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Ann Arbor Restaurants

Hi Midwest Folks,

I'm a DC Chowhound but my boyfriend just moved to Ann Arbor for a job. We are both major foodies but slightly clueless to the Detroit and Ann Arbor restaurant scene.

I'm going to be going out there to visit quit a bit---possibly once a month, so I would love suggestions of all sorts---all price ranges, food types, atmospheres etc.

Thanks so much!

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  1. You'll like it a lot. Better IMO for cheap eats than high-end; it's a student town after all. Try these amazing spots, and search the boards for more on them:

    - Zingerman's Deli. Renowned. Overly so. And over-priced for what it is. But very very high-quality deli food, and nice, and fun. Good for sandwiches, corned beef hash, pickles, baked beans. Also sells various savoury pies, coffee cakes, Vermont cultured butter, fleur de sel caramels, Applewood smoked bacon, chorizo, etc.

    - Culver's hamburgers -throughout Michigan- for butterburgers.

    - Blimpie's. Amazing hamburgers. Not unpleasant, as it's reputed to be - the banter's just a shtick. You order your meat and bun plus any grilled condiments such as grilled onions, egg or mushrooms - then wait to be asked about cheese, then condiments. Or they yell at you :-)

    - Miller's Bar in nearby Dearborn for hamburgers. Super-famous.

    - Angelo's for breakfast.

    - Washtensaw Dairy for doughnuts and milkshakes. Another institution.

    - Don Carlos for Mexican.

    11 Replies
    1. re: spigot

      No, no, no, the first question (whether verbal or not) at Blimpyburger is "anything from the fryer?" Delicious fried broccoli or cauliflower as well as fries. Then the grill. Then finally the ketchup-lettuce-mustard-mayo-etc.

      It's definitely worth a stop. On the high end try Eve in Kerrytown.

      Distinctive local cuisines are Middle Eastern. Ayse's Turkish. Any one of the Arabic places along Washtenaw between AA and Ypsilanti: Charlie's La Shish, Pita Pita, Al-Noor.

      1. re: Jim M

        God, you're right. I was emotionally scarred by getting the cheese out of order; I've blocked out the fryer question completely :-)

      2. re: spigot

        Don Carlos for Mexican? Don Carlos has been gone for years, sadly. I have yet to find a suitable replacement for good strong margaritas and their shrimp fajitas.

        1. re: annex

          This is all very helpful! Any non-cheap eats you would recommend besides Eve (which I've heard some great things about.)

          How about a birthday dinner in Detroit or Ann Arbor area?

          1. re: Elyssa

            In A2, try The Earle for traditional or Logan for contemporary.
            Emily's in Northville is a nice birthday spot, and only 20 minutes from A2.
            Tribute in Farmington Hills, or my personal favorite The Lark in West Bloomfield, are ~45 minutes away.
            In Detroit proper, you're going to have limited options for fine dining...and I don't recommend heading into Detroit @ night if you're a 1st time visitor (before you folks bag on me, I managed a restaurant / nightclub / theater in Detroit for 3 years while residing in the Cass Corridor...I know of what I speak).

            1. re: g rote

              Oh I have no intentions of wandering around Detroit at night. I was looking more around Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, Troy etc. I've heard of the Lark...it's my bf's grandmother's favorite restaurant of all time. :) Maybe we'll check that out.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Elyssa,
                I grew up in West Bloomfield and go to the same places when I am home to visit. The Lark is great for a finer meal. The Uptown Parthenon is also good for Greek food and Larco's serves great Italian. As for lunch places, I love Greek Islands (greek salads), and Sunny's for great omelettes. The Stage and Steve's are both good delis. You should definitely check out Birmingham for Cameron's (steakhouse) Mitchell's (seafood) and Forte (Eclectic), which are all excellent! Good luck!

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Try Tomatoes Apizza (two locations in Farmington Hills) for the best pizza in the Detroit metropolitan area. I started a whole thread on chowhound a while ago on this (think the thread is titled Best Pizza in Detroit area), so do a search for other's comments on it. Classic New Haven neapolitan style pizza, so good it will haunt you! One location is at 14 Mile & Middlebelt & the other at Grand River and Halsted, again both in Farmington Hills.

                2. re: g rote

                  Emily's in Northville has also closed, sadly.

            2. re: spigot

              I've been to both Zingerman's and Blimpie's before. Excellent burgers at Blimpies---worth every calorie! :)

              But what is a butterburger? That's a new one for this East Coaster.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Culver's is a fast-food chain based in Wisconsin known for frozen custard and the burgers they call "butterburgers". www.culvers.com
                Also, Emily's in Northville closed last fall.

            3. Elyssa,
              A fantastic place for soup is Cafe Du Jour, which is right next to the Earle at 177 W. Washington. A few of us regularly make the drive from Farmington for the soup, especially in the colder months. They also make good sandwiches and salads. I think it's run by a grandma/mom/daughter team, and the service is friendly and loving.
              Across the street is Cafe Zola, which is a nice place for breakfast or lunch (their specialty is crepes), and they have very good coffee and espresso to boot.
              Other coffeehouses on the same block are Sweetwaters and Starbucks.
              If you do eat at Cafe Du Jour, consider going west about 3 or 4 doors to Sweetwaters for some of their fantastic pastries for dessert.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Jeff from Michigan

                Thanks so much Jeff! All those suggestions seem right up our alley.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Elyssa,
                  I would be remiss if I didn't mention some other Ann Arbor favorites - Blimpy's for burgers, Gandy Dancer for the Sunday Brunch and the Broken Egg for breakfast.
                  Also, while I haven't eaten there myself, I got it from a reliable source that Logans (right next-door to Cafe du Jour) has possibly the best food in all of A². Other than the 18-ounce Ribeye, he said that most items are $30 or less, and that is dinner pricing. I believe they also serve lunch. Hopefully, someone reading this thread can give a first-hand report of the place.
                  Be sure to call ahead to any place in town before you go, to make sure they're open on that particular day.

                2. re: Jeff from Michigan

                  I actually like Cafe Zola quite a bit for dinner. They go white tablecloth at night, and I've never had a bad meal there. Excellent Mediterranean Bistro style food, reasonably priced, and so much better than the usual Main St suspects.

                  1. re: tammylc

                    Lamb dishes there, as so often with people from this part of the world (they are Turks, I think), are superb.

                    1. re: Jim M

                      And food is half price before 6pm, which makes it taste even better.

                3. I used to live in AA and miss some of the fine foodie things they have there for a smaller town.

                  Zingerman's was mentioned already and I agree especially for purchasing deli items like cheese and jamon serano.

                  You have to check out the farmer's market there. The market is the main thing I miss most.

                  In Kerrytown there are some gems. Monahan's seafood market and Sparrow meats - not restaurants but should be noted if you are a foodie. These are good if you want to cook at home.

                  My favoraite restaurants were Eve, also in Kerrytown, and the West End grill. Another nice place is the The Common Grill in nearby (to the West) towm of Chelsea.

                  May I also recommend Mr. Spots if you are a chicket wing or cheese-steak lover.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chateauneuf

                    I cook...my boyfriend unfortunatly does not. But its nice to know there is a good fish market in town if I want to put together a meal when I'm there.

                    We're both really excited about the Farmer's Market since we are huge fans of the one in Dupont Circle in DC.

                    1. re: chateauneuf

                      Monahan's actually can be considered a restaurant -- you can buy a piece of fish and they will cook it for you, unless something has changed in the last year or two (haven't been by in a while). Very simple, but very delicious.

                      A little surprised nobody has mentioned Red Hot Lovers. Can't speak to the dogs as I never got past the burgers (and I'm not a huge red hot person anyway), which are one of my faves. They also have an incredible fountain coke machine, calibration is top notch imho.

                    2. You should search earlier threads on this board. There are quite a few talking about this. Some good reccos here already, but Don Carlos has happily been replaced in the area by some real Mexican food, the kind Mexicans eat, like La Fiesta Mexicana and Taqueria La Fiesta, a couple places run by a pair of sisters where the food is authentic and great.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chris Weber

                        For Mexican, I also like Sabor Latino on Main. The carne al pastor taco is out of this world.

                      2. I like Gratzi in Ann Arbor too.
                        And I've heard good things about Pacific Grille.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cherie

                          Do you mean Pacific RIM? Excellent.