.

  9. Amber says: Reply

    So… Zombie Burger is on our list of places to check out – only because of the hype, but you’re the third person in the last week to complain about their service. Honestly, service means just as much to me as the taste of your food. Unless it’s the weinie circle.

    Fongs has now made the list though – crab rangoon pizza?! You’re kidding, right?! *drool*

  10. Ahhhhh sooooo jeal! I wanna come hang out with you and Amanda!!!!!!

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