I had heard about a little bar in New Buffalo that may have the best hamburgers in the state. In fact, I read that in a book at Barnes and Noble. I don’t remember the name of the book, but the premise was the best hamburgers in each state. In Michigan, there was Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor (review HERE), Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak (review HERE) another place I don’t remember and Redamak’s Tavern in New Buffalo. For quite some time now, I’ve been wanting to stop at Redamak’s on our way home from Chicago. After a three day weekend at my parents in Iroquois County, we finally got the chance, but not before a brief stop at Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets in Michigan City, IN.
We took a detour off of I-94 into Michigan City just because J had never been there and it had been years since I had. We walked around, bought some candles at Yankee Candle and moved on. Redamak’s is about 10 miles from Lighthouse Place and Blue Chip Casino. Our GPS didn’t take us back to the Interstate, but instead took us on a two lane state highway through New Buffalo. The tavern is located right on that busy highway. We started turning into the parking lot and wondered if this was a good idea. It was packed. We went inside and again, had doubts about getting dinner. There were quite a few people sitting down waiting to be seated. We made our way up to the hostess stand and she asked the usual questions. Smoking or non (damn Michigan) and then if we wanted to sit in the main dining room or the four seasons patio. We said non-smoking preferably and we didn’t care. Whichever would get us seated fastest. To our surprise, she grabbed a couple menus right away and told us to follow. We ended up sitting in the main dining room in a booth for two.
The main dining room is tight. It seats 200 people. There are bigger booths and tables scattered throughout the space, but packed in pretty tightly. Redamak’s is only open March 1 thru October 26 each year and each year they print a new menu. The hostess set the huge laminated menus down on the table for us to study while the waitress got us our Diet Coke’s.
My meal wasn’t too hard to figure out. Of course I’m going for the hamburger. That was the whole reason we came. I ordered a double cheeseburger. The burger comes plain, but you can dress it with ketchup, mustard, raw onion, and cross-cut dill pickles. What you CAN’T put on it is lettuce and tomato. The reasoning behind that is how the burger is served. You get your burger fast food style wrapped in a wax paper wrapper. The heat from the burger would make the lettuce and tomato soggy and ruin the burger and they don’t want that to happen. The burger comes a la carte, so I ordered some fries to go with the sandwich. The whole thing was served in a plastic tray lined with paper. The fries were on bottom and the burger thrown on top. I unwrapped the burger and this is another one of those sandwich that instantly made my mouth water. The meat is ground fresh and pattied on site. The burgers are then pan fried, topped with cheese, placed on a sesame seed bun, wrapped in wax paper and served. The carry over heat inside the wax paper melted the cheese into the meat so every bite was filled with a juicy, cheesy piece of meat that just crumbled in your mouth. Redamak’s deserves it’s distinction as a legend. This burger was amazing! Unlike Red Coat, Redamak’s burger relies on great meat, not a great sauce. The fries were nothing special. Crinkle cut fries out of the bag. That was a little disappointing, but the burger was so good I almost didn’t notice.
J went with a chicken strip dinner which came with choice of two sides. She passed on the fries and got applesauce and cheddar macaroni salad. As a dipping sauce, she went with BBQ. Her dinner came on a paper plate which I thought was odd, but probably helps with the high turnover they have. The BBQ sauce was pre-packaged and came in a little pack like you get at McDonald’s. The applesauce was also pre-packaged and came in a snack pack type of cup. The chicken strips were good and she got five of them, so she handed me one knowing she wouldn’t eat everything. She said the cheddar macaroni salad was good. Really, it’s just a fancy name for mac ‘n cheese.
Our bill was $21 and for as crowded as they were on a Sunday night, we were seated and ate in less than a half hour. Our meals came up pretty quick which was surprising, but welcomed. Redamak’s is a cash only restaurant. No credit cards. I mentioned to J it was nice they have that posted all throughout the dining room, near the entrance, and on the menu and bill. My mom works for a tavern that doesn’t accept credit cards and it’s not posted anywhere. Their clientele is mostly local, but every now and then there is an out-of-towner with no cash and the closest ATM is six miles away. Redamak’s, however, does have an ATM in the lobby for those without cash. The dining room is really neat. It’s pretty much all wood and decorated probably not much differently than it was when it opened 72 years ago. There’s a couple game rooms for the kids which we didn’t check out, but it gives them something to do when there’s a wait.
Redamak’s lived up to the hype. I really, really enjoyed my burger. I wish I could come up with another way to describe it, but I can’t. We always see billboards around New Buffalo for the place when we’re traveling from Chicago back to Lansing. Now we know it’s worth the detour!