Nestled alongside the train tracks in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town sits Sidetrack Bar and Grill, a restaurant filled with historic charm and delicious food. The building dates back to the mid-1800s, and the décor inside—the old wooden bar, tin-paneled ceiling, brick fireplace and abundance of railroad-themed antiques lining the walls—makes it feel as though not much has changed since then.
I’d heard great things about Sidetrack’s handcrafted burger (it’s consistently ranked among the best burgers in the U.S.), so I already knew that’s what I was ordering. Deciding on toppings, however, required a bit more deliberation. With nine different cheeses and topping choices that include marinated portabella mushrooms, grilled onions and a fried egg, Sidetrack is a burger lover’s paradise.
I finally decided on the “deluxe” version of the burger (lettuce, tomato and a side of fries), with pepper jack cheese, avocado and bacon. The patty was incredibly juicy, the bacon crispy, and the avocado and cheese melted together to create one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.
Just when I thought Sidetrack’s burger couldn’t get any more amazing, I tried my date’s “Mac Attack,” a burger topped with bacon, BBQ sauce and macaroni and cheese, a great handcrafted burger, with added delicious decadence.
Sidetrack might be famous for burgers, but the menu has a lot more to offer. The pot roast and shepherd’s pie are popular comfort food favorites, and there are many choices for the more health-conscious. “Almost anything on the menu can be made vegetarian or vegan,” explained Shannon Poe, longtime Sidetrack bartender, who recommended trying a tempeh Reuben or the black bean tacos.
The food at Sidetrack is top-notch, but as the Benjamin Franklin quote emblazoned on the side of the building—“Beer is the proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,”— indicates, Sidetrack is serious about their bar. As one of the first bars to specialize in Michigan beers, their 25 draft beers include mostly local microbrews from the likes of Arbor Brewing Company, Bell’s and Dark Horse, as well as bigger breweries like Stella Artois and Guinness—and they have even more in bottles. Beyond beer, Sidetrack’s recently updated wine list includes varieties from around the world and many specialty cocktails—all at reasonable prices.
“One of the great things about this building is that it was built specifically to be a bar, and has always been a bar,” said Poe.
While Sidetrack is a bar and grill, it’s still family-friendly, and you can bring the kids in on Friday night without having to worry about a typical bar atmosphere. The antique-covered walls ensure kids never get bored, and while its popularity means it can get pretty busy, the staff is friendly and accommodating, and the wait times aren’t too bad (and completely worth every minute).
The restaurant’s immense popularity has lead to its growth, with expansion into the third storefront on the block—providing plentiful space for many more hungry (and
Sidetrack Bar & Grill,
56 E. Cross St, Ypsilanti.
Open 11am-2am daily