Bates Hamburgers (Livonia, MI)

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)

5 Responses

  1. Anonymous 07 Jul 2007 at 16:37 #

    I’m from the Livonia area (now in fla for 20 yrs)We always go to Bates when we visit ‘home’ another great slider is Greens’ just a few miles from Bates, (even better)There is nothing like them in Florida anywhere we’ve been. If I knew how to make them, and we have tried many times to duplicate the taste, I’d open a place here. Going back in Aug, my mouths watering already!!!

  2. Anonymous 18 May 2008 at 17:31 #

    Unique Franks located in Walled Lake Michigan S/E corner of 15 mile
    (Maple RD.)& Pontiac Tr. in Walled Lake Commons plaza has great sliders (not mini burgers) and over 17 style hot dogs (Chicago,New York,ect.)

  3. Anonymous 07 May 2009 at 14:33 #

    it must be the fried onions and better quality meat … sure are good

  4. Anonymous 27 Oct 2009 at 13:57 #

    unique franks is no good

  5. Anonymous 15 Sep 2010 at 21:33 #

    Food is good; however, the friendliness of the staff is less than desirable unless you are a "regular" who they tend to cader too….

    Also, don't take the frys of the counter unless they tell you to, if you do, you will probably be informed "not to do it again".

    Bates Hamburgers LOST two customers today due to their lack of tact, respect and over abundance of rudeness!

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