It’s all in the name

Basement Burger Bar will leave you hungry for more

By Janis Tsai
Staff Writer

Sandwiched underneath downtown Farmington’s historical Civic Theater and the even quainter mom-and-pop bookstore next door, is the Basement Burger Bar; a dimly lit man cave where the wait staff is on their game and the cooks are on point. The name says it all: it is located in a basement. They have delicious burgers. And there is a bar.

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Photo by Andrew Pyon.

The Basement Burger Bar has two convenient locations in both Canton and Farmington.

The Farmington location’s decor has brick walls covered with TVs, dartboards and University of Michigan football photos. But what makes this bar especially unique is its BYOB (build your own burger) menu, which involves giving a patron a dry erase marker so they can check- off, directly on the laminated menu, every item they could possibly want on a hamburger. A Build-A-Burger menu is where the fun begins.

The special menu has a large and impressive selection of quirky toppings like grilled pineapple and unorthodox dressings, such as hummus, that are guaranteed to craft the ultimate patty. Dried cranberries on burgers? Wild.

There are also intriguing vegetarian options like the portabella mushroom cap burger, which is marinated in their house-made dressing and grilled. Or have fun building a “Kobe” burger, cooked medium on a buttered and toasted brioche bun with pesto, tomato, Parmesan and grilled mushrooms. Their “Kobe” burger, which is known for being extremely flavorful and tender, is as a result of the Wagyu (Japanese cow) beef cattle being massaged with sake and fed a special diet that include large quantities of beer.

The burger the customer requests is the burger that is delivered: tender and flavorful with a firm, pale and pink center. Grilled mushrooms, available for an extra $0.75, which are deliciously seasoned. If grilled tomato is a preference, be sure to note that on a future visit as the tomato topping is served raw.

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Photo by Andrew Pyon.

Perfectly complimenting any burger, there are food and drink, happy hour specials: as in the $4 Totchos, which are tator tots covered in nacho cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, black olives, onions and tomatoes. Spicy jalapenos pack an exciting punch paired with rich nacho cheese coating each perfectly deep-fried tater tot. It is a must to try the Fifth Voyage Coconut Porter, which has a hint of coconut and is exactly as good as a hospitable, fedora-wearing waitress described.

Service is prompt and the wait staff is knowledgeable about the (somewhat intimidating) drinks menu. The restaurant is frequented by a wide mix of clientele that range from drinking buddies to families with children.

“Our restaurant stands out for its good, home cooked, fresh burgers. You actually get to build it by writing on a form. That alone makes us stand out more than most places. The best part about the Basement Burger Bar experience is the friendly, fun service and a lot of entertainment. We do trivia, karaoke and beer nights,” said Jamil Azar, Farmington Hills resident and owner of the Farmington Basement Burger Bar. “The craziest burger combination I have seen was about a year ago when a customer almost ordered every single topping, which is a lot because we have almost 50 toppings.” As a side note, the Basement Burger Bar in Canton is owned by Jamil Azar’s brother, David Azar.

While the restaurant itself is outstanding for the burger lover, the dessert selection falls short as the Basement Burger Bar only offers cupcakes and ice cream. On the plus side, both selections are Michigan-made products. The cupcakes are from Ginger’s Cafe in Farmington and the ice cream is the Hudsonville brand out of Holland, Michigan.

“I love the atmosphere, and the fact that it is secluded in a basement rather than out in the open,” said customer Gage Antczak, Westland resident. “The best thing on their menu is definitely the totchos!” The place gets packed during huge sporting events and during the dinner rush, but if you are patient you will be okay since they are open every night until 2 a.m., except Sunday, when they close at midnight.

Spending $10.25 on a customized burger may seem a steep price for lunch, but dining at Basement Burger Bar is more about having an excellent meal in an enjoyable setting, and it is for people of all ages. Consider splurging a bit and stopping by the Basement Burger Bar for lunch, dinner or a late-night snack.

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