The legendary Miller’s burger
When I meet fellow Michiganders (or are we officially Michiganians, now?), one of the most common reactions upon revealing my hometown is: “You’re from Dearborn … ever been to Miller’s?”
The answer is a resounding “duh.”
If you are a tourist or day trip visitor traveling to Dearborn and its main attraction — Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum, add Miller’s Bar to your itinerary ASAP. If you are a Ford employee with meetings at headquarters, squeeze a burger lunch into your workday. And, if you live in Metro Detroit, what are you waiting for? For decades, Miller’s has been known to have one of the best burgers around.
The bar’s red-exterior, black-roof building with its glowing white sign surrounded by white bulbs and colorful neon stars is at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Birch Street, between Outer Drive and Telegraph Road. The neighborhood haunt has been serving burgers and beer since 1941.
Beer and burgers — that’s what Miller’s does
The concept is simple: beer and burgers. Burger patties are made with quality ground round, topped with cheese if you’d like, and sandwiched between a plain and simple bun. Add pickles, onions, ketchup and mustard to your liking — the condiments are already sitting on your table.
Overpriced, some diners say. And, they may have a point. The “gourmet” cheeseburger at national restaurant chain Red Robin costs $8.99, and it’s topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo and relish and served with bottomless steak fries. For a more local example, Kiernan’s Steak House, also located on Michigan Avenue in west Dearborn, offers a half-pound Angus Beef burger for $7.95 with your choice of fries or onion rings. But at Miller’s, the more than $6 cheeseburger — no extras included — is worth its price.
Usually perfectly grilled to the temperature ordered, Miller’s patties are juicy, flavorful and the All-American accompaniment to a domestic — or a Canadian — brew. And, the cheese. The cheese is the glue, holding the burger and bun together, preventing the dreaded burger avalanche — you know, when the patty starts sliding out of the bun, condiments and toppings falling to your plate. And, that cheese is a lifesaver at Miller’s where there are no plates and no flatware.
But, you will always get a glass with your beer, the bartender told my dad when we dined there Tuesday night. The beer is bottled; the pop is canned. But, when you’re at Miller’s that doesn’t seem to matter — the burger is the star of the show. If the burger is the star, the fries and onion rings are capable sidekicks.
More than burgers, too
Why you would go to Miller’s and not order a burger, I don’t know. But, you can. The concise menu includes tuna, ham, corned beef, grilled chicken and grilled cheese sandwiches. During Lent, the bar also offers a fish sandwich. Baked beans are also popular among the bar’s loyal patrons.
On your honor
Particularly charming and a welcomed reminder of days of trust gone by nearly everywhere else, Miller’s operates on an honor system. After your meal, just tell the bartender what you ordered. You could lie to save a few bucks, but, as a longtime customer, I think Miller’s patrons genuinely tell the truth and are willing to pay for what they ordered. Because it’s worth it. And, if it’s not, say something. The bar gets packed around lunch and dinner times, but the friendly staff waits on each table quickly and efficiently. Miller’s wouldn’t be a local favorite for more than 70 years if customer service was lacking.
Menu: Burgers, cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, baked beans and other sandwiches (if you must)
Drinks: Bottled beers, cans of pop
Price: Two cheeseburgers with fries/onion rings and two beers costs about $27 total
Location: 23700 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48124
Phone: (313) 565-2577
Parking: Street and parking lot behind the bar
Wish you were here,