Let’s start this out by getting something cleared up: there is no one sandwich known as a “hamburger.” Hamburgers have types; the hamburgers you get at different places aren’t really even the same. They range from your basic fast food burger (McDonalds, Burger King, …), to big two-handed thick burgers (Cheeburger Cheeburger, Fuddruckers, and, for you Arizonans, The Chuck Box), to specialty burgers (like the cheese-filled Jucy Lucy of Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis). And there’s little comparing burgers from one category to another.
Indeed, one of these categories is the “slider”, the diminutive little burger fried on a bed of onions served on a little poofy roll. Midwestern folks can get them at White Castle, while Southerners get these at Krystal. And, for some odd reason, there are a lot of places in the Detroit Metro area that really took the White Castle concept to heart, opening similar burger joints in similar-looking buildings, with similar sliders.
One good example of this is Bates Hamburgers (several locations, including Livonia, MI), which two separate locals told me had the “best burgers on the planet”. So I decided to check them out.
Indeed, when I found Bates on 5 Mile, there was a fairly good crowd of people, mostly getting burgers from the walk-up window in the parking lot. However, I headed inside and grabbed a seat at the counter (right), and ordered three sliders and a side of chili fries.
Overall, I’d say that these are some of the best sliders I’ve ever had, with noticeably beter buns, a better sear on the burger patties, a bit more meat, and none of the funky can’t-quit-place-it smell that always permeates my pores and clothing whenever I got to White Castle or Krystal (I think it’s fresher onions making the difference). The fries were crinkle-cut, nicely fried, with a thick chili sauce, yielding above-average chili fries (although I wouldn’t go out of my way for these). And, the service was fast (probably due to the simple menu) and friendly.
Definitely not the “best hamburger on the planet”, but one of the best sliders I’ve ever had. They just aren’t a substitute for real burgers (like the Cheeburger Cheeburger I had two nights later).
1. Cost. My sliders, chili fries, and a coke cost me less than 5 bucks, and were pretty filling.
2. These are definitely a notch above the usual sliders.
3. This place seems to have history, since a good cross section of Livonia was eating inside or grabbing sliders to go in the parking lot.
4. This place has some fanatical followers
1. This isn’t a fancy restaurant, and it’s all counter space. Definitely on the “fast” end of fast food.
2. I don’t get the fanaticism (but the food was decent enough)