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Checker Bar Juicy Burgers, Delicious Sangria, And Small Town Charm

Checker Bar

124 Cadillac Square, 48226
  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • Price Level:   
  • Open for: Lunch, Dinner, Weekends
  • Cards Accepted
  • Free Parking Available

Tags: drinks, wine, burgers, bar and grill, self serve, friendly, lively, happy hour

Checker Bar is under new ownership. Read more about their new popup venue, POP, here.

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Original Profile, posted Nov. 25, 2013

Checker Bar and Grill may be the friendliest big city restaurant we’ve ever visited.

Tucked onto the far end of Cadillac Square, you can spot the exterior red and white checkerboard mural – complete with Spirit of Detroit and city skyline – from Campus Martius. The checkerboard theme continues inside, with black and white tabletops offset by red accent walls. The rest of the decor is made up of memorabilia and curios, an eclectic collection curated over the years.

The place is currently decked out for the holiday season, with icicle lights, garlands, santa hats and other trimmings adorning nearly every corner. A vintage miniature carousel, quietly playing a suite of Christmas tunes over the bar, adds to the charm.

Checker is a perfect spot for a weekday lunch or happy hour. The self serve beer cooler is pretty awesome, adding to the small town friendliness of this place. The bar has a surprisingly nice selection of wine and seriously good sangria.

The Checker burger has long been touted as one of the city’s absolute best, and it lives up to its reputation. Juicy and packed with flavor, we love ours topped with sauteed onion and bleu cheese. The sloppy joe is a mouthwateringly delicious choice as well. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, try the grilled chicken sandwich or vegetarian pita.

At some point during your visit, you must try out the old fashioned jukebox; it’s the kind where the pages of album covers mechanically flip as you peruse the playlists. The music selection offers favorites from Dean Martin to The Doors to Lady Gaga. At five plays for $1, it’s a bargain.

Checker has been owned by the same family since it opened in 1955. The bar was purchased by Helen and Harry Munro in 1973 from Helen’s brothers, Walter and Edward. Their daughters Karen and Kathy now run the show.

Kathy’s warm, sweet disposition is immediately disarming, and Karen’s wry sense of humor and boisterous laugh will keep you entertained all afternoon. At Happy Hour they’re quick to introduce you to regulars, who are a friendly, convivial bunch themselves. You’ll feel right at home on your first visit.


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