Labor Day is not the time to try travel in Southwest Michigan. On a normal day, I would have no reason to even be heading south on I-94 on a Monday, but since my mom had the day off, she wanted to meet for lunch. Neither of us even thought about how brutal traffic would be.
When my parents brought up the idea of meeting for lunch, they originally mentioned The Stray Dog Bar & Grill. We met them there back in March for J’s birthday and everyone really enjoyed. I thought that was a good idea, but I had a better one.
Redamak’s Tavern on Buffalo Street east of downtown New Buffalo is a legend. They’ve been in business since the 40’s as a seasonal restaurant. They open in March and close up for the winter in October. Their claim to fame is their burger. They probably boast it as “The burger that made New Buffalo, Michigan famous.”
Like every other restaurant, gas station, beach, and touristy spot in town, Redamak’s was packed. We pulled in to find a large line waiting outside the building. We pulled into the back parking lot and found a couple spots. By this point, we figured it would do no good to try anywhere else. J and I had already drove around town and found long waits every place we passed by.
J went in to put our name on the wait list. We were handed a number and told we could wait outside if we chose. They have a speaker system out doors so we would be able to hear our number called even if we didn’t want in the waiting area.
It took about a half hour before our number was called but that seemed really good considering the long line. They really do a great job of turning tables and I actually figured our wait would be much longer.
The building has undergone a couple big renovations over the years. An extra dining room and an enclosed patio have been added to the original structure. It has kind of a cabin-like atmosphere. There’s nothing fancy about Redamak’s, but it still has a homey, comfy feeling. I hate to think of it as a touristy spot, but that’s exactly what it is. I will say though, if I lived in New Buffalo, I would definitely eat there often…but on off-peak hours.
When our number was called, we headed in to the hostess station where a guy told us to take our number back to the patio area hostess station. When we got back there, we were taken in to the enclosed patio and taken to a booth for six along the back wall.
Redamak’s is one of those places that will make for a warm, fuzzy childhood memory one day for a lot of people. Several families were seated around us including some with really little ones. Normally all the screaming and crying would have bothered me, but it didn’t this day for some reason. I guess I just kept looking around and thinking about places my parents took me when we went on vacation.
This wasn’t my first trip to Redamak’s, so my mouth was watering before we even set foot in the door. J and I stopped there a couple years ago on the way home from a weekend at our parents. I had heard about the place as being one of the best hamburgers in the state and wanted to try. Back then, I wrote….
Redamak’s deserves it’s distinction as a legend. This burger was amazing!
That said, it’s pretty obvious, I got a burger. I went with the double cheeseburger and added two pieces of round bacon. Redamak’s is pretty particular about the way they serve their burgers. You do get options of adding ketchup, mustard, raw onion, and pickles, but under no circumstance can you get lettuce or tomato. The reason they do that is because the sandwiches are wrapped in wax paper as soon as they are taken off the grill. Wrapping them up warm helps melt the cheese, but it would wilt lettuce and make tomatoes soft, so they just don’t do it. Fine with me, I don’t like any of that anyway. Just like I remember, the burger was really delicious. The meat is fresh ground in house and cooked on a really greasy, well seasoned flat top. I tore through the burger in a matter of seconds and asked J if I could get another one. She looked at me unable to grasp the fact that I had eaten the whole sandwich that fast. I added fries to my order since they don’t actually come with the burgers. The fries are crinkle cut fries. Nothing special, but I think I got a little cheated on portion size. They don’t use any plates at Redamak’s. Everything is served in either paper containers or wicker baskets. My fries barely covered the bottom of a wicker basket.
J was leaning towards one of the deep fried sampler platters but ended up with the Chicken Strip Dinner. She got five strips of deliciously golden deep fried chicken fingers, french fries and a small portion of Cheddar Macaroni Salad. What she loved about her meal was the BBQ sauce that she got with the chicken fingers. It had a hint of cinnamon in it. She loved that and probably could have drank it by the gallon.
My aunt went for what would have been my second choice had the burgers not been such a draw. She got the Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich. The pork looked like it was actually smoked the right way and it was covered in the same tangy sauce that J loved. She had no problem finishing off her sandwich and the fries that came with it. She said it was a great choice.
My mom surprised us again and ordered the Chicken Salad Pita. I didn’t know if my mom even knew what a pita was, but she didn’t say anything when it was delivered to the table. I have no idea what was actually in the pita, but she ate the whole thing after planning on only eating half. She only ate about half her fries and gave the rest to me which I gladly finished off.
My dad surprised no one and ordered the patty melt. He got one of the legendary hamburgers topped with Swiss cheese and grilled onions served on Rye bread. Just like I love my cheeseburgers, he loves his patty melts. He thought it was a better value because he got the grilled onions and fries for just a quarter more than a double cheeseburger. No complaints from him which is always a good sign.
I was a little shocked when our bill came. For the five of us, it only cost $38. I looked a little closer and didn’t see any drinks on the ticket. Don’t know if our waitress forgot or what, but that may explain why the five of us ate for under $40. Redamak’s doesn’t accept credit cards, but luckily, my mom is a waitress on the weekends and had some of her tip money. It probably cut in to her gambling money, but that’s not a bad thing.
My family was very happy with my choice for lunch even though we did have a half hour wait. Redamak’s deserves their distinction as one of Michigan’s best restaurant. You’re not going to get anything fancy. You’re going to get your food on paper plates and in wicker baskets, but that’s what makes this place so great. They definitely have one of my favorite burgers and after eating their a second time, I can safely say there will be a third visit…and fourth…and…..