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Traverse City has three new burger joints, and they’re each doing things a little differently. Get ready to bring on the burgers and learn more about each location, Read on to learn more about each new location, including Oakwood Proper Burgers, Bergstrom’s Burgers and Dancing Donkey Burgers.

Oakwood Proper Burgers

1108 E. 8th St., Traverse City | Oakwood Proper Website

Oakwood Proper Burgers in Traverse City.

Made with Michigan Craft Beef from Moraine Park Farms (locations in Zeeland and Ontonagon), these smash burgers are antibiotic and hormone-free and sustainably produced. The farm’s cattle are “fed both pasture and agricultural by-products like spent brewer’s hops, cherry concentrate and apple pulp, giving the beef a lean and robust flavor profile,” says co-owner Leslie Bilbey. Bilbey runs the restaurant with her husband, Josh Gray, and brother-in-law/general manager/cook Jeff Gray. The menu is rounded out with hand-cut fries (shareable baskets that could be a meal on their own) and shakes made with MOOville ice cream. Leslie’s faves: garlic parmesan fries, peanut butter shake and the La Montaña burger— grilled jalapeños and onions, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo. Oakwood took over the old Ham Bonz space on 8th Street after the team gutted and remodeled it, installing a garage door that opens up to a patio. This summer they also completed the renovation of a 1962 camper, which they turned into a shaved ice stand, featuring local syrup vendors including Northwoods Soda & Syrup and their draft root beer.

Oakwood Proper Burgers in Traverse City.

Bergstrom’s Burgers

905 US-31, Traverse City | Bergstrom’s Website

Owners Timothy and Kathy Bergstrom started flipping patties in June 2020 inside their food truck at the Menards parking lot. Their fanbase grew large enough for them to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant (during a pandemic) near Chums Corner in December 2020. When you take a look at the menu, you’ll see why—do you want a burger with bacon and raclette, wild mushroom and leek duxelles, a Crabby Patty with sundried tomato aioli? Order up a root beer or orange cream float, made with Moomers ice cream and Northwoods Soda, while you chew over the choices.

Dancing Donkey Burgers

2658 Crossing Circle, Traverse City (inside Opa! Grill & Taproom) | Dancing Donkey’s Website

Owner Paul Barbas is keeping it simple: grilled onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard—and that’s it. Burgers from his childhood, he says. “You can add cheese, but we’re not offering lettuce, tomato or other toppings—this is the way our burgers come.” The bun is 3.5 inches, a little larger than a slider, and you can get one patty for $2.50 or a double for $4.25. Bundles of three, six and seven burgers are also available. “With food prices constantly going up, the goal was to create a product that was price point driven,” Paul says. The way he does this is by offering takeout and delivery only, which lowers operating costs, thus lowering the price of these classic little burgs.

Find this article and more in the July 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner