So I just spent a few days in Detroit, and while I typically try to line up several meals when I go to a new city, I knew that I would be very busy with work and somewhat at the mercy of my coworkers. I kind of poked around to ask a few people online as well as a few coworkers in Detroit, and even got a few suggestions but didn’t really get to research them ahead of time. My coworker in Vegas sent me a link to a total dive place called Motz’s Burgers a week before we left and even printed a map to it, but still didn’t really plan on going there at any point. Just as predicted the trip was jam packed and extremely busy, but I did manage to squeeze out one amazing burger for breakfast on the way to the airport my last morning, and that place happened to be the one he printed.
I carried that piece of paper with me throughout the couple of days I was in my office, but still never really had any definite intentions of going there. The day before I was set to leave, Burger Boy sent me an article claiming that this same place “serves some of the best sliders in the country” and I knew where I had to go. It was decided that we would go there for dinner that night, but we quickly determined that they closed at 6pm and our after-work drinks had held us up way beyond that. Their website said they opened at 10am so it was decided that we would go as soon as they opened on the way to the airport.
Motz is located across the street from a major trucker shipping location which I’m sure keeps them busy. I won’t bore you with too much of the history as you can read most of it from where I did. The location was built as a White Castle a very long time ago and still looks just like it from the outside. Inside there are maybe 10 built-in stools in front of a counter, giving you a front row seat of the grill and all the magic that’s about to happen, along with a handful of seats against the entry wall. The buns are on display on the left wall still in their packages, and there are signs all over the place offering combos, different types of patties, breakfasts and many other things.
As claimed in this article, the main attraction is their sliders, or as I found out are really just called ‘cheeseburgers’. I was a little unclear at first and thought about ordering a slider and a cheeseburger to try both, but was quickly corrected by the friendly and informative lady behind the counter. She was able to tell me when the building was built, that there were once seven locations of Motz’s, and that they’re now all closed but this one. The most important bit of info she probably told me was that I needed to get onions on my burger. I’m not always a fan of them as they don’t sit well in my stomach, and being that I was on my way to the airport to sit on a plane for 4+ hours I didn’t want to risk anything. She was insistent so I ordered one with-, and one without onions. I’m glad I listened to her but more on that in a minute.
The burger is composed of meatballs that are rolled daily in the back and mushed onto the grill. There was a large container of the meatballs in a refrigerated drawer under the grill which unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of. The onions are then piled on top, and end up underneath the patty once it’s flipped. Once complete, they add ketchup, mustard and pickles and put them in a deliciously soft and gooey bun. One thing I noticed during the preparation, and this might be one of the secrets to the soft bun, was that they placed a towel over the buns while they were on the grill with everything else. Maybe this circulates the steam within and keeps them soft? Whatever it is, it works and they are delicious.
The meat has great flavor, and the combination of the amazing grilled onions, pickles and everything else make for one hell of a slider. I ate my slider with onions first, and was almost disappointed that I had to eat my other one after. It was still delicious, but not nearly as good as the one with everything. I couldn’t stress any more that there’s no other way to go.
The fries were also great. They’re pretty much your run-of-the-mill frozen skinny fry, but they were cooked perfectly; crispy and delicious. I’ve had much fancier fries at much fancier locations that weren’t as good as these. Sometimes simple is better, and it just works.
There was a trucker eating a few seats down from us, and he was telling a story about how he had just driven some insane amount of miles in some length of time that was longer than I’d ever like to spend in a car or truck. He was awesome and completely added to the experience, as did the local mail lady and few others that made their way through while we were there. Towards the end of our visit my coworker and I struck up further conversation with the lady behind the bar and mentioned my blog and that we’re from Vegas. She started to tell a story about a guy from New York that comes in all the time, and happens to write for USA Today. One day he wrote a big article about them and all of a sudden they became a huge deal. What was great about her whole story is that she ended it with a “we’re just here making a regular burger, there are no secret ingredients or hidden tricks.” Her attitude couldn’t have been more perfect; as far as she knows she’s just some hole in the wall restaurant making a basic burger on an old grill. Based on the location, building and interior she’s right, but this is no basic burger. This truly is a great find and a great burger, and if you’re ever in Detroit you need to go here.