Food & Drink

Here are Detroit's 7 best burgers

Published On 01/15/2014 Published On 01/15/2014
Best Burgers DET
Courtney Ochab

For a city that made the Coney Dog famous, Detroit still brings some serious skill to the burger game. From classic creations that've been fattening our citizenry for years to newer kids on the block that are... also fattening our citizenry, these are the essential bastions of between-bun tastiness that Detroit can't do without. As if narrowing them down to seven wasn't tough enough, we went to the trouble of ranking them also.

The Daily Bacon

7. Detroiter Bar, Detroiter Special
Unassuming dive from the outside, tasty burger haven on the inside.  Get yourself a Detroiter Special -- a loaded burger (ham AND bacon!) so juicy that you'd gladly pay 10 bucks for it. Then you'll find out that 10 spot also nets you a mountain of fries and a cold beer. Life is good.

Eat It Detroit

6. Sonny’s Hamburgers, Large Sliders
The downside of sliders: they're tiny. The upside: it's easy to eat more of them. We’d argue that Sonny's represent Detroit's best. They're greasy in the best possible way. They're covered in onions. They're $1.70. How economically responsible of you... until you polish off a dozen of them.

Courtney Ochab

5. Motz’s Burgers, Smashburger
The diner's tiny interior is unremarkable. The staff's been there for years. And the special Smashburger is so cool that it doesn't even care that some upstart chain stole its style. The formula's nothing revolutionary: smashed, griddled patties, oozy cheese & onions. But it has that unmistakable flavor that only a well-seasoned griddle that's been turning out burgers for years can replicate. The staff would add that it's made with love, and it's hard to argue with them.

Michigan Burger Boys

4. Mercury Burger Bar, The Juicy
We're generally reluctant to credit the state of Minnesota with good ideas, but Mercury follows in the footsteps of its illustrious Juicy Lucy with The Juicy (sorry, Lucy), creating what looks at first glance to be a typically appointed (and delcious-looking) burger until you realize that the center of the patty is filled with molten American cheese, a mouthwatering indulgence that lets it stand out among Mercury's already amazing burger lineup.

The Rattlesnake Club

3. The Rattlesnake Club, The Detroit Burger Brawl Burger
This battle-tested burger is chock full of Michigan-made goodness, from Reny Picot's Manchego cheese to Greenbush Brewing Co. Closure IPA-braised onions. It also has house-pickled sweet peppers and a spicy black pepper aioli. That's all surrounding a patty made from a mighty trio of chuck, short rib, and brisket that's resting on a brioche bun. It all works together beautifully.

Michigan Burger Boys

2. Nemo’s, Classic with Special Mustard
When you need to lay a base before you head to a Tiger's game (or when you just need a fantastic burger), Nemo's is always there awaiting you with their classic, juicy, grilled-to-order, sesame bun-equipped burgers. Your cheese preference is up to you, but don't skip their special mustard sauce, whose tangy savoriness gives the whole operation the perfect kick.

Cutter's Bar & Grill

1. Cutter’s Bar & Grill, One-Pound Burger
Eastern Market
Located on the edge of historic Eastern Market and named after the four meat cutters who originally opened the joint, Cutter’s is all about the meat. Firm believers in not being able to have too much of a good thing, their 1lb, freshly ground, hand-pounded patties are the standard to which other Detroit burgers must aspire. It can be a little difficult to get your mouth around, but it's worth the trouble. If you really want to explore your eating abilities, there's a 2lb version.

Vegan Road Runner

Bonus: Woodbridge Pub, Stever McFever
Vegetarians are people too (sort of) and they deserve to have their burger-loving needs met. Lucky for them this black bean creation at Woodbridge is mouth watering enough that it even made a run at making the above list. Grilled onion, tomato, avocado creme, and balsamic glaze bring plenty of flavor between the Avalon vegan bun. Yes vegans, even you deserve burger bliss. Detroit welcomes all.

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1. Cutter's Bar & Grill 2638 Orleans St, Detroit, MI 48207 (Eastern Market)

Cutter's Bar & Grill has an awesome happy hour (10a-6p!), strong and cheap drinks, and one of Detroit's favorite hamburgers. The greatest -- and most dangerous -- part? You can have a 2lb burger for just over $10. Your self-control is optional.

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2. Nemo's 1384 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48226 (Corktown)

Nemo’s is a charmingly divey, Detroit mainstay featuring a host of America’s favorite bar foods like its world-famous chili, stacked club sandwich, hot soup, and hearty list of juicy, griddle burgers. The good ol’ reliable Cheeseburger, with gooey cheddar and standout fixings like crunchy, briny pickles, is our choice for best in grease. Have a can and enjoy a game at the bar in the cozy, weathered, and beloved watering hole — or take a free shuttle directly to the Tigers game. All aboard!

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3. The Rattlesnake 300 River Place Dr, Detroit, MI 48207 (Rivertown)

This upscale riverfront resto serves up locally sourced eats whenever possible. When it warms up, have dinner out on the garden terrace and soak up the views.

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4. Mercury Burger Bar 2163 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216 (Corktown)

Mercury is a diner-style burger joint that serves a long list of creative, greasy burgers and milkshakes among other American cuisine staples like hot dogs, tater tots (poutine tots are by far the best), and the coveted Fried Bologna Sandwich. In our opinion cheese is king, so we favor the Juicy: a beef patty stuffed (and topped) with cheddar cheese with all the fixings. Swig some of Michigan’s finest craft brews at the wrap around bar that, along with the low ceilings and plethora of booths, reminds you of every iconic diner on TV. It’s notoriously hard to find a seat in this lively Corktown favorite, especially on the weekends, so plan accordingly just in case you get seated on the spacious patio beer garden.

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5. Motz's Burgers 7208 W Fort St, Detroit, MI 48209

Motz’s is an American short-order joint that can only be described as a burger-slinging shack in the middle of nowhere. Motz’s is the home of the original Detroit slider, and almost exclusively serves sliders, specialty burgers (beef, salmon, veggie, and grilled chicken), and sides like chili cheese fries, onion rings, and jalapeño poppers. It keeps its impressively long, greasy history alive with fresh patties cooked to order on a griddle just behind the stainless steel diner counter. Sitting upon our retro, chrome diner thrones we sunk our teeth into the double cheeseburger slider cooked medium for optimal tenderness making every mouth-filling bite alive with the combinations of salty beef, gooey cheddar, and soft, sweet onions along with the crunch of fresh fixings. Pro tip: Motz's is cash only, so hit the ATM first.

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6. Sonny's Hamburgers 20001 Schoolcraft Rd, Detroit, MI 48223

Super cheap, delicious sliders whose only condiments are onions and grease. Grab some fries and a cup of coffee and enjoy!

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7. Detroiter Bar 655 Beaubien St, Detroit, MI 48226

The Detroiter in Bricktown is the best place to booze before, during, and after game days. Shuttle service to Comerica, Ford Field, or the Joe means your time spent not drinking is kept to a minimum... while burgers, coneys, and gyros are kept to a maximum.