Almost five years ago, one of the very first reviews on this site was a review of one of my favorite burger joints, Miller’s Bar in Dearborn, MI. Since then, I’ve reviewed a total of 25 additional burger joints, and have plenty more scheduled for the near future. However, since I try (and usually succeed) at visiting Miller’s every time I’m in or near the Dearborn area, and recently had a trip to Detroit, I figured it was worth writing up Miller’s again.
Miller’s Bar has changed a bit since I first visited there in the summer of 1993. The key here being “a bit”—there has been a fresh coat of paint applied in recent history, perhaps a little bit of cleaning, and some fairly minor adjustments to the prices (especially considering what inflation has been like the last 18 years). Basically, it’s still the same burger joint, nestled into a fairly non-descript building on Michigan Avenue. They still have the same fairly limited menu (it’s basically “hamburger, cheeseburger, fries, onion rings”, although the resourceful can also get things like a grilled cheese sandwich if they ask nicely). They still make the burgers on the little grill behind the bar. They still work on the honor system (when done, you walk over to the register and tell them what you had). And it’s still basically a 1940s time capsule, complete with a vintage Brunswick Bar and little mirrors shelves holding the liquor bottles.
But the thing that always has me coming back to Miller’s Bar is the burgers. The burger is pretty much the definition of a great burger should be. A thick patty with a nicely seared exterior and juicy interior and beefy flavor, coupled with a substantial bun. The real magic of Miller’s Bar is that there is no magic. No weird ingredients. No weird meat (it’s just good quality ground round). No fancy toppings (onion, pickle, and cheese (either swiss or Velveeta, sliced from the block) are all that’s available.) No unusual cooking practices (it’s a simple metal griddle). They just take some good meat, freshly ground, form it into patties, and cook it on the grill, right where you can watch them. After cooking it a bit on each side, they serve it up on a nice-but-not-fancy bun and serve it to you on a square of waxed paper. And it’s good, oh so good.
It’s one of those places that, after seeing them make my burger, makes me really disappointed that every burger place can’t do a burger this well.