Mallie’s Sports Grill and Bar, Southgate, Mich.
Truth be told, I’m not sure I’ve ever looked over a restaurant’s online menu as I did for Mallie’s, mainly because of who I happen to have with me on my travels. As I’ve documented here many times, Amy doesn’t eat beef because she hates the taste of it, and that would seemingly make her incompatible with Mallie’s at first glance, because Mallie’s has made its name on two things in Michigan: being a sports fan’s dream place to watch Detroit sports and some ridiculously huge and delicious burgers.
Over the years, Mallie’s has pushed the limits of burger making, daring to make the biggest burger ever created when Adam Richman came to visit in Season 2 of Man vs. Food. That burger weighed in at 190 pounds and required a team of 40 people to attempt (and fail) to take it down. Mallie’s reaction? It wasn’t to stop there and call it a day. It was to tack on almost another 150 pounds and make that the new standard.
Yes, this behemoth burger that weighs in at 338 pounds and is about the height of what appears to be your average first-grader is actually on the menu at Mallie’s, labeled as the completely accurately named “Absolutely Ridiculous Burger”. The burger requires 72 hours of advance notice and costs $1,999. No, I’m not kidding, this burger is more expensive than my last car. Of course, when we watched this episode, Amy found the burger-making process so unappealing that I quickly switched to a different episode before she could swear off Mallie’s. Throw in the fact that Mallie’s is a good distance south of the Motor City in Southgate, resulting in a lengthy trip down I-75, and I knew this had the potential to be a tough sell if I couldn’t find something she’d enjoy.
I shouldn’t have worried at all. One of the many things I love about Amy is that she is just as skilled as I am at spotting and enjoying a must-try dish. As long as it’s not beef, she’s up for trying just about anything, and if something is unique to an area that meets her one requirement of not being beef or steak, she’s going to give it a shot.
In doing so, she might have found the best thing on Mallie’s menu. Despite being known for its massive and diverse lineup of burgers, Mallie’s also features a nice amount of deli sandwiches, several of which get their own creative twist. One of these was the pretzel club, which Amy found far too intriguing to pass up. On the surface, there would seem to be nothing all that special about a club, which features turkey and bacon with Swiss. However, as their burgers have indicated, Mallie’s isn’t in the business of being ordinary.
This sandwich is epic. First, they don’t just layer smoked turkey onto the sandwich, they actually grill the turkey first. This has the effect of giving a different taste and texture to the turkey, while deepening the smoke flavor. It works fantastically with the Swiss, bacon and honey mustard mayonnaise, and it’s clear that this is no average club. The second difference comes in the pretzel bread. Yes, this is soft pretzel dough turned into a sandwich, without the giant specks of salt. For some reason, the pretzel bread is perfect in this sandwich. It’s chewy and tasty, and it complements the ingredients well. Amy would eventually list this as her favorite restaurant of our Michigan adventure, simply because of her club. I was fortunate enough to try a bit and found it to be incredible.
Having no aversion to beef, however, I was going to go with a burger all the way, and I opted for one of my favorites, the mushroom and Swiss. However, once again, Mallie’s isn’t interested in being ordinary. They encourage you to “go nuts” with your burger by offering the option to slather on a peanut mayonnaise, which is actually made with roasted peanuts and has several chunks of peanuts in the mayo when it comes out with your burger. Of course, I had to throw it on. Peanut mayonnaise? Far too different not to give it a taste.
It ended up being much more than a taste. The nutty flavor added to the mayonnaise is pretty awesome, and it gave a new dimension of flavor to a burger that I already love. Then, there’s Mallie’s beef. This burger is thick and juicy, proving that although Mallie’s might make record-setting sizes of burgers, it knows how to handle the classic, half-pound burger just as easily. Both of our orders of fries were also first-class, crisp and tasty. This place isn’t famous because its meals are huge, it’s famous because it’s good. Big difference, and the latter is how you find a restaurant worth your time and money.
It’s not often that a sports bar is a destination restaurant in a major city, but that’s exactly what exists in the southern suburbs of Detroit. With a shrine to each of the city’s teams inside and a fantastic menu, Mallie’s is what it intended to be: a great place to watch Michigan teams compete while pounding down some awesome burgers and sandwiches. Sometimes, you don’t have to have a highbrow aim to be a success. Sometimes, you just have to know who you are and do what you do best. That’s the way it’s done at Mallie’s, no matter how big the burger (or pretzel club) is.
Time to go: Lunch or dinner, and if you want a festive atmosphere, come when there’s a Red Wings/Tigers/Lions game. The building will likely be packed with fans who couldn’t get tickets to Joe Louis Arena or Comerica Park (most likely not a problem when the Lions are playing in Ford Field) and want to see the game. If you just want to eat in peace, avoid coming when a Detroit team is playing.
Wait during my visit: None. Helps to come in the middle of the day.
Location: Mallie’s is at 19400 Northline Road in Southgate, Mich., a minute or two from Interstate 75.
Cost: Not bad at all. Most Mallie’s sandwiches run about $10. Of course, that assumes nobody orders the Absolutely Ridiculous.
Parking: There is a lot connected to the restaurant. Be warned, it isn’t huge and leaving can be a chore.
Seating arrangement: Plenty of booths, each one with its own television to allow patrons to watch games.
Specialty items: Burgers, turkey club