Ann Arbor - An Updated Survey of the best it has to offer
Just moved to town and am looking for the best Ann Arbor (and surrounding areas within a 30-45 minute drive) have to offer as far as food is concerned. Elegant vs simple, foreign vs familiar -- all types of cuisines and categories apply. Where are the best places to eat (and by best I mean best food) all the different kinds of food that people on this message board love to consume???
I was hoping this would BE what you're asking for. I don't get out enough with the kids and was looking for recs for our next visit. :-)
IMHO, you can't beat Jerusalem Garden for their felafel sandwiches and other dishes. I've been eating those almost 20 years. Next...
May I suggest searching the midwest board first, there are a lot of entries for Ann Arbor...
But for starters, I'll list a few:
Logan - upscale fun
Earle - french/italian upscale, fantastic happy hour
Old Town - fun "locals" pub
Shalimar - good indian
Jerusalem Garden - terrific middle eastern
Knights - old school steaks
Paesanos - nice Italian
Gandy Dancer - upscale seafood, Chuck Muer resto
Prickly Pear - funky southwest
Casey's tavern - good pub food
Cottage Inn - Ann Arbor institution
Dominicks - students paradise/outdoor patio watering hole
I'm tired of recommending the same old restaurants, so I'll mention Fleetwood, where the purpose is not so much to eat but to people watch, but the hippie hash is great.
I was thinking of my complaint of listing the same old Ann Arbor restaurants, so I decided to list a few in the surrounding area (but again, these are probably listed in older posts concerning Ann Arbor-area restos):
Haab's - old school restaurant, try the "chicken in the rough"
Chick-Inn - 1950s style drive-in, try pineapple shakes
Bill's - 3 things on the menu: coneys, homemade root beer, and potato chips
Sidetrack - up and down lately on the service, but terrific happy hour and good burgers, loads of outdoor seating
Aubrees - GREAT pizza/calzones
Common Grill - upscale seafood, etc. Wonderful spot
Chinese Tonite - standard Chinese fare, but very good crab rangoon
Seitz's Tavern - OLD SCHOOL bar, possible local celebrity sighting spot
maybe someone else can chime in on Dexter, cause I know there's some good spots now...
Canton is more diverse than its white-bread appearance would suggest. Short drive from Ann Arbor's east side, with several options not easily available in Ann Arbor itself.
Irie, on Cherry Hill just west of Canton Center Rd.--home-cooked Jamaican dishes, and sometimes on special they have the elusive escovitched fish, the delicious vinegar-marinated fried fish that is called escabeche in Latin America. I don't know where Jamaicans live in western Wayne County, but the place gets a steady stream of Jamaican customers. Sweet little spot.
Thai Bistro, Ford west of Canton Center--consistently good Thai standards.
Matsuchan, Sheldon on strip just north of Ford, on E side--delightful and authentic Japanese noodle restaurant.
There are also a lot of Indians in Canton, and several Indian restaurants. I don't know what the best is at this point, but it's worth experimenting. Ann Arbor has plenty of these, though. Do try Middle Eastern food anywhere in SE Michigan--it's almost always good. Welcome to the Deuce!
Best burger in Ann Arbor area right now happens to be at Dan's Tavern in Saline. They get their meat from Knight's Market. Good onion rings too. Caveat: smokey. Dan needs to see how Casey's Tavern is doing with smoke free.
Tomatoes in Farmington Hills (just at the upper limit of your driving minutes interval) has fairly authentic New Haven style pizza.
I figure I'd give my two cents in as well when it came to Ann Arbor restaurants. I agree with most of the things listed.
Cafe Zola - great place for brunch, esp. outside on a warm sunny day
Everyday Lunch (above Hollandar's in Kerrytown Market) - different menu each day using fresh local ingredients, chef's do an amazing job at creating unique and delectable dishes
Silvio's Organic Pizza - thoroughly Italian pizza, not the greasy stuff that passes for pizza these days
Bella Ciao - good seasonal Italian, cozy setting and excellent atmosphere
Chia Shang - excellent Chinese and Malaysian dishes
Cafe du Jour - some of the best soup around in my opinion
Exotic Bakeries and Cuisine - low key no frills Syrian food, one of the best around
Some places in Ypsilanti that I've come to really enjoy
Red Sea - Ethiopian at its best
Bahn Na - Northern Thai and Laotian but I've heard rumours about it closing?
Dalat - family owned vietnamese
All the Indian restaurants in Ann Arbor that used to be great are gone. I'm not sure if I agree that Shalimar is one of the best though. They aren't consistent, overpriced and just trying to be far to European for my liking. A new Indian restaurant is opening up, and hopefully it'll be better than what is currently around.
Dominick's, Prickly Pear, Paesano's are all great places and I'd highly recommend them. I am yet to try Logan but have heard great things. Seva is worth a shot, as is Zingerman's Deli. Zingerman's Roadhouse if you like the Deli, but I prefer it for drinks.
And yes, the hippie hash at fleetwood is excellent, and even better at 3am on Friday/Saturday night.