People love a good food rivalry. You’ve got Pat’s against Geno’s Steaks in Philadelphia, Regina’s Pizzeria against Santarpio’s duking in Chicago, and – of course – American Coney Island against Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit. All legendary, all much talked about.
Well, I’m here to tell you to forget that noise.
The heated slider battle in the bordering Detroit suburbs of Madison Heights and Hazel Park is all you need to care about. Here, against a backdrop of leafy streets and overcast skies, two titans of dead cow lock horns daily in one for the ages.
Michael Buffer, if you please!
Buffer: “Welcome to the main event.
On the corner of 9 Mile and Dequindre, we’ve got the scrappy underdog Brayz, flipping patties in the shadow of the Hazel Park Raceway. He’s battered; he’s bruised; but he promises his coffee is never more than a half-hour old. Home of the belly buster, he’s not just one tough customer – he’s full of ’em!
On the corner of 11 Mile and John R, we’ve got Telway in family-friendly Madison Heights, serving up sliders for punk teenagers and social security recipients alike. He’s got class; he’s got distinction; he’s gonna season your burger like no other. He’s the two-time heavyweight champion of heavy weight; the one; the only!
Hold on to your seats, folks, because this could get ugly. Excessive flatulence, indigestion, and more are sure to be in store tonight.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let’s get ready to rumble!
(Ding! Ding! Ding!)”
Thank you, Mr. Buffer.
Of course, to be fair, I’ve already written about Telway, and there’s no point in rehashing the whole thing, so here’s a quick acid flashback – so to speak:
“Oh yeah, those sliders, the stuff that’s made in Michigan, the supposed to be star of the show. What about those?
Some words come to mind: lumpy, greasy, disfigured, sweet, steamy, oniony, vinegary, beefy, salty. A phrase, however, is noticeably harder to come by. The whole of a Telway slider is clearly greater than the sum of its parts. Packed with pickles, onions (arguably the most important ingredient in a proper slider), and the same raw beef your mom used to buy for her infamous Hamburger Helper dinners, and topped with ketchup and mustard, the result is a small wonder. It has no right, no scientific justification to taste as good as it does.”
When Telway wallops you with a right hook, that’s the kinda taste it’s gonna leave in your mouth. Each slider hits you with some real seasoning, like a whiff of smelling salts.
Brayz, meanwhile, is more of a jabber. It’s got a weaker punch, but it can dish out one after the other without a hint of fatigue. Think Norman Rockwell’s painting The Runaway left in a moldy attic for 30 years, McDonald’s dollar menu without the so-called corporate quality control. Basically, you know you shouldn’t like it, but you do. It’s just a good old-fashioned American burger, done without a hint of pretension for a thoroughly working class audience. You get a basic bun, grilled onions, a cheap all-beef patty, and a couple pickles on the side. If you want ketchup or mustard, you’ll have to do that yourself.
There’s also a handful intangibles working in Brayz’s favor: it has a jukebox with Kid Rock’s “Rock N Roll Jesus”, Pac-Man, an ATM, and on the roof, a well-sculpted statue of a donkey standing on its hind legs. I’d put that up against Telway’s chubby, tattooed crew and stupid wall clock any time. In the summer, when the stars align, a plant even grows out of the cup held aloft by the donkey’s left hoof. It’s sorta like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but somehow more poignant. Maybe it’s the guy that won’t stop staring at your girl that adds that extra something to the ambiance – I don’t know.
In the end, though, it all always comes down to flavor, and Telway still delivers a more original slider. Brayz puts up a mighty good fight, and it’s great if you want a slider with no surprises, but it’s Telway in a technical knockout.