Blimpy Burger – Ann Arbor, MI

by John on October 21, 2009 · 9 comments

Every town should have a great burger joint, and I am in no way referring to gourmet restaurants that have decided to begin offering their version of a burger, all gussied up with exotic toppings or ingredients.   Sometimes gourmet burgers are pretty simple, but most achieve “gourmet” status by using things like aged cheddar from Vermont, aged beef from Scotland or Japan, and ciabatta buns from some local bakery.  Others just pile on the fixins: avocados, artisanal bacon, blue cheeses, washed-rind cheeses, weird aiolis, relishes and chutneys, greens and microgreens, pestos, wasabi, herb and spice blends, Spanish and Italian charcuterie, pineapple, ostrich, buffalo, moose, and roasted peppers are the stuff of gourmet burgers.  Thanks but no thanks Bobby Flay, I’ll take my burger without the habanero mango chutney with green chiles.

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You know this place is legit just from the burger "Open" sign.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger, which should be the only thing listed after “burger joint” in the dictionary.  No fancy meat or gourmet bullshit, just great burgers with your normal fixings.   Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger is an Ann Arbor institution. It’s been there since 1953 and regularly gets “best burger” awards in any respectable local poll. It’s the food and the atmosphere that make Blimpy’s what it is. If you’re a fan of burgers, or local color, you won’t want to miss this joint.  If it looks familiar, it’s because it was featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  Thanks Guy Fieri, for douching the place up a little bit.

What they’ve got is burgers made from freshly-ground beef, fixed a million ways (more, actually–someone did the math) and also a variety of vegetable side dishes based on the concept of “If You Deep Fry It, It Will Be Tasty.”  Blimpy’s has its own ordering system which you’re sure to screw up at first, but enduring the gruffness is part of the experience. When you get there, go to the end of the line. Get your desired drink from the cooler, and get a tray. if there are two of you, get two trays. Study the menu, knowing that a single burger is not enough for a normal person.  A double may not do the trick either.  When I say study the menu, I mean if you order improperly you will be told.  On a cell phone?  Expect to have something thrown at you.  If you’re a Blimpy virgin, here is your complete guide to ordering your burger.  This is important, so read carefully.

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1. First, you’ll want to grab a drink from the cooler, or as of late, get a cup and fill it up at the fountain (Coca-Cola and Coke products are exclusively available here).

2. After getting your drink, grab a tray.  Even if you’re 6 years old and can’t see over the counter.  I’m serious.  Also, do not share a tray.  One per person.  You’ll be asked for your selection of items from the deep fryer, I suggest fries or onion rings.

3. Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for: ordering the burger; now pay attention here.

This is how you order your burger: State the number of patties you’d like (1-5, with it costing a dollar extra for each one after that), the type of bun you’d like (plain w/ or w/o seeds, or an onion, kaiser, or pumpernickel roll), and if you’d like anything grilled. DO NOT MENTION CHEESE, yet.

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But there’s more explaining to be done than just this. First of all, the patties are quite small. Ordering just one isn’t even allowed, unless you’re under five. A double is a good amount for some, generally younger kids, ages 5-8, but everyone’s different. Triples are the most popular, but in my opinion the quad or the quint is the way to go.  There’s not any explanation needed for the bun, and as for grilled items, people have varying tastes. Grilled items include onions, mushrooms, banana peppers, bacon, egg, and salami. Shifting back to the ordering process, although you now know the format of an order, it’s quite discourteous to the over-worked Blimpy staff to slow up while you’re ordering. Everything else is very fast-paced, so the ordering should be too. For instance, you shouldn’t say, “Well…I guess I’ll have a burger with some onions, and um…a regular bun, oh yeah, and make that a triple.” It’s not that that isn’t a correct order, it’s just too drawn-out. A good order would be, “I’ll have a triple, regular bun, onions grilled.”

4. As the burger is almost done being grilled (and this is entertainment in and of itself), you’ll be asked what kind of cheese you’d like. There are quite a few selections, american, cheddar, swiss, provolone, blue, and feta.

5. After this, you will be asked for your condiments. Start with the wet stuff first (mayo, mustard, ketchup) then anything else you’d like (lettuce, pickles, tomato, olives, peppers, etc.) Don’t just say you want everything because you probably don’t. Then, finally, you are ready to feast upon one of the best burgers you will ever have.

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In my opinion, these burgers rank with some of the best in the country.  Period.  The key to understanding their burger is to take a step back and look at where you are at.  You are on a college campus in a burger joint themed as a 50’s diner.  Is the service friendly?  No – it is not supposed to be.  Service is designed to be efficient and it works when people order correctly.   Are the burgers healthy?  NO.  It is a burger that is cooked on a griddle so yes there will be some grease!   But do they taste good?  Absolutely and without question.   Why do they taste good?  Simple – high quality ingredients and a fabulously seasoned griddle top.  The ground western chuck is ground daily on site.  You are not going to get fresher burger meat anywhere and the flavor shines through, so much so that people have thought that they cut the burger with ground pork because it is so flavorful.  The fresh bun selections are incredible, and the onion roll is as good as you can get anywhere. The variety of cheeses is equally impressive.   The veggies are fresh, the brownies and cookies are homemade, the thick cut french fries are perfect for vinegar dipping, and the onion rings and fried zuchini are near famous.

My personal favorite is a quint, which is 5 patties, topped with a fried egg, bacon, cheddar cheese, with ketchup, mustard, and mayo all on a kaiser bun.  I didn’t say it was the healthiest, I only said it was my favorite.

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The way a burger should look

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Napkins required

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This picture brings tears to my eyes.

Remember when I said that the fries are thick cut?  I wasn’t lying.

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I'm still trying to figure out where they get the giant potatoes for these things

Blimpy Burger (Krazy Jim's) on Urbanspoon

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