Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >
Jan 28, 2003 12:44 PM

I'm starving in Ann Arbor. . .

  • m

I recently moved to Ann Arbor from New York via Berkeley and, oh my, have I been missing good food and Zingerman's just isn't cutting it. Does anybody have any restaurant suggestions, even specific suggestions of what to order at said restaurants, provided they actually exist?

Thank you.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Here's my brain dump on eating in Ann Arbor:

    One of the hidden gems in town is Jefferson Market. This little market hidden on a side street (Jefferson) in the old west side across from Bach school has an amazing kitchen in the back. Pretty much everything they serve is amazing.

    Cafe Zola does a good brunch. Tapas at Cafe Felix is fun too. If you feel like venturing into Ypsilanti, there's good Vietnamese at DaLat. For Thai, I have two favorites - Tuptim in Ypsi is pretty excellent all round, but Siam Square (in the hotel across the street from Arborland) has better curries. Also in Ypsi, Memphis Blues smokehouse serves a smoked beef brisket that's to die for.

    Earthen Jar on 5th Ave offers good, cheap, vegetarian Indian buffet by the pound. Jerusalem Garden, right next door, is the source for cheap and good Middle Eastern stuff - their falafel sandwich is an incredible bargain, at less than $3 last time I visited, and you can make two meals out of it.

    Lots of places for good Korean in town. Either of the Korean places down on South University are good. But my favorite places for Bi Bim Bop is Kosmo Deli, the lunch counter in the Kerrytown Shops.

    If you like Dim Sum, Great Lakes Chinese Seafood Restaurant is the place to go. They also have some great items on their dinner menu - as a Hong Kong style restaurant, they have some unusal items. My faves are shrimp in honey walnut sauce, Singapore Noodles, and Beef Tenderloin in Black Pepper Sauce.

    For Szechuan, Szechuan West on Stadium Rd near Jackson is a an old favorite, although the last time I visited I was unimpressed with my usual favorite, the Szechuan Chicken. General Tso's was still awesome, however.

    That's my brain dump for now. Hope that helps, and if you (or any other Ann Arbor Chowhounds) want to meet for a meal sometime, email me!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tammy Coxen

      I strongly disagree with the recommendations for the Earthen Jar. At least when I ate there, I ate the saltiest food of my life. I drank at least 40 oz of water with my meal and still woke up in the middle of the night absolutely dehydrated. Disturbing experience.

      1. re: Tammy Coxen

        while the summer roll at DaLat restaurant and a certain fish dish are delicious I have to make a comment on the quality of products used by this cooks (see chickens) as well as the hygiene in the kitchen (read food picked from the floor goes on to the pot).been there, behind the scenes, and is outrageous! beware!

      2. Paleo, on Main Street, has excellent Northern Italian food

        1. I love Ann Arbor. Here are the places that I run to when I visit (about twice a year):
          -Banditos--fifth street? (or fourth) best enchiladas and quesadillas
          -Sabor Latino (main st) is also good for latin food (and cheap)!!
          -Blimpy Burger- Get a triple with cheese, olives, lettuce tomato mayo.
          -Red Hawk- good for lunches, sandwiches, bar food etc. State St.
          -Original 60's sub shop: Ann Arbor/Saline Rd. (same strip mall as the Outback). Try the Saladino, chicago style italian beef hero. Good bread there, an east-coaster should appreciate it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
          My wife likes Zanzibar (also on State) but I've never been there so I can't say how it is.
          As you can see my choices aren't exactly high end romantic dining establishments but they are all great IMO.
          For the best Thai in the area try Thai Bistro on Ford Rd. in Canton. It's about a 20 min. drive from A2 but worth it. Angry Shrimp is a great dish.
          Also there's a branch of Famous Famiglia pizzeria on State st. which is an nyc based chain. The pizza isn't so great here in ny so I don't imagine it being much better there (better than little caesars for sure).
          Don't worry, after a year or two you'll get used to the brueggers and einstein bagels. Good luck!

          2 Replies
          1. re: nypb

            I think there are numerous places to get good chow in A2 , but I must put my two cents worth in about Red Hawk . The most militantly anti smoking place I have EVER been to . And I don't even smoke . The bartender ( at a bar , in Michigan ) grabbed a lit smoke out of the mouth of a friend sitting next to me , and snuffed it out , and told us all to leave , ( a party of six waiting for a table on a Saturday ) Like I was gonna stay after that . She was a kahmeha kahmeha BIATCH . Food may be good , but that was inexcusable . I will NEVER set foot in there again . Ok , I'm done venting now .

            1. re: nypb

              Bruegger's bagels are far superior to the barely-boiled "round bread" they have here in NYC.

            2. I will recommend Prickly Pear Cafe for Tex-Mex, The Earle for haute cuisine, and Red Hawk for casual. (P.S. I'll pretend I didn't hear the "Zingerman's just isn't cutting it" comment. HUH?!?!?)

              5 Replies
              1. re: Anton

                Here's my "brain dump" on AA (including riffs off of others' recs)

                I think the Red Hawk is only so-so.

                I LOVE Zingerman's (in fact, am planning a trip to Detroit all so I'm close enough to AA to drive over for some sandwiches, and don't even get me started on their blueberry muffins) so also don't understand the problem with Zingerman's.

                I second the recommendation for Sabor Latino (yummy and cheap). There at least used to be a Mexican place on an east/west street just north of downtown that had lots of hot sauces. I never went because I never heard anything but AWFUL stuff about it.

                I totally second the earlier posting re: bi bim bap at Cosmo (sp?) Cafe in kerrytown shops (the owner is superfriendly, but you gotta get there before 5:00 ro 6:00, they don't do dinner).

                I never much cared for Paleo (mediocre Italian in my mind) and the same for the seafood place across the street.

                There used to be a chinese/vietnamese place on South U., sort of towards the east side of the strip there, that I actually thought had some yummy vietnamese dishes (and I normally completely turn my nose up at places that try to do vietnamese/chinese or japanese/korean--usually they do neither well). Somebody mentioned Dalat in Ypsi; I liked it but wasn't crazy about it.

                I also second the recommendation for jerusalem garden and their falafel. A friend hated the place, thought the folks who worked there were rude and didn't wash their hands enough. Frankly, both are true, but it never particularly bothered me.

                I think Zanzibar is so-so. They seem really intent on trying different flavor combo's just to say they use different flavor combos, not because they necessarily work together.

                I actually liked Shalimar (on Main, I think?) for Indian. It's definitely not great, but I thought it was ok.

                I loved the Blue Nile for Ethiopian. Maybe it was good because it was the only game in town, but I thought it had more than that going for it.

                I went to the Kerrytown Bistro with my husband and parents once, and thought they did a nice bistro thing.

                I love AA--dig around, and you will find good food!


                1. re: Smokey

                  Mysore Woodlands has great veggie Indian food. It's only good for takeout - very tiny place.

                  Godiak has great sushi as well as sushi.come.

                  Grizzly Peak has pretty good food but Ann Arbor Brewery has better beer.

                  Eastern Accents is a great Asian bakery.

                  Almost all of the Thai places - with the exception of the one in Kerrytown - are quite good.

                  Monaghans seafood market in Kerrytown has several good to go items.

                  Kerrytown Bistro closed but is opening soon with a new chef.

                  Despite all of the resturants in AA I have to agree that the chance of finding really good food is slim. It seems like a lot of places are more interested in their concept rather than imaginative and exceptional.

                  Don't even think about getting Mexican food. Sabor Latino, Latin American food, is great.

                2. re: Anton

                  How could anyone be starving in A2? I just ran across this post and I'm too tired tonite, but will ruminate on this and be back tomorrow - hopefully - for many, many suggestions.

                  The neat thing about the area is that you are so close to the Detroit/Plymouth/Canton area and you can branch out so much.

                  To start with I would recommend checking out restaurant reviews in the A2 paper or the Free Press. Try a few and then make up your own mind. To many of us in the area, Ann Arbor is super dining - at all prices. More later, D.

                  P.S. I have mixed feelings about Zingerman's, but mostly positive.

                  1. re: Anton

                    For a look at the Ann Arbor food scene, check out:


                    Can't add to the excellent suggestions you've already received. Second the recommendation on Great Lakes Chinese Seafood Restaurant for dim sum.

                    1. re: Anton

                      Prickly Pear terrece ambient makes me feel special every time I dine there.Food is yummy.

                    2. We moved here from Seattle, and before that NJ and the Bay area (and lots of other places) so I understand what you are talking about- there are nice/ok places in AA but nothing ohmygodfabulous.
                      Consider cooking more - Sparrow Meat Mkt in Kerrytown is very good especially around the holidays, Mr Dee's on W. Jackson has wonderfull fish (last years Copper River salmon was as good as anything I got in Seattle and cheeper too)they also have v good frozen filled pasta. Trader Joe's is in Farmington Hills (and one other location) and supposedly they are thinking about coming to AA. Come summer the farmers market in AA is good. There are more and more organic producers.

                      For restaurants - Five Lakes Grill (I think thats their name) in Milford is worth the drive - need reservations.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gloria
                        Colleen Newvine Tebeau

                        If you're looking for ohmygodfabulous in Ann Arbor, the best experiences I've had -- food, service and atmosphere -- have been at the Chop House on Main Street.
                        It's too pricey for me to do unless it's an occasion, but everything about it knocked me out, from the appetizers to the cocktails to the entrees. Better service than I've had anywhere in town, too.
                        Note: you get a free meal there on your birthday. For me, that meant knocking about $45 off our bill.

                        Still, I do think there are lots of other good places -- Yotsuba for sushi, D'Amato's for Italian, the Earle for happy hour wine and appetizers ...
                        There's no reason to starve!

                          1. re: pitzirella

                            Mr. Dee's has been closed for years.