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Dec 9, 2008 04:09 PM

Detroit for X-mas. Is Zingerman's worth the drive?

Hi. I'm coming to Detroit for Christmas; hub is from 6 and Hayes and his dad still lives there. I've created a whole google map of cafes/restaurants/breakfast places to check out in Detroit, and I also included Zingerman's in Ann Arbor on my list. I know it's not that far a drive from Detroit, but I've heard from others who have been to Z's that I'll be horribly disappointed and let down. I've received the catalog for years and, when we got our plane tickets over the summer, I was over the moon and telling anyone who would listen how I was gonna get to visit Zingerman's.

But things have changed. The economy, etc etc, and I was recently shocked to see the prices on their site -- ridiculous! I've also read lots of negative comments about them on this board. Not so much negative, but that they aren't as great as they once were and they're basically a corporation now.

So -- what's your opinion? Is it worth the drive? Or am I best keeping the idea of Zingerman's alive in my heart and staying in Detroit?

Also, if you have any suggestions for my google map, post 'em.


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  1. Yes. I used to drive 40 minutes when I lived in the area. But you will pay for a $10-12 sandwich. Is that worth it to you?

    In Detroit, you should also go to Slow's.

    1. Work up an appetite before you go, and treat it as dinner (for which the sandwiches are certainly big enough) rather than lunch. You can have a sandwich, soup or salad, and drink, all top-notch, for twenty bucks. I think it's well worth the drive, and given the control they have over a large menu, with some pretty complicated sandwiches, the prices aren't excessive. For another opinion, check out last weekend's Splendid Table on NPR--the host, a native New Yorker, raved about the place.

      Second on Slow's, where you also won't leave hungry.

      1. Zingerman's is probably worth it. They have a lot of exotic retail stuff to check out too, so that is a bonus. They make their own bread and some dairy items, and you can pretty much sample anything you want. Zing's Next Door does good coffee and desserts too (and will be the spot where you sit and eat). Later at night, near closing time, they have deals on their breads. If you order a fresser-sized sandwich, guaranteed it will be enough for leftovers the next day. You can eat cheaply at zing's with knishes, soups, salads and sides too, if you want to avoid the $15+ sandwich. The quality of all their offerings are top notch, and they will treat any complaint you have seriously and remedy it. But hopefully you won't have any!

        If the weather is bad and the drive gets too dicey to contemplate, you can sample zing's products (bread, some dairy, some candy and baked goods) at various upscale stores in the burbs.

          1. re: Mid Michigan Dining

            So, it's interesting that I didn't say I was having lunch there, but y'all assumed I was! I meant, was the trip worth it to shop at their retail store? But having read all the comments, I now think we'll visit the store AND have lunch. Thanks for the help!

            1. re: chucktownlady

              The grocery prices are very high, it's true. Upside: they have stuff that's very hard to find. Examples: Austrian pumpkinseed oil (you put it on ice cream), Montreal smoked meat, pretty incredible selection of salamis, cheeses, vinegars, etc.

              They're both in the same building. You order, pay (you can pay for retail items at this time too), then go next door to sit down. They come in with the food and shout your name.

              Saturdays are the busiest time. Get a late weekday lunch or late dinner and you can be more leisurely.

              1. re: chucktownlady

                You should definitely go - I always take tourists there. If you are looking to buy their products (the stuff you see in the catalog), I'd include a stop at their Bakehouse and the Creamery, too. They are on the other side of Ann Arbor. When you go to the deli, it is very small. It really is all about buying the sandwiches and other foods. The store next door is a coffee shop that sells the pastries. You might also want to try a dinner at the Roadhouse, too. They have a special deal if you visit all their locations in one day, (deli, roadhouse, creamery, bake shop) you get a free T shirt. Make a day of it and have fun!

                1. re: chucktownlady

                  I wouldn't come just for the store. Although they have a nice cheese counter, and are very generous in letting you try anything you like, it isn't any better than some other stores in the area. Plum Market, for example, hired away one of their cheese guys and I think has an equally good cheese counter.

                  But you should come to have a good sandwich or something from the deli case and enjoy the atmosphere. Be sure to save room for dessert. You order your sandwich in the deli and eat in the little house next door, where you get desserts and drinks. If you are coming on a Saturday, get there EARLY. Or, come on Sunday evening. If you come after 8 o'clock, they start giving pastries away or selling them for half price. It's actually my favorite time to go.

                  If you'd like to sit down and have the best fried chicken in the Midwest, go to the Roadhouse, which is just off the Jackson Road exit of I-94. I wouldn't venture all the way out to the Bakehouse or the Creamery unless you know what's there. They're in an industrial park and you would miss getting an impression of the Deli. But by all means, go.