What: Popularized by fast-food chain White Castle in the 1920s, sliders are small burgers made in a particular manner: A ball of seasoned ground beef is smashed flat onto a hot grill, then topped with chopped onion, flipped, and flattened some more. The bun gets lightly toasted and steamed atop the patty; cheese is optional, and mustard, ketchup, and pickle slices are always available. (True sliders are not, therefore, simply mini burgers, as their modern gourmet iteration would indicate.) Detroit is blessed with many an old-school burger joint—most of them established in the 1950s, or earlier—doing greasy, oniony sliders for a buck a pop, more or less. Visiting at least one of them is a must.

Where: Our perfectly executed slider is from west-side institution Bates’ Burgers (two locations including 33406 5 Mile Rd., Livonia, map), a tiny greasy spoon with counter seating that’s been in operation since 1954—and has been making its burgers the same way ever since. 

When: Daily, 7am-11pm

Order: A couple of hamburgers ($1.28 each; $1.43 with cheese), which are made with grilled onions and come with pickles on the side. Super thin and just greasy enough, these sliders are the real deal—just a few oh-so-satisfying bites (remember: it’s supposed to be a small patty!). Ketchup and mustard are offered on counters, but we suggest you request some “mix”: a ketchup-mustard-pickle juice concoction that’s provided with takeout orders, but isn’t readily available otherwise. Get some crinkly fries if you’re really hungry, and of course you can have ’em with chili, à la Coney dogs (which are also sold here). Takeout, incidentally, is an even better deal: a “sack” of six burgers for $7.02. It’s dangerously cheap.

Alternatively: This town is filled with great sliders. We also enjoyed those at the Telway (313-843-2146; 6820 Michigan Ave., map), a legendary spot in SW Detroit (not far from Dearborn) where burgers top out at $1.06 (or four for $3!); two other good ones are born-in-1929 Motz’s Burgers (7208 W. Fort St., map), on the south side—not too far from Telway, actually—as well as Greene’s Hamburgers (248-474-7980; 24155 Orchard Lake Rd., map), located further northwest (25 miles) of the city in Farmington Hills.