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Posted on Mon, May 17, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

Ypsilanti's Bill's Drive-In: Another treasure along Michigan Avenue

By John Moors


In this area, most people head to Ann Arbor for their dining choices. Some people like to stick around Ypsilanti and visit Sidetrack or Aubree’s. I can’t argue with any of these choices, but when it comes to really good local joints you just can’t beat a trip down Michigan Avenue.

Sure, you may feel like you’re in a bit of an odd (for some people, scary) area on your way there but once you reach Gabriel’s Hoagies, Roy’s Squeeze-Inn or Los Amigos you’ll feel like you’re in food heaven. These are some of the few businesses on this strip that remain from the 1950’s and before, and are offering not only great food, but also an experience that you just can’t find many other places.

Right across the street from Gabriel’s and Roy’s sits Bill’s Drive-In, which like both places, has fed locals for 50+ years(since 1935, to be exact). The building looks like a tiny mustard colored house surrounded by a parking lot, but two windows at the front and crooked signage indicating hot dogs and root beer let you know that this little house is actually a hot dog stand. Pull in, but don’t get out of your car. An attendant will be at your car within one minute and they do not serve customers at the front window.

There are no menus at Bill’s. If you’re not sure what you want, the attendant will quickly tell you what they offer. Hot dogs with or without chili, topped with your choice of onions, cheese, or mustard. Loose burgers are also offered. There is homemade root beer to drink, and potato chips if you need a side. If that’s not simple enough for you then I think you may have some sort of problem. If you need something else other than that, I just don’t think Bill’s isn’t for you. This isn’t Pink’s or any kind of fancy Hollywood hot dog stand. They don’t need any other items. Their menu is perfect.


Chili Dog from Bill's Drive-In

John Moors | Contributor

Order a dog or two with chili and a large root beer. It will only cost you about $3. Open the paper wrap and you’ll find a steamed white bun that is shorter than the hot dog. The hot dog is cooked by boiling and kept warm by steam. The dogs are naturally cased and while they don’t have as much snap as I would normally like, the flavor makes it completely OK. The chili is very unique. Not quite Coney chili, but not like ... Well, it’s hard to explain. It’s definitely tomato rich and a little spicier than most Coney chili. They have gotten the chili to hot dog ratio perfect and the ratio is consistent on every order. The dog is topped with plenty of chili, but just enough so it doesn't spill all over your lap while eating it in your car.


Bill's Drive-In has the best beer in the world.

John Moors | Contributor

The hot dogs and chili are delicious, but the real star of Bill’s Drive-In is the root beer. Believe me when I tell you that this is the best root beer you will ever have. I have traveled thousands of miles on a quest to find the world's best root beer. I haven’t really, but I’ve tried a lot of root beer in my life and this is by far the best. There’s not even a close second. The root beer is rich, creamy, a little syrupy, with a nice bite to the finish. It’s the definition of legit. You just can’t get root beet like this anywhere else, especially in a bottle or can. Next time you visit, ask to take a gallon home with you. It comes in a simple milk jug and will be gone in 24 hours. You’ll thank me later.

Bill’s is another example of the great good that exists in this area if you look for it. It’s not exactly a hidden gem, but most people would have to venture out farther than they usually go for a meal to find it. Do some research and you will find places, such as Bill’s, which offers so much more appeal and history than simply going to a chain restaurant and eating something that has little thought or process behind it.

John Moors is single-handedly raising national obesity levels and documenting it on his blog at Challenge him or just say hello by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter @EpicPortions.



Fri, Aug 6, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

Love Bill's root beer. Love Gabriels. Love Chick Inn. Believe Klucks closed this year because last month at least, they were closed for business.


Sun, May 23, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

I should try them some time. When I'm in the area, I usually opt for Chick-Inn or Kluck's.


Fri, May 21, 2010 : 9:56 a.m.

What is so odd or scary about Michigan Ave. in Ypsi? Is it all that 45 mph traffic? Granted there are some missing sidewalks, but if your driving just put your turn signal on and the other drivers will go around. For cheesesteaks, Chick-Inn has my vote. Get it with the mushroom sauce.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

Problem with Spots is they don't have the pepper sauce that Gabriels uses. Fraser's has a pretty good hoagie sandwich.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 3:14 p.m.

As a life long resident of Ypsi. I would like to make a couple of corrections. First of all, Bills is not across from Gabriels. It is a couple of miles down the road. Next Los Amigos, has not been been around since the 1950's. They have only been open for less than 7 or 8 years at the most. That place used to be Vegos Lounge. And although Roys has been around off and on since the 1950's, it has not been in its currect location. It used to be further west, almost to Prospect. The building where it currently is used to be the "Doughnut Kitchen". Now that that is all corrected, I would also add that although Bills used to be the King of Hot Dogs in the area, they have slipped over the past couple of years. Something has changed. You can still get a great dog around town, but its not there anymore. Try the Chick Inn, foot long.

Bobble Disk

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Agree with Tony Mullins. Bill's isn't that great. Don't even use old fashioned casing franks anymore. It was great when the founder built and operated it. He was a school teacher who tried out a few things, looking for work during his summer breaks from teaching. Back then teachers were educated and really were poorly paid (so were mail carriers). He began with a home made hotdog stand. He just sold very high quality hotdogs, coke in the bottle, & small bag of potato chips. The house he owned still stands near Bill's. After the family sold off the stand, the quality fell.

Top Cat

Wed, May 19, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

The cheesesteaks at Gabriel's are very good but Mr. Spots wins the cheesesteak laurels in the area.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

The Broadway Deli or Izzies are my fave cheese steaks.