You can find some pretty tasty burgers in Michigan’s larger cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. But there’s something special about the small-town charm of stumbling upon a local burger joint that doesn’t seem to get the same attention. You just have to know where to look.
MICHIGAN—Here are a few small-town burger spots that are worth the extra drive.
O’s Pub & Grill (Auburn)
123 E. Midland St.
O’s Pub & Grill has been serving visitors some of the best burgers in Michigan for almost a decade. They grind USDA prime Black Angus to make fresh 8 oz. patties each day, making even the most basic burger irresistible. You’ll find more than 10 specialty burgers on their menu, including the 6FT Separation Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion straws, smoked gouda, bacon jam, and bacon aioli. Check out O’s Pub & Grill on Mondays—Burger Day—when you can buy one burger, and get a second one for only $5!
Bridgewater Bank Tavern (Bridgewater Township)
8452 Boettner Rd.
It’s easy to miss Bridgewater Bank Tavern on a country drive out to Bridgewater. Yet, the locals know this is one of the best places for a fresh burger. Bank Tavern’s half-pound burgers can be ordered with various fixings. Most come on a Kaiser bun, but you can choose another bread or upgrade to a pretzel bun. The Bleu Garlic burger, with bleu cheese, minced garlic, and sautéed onions, is a local fan favorite.
Redamaks (New Buffalo)
616 E. Buffalo St.
Redamaks is a roadside diner that opened in the 1940s, and the current owners have been in charge since 1975. New Buffalo is small, but Redamaks has made it a Michigan burger travel destination. They always serve fresh burgers cooked to medium well on a sesame seed bun, dressed as requested. The menu includes a half dozen gourmet burgers—and the star of the show is the cheese. One word: Velveeta. Yep—the smooth, salty, creamy processed cheese that is perfect for a melty hamburger.
Note: Redamaks is closed for the winter, but will reopen in April!
Laura’s Little Burger Joint (Decatur)
This burger spot in the small town of Decatur has drawn in locals and visitors alike since it opened more than a decade ago. There, you will find classic hamburgers and cheeseburgers, as well as some specialities like an olive and swiss hamburgers and a bacon and ham cheeseburgers. A local favorite the famous Chapman Burger—which includes all the fixings, including bacon and pepper jack cheese.
Brown Bear (Shelby)
135 N. Michigan Ave.
Shelby’s Brown Bear has been a staple for pub food in Shelby since the end of prohibition, with the current owners taking over in 1994. This humble small town burger spot draws locals and tourists throughout the whole year. The Brown Bear’s burgers are made daily from a fresh 80/20 blend of ground chuck from a local, family-operated food distributor. The menu includes 10 different burgers—but the Brown Bear is perhaps most famous for its massive, juicy Brown Bear Supreme. It’s a one-pound patty with ham, banana peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo. Good luck finishing it all.
Clyde’s Drive-In (St. Ignace)
If you want a little bit of nostalgia with an awesome burger, Clyde’s Drive-In in St. Ignace is the place. This vintage drive-in offers more than a dozen burger options, most of which are 0.75 lbs. The Big “C” has everything but the kitchen sink piled on top. You can also find other local favorites like the olive burger and the jalapeno burger. Be sure to save room for one of the delicious shakes or malts, too!
Wayland Hotel & Bar (Wayland)
104 S. Main St.
The historic Wayland Hotel & Bar has been serving area residents since the late 1800s, but new ownership in the last decade has elevated it to a small town Michigan burger joint you simply cannot miss. The bar is known for its burgers—especially its signature half-pound Hotel Burger, topped with American cheese, lettuce, pickle, onion, and homemade thousand island sauce. Adventurous eaters can also try the Unit 8 with creamy cookie butter, bacon, Swiss cheese, garlic aioli, and mustard on a pretzel bun—or the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger, with Reese’s peanut butter, bacon, and American cheese.