Editor's note: Burgermeisters! Here's another excerpt from George Motz's book Hamburger America. George and his publisher were kind enough to allow us to run them here, along with George's beautiful photos. Eat up!
Miller's is on a commercial stretch, 6 lanes wide, in Dearborn, Michigan. Across the street from a large Ford dealership, the windowless bar is painted with a fresh coat of red paint and emblazoned with enormous white letters spelling out the name of this nearly 70-year-old institution. Despite the cool functionality of the exterior, the interior, with its original 1940s Brunswick bar of undulating high-gloss wood and booths made of supple deep-red leather feels more like a long-lost private men's club than the bunker that the outside evokes.
There is no menu at Miller’s but the options are simple—burgers, fries, onion rings are available, as are tuna, ham, and corned beef sandwiches and, of course, drinks from the bar. The clientele are mostly local devotees and regulars from the nearby world headquarters of the Ford Motor Company. They come for the burgers and have been since 1941 when Mark’s uncle George Miller opened the bar.
"Our butcher starts grinding beef for us at 4am everyday," Mark told me. Mark owns the bar with his brother Dennis, and the two are second generation owners. The Miller’s father Russell bought the bar from his brother George in 1947.
The 7-ounce burger is served on a steamed, white bun and delivered to you on square of wax paper. Lettuce and tomato are not offered. Swiss or Velveeta are available as are the standard condiments like ketchup, mustard, pickle, and sliced onion. But this burger needs no embellishment so forgo the condiments. The meat is so good you could eat it plain. I asked what it was that made the burger taste so great and Mark told me, "It’s the meat. The meat is great. There are no seasonings and we have no secrets."
Hamburger America is available at Amazon and comes with a DVD of George's movie of the same title.
23700 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48124
millersbar.com Mon. to Sat., 11 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.; closed Sunday