Posted by: Kath Usitalo | May 10, 2012

Road Food Report: Mercury Burger Bar

Topped with avocado and tortilla strips, the Southwest Detroit burger honors the flavors of nearby Mexicantown

Forget about pink slime, aka LFTB (lean finely textured beef). May is National Hamburger Month, and no food additive controversy is going to keep Americans from one of their favorite foods.

The hamburger, introduced in the U.S. by immigrants from Hamburg, Germany, is just a patty of ground beef cooked on a griddle, grill, or under a broiler. In this country it’s served as a sandwich on a bun or bread.

The Need for Speed.

White Castle sliders

White Castle, maker of the legendary slider, is the oldest continuously operating hamburger chain. Founded in Wichita, Kansas in 1921, the first day’s profit at the first White Castle burger shack was $3.75.

A gourmet burger today can easily cost double that and more, as burger joints try to differentiate from all the other burger joints with elaborate toppings and custom blends of ground beef.

At the Mercury Burger Bar in Detroit’s Corktown the star sandwich is made with hormone and antibiotic-free Black Angus beef from Creekstone Farms, a Kansas company that promises the meat is “raised and grazed in the USA.”

Most of the rest of the ingredients on the Mercury menu are made, grown or obtained locally, from Detroit’s own Brown’s Buns to Faygo pop and jalapenos from Honey Bee Market in Mexicantown.

Open since mid-March, Mercury Burger Bar is the brainchild of restaurateur Dave Steinke and Dennis Fulton, who retired from the Detroit Police Department.

Mercury mural by Detroit artist Jerome Feretti

The buddies and business partners refurbished what had been a World War II era tavern for military passing through Detroit. The name came from the Mercury train that ran out of the now-deserted Michigan Central Train Station across the park.

Anchoring a corner of Michigan Avenue and 14th, the Mercury is decorated with white subway tile, original art and a zinc-topped bar. Picnic tables in the outdoor “biergarten” will be popular through the warm months ahead.

Service with a smile

Depending on the time of day the tables, booths and bar can be filled with families, hipsters and Boomers. Service is friendly and casual, and prices are decent: burgers are in the $6-$8 range.

TJ and I sampled two of the specialties of the house: the Shroom, topped with Portobello mushrooms, and the Southwest Detroit, a taste of nearby Mexicantown between buns.

That burger is topped with a chorizo slider, jalapeno peppers, Muenster cheese, avocado, and crispy tortilla strips.


The black bean burger gets rave reviews and there are other sandwiches and salads on the menu. Several types of must-try fries include regular, garlic, and sweet potato.

This is a burger joint, so there are milkshakes, and it’s a bar, so there’s liquor and 16 beers on tap, many of them Michigan craft brews.

The Mercury has 16 beers on tap

You can even order a Boston Cooler, a combination of Detroit’s own Vernors ginger ale and vanilla ice cream. No one knows why it’s not named Detroit Cooler.

Maybe the Mercury Burger Bar could call it that, because Detroit is a bit cooler with this addition to the city scene.

Mercury Burger Bar is open 7 days. Located at 2163 Michigan Avenue, Detroit; 313-964-5000.

Visitor Info Clicks:


Pure Michigan



  1. Ooooh. This is a must-visit place. I’m adding it to my list!

  2. I’ve been to The Merc many times. It’s all that you say it is. BTW, it’s named a Boston Cooler because it was created on Boston Street in the historic Boston Edison district in Detroit. Enjoy!

    • I do plan to return to try that Black Bean Burger I’ve heard about. Thanks for the info, and for checking in at Great Lakes Gazette!

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