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Posted on Fri, May 31, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Zeroing in on Ann Arbor's best burger as the search gets underway

By Jessica Webster


The JP Burger at the Jolly Pumpkin.

Jessica Webster |

The best burger I ever ate came from a luncheonette attached to the general store in the tiny town of Orrville, Ontario. It was a simple burger; just a third of a pound of ground beef, seasoned with a little salt, cooked to medium-rare and topped with a slice of unspecified orange cheese and some ketchup.

I was probably 9 or 10 years old when I ate that burger, and the nostalgia surrounding this food memory has driven my quest for a comparably memorable burger experience ever since.

This week we asked the readers of to tell us where they've enjoyed their favorite local burgers, and we've gotten more than 200 responses between the website and our Facebook page. Clearly I am not the only one with a passion for burgers.

zing burger 1.jpg

A burger at Zingerman's Roadhouse, topped with pimento cheese.

Jessica Webster |

It's also clear that each of us has our own criteria for rating our favorite burgers. For some, it's the creative toppings. Raves about the Southerner at Wurst Bar have me salivating. Pimento cheese, fried green tomato and bacon on a pretzel bun? It's like they looked deep into my soul, found all of my favorite things, and put them all on one plate. I'll be heading there to try it before the week is out.

But for others, the key is simplicity. You judge a pizza by its crust, and a burger by its patty, right? Restaurants that source their ground beef from Knight's have an edge with many of our readers, and the grass-fed burgers from Zingerman's Roadhouse, Jolly Pumpkin and Grange get some love, too.

A few years ago, I wrote a column about my quest for the best burger in Ann Arbor. Back then, @Burger was just opening (it has since closed) and we were on the verge of getting our first Five Guys Burger & Fries. Today we've got a second Five Guys, we're looking forward to two new small-chain burger concepts opening soon (Elevation Burger and BurgerFi) and Blimpy Burger's future looks uncertain. But other than that, most of my favorites still hold true.

I still love the Kosmo burger at Kosmo deli in Kerrytown. I'd still gladly trade a week's worth of workouts for a poutine burger from Grange Kitchen & Bar. I'm still magnetically attracted to Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger, and my car practically drives itself to the Roadhouse on Monday nights for their burger specials. I'll still happily wash a cambazola-topped grass-fed burger from Jolly Pumpkin down with an Oro De Calabaza, and I still believe that you can't lose with a burger and a beer at Casey's Tavern.

We're accepting nominations for your favorite local burger through this afternoon. Then make sure to check back for your chance to vote in our poll, which opens at 3 p.m. today and runs through June 5 at 3 p.m. Then once we've determined our local favorite burger joint, MLive's John Gonzalez will be joining us for a taste test as he continues on his quest for Michigan's best burger.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for, a part of the MLive Media Group. Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


James Hamilton

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

A few months ago I went to the Roadhouse to get a burger. It was the most expensive burger I have ever had and it was dry. Not juicy at all. I will never get their burger again. The best burger I have gotten in Ann Arbor is the Blimpy Burger. The best burger anywhere is Fatburger. Surprisingly, a chain of burger restaurants mainly out west. I have eaten at their chain of restaurants in California and Nevada.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

The Black Bean burger at RedHawk on State is my favorite!


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

I only eat organically based(i.e. grass fed, amish or kosher). The only burger place selling that kind is Zingerman's Roadhouse and I've never eaten there. I am waiting for Elevation Burger and Burger Fi to open and try those. As for Blimpy Burger, it would get my vote for the worst burger I've ever eaten(along with McDonalds). The best restaurant burger I ever ate was nearly 30 years ago at another Jim, not Krazy Jim's but Bicycle Jim, then located across the street from Village Corner and above Community News Center(I miss all three). Just delicious.


Fri, May 31, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Uhhhhh...... no. Zingerman's does not have a monopology onT organically based beef. The amazing burgers at Jolly Pumpkin are made with grass-fed beef. The JP burger is absolutely spectacular--give it a try!

Hugh Giariola

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 10:47 a.m.

I curse Zingerman's Roadhouse for their exorbitant food prices. However, their burgers are by far the best I've ever eaten.

Matt Lang

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

I had their plate of 6 sliders which cost $19, and they weren't even the best slider burgers i've had, even a grilled cheese was $12! Too much.