Should you ever wander into the Front Street offices of Traverse Magazine, prepare for a compilation of curiously eclectic conversations. From hoarders to happy hours, there’s an opinion to be voiced—and it always is. But come late winter, most of that floating banter is fixated on food. We launch our Red Hot Best Contest every February, where you, our faithful voters, submit nominations for 100 categories of the region’s best places, faces, events and ta-dah: food. If you were one of the 12,532 voters in this year’s contest, we not only thank you, but also blame you for the gourmet guru now living inside each of us, whispering sweet gluttonous nothings among the office cubicles.

So we thought it’d be fun to reverse the roles. (I wrote rolls the first time if that’s any indication to my new thinking process.) We took your nominations and asked the staff at Traverse Magazine to vote on their favorites for the Red Hot Best Burger. Sliders, half-pounders and drive-ins included, here’s what the crew had to say.

Lissa’s Picks

The Bitely Tavern, 2386 E Main St, Bitely (231) 745-7462

“The Bitely Tavern in the tiny lake-filled burg of Bitely in Newaygo County serves up the best value burger in Northern Michigan: $4.29 for a sloppy, juicy bundle of delish. Add .50 for deluxe. Throw in the pitcher of Bud for $10 (the waiter filled our glasses and brought the pitcher full!) and well, you get the picture. Atmosphere? Pure Northwoods.”

Riverfront Pizza and Specialties, 6281 W River Rd, Glen Arbor (231) 334-3876

“Since I live in Glen Arbor, Northern Michigan’s burger capital, this is a tough one. I’m tempted daily by the famous burgers at Art’s Tavern, Boondocks and Western Avenue Grill. But after spending my entire life in this burg, I made a new discovery this summer: the Riverfront Pizza burger. It’s to-go only, wrapped in grease-stained deli paper. Eat it on their deck on the Crystal River. Yay!”

Drew’s Picks

Dick’s Pour House, 103 W Philip St, Lake Leelanau (231) 256-9912

“In the county, Dick’s Pour House in Lake Leelanau. It’s 3 miles from my house and they serve a simple burger and have Bell’s Two Hearted on draft. Once you’re stuffed—in winter, snowshoe home or go ice fishing off Popp Road. In summer, take your canoe into the Narrows from the public launch off County Road 641.”

Slabtown Burgers, 826 W Front St, Traverse City (231) 932-1760

“In Traverse City, Slabtown. Hand-made patties, hand cut fries and plenty of malt vinegar. A great once-a-month guilty pleasure. Try the blue cheese & bacon burger with a local Ginger Beer from Northwoods Soda Co.”

Jodi’s Picks

Slabtown Burgers, 826 W Front St, Traverse City (231) 932-1760

“My all-around favorite burger spot is Slabtown. The burgers are fresh and juicy with lots of options for toppings, great hand cut fries and cozy surroundings. I even like the brown paper bags they serve the burgers in. Plus, it’s a convenient downtown location with prices that don’t break the bank.”

7 Monks Taproom, 128 S Union St, Traverse City (231) 421-8410

“I also LOVE the Abbey Burger at 7 Monks Taproom. It’s pretty decadent so I always share the burger, a salad and an order of their sublime sweet potato fries with a friend.”

Rachel’s Picks

Boone’s Prime Time Pub, 102 N Saint Joseph, St Suttons Bay (231) 271-6688

“Boone’s is our neighborhood burger spot. The burgers are big and cooked to your temperature preference. I like to get blue cheese on mine for a really decadent evening. And if I have a designated driver with me, I’ll even get a martini with olives to go with the blue cheese.”

Don’s Drive In, 2030 U.S. 31, Traverse City (231) 938-1860

“There’s just nothing better than a Don’s burger, onion rings and milkshake if you’re going for that nostalgic all-American burger night. It’s like an episode of Happy Days. The burgers are juicy and the milkshakes are delish!”

Jeff’s Pick

Bubba’s, 428 E Front St, Traverse City (231) 995-0570

“I don’t generally order burgers out…but when I do, it’s the black and blue burger at Bubba’s. It’s a gooey, smeary, fragrant and dripping experience, but the mess is worth it because the meat is high quality and charbroiled to a sweet and caramelized perfection.”

Meredith’s Pick

Slabtown Burgers, 826 W Front St, Traverse City (231) 932-1760

“You can’t go wrong at Slabtown! Their burgers are juicy and full of flavor thanks to the mouth-watering toppings available to pile high on your patty. Pair yours with a chocolate shake and hand-cut fries and you won’t be disappointed.”

Monterey’s Pick

Dick’s Pour House, 103 W Philip St, Lake Leelanau (231) 256-9912

“It’s where the slice of fresh, sweet onion is as thick and juicy as the delicious burgers, done “your-way” to perfection (pleva-lean available). Try it!”

Candace’s Picks

Lil Bo Pub & Grille 540 W Front St, Traverse City (231) 946-6925

“This is a true beef hamburger— juicy and fresh with a Bay Bread bakery bun.”

Da Dawg House, 6080 Michigan 115, Cadillac (231) 876-9940

“For anyone traveling through west Cadillac via 115, Da Dawg House. It’s flame broiled with build-your-own options including olives, mayo and grilled onions.”

Dana’s Pick

Riverfront Pizza and Specialties, 6281 W River Rd, Glen Arbor (231) 334-3876

“Even though they’re more well known for their fabulous sandwiches, soups and salads (plus pizza), they make the best burgers!! Huge and always cooked perfectly, they’re nice and juicy to the last bite.”

Like what you see? Pre-order our June issue where we reveal all the winners of this year’s Red Hot Best!