HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >


Cleveland or Ann Arbor/Detroit

I am in the process of changing jobs and moving. Two of my prospective jobs will either take me to Cleveland or Ann Arbor.

Even though great restaurants isn't going to close the deal on either job, being in a Chowish town could edge one city to the plus.

My personal taste runs towards authentic Chinese, Indian, Greek, Japanese, Northern Italian, Brasilian, mediterranean, seafood, out of the ordinary American, Mexican, good BBQ, soul food, etc. Not an oenophile but I just enjoy the wines. Micro bews would be of interest too.

Also, any word on Chinese grocery stores would be helpful too.

Thanks folks, in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Personally, I would choose Ann Arbor/Detroit/Windsor, ON due to the wide variety of food choices in the area.

    Windsor has a great variety of Chinese and Vietnamese markets. Detroit has the Eastern Market which is huge farmer's market on weekends and a variety of great food shops.

    1. I can't speak to the food choices in Ann Arbor, but Cleveland is blessed with some wonderful restaurants in some of the categories you listed (not to mention housing costs are substantially lower than Ann Arbor):

      Greek/Indian: Mad Greek (Cleveland Heights)
      Mexican: Luchita's (west 117th); Momocho (Ohio City)
      Brasilian: Sergio's (University Circle); Sarava (Shaker Sq.)
      Northern Italian: Ponte Vecchio; Osteria
      Microbrew: Great Lakes Brewing -- fantastic beer
      Chinese: a whole Asian community on the near east side, including a few Chinese grocery stores and lots of great restaurants
      Additionally, our West Side Market is a cornacopia of food.

      1. having spent lots of time in both areas, if food is playing a part in your choice, no question cleveland is it for overall variety and depth. wsm, active slow foods members, many, many farmers markets, pan-asian chinatown, little italy, hispanic/eastern european nabes, amish country nearby and oh yeah lake erie fish. aa is cute, but dominated by the college.

        1. Ann Arbor, proper would be a more expensive housing location than Cleveland and it's suburbs, Phaedrus. But towns and cities nearby A2, would be comparable in price with anything you'll find in metro Ohio. And the Michigan economy is still in the doldrums, so housing availability and prices make southeast Michigan a buyers delight. North and west and south of Ann Arbor are some of Michigan's most pleasant towns and villages. All minutes from A2.

          Michigan residents consume copious amounts of beef, but there are notable Mediterranean, Greek, Mexican, Pan Asian, Southern and African dining choices in the greater metro Detroit area.

          1. Cleveland has the phenomenal, amazing, West Side Market, but apart from that I'm with the Ann Arbor/Detroit/Dearborn/Windsor crowd. Ann Arbor has a serious year around farmer's market, lots of people trying to do local and sustainable foods, and lots of discerning foodies. And Zingerman's of course. Dearborn in the nucleus of probably the country's best array of middle-eastern restaurants. And I was just in Windsor a week ago, eating decent Italian, but marveling at the incredible ethnic diversity (a Scottish and a Chaldean festival were both going on that night, and we passed a Vietnamese Buddhist temple as well) and thinking it needed more chow exploration.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chicagoann

              all you know about metro clev is the wsm? that is a shame, as i said above there is so much more to offer in the region than that. btw the leaders of croatia and slovenia are in clev and today will watch the world cup final. i would like to be a fly on the plate for their meals!

            2. Hi- I have been to Ann Arbor area, and live in Cleveland. I think Cleveland has an amazing ethnic scene in ALL the areas you mentiond with the exception of BBQ (it is here, but no palate blowing places like the south has). We have a great "china town" with over a dozen authentic asian restaurants and markets(Thai,Chinese, Vietmanese, Korean) and close by Cambodian. There are also great Greek, turkish (1), Indian, Mexican (not to mention Puerto Rican, South American and Caribbean). We have at least two Brazilian Steak houses. Microbreweries include: the indep owned and award-winning Great Lakes and Rocky River Brewing Companies. The Brew Kettle in Strongsville is also great. There are also corporate owned breweries such as Rock Bottom and Chop House.We pour a great pint of Guinness here as well. Lots of Irish and Eastern European culture as well. the Little Italy neighborhood has many Italian places (although truthfully not my area of expertise) As someone mentioned the WestSide Market, with around 100 vendors has the ingredients to make any ethnic or American meal you could want (although the Asian ingredients are best found in china Town). We love good beer and wine here, so there is no problem finding either. If you come to Cleveland to check out the scene post again. I (and others I am sure) can direct you to just about all the above great places and keep you in a 3-5 mile radius of the city center (yes there are places outside the "zone" as I call it, but if you are from out of town you don't want to be running all over the place)

              1. Having lived in Detroit for the past two years and just moving to cleveland for about a month, I would say detroit has better ethnic fare. Granted the wsm has tons of vendors, I found that most of them sell the same things. Where as the eastern market doesn't have that many vendors but they have more variety in the electic foodstuffs.

                In addition, detroit has undoubtly the best greek food in greektown and the best middle eastern in dearborn. In addition, the vietnamese restaurants are not too bad and the vietnamese market is pretty good. There also is great sushi at noble fish which also caters to japanese cooking.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tkn6u

                  PLEASE don't judge Cleveland's ethnic offerings based on the West Side Market. Although there are a couple of stellar merchants there (the Mediterannean grocery in the front corner in particular), it is hardly a showcase of the ethinic diversity Cleveland has to offer. We really do have some kick-ass offerings in a variety of categories (both ethnic groceries and restaurants), so give yourself time to explore.

                2. You've probably already decided where to move, but I'll offer an opinion just in case.
                  I grew up in Cleveland, went to grad school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and now live in DC. I vote for Cleveland, no contest. Ann Arbor is a great, if a bit pretentious, college town of around 140,000 people, and the Detroit metro area is pretty large. Ann Arbor's restaurants are pretty lacking- some ethnic variety, but not many GOOD choices. Zingerman's is wonderful, but that's really the only place I'd ever return. Downtown Detroit has a nice Greek Town, sort of small but good, and there are cute neighborhoods like Royal Oak, and there is Dearborn for Middle Eastern- but, again, ethnically diverse, quality restaurants are really few and far between.
                  Cleveland is a much larger city than Ann Arbor, so there are many more choices for that reason, but it's also one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse places I've been- great Turkish, Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Mexican, Croatian, Russian, Hungarian, Japanese, Italian (little italy)- you name it, it's in Cleveland, and it's good. Can you tell I miss it?
                  Housing is much more reasonable in Cleveland than in Detroit/Ann Arbor (especially Ann Arbor), and you can find lovely neighborhoods in Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, etc.

                  1. Modern cities are better defined by the area that can be covered within a reasonable travel distance. With that, Ann Arbor is a nicer destination. You can get to Detroit (Cleveland with similar panache), Windsor, Hamtramck and Dearborn inside of an hour. Stretch it to two and a half and you're in Chicago. If you're walking/biking, you have better bets in Ann Arbor also. Real estate can be pricey, but not in the towns just west of A2 (Saline, Chelsea, Manchester).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: schultz

                      bottom line is, if you live in AA, you can get to some really good chow-hound cities within an hour. that's the bonus. cleveland is absolutely incredibly diverse when it comes to food offerings.

                    2. I live in Ann Arbor, and I think you can find great food around Detroit (and A-squared) if you look--it's the kind of city where good things tend to be a bit hidden. For fine dining I'd give the edge to Detroit; the auto companies aren't what they once were, but they still support some mighty fine high-ticket restaurants (ex.: Cuisine). On the other hand, I've eaten very well in Cleveland and think it's underrated among American cities. So I don't really have an opinion. I just wanted to say I think it's cool that you might decide based on food. Keep us posted!

                      1. I've lived in both Ohio and Michigan. I'd go with Ann Arbor over Cleveland for both ethnic food and other reasons. Just about any ethnic restaurant can be found in downtown Ann Arbor.

                        Greek: Greek people and restaurants all over the metro area, notably concentrated in Greektown, Detroit. Not to mention the Coneys.

                        Japanese: Many Japanese people in Ann Arbor itself extending into the western Detroit suburbs where many more Japanese people work, live, and eat, and where you'll find the Japanese bakeries and stores as well. And by eat I don't just mean sushi.

                        Indian: Ann Arbor is 12-13% Asian, many of them Asian Indian, and there's at least half a dozen Indian restaurants downtown, plus a much larger Indian population in Detroit's northern/northwest burbs (and some in Midtown Detroit) and a very concentrated "Little Bengal" in Hamtramck

                        Chinese: worth mentioning is the Wyandotte area in Windsor, an unofficial Chinatown that's probably bigger than Cleveland's. There are many pho shops and Vietnamese grocery stores around there as well, plus Filipino and other Asian. Otherwise, Madison Heights. There are also several large Chinese grocery stores in Ann Arbor, and more smaller other Asian ones. The Chinese grocery downtown has closed. Detroit City, like Cleveland, has an official Chinatown, but we won't go into that.

                        Italian: the Via Italia area, Windsor's Little Italy

                        Mediterranean: Metro Detroit has the largest Middle Eastern population outside of the Middle East and they and their food are everywhere but especially concentrated along Warren Ave and Arabian Village in Dearborn. Now that I've left the Detroit area this is the food I miss most. Also, Chaldean Town in Detroit for Iraqi.

                        Mexican: Mexicantown, Detroit, it's really amazing. Cuban, Salvadoran, etc. can also be had.

                        Soul food, BBQ: OMG, everywhere in the city of Detroit

                        Other: there's other Eastern European areas in Windsor, there's the Polish in Hamtramck, Hmong in Detroit, and good Thai can be found throughout the metro area including some chains.

                        You're going to find much larger immigrant groups in the Detroit area and a nice slice of their restaurants in the well-heeled and hungry Ann Arbor. As for out of the ordinary American, the Zingerman Roadhouse fits that description nicely.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tdot

                          I am a real estate agent in Ann Arbor and I've lived here since 1980. Ann Arbor is the most expensive housing in Michigan, and the towns nearby, at least the nice parts, are also expensive. That includes Saline and Chelsea.

                          As far as the Chow scene, some good restaurants but a lot of pretty ordinary ones too. AA has 114,000 people plus almost 40,000 students.

                          A couple weeks ago I attended the annual Michigan Brewer's Guild in Ypsilanti (the city next door to AA). If you like microbrews you would definitely have enjoyed it. A couple dozen breweries from all over the state, including a handful of local ones. Notable was the guys from Dexter (5 miles west) who are making Flemish sour beers. Good stuff.

                          What Ann Arbor has that is good:

                          1. Raw materials. Good food sources, from foie gras to favas, from durian to dal. There is a strip of Middle Eastern stores on the southeast side, Asian stores scattered about, including Indian and Chinese, a good butcher, plenty of high end choices for organics/produce, plus Kerrytown and the Farmer's Market mentioned above.
                          2. Wine. The Village Corner is as good of a wine store as there is. They don't do all the high end wines, but they do enough of them, and no one has a breadth of QPR wines any better than them. Compare that with Ohio's wine minimum markup laws.
                          3. As I said real estate is pricey, but just northwest of town is the lake country. Would you like to work in Ann Arbor but live on a lake? Can be done.
                          4. If you'd rather live in town in a condo, there are a number of new high rises going up downtown. If you want an older single family home within a mile or so of downtown, they start at $200k and go up.
                          5. Ann Arbor is also near the edge of the southeast Michigan urban area, so it's still possible to live on a farm or with some land and work in AA too.
                          6. Real estate is in a depression here, prices are steady to declining - a complete buyers' market.

                          The last time I saw the numbers, there were about 30 Korean stores in AA. Try Pacific Rim or Seoul Garden.

                          If you have more q's about AA, let me know and I'll try to help.