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Best hamburger in Metro Detroit?

Hey 'hounds. Being a guy who really appreciates a properly put-together and prepared hamburger, I'm wondering where the truly best places are based *solely* on the hamburger itself. Side dishes, drink list, ambience...nothing matters but the actual quality of the hamburger itself. Sure, those things can help, but when it comes to a good hamburger experience, without a great beef-to-fat composition and the ability to prepare it correctly, it's just not worth it.

Already established:

1. Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak: already know about it, and don't need any convincing. Superb.

2. Miller's Bar in Dearborn: an institution, and rightly so. If only it didn't take as long as it does...

I travel all around the area, from up high in Macomb County to Downriver to Livingston County, and many points in between. Give me some other great places!

Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

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  1. I just had a Sidetrack burger in Ypsilanti (even though I vowed I'd never go back because of not one but two instances of horrendous service), and it's quality is definitely not what it was 10 years ago. My burger featured a crappy bun and a pathetic "slice" of onion. (I'm sorry if I've offended all you Sidetrack fans, but I remember the Sidetrack when it was indeed great (for me 1980 - 1997) and when the burger was pretty much the main event on the menu. And, yes, yes, I know all about the GQ article.)

    For a decent burger (outside of the Red Coat and Miller's) lately I've been going to Dan's Downtown Tavern in Saline, and Stiver's off 94 near Chelsea. Oakwood Tavern on Oakwood Blvd just off of the Southfield was good two years ago - don't know about now though. I'm gettin' hungry.

    1. boagman, I don't really do hamburgers, per se. I try out a restaurant by ordering a Patty Melt. I've learned that some do it well, most massacre it.

      If they can deliver a Patty Melt to my specs, anything else on the menu is a slam dunk.

      Best in this catagory are two Warren restaurants: bronx burgers, on Mound Road, south of 14 Mile; and (surprizingly)Shield's Pizza on 12 Mile, just west of Mound.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Griller

        M&M Cafe in Dearborn has an excellent patty melt as well.

      2. Blimpyburger in Ann Arbor has been discussed on various threads. Very good although extremely idiosyncratic and essentially surly unless you know what you're doing.

        Since you mention Downriver, I used to go to a great little bar on Biddle Ave. in Wyandotte called the Speedboat. From downtown Wyandotte it was toward Detroit, probably a mile or so, on the water side of Biddle. Haven't been for probably three years--anyone have more recent experience? The burgers were top-notch.

        1. Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor make a kickass burger. They use Niman Ranch chuck and grind it themselves. Expensive yes, but worth every penny. Even the bun is amazing. I especially like the mini-burger platter - 5 minis, each with a different cheese. Excellent.

          1. I like the burgers at both Knapp's Dairy Bar in Rochester and Red Knapp's American Grill in Oxford. It's the same burger at both places - a decent sized patty with a tasty bun. Kinda old-fashioned in its look and taste. The dairy bar also has great onion rings.

            1. Zinc Brasserie in West Bloomfield. Beautiful piedmontese beef burgers. Same owner as Red Coat.

              1. Try 'Hunter House' on Woodward in Birmingham @ Maple/15 Mile Road for a great, greasy spoon burger, or two.

                But, Millers is the best!

                8 Replies
                1. re: nancyusa

                  >Try 'Hunter House' on Woodward in Birmingham @ Maple/15 Mile Road for a great, greasy >spoon burger, or two.

                  Ah, mea culpa. I should have specified that I wasn't looking for a slider so much as I was looking for an actual man-type burger...one of significance. I can eat several sliders in a sitting, but a truly good burger is one that would satisfy in and of itself. I've tried Hunter House, and to me, Green's Hamburgers in Farmington Hills at 10 Mile and Orchard Lake is the king of sliders. I grew up on Green's, and none of them exist around me anymore. Fortunately, Green's is only a few miles away from where my brother and SIL live, so I get to go there at my leisure.

                  Thanks to those who have replied so far...I'm getting some good ideas for places all over town! Keep 'em coming!

                  1. re: boagman

                    Just wondering where you grew up since you "grew up on Greene's." I grew up in Farmington, Farmington High school class of '74, so I am very familiar with Greene's.

                    1. re: cheri

                      Thanks for correcting me on the proper spelling of "Greene's." I found out I was in error later (though in my defense, I was toggling back and forth even when I was writing it), and was just unable to edit my post after a certain amount of time.

                      To answer your question, I grew up in Ferndale. You see, there used to be several Greene's locations in Detroit and the surrounding areas. We used to go to one of the Greene's in Detroit that was the closest to us. Even remember the waitress' name: Lucy, who was an absolute sweetheart. It's a bittersweet memory, though, since Farmington Hills is the last Greene's left, as the last one in Detroit was bought, demolished, and replaced with (yet another) CVS pharmacy/store. I believe that there's got to be a special place in hell for those who would buy out an institution *just for the property*, demolish it, and replace it with a chain store of any kind. ::shudders::

                      In fact, I still live in Ferndale, and always have (minus the college years). Over in Hazel Park, there's another Greene's-esque building at I-696 and John R. that's been converted into one of the best Thai food places in the area, with *especially* good tom yum soup. It's called Pi's Thai Cuisine, and it's understandably small (with maybe 10 seats in the whole place), but most of their business is take-out. It's an independently-run business by a local guy and his family, and they're great to support. I don't know what the name of the place was when it was a burger joint, but I doubt it was better as a burger joint than it is as a Thai place. Good stuff, Maynard.

                      Greene's will always be special to me. The fact that the takeout still stains the bag with grease is always going to make me smile. It's a great childhood memory. Usually, though, I eat in these days, and try to avoid the cigarette smoke. Usual order: 3 ham, extra pickle, extra onion, maybe some fries, and maybe a Coke. *No* ketchup/catsup and *no* mustard. That's a sin. ;)

                      And yes, I can *feel* it clogging my arteries, but if I'm going to die, at least I'll die happy!

                      1. re: boagman

                        If you like Hunter House in Birmingham or Greene's in Farmington, you may want to also try Bates Hamburgers in Livonia--5 Mile at Farmington Road. Same "slider" style and always excellent.

                        1. re: dearborn barkis

                          And I have. Greene's is still the King of Sliders in my book. Bates is decent, and surprisingly, I don't really care for Hunter House offerings, or at least, I didn't care for them when I tried them last.

                          Question about Bates: does quality differ from location to location? They have multiple Bates in the area, and I think I've only tried the one time, and it was out in Westland, I believe. Does location matter in this case?

                          1. re: boagman

                            I've only tried the Livonia location. I've always thought of its burgers as a notch above Greene's, but Greene's is still fantastic.

                          2. re: dearborn barkis

                            I ate at Bates for the first time today. I'm still burping and tasting onions.

                            1. re: thinfine

                              Excellent. Unlike their more refined cousins from Miller's Bar and Red Coat tavern, the slider burgers from Bates, Greenes, Hunter House, and Telway *require* gobs of grilled onions that leave your breath reeking for hours. If you're not tasting onions for the rest of the day, then they didn't give you enough.

                  2. Beau Jacks in Bloomfield Hills, MI... they have Piedmontese as well... delicious!

                    1. O'Toole's in Royal Oak. Big, perfectly cooked, good cheese. They have lunchtime deals too. Good beer selection. If you can stand the old cigar smell, it's wonderful.

                      1. Marcus...since 1929
                        6349 E McNichols

                        counter service...

                        No ambiance...great burger...

                        There is another one on 14 Mile Road...nicer ambiance...same burger.


                        Crazy Jims Blimpie Burger in Ann Arbor....

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Cathy

                          marcus is very good. i grew up eating them as a kid with my dad's side of the family. the original is at mcnichols & mount elliot on the east side of detroit. very divey - counter service only. they opened another place in sterling heights at 14 mile & ryan in the end of a strip mall - very bare bones with an extensive family diner menu (my grandpa still goes their for polich specials).

                          oh the burgers. rectangle shaped, giddled, a little greasy (unless you order them "squeezed" like my dad does) and served in a hotdog bun. best eaten like a coney - onions, mustard, and chili. not as good as redcoat or millers, but good none the less.

                          1. re: xman887

                            Thanks for describing them. I answered very quickly. You did say all I meant...and I don't want them squeezed...that flavor is not replicated anywhere else....

                            It is *so* not a fancy place and *so* a very good burger...since it has been at the McNichols location since 1929...well that says it all.

                        2. I just don't know why you would go any where other than Redcoat Tavern!

                          OK, The Roadhouse makes a great burger too with great fresh cut double fried fries.

                          But, a Redcoat burger with their fried mushrooms....oh my!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: luckygirl

                            >I just don't know why you would go any where other than Redcoat Tavern!

                            Well, that's the idea, here: I already know about Miller's and the Redcoat Tavern, so I'm looking for "competition," so to speak. Actually, if they were actually open on Sunday nights, I'd be at the Redcoat enjoying one right now.

                            Just to let folks know, I am very appreciative of the suggestions that have been made in this thread...gives me some places to keep in mind for the future, if I'm around town for places I might not normally think to go. Dearborn's Miller's Bar is great, but it's a far cry for me, and it *always* takes forever, due to its popularity, and the small size of the grill. ;)

                            It stinks being hungry at 11PM on a Sunday in the Detroit area. Sigh...

                          2. The Sidetracks in Ypsilanti is probably the best in the area. We have tried them all, including the famous Miller burger. GQ got it wrong when they did not make the Sidetracks burger #1.

                            1. Haab's restaurant in Ypsi has an amazing burger. (I know they are far more famous for a few other dishes there, but the burger really is quite something......) Freshly ground taste, always cooked to order, large and juicy. They have great shoestring fries too. (and out-of-this-world giant fried mushrooms)

                              Old Town in downtown Ann Arbor makes a mean burger as well.....

                              Additionally, I must commend the suggestion early in this thread to try Dan's in Saline.....oh my, that was a tasty burger! (I used to work not far from there for 2 years and no one ever said a word to me about Dan's burgers.....)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: RNemes

                                Jeez, I never thought of Haab's. I haven't eaten there in years. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for the tip.

                                1. re: RNemes

                                  Never heard of Haab's. I'll have to research that and Sidetracks. I don't get out to the Ypsi area very often. Dan's in Saline is, oddly, a place that I might get to before I get back to Ypsi, which is strange, since it's further for me to drive. But a friend lives in Saline, so I might be out there sometime in Decemeber.

                                  Thanks for the suggestions!

                                2. I went to Red Coat Tavern for the first time last week. I had a piedmontese burger with sauteed mushrooms and blue cheese. Onion rings too. And a beer.

                                  Words cannot describe how delicious it was. I'm still dreaming about it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cherie

                                    So glad that I could guide you home, so to speak. I know (and so do you) that you'll be going back. I was just there a couple days ago, and the only bad thing was that I made the mistake of ordering the burger medium-well instead of the usual medium that I get, and it wasn't as good as normal.

                                    Bah. No matter. That's my own fault, and I learned my lesson well. It was *still* delicious.

                                    And you're right: it's hard to put the euphoria of that burger into words.

                                  2. Oh yeah, I'll be back.

                                    We're going to Camerons tonight with friends, and it's hard to complain about that. But if we could only change the plan to Red Coat, I swear I'd be even happier...

                                    1. Picked up the daughter at the airport Friday afternoon and drove back to Saline on the back roads which brought us to New Boston (just south of 94 on 275). Daughter was hungry so we stopped at McNasty's Pub (never been before) and we each had what turned out to be an incredibly good 1/2 lb. burger. Daughter concurred. We each had pepper jack and grilled onions. Burgers were tender and juicy and perfectly cooked. I don't ordinarily go in for 1/2 pound burgers as they tend to overwhelm the roll, but 1/2 pounders are all they serve, and the roll did hold up. The fries were okay, nothing special.

                                      1. The obvious is Miller's Bar in Dearborn or Redcoat on Woodward. For a man-size good burger & great atmosphere I like Casey's in A2.

                                        1. Tom's Oyster Bar in Royal Oak has an excellent burger. It's not on the dinner menu, but they'll make one anytime if you ask. I alternate between Redcoat and Tom's when I want a great burger.

                                          1. today, a customer of mine told me about a burger that rivaled miller's in dearborn from a place called mason's in livonia. i have never heard of the place but he tried one last week and said it was fantastic. here is a review that he e-mailed to me:

                                            Shortly after God created the earth, he created Livonia. Named after the Greek god of the hamburger, the blue-collar Detroit suburb later became home to Mason's Bar & Grill. That's the story from the owners of Mason's, and while the legend cannot be independently verified, there can be no disputing the quality of the 'Real Bar Burger' found at this true neighborhood bar. The base price for a burger comes in under $3, but those looking to spend a few dollars more can build a masterpiece loaded with savory toppings. Patrons looking to go the distance can opt for Mason's famous 'Double Shift' burger, a hearty endeavor that begins with 2/3 of a pound of beef and explodes from there. If you think you can take down three of those, you'll eat for free, or so the legend goes. -- Brian C. Louwers

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: xman887

                                              And where, exactly, is Mason's in Livonia? Hungry minds want to know.

                                              1. re: Summerfield

                                                Mason's is just south of Schoolcraft (I-96) on the east side of Farmington Rd. Look for a green awning right next to the gas station on the corner.

                                                Mason's Bar and Grill
                                                13490 Farmington Rd
                                                Livonia, MI
                                                (734) 427-0650


                                            2. Red Dog in Milford - http://www.redogsaloon.com/
                                              They use the local Village Butcher for their burgers...their hot garlic wings are great grub food too!

                                              1. I have also ate at many of these restaurants mentioned and believe they all have good burgers. My favorite is a little restaurant in Taylor on Ecorse road between Beech Daily and Telegraph called Mr. Brew-Stirs they have incredible burgers 1/2 pound hand pressed and the flavor is awesome. They have a man size burger 3/4 pound called the Big Brewstir and if you really want to try something they have the Brewzer legend two 3/4 pound patties on a perfectly grilled bun. Best burger in the Metro Detroit area.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: DetroitTwister

                                                  Can you please provide address for Mr. Brew-Stirs? Thanks!

                                                2. Mr. Brew-Stris is located at 25077 Ecorse Rd. Taylor, MI 48180 313-281-1384 I think you will love this place.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Brady's, in Southfield, across from the Borders store. Nice atosphere and good beer too!

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: AmyIM

                                                      I've had their good burgers a few times and will keep going. For an Irish pub they have a better burger than Duggan's.

                                                      1. re: dearborn barkis

                                                        Interesting that you should mention that you don't like Duggan's burger, dearborn barkis. I'm honestly amazed at how underwhelmed I was when I tried the burger at Duggan's. You'd think, being an Irish pub on the Woodward *directly across* from the Redcoat Tavern, that they'd pay more attention. I guess they just don't care if their burger's any good or not.

                                                        I, too, have heard that Brady's serves a good burger, but don't think I've had one of my own. I'll have to try it.

                                                        1. re: boagman

                                                          i have always thought that the duggan's "big chief" is from the same family tree as the classic big boy. unimpressive.

                                                          1. re: xman887

                                                            Well put. I mean, I'm not exactly hard-to-please when it comes to getting an "acceptable" rating when it comes to burgers (I think that Chili's does a decent burger), but there's just something wholly unsatisfying about these particular burgers. I'm surprised that they wouldn't know...or care.

                                                            1. re: xman887

                                                              In that family tree, I sadly put the Big Mac and Big Boy above the Big Chief. The sauce Duggan's uses is not even as tasty as Kraft Thousand Island Dressing. But at least Duggan's serves beer.

                                                              I've never tried any other burgers besides the Big Chief at Duggan's. Actually, I've just quit going to Duggan's. When my Irish-American brother in law wants to go out for dinner with my wife and me, I suggest Brady's.

                                                              1. re: dearborn barkis

                                                                i have been there for a few after work get togethers, aside from the big chief, the only things i can recall from the menu are from deep fry city.