The Best Burgers in Detroit (That Aren't the Totally Obvious Ones)
Detroit, you don't need another list with Miller's, Redcoat Tavern, Motz's, Telway, Green Dot, Bronx Bar, etc., etc., on it. You already know they’ve got great burgers. But there are a lot of new restaurants in metro Detroit, and a lot of other burgers -- some new, some old standbys -- that are worthy of your attention.
While we’re still waiting for Prime + Proper to open, the Heirloom Hospitality Group’s two Townhouse locations are still impressing critics and diners alike. Though they're owned and operated by the same team, the Detroit and Birmingham locations tout vastly different aesthetics and menus. One thing the two locations do have in common, though, is the much-applauded Townhouse Burger: 10 ounces of a proprietary blend of 28-day-aged steak cuts, prepared daily and hand-pattied to order, served on an "authentic Plugra butter brioche bun" (that’s a fancy European-style butter), and topped with bourbon-glazed onions and aged white Cheddar. It just sounds sexy, you know? Plus, THAT PATIO.
The Tap Room burger
Rochester Tap RoomRochester
This beer bar in Rochester is well worth your precious time to visit. With 60 taps -- the most in Oakland County -- the beer selection has a lot of love for Michigan and keeps it interesting with an ever-changing lineup of unique, hard-to-find beers from Michigan and all over the world. A beer program like this deserves a thoughtful gastropub menu that goes beyond standard bar fare, highlighted by items like Brussels sprout poutine and chicken & waffles. Even still, the signature Tap Room burger steals the show, made with a half-pound Angus patty, aged Cheddar, house bacon, stout mustard, and sweet & spicy pickles on an artisan baked roll.
Tart beers pair well with decadent, fatty items... at least that's what you should tell yourself when you order the JP Burger, topped with cambozola cheese, smoked bacon, cremini mushrooms, and tomatoes on a challah roll. That is, of course, once you've figured out how to order it. Follow the "order here" signs. It's not that hard, we promise!
With a new burger joint opening in Detroit seemingly every few weeks, it’s easy to forget about some of the staple spots. For over 50 years, this downtown dive bar has been known for their mouthwatering burgers. For a sweet-and-savory treat, opt for the blues burger, made with a fresh Wigley's ground beef patty and topped with melted blue cheese, sugar-glazed peppercorn bacon, and bourbon honey BBQ sauce. Pair it with a side of their shoestring French fries for only a few bucks more.
Cornerstone Barrel HouseDowntown
It's a whiskey bar and a sports bar and (downstairs) a disco lounge featuring jazz nights. OK, so it's a little of this and a little of that, but one thing remains consistent: the food. It's a noticeable step up from your average bar, and the Barrel burger, made from a Prime custom beef blend and dressed with "Barrel Sauce," aged cheddar, and LTO, is proof.
Duck confit poutine burger
Ale Mary's Beer HallRoyal Oak
THERE IS POUTINE ON THE BURGER. And not just any poutine! Ohh, no no no no no. Duck confit poutine. ON the burger! If that's not a reason to eat it, then we're just out of damn reasons.
Royale With CheeseMidtown
We’ll save you the Pulp Fiction jokes and get straight to the point: Midtown’s newest burger joint is good. Like, almost too good. The signature Royale burger is a far cry from your typical fare, topped with succulent smoked brisket, southwest corn relish, caramelized onions, avocado, smoked Gouda fondue, creamy coleslaw, and Royale sauce. Don’t forget to grab extra napkins -- you'll need 'em.
Gold Cash GoldCorktown
Gold Cash Gold specializes in no-fuss food that secretly has quite a lot of fuss behind it, and that's what makes it all so brilliant. Its burger -- called the GCG burger -- is available on the brunch and lunch menus, and features two grass-fed patties, pimento cheese sauce, iceberg lettuce, Thousand Island dressing, and bread & butter pickles on a house-made pretzel bun. It's a classic burger with a gourmand's twist, and that's really what GCG is all about.
Betty's is damn proud of its burger, and it should be: it's been named one of the best burgers in Detroit by a slew of local publications, and has earned every accolade it has accumulated. It is topped with bacon, sharp Cheddar, garlic aioli, greens, tomato, and onion, and served with hand-cut fries, and is just the beginning at this multi-tap beer bar with food that goes beyond the usual boring bar fare with a menu that expertly complements its fine craft beers.
Paddy Melt burger
HopCat is always rotating its burger menu, each one more confoundingly delicious than the next. The current iteration: the Paddy Melt. Though we're nowhere near St. Paddy's Day, this burger is just as debaucherous, stacking corned beef on top of two patties with Wisconsin Swiss and Cheddar cheese. The beer-laden vegetable toppings, stout caramelized onions and porter mushrooms, follow thematically in tow. While you're there, don't skip the Crack Fries!
Cutter's Bar & GrillEastern Market
Sometimes you've gotta go big or go home, and burgers are no exception. Grab a couple of friends and head down to this Eastern Market institution for one of the best (and biggest) burgers in the city. Cutter’s classic 32-ounce cheeseburger is a sight to be seen, topped high with your choice of cheese, LTO, and pickles. While it may seem a bit sacrilegious, you may want to go at this behemoth with a knife and fork. We won't judge.
Downtown Louie's LoungeDowntown
Earlier this year, and after years of renovations, Downtown Louie’s has updated its menu to match its new, gorgeous decor. Now helmed by Chef Daniel Rutkowski, the restaurant's regular fare now includes refined selections like steak frites served with bone butter and East Coast oysters. Never fear, though, for many of the original burgers have remained, including favorites like The Balkan lamb burger at Louie's, topped with roasted Hungarian peppers and garlic yogurt on a rustic old world bun, and served with a side of Albanian salad (made with tomatoes and cucumbers).
Clubhouse BFDRochester Hills
Clubhouse BFD has made a name for itself with its beer, landing on DRAFT magazine's annual list of 100 best beer bars in the country every year since it opened. It truly has one of the finest beer selections in the state, even with HopCat's 1,000-handle East Lansing location (or whatever). But! It doesn't just take its beer seriously here. It takes everything seriously here, including the burgers. The Nifty's Choice is made with aged cheddar, thick-cut bacon, BFD sauce, and topped with an onion ring. The BFD sauce is Clubhouse's version of "special sauce," which is standard-issue burger fare. BFD's might not be the most outlandish burger on this list, but it is damn tasty and among metro Detroit's best of both the old and new guard.
We will fully admit, food from gas stations rarely qualifies as the “best.” That said, this family-owned burger joint is turning out some of the best -- and messiest -- burgers in metro Detroit. While exotic selections topped with everything from mac & cheese bites to Cool Ranch Doritos are tempting, you can’t go wrong with the classic Taystee burger, stacked with lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, oozing American cheese, and their signature sauce on a warm brioche bun.
New to Eastern Market, this communal dining restaurant is already impressing diners with its simple yet delicious menu. The menu is pretty stacked, with the simply named “BURGER” being only one of 16 entrees, but this not-so-little-burger holds its own, made with a fresh beef patty and topped with LTO and a creamy malt vinegar.
Located inside the Penobscot Building in Downtown, the historic Caucus Club isn’t exactly where you'd expect to find a burger, but you would be wrong. Available strictly on the lunch menu, the club’s Roque-Burger matches the location's regal history and decor. Starting with a blend of seasoned and ground-in-house beef, the patty is stuffed with Cognac-Roquefort, wood-fired, pressed on a pumpernickel bun, and served open face with house sauce. If you're looking to step outside the burger box, look no further.
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