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Eating out in Michigan (Ann Arbor, Dearborn)

We will be going to Michigan in August for my husband's HS reunion in Dearborn and will also visit Ann Arbor (U of M) where he went also to school. On previous visits to Michigan I've not been impressed with the food (hope I'm not sounding like a snob) and would love to have suggestions for Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Detroit area and even Mackinaw Island. Love all types of food. Many thanks.

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  1. You might want to check out the thread on Eve in Ann Arbor. I went for the first time a few weeks back and had a wonderful experience. Reasonably-priced wines and terrific food and atmosphere. Very warm and welcoming, with wonderfully-prepared food. I had really soured on the Ann Arbor food scene, having had my fill of Main St., but Eve has won me over.

    If you're looking for a casual pub, Casey's Tavern is a good beer-n-grub sort of place with a nice neighborhood vibe. It's located a bit apart from downtown, so not the best street atmosphere if you're looking to wander around a bit afterwards, although the neighborhoods are good to stroll through if the weather's nice and you're close to Kerrytown from there (relatively).

    If you're around for breakfast, Angelo's is by far the best place to go. It tastes like a grandmother who really really loves you is in the kitchen, shaping the sausage patties by hand. They make their own bread (delish). It's always busy, but worth the wait.

    For places outside the downtown area, there's great international food near Eisenhower. Seoul Garden has good Korean bbq, Godaiko (Japanese and sushi) and Arirang (Korean) are in the strip mall off of Ann Arbor-Saline Rd., and strangely enough, the Colonnade has a pretty decent Vietnamese noodle restaurant (called Paradise) and Bella Italia, which has zero atmosphere, but terrific thin-crust pizzas. Out by Carpenter Rd. is La Shish, which is terrific Middle Eastern, and is not connected to the La Shish in Dearborn (used to be franchised, but there have been problems with the La Shish in Dearborn and so they've parted ways apparently).

    But for high-end recommendations, I'd suggest Eve, or Pacific Rim. I've been disappointed with almost everything along Main St. (Real Seafood, Gratzi, etc.) The atmosphere at Cafe Felix is great, but I can only vouch for their 1/2 off wine nights on Wednesdays but not the food.

    1. In Dearborn, on the west side:
      --unbeatable burgers at Miller's Bar, 23700 Michigan Ave
      --Vietnamese cuisine at Annam Restaurant, 23053 Michigan Avenue
      --Detroit-style "square" pizza at Buddy's Pizza, 22148 Michigan Avenue

      On the east side of Dearborn, there are numerous middle eastern restaurants on Warren Avenue, my favorites are
      --Al-Ameer restaurant at 12710 W Warren
      --very informal dining at the New Yasmeen Bakery at 13900 W Warren
      --pastries and pistachio ice cream at Shatila Bakery at 14300 W Warren

      For weekday lunch or early dinner, the best neighborhood grill in Dearborn is M & M Cafe, 13714 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn. Unfortunately they're closed on weekends.

      1. Well, in the past where have you eaten and not been impressed? There's no point in recommending places that you're already thumbs-down on. Also, are you looking for fine dining, good, cheap eats, or something in between?

        1. I don't know anything on Mackinac Island (there is a town called Mackinaw City at the northern end of the lp) except the Grand Hotel - very formal and $$$$ - but we do spend a considerable amount of time in the Harbor Springs-Petoskey area. Please post if this is of interest, with some specifics as Summerfield has suggested, incuding cuisine, budget, etc.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sammy o

            There's tons of places to eat on Mackinac Island - more so than Mackinac City!

            1. re: momskitchen

              I'm definitely interested in the "island" and not the "city". Thanks for the tip about Scotty Simpson's. It seems that I read somewhere else that the neighborhood was marginal but they thought it safe on weekends cause there were people who watched the cars (albeit crowded). As far as places we have eaten in, the only place that I thought was worth a repeat was Miller's for burgers. Went there cause it was a place my husband went to many, many years ago and always remembered it was great for burgers. The other names unfortunately escape me. But I always remember the "memorable" ones. Thanks momskitchen.

              1. re: bmgjrg

                I love Kilwin's for fudge - if you go to the island, you've got to have fudge! I also liked the patio at the French Outpost. They have Kalamazoo Brewing beer (Bell's) which I liked. All the restaurants are on the slightly pricey side on the island, because they have a captive market. It's fun to bike around on the island and bring a picnic lunch. Plenty of nice places to stop and have it! Where will you be staying on the island?

                1. re: momskitchen

                  momskitchen, don't know where we will stay yet...thanks for the eating tips.

          2. My thanks to all who responded with very interesting suggestions. Since posting I've read about EVE and will definitely eat there. In all fairness in the past, I've compared the food in Detroit/Dearborn areas with NYC and eats on the West Coast and it has always come up short...So with an open mind, I'm really looking forward to an fun eating experience. We love all foods, and love to try neighborhood, non-touristy places. Budget is nice but we'll splurge for a very special eating experience. Has anyone eaten in a fish and chips place called Scotty Simpson's Fish and Chips in Detroit? I've read several positive reports. Also, I saw a spot a while back on Zingerman's Deli and Bakery in Ann Arbor. Has anyone been there? Many thanks.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bmgjrg

              Scotty Simpson's is the real deal if you like fish and chips. I've eaten there about four times in the last two months and it's been consistently wonderful. Do a chowhound search as there's been a recent thread.

              1. re: bmgjrg

                You've probably read those positive Scotty Simpson's F&C reports from me. I'm quite vocal about how wonderful the food is there, as well as the staff/owner, and while the atmosphere itself isn't going to win any decoration awards, the place is clean (look at the open kitchen!), and the food is nothing short of phenomenal. Plus, this place won't come *close* to breaking the bank/budget. Well worth taking friends to, and I've never, I repeat: N-E-V-E-R had better F&C anywhere.

                You won't be sorry going here, and don't forget to get some of the best onion rings you'll ever have the pleasure of putting in your mouth!

                1. re: boagman

                  I think if memory serves me correctly, Scotty Simpson's is at Fenkell and Lahser (which is pronounced "Lasher" when you are south of Birmingham). That's in a fairly rough neighborhood! If you are from out of town and not comfortable with that sort of thing, it might not be for you. Nor is it close to Dearborn or Ann Arbor.

                  I concur with everything written about Ann Arbor, except for Ayse's Turkish Cafe. It is just okay, in my book. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there. Dearborn Al-Ameer is great - but it is not high end dining or anything. When you were in Michigan before, where did you eat?

                2. re: bmgjrg

                  Zingerman's is the best! The Deli has amazing sandwiches, the cafe nextdoor has the best coffee in town. Zingerman's Roadhouse has more varied meals, with many regional American specialities (their bbq brisket is wonderful).

                3. Try Ayse's Turkish Cafe in AA--i took New Yorkers there, and they were impressed. They might have been able to duplicate the experience in NYC, they said, but they would have paid several times as much. The most distinctive cuisines in this area are Near Eastern, which in most cases unfortunately means no booze.

                  1. In Ann Arbor:
                    Of course, Zingerman's, www.zingermans.com. It's an A2 institution.
                    Yet another vote for Eve. I've never had a bad meal there. www.evetherestaurant.com
                    Conversely, each time I've been to Pacific Rim the food has either been served too cold or burnt beyond recognition. They were obviously having problems in the kitchen.

                    Further Afield:
                    You might like the Rattlesnake Club on the Detroit waterfront. It's not far at all from Dearborn. www.rattlesnakeclub.com
                    In Dearborn, there are several decent restaurants on Michigan Ave., but nothing great enough to make an effort to post. :-)

                    1. If you're looking for a fancy dinner on Mackinac Island, I strongly recommend the restaurant in the Iroquois Hotel. It's not cheap, but very classy and well worth it.

                      If you're interested in any other suggestions for Mackinac Island, I've got a few others to suggest. Really, though, it's pretty easy to window shop the menus of all the restaurants and just pick whatever sounds good at the time.

                      -g

                      1. Try the West End Grill in Ann Arbor for exquisite food and service. Fine dining. And for good authentic Italian try Paesano's in Ann Arbor.