A bevy of local spots to chomp on a hamburger
Published: May 18, 2011
$=$5-$10; $$=$10-$25; $$$=$25-$50; $$$$=$50+
Anchor Bar 450 W. Fort St., Detroit; 313-964-9127; anchorbar.com; $: Enjoy waxed-paper-wrapped burgers, sandwiches and bar food with chunky crisp steak fries and creamy coleslaw sides. Among other items on the menu are Reubens, a steak sub, buffalo wings, popcorn shrimp and, for the few kids who wander in with their folks, chicken fingers. This is primarily a beer-and-shot joint with a several TVs generally tuned to sports, two pool tables, a jukebox, and a venue for some of the liveliest and occasionally profound conversations that you will ever hear.
Bagger Dave's 2972 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley; 248-543-3283; also locations in Ann Arbor and Novi; baggerdaves.com; $$: Bagger Dave's is more like a full-service restaurant than its fast-food, drive-in and take-away competitors. That said, Dave's burgers, fries and sandwiches are often delivered to the table wrapped in paper bags. (That's where "bagger" comes from.) Unlike most burger joints, you can purchase bottled beer ($3.75-$4.75) and wine ($5-$7) by the pour while you enjoy the sophisticated jazz playlist. Finally, the woodsy up-North interior includes a kiddy-pleasing electric train running above the two dining sections. Burgers are 3.5 ounces — one patty costs $3.79 and two $4.79 (turkey burgers are a dollar more: $4.49 and $5.49, respectively), and a generous helping of hand-cut double-fried Belgian-style Idaho fries is priced $2.39 a bag. Happy hour is 2-6 p.m.
Big Beaver Tavern 645 Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-680-0066; bigbeavertavern.com; $$: How does an Italian restaurant get reborn as a sports tavern? Check out what Mark Larco and company have done here. Not only do they have the burgers and fries, they have the sport and fun, including the massive Big Beaver Burger: two half-pound patties with bacon, Swiss and cheddar cheese, sautéed onions, lettuce and tomatoes. The $12.99 price tag is not as steep as it appears, since the burger comes with an "I ate the Big Beaver Burger" T-shirt, if you can finish it.
Blarney Stone Pub 27253 Woodward Ave., Berkley; 248-541-1881; $: Irish pubs, which have long been a feature of the American drinking scene, have become a worldwide phenomenon, flourishing in such unlikely venues as Moscow and Tokyo. And so it makes sense that the Blarney Stone's everyday menu is all-American pub grub. Try the order of five flavorful burger sliders ($5.95) — with pickles, onions and a tomato-mustard sauce. There are 10 other burger varieties, including, again for the health-conscious, bison.
Cheeseburger in Paradise 13883 Lakeside Circle, at Lakeside Mall, Sterling Heights; 586-532-9828; cheeseburgerinparadise.com; $, Taking its name, of course, from the Jimmy Buffett munchies anthem, the place is suitably decked out in mass-produced tropical fish art, palm-thatched trellises, seashells and regulation tiki bar stuff. They concoct all manner of fun boat drinks using Hershey's syrup, lots of flavored vodkas, rums and sticky liqueurs, garnished with baby bananas, pineapple and other fruit sculpted into freaky creatures, including a parrot wearing Ray Bans. As for the food, you can find its like in most cookie-cutter chain links.
Comet Burger 207 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-414-4567; $: Comet Burger's concept of the '50s is pink vinyl and stainless steel chairs, Formica tabletops decorated with little boomerangs (you'll recognize them when you see them), album covers on the walls, lots of TVs and, of course, sliders and malts. The malts alone are worth the trip. As for the sliders, they're sliders, but grilled onions improve the flavor considerably.
Detroiter Bar 655 Beaubien St, Detroit; 313-963-3355; $$: Yes, it's a bar, but it's also a grill worthy of this meat-and-potatoes town. The downtown spot packs 'em in for lunch. Expect solid bar fare, including big salads and a tasty chicken breast sandwich. The staff seems especially proud of their half-pound burger, the House Special Burger, draped with enough meat and cheese to bring tears to a vegan's eyes, including ham, bacon, American and Swiss, served with fries and a mug of beer or a pop. Bar is open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily, except Sundays, when hours vary, but the kitchen does close for a bit, usually between 2 and 3 p.m., and then for the night at midnight.
Ellie's Grill & Coney 2033 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley; 248-691-4441; $$: Usually a popular breakfast spot, this joint's Eastern European cuisine goes beyond the "most important meal" to include such meaty meals as chevapi and, better yet, the seasoned, delicious hamburger-like pljeskavice, which is a mixture of minced pork, beef, garlic and onions richer and chewier than any hamburger you've had, just perfect with a rich cheese on top. They usually just serve it as a patty with a side of spicy rice, but they'll gladly put it on a bun it for you if you want it American-style. It's $7.95 for lunch, $8.95 after 5 p.m.
The Emory 22700 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-546-8202; theemory.com; $$: A highlight of the lunch and dinner menu is a plate of sliders. These little celebrations sport a heap of sweet caramelized onions and a side of au jus for dipping. For something slightly lighter, try the crisp cherry walnut salad — slightly lighter only because it's topped by a mound of bacon bits that's about the size of a softball. On the side are potatoes, baked and then flash-fried crispy on the outside and sprinkled with large chunks of onion and pepper. The other side of the plate is reserved for avocado slices and mandarin orange wedges. Wash it down with a creation from the well-stocked Bloody Mary bar and it's certain the rest of the day will unfold in your favor.
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