Ann Arbor neighborhood bars and coffee shops
- Danimal Sep 10, 2009 08:14 PM
I'm moving to Ann Arbor soon, and finding "my bar" would be substantial progress toward finding my niche. I'm looking for neighborhood spots, where interaction is what they are about. In my experience, these places generally don't have live music, maybe just a quiet jukebox, and don't serve much food. And finding a good coffee shop would be great too. Any suggestions?
Not a really large number of places outside of the student areas ... hard to know what would appeal to a certain person. The Rathskeller, in the basement of the Heidelberg restaurant, is an old townie bar, with a jukebox and enough German beer to remind you of the roots of this town. Food not emphasized, but if you're hungry you can ask for and order from teh restaurant menu. Sometimes students come there, sometimes they don't. Sports people go to the two Banfield's locations and to Fraser's on Packard. More expensive, with more food, is the Old Town downtown, also a place with deep roots (how many other bars have a painting of Franz Schubert on the wall?). The 8-ball, under the Blind Pig nightclub, is a rowdier place. Ypsilanti has possibilities: the Tap Room, Powell's. Only nonsmoking place currently is Arbor Brewing in downtown AA, a newer brewpub. If you're west of town, don't miss Seitz's in Chelsea, a bar that hasn't changed in a hundred years.
No shortage of either coffee houses or coffee shops! The classic diner is the Fleetwood, at Liberty and Ashley. Very, uh, eclectic crowd.
Do you know where you will be living yet? Ann Arbor doesn't have a lot of neighborhood business sections like you would find in a big city, but rather sections of town where commerce converges. The biggest area is downtown, followed by the campus stuff, but there are pockets on the North and West side.
Downtown has great coffee shops and lots of bar options--most with food, but the Alley Bar and Full Moon are more barlike with jukebox and pool tables. Oh yes, I have several friends who like the Old Town--but I find their mixed drinks are just ok. Nice place for a beer and chat, though. They do have music on weekends, frequently and it's a small place so that takes over. Many of the restaurants have really nice bars where you can hangout and have great food, like the Earle. Cafe Felix has a European vibe and prime outdoor seating, but the food is just ok and it's not really a place to interact with other folks.
On campus, if you don't want to hang out JUST with 20-somethings, Ashley's is a great place with something like 50 beers on tap and an excellent assortment of whiskies. Also Ashley's deserves a mention for its Stilton fries.
Casey's on the near north side is a favorite hangout. It is sporty but not hooyah! sporty, which may be a plus or minus for you. It is non-smoking now and the food is good.
The west side has Banfields (as listed below) and Knight's, which is a steakhouse but it has its' bar regulars. Heavy smoke there.
If you tell us more about where you'll be and what you like to drink I might have more suggestions.
The coffee possibilities are a little crazy. Local faves include Sweetwaters (3 locations), Espresso Royale (5?), Crazy Wisdom tea room, plus the chains, including Caribou and Starbucks.
How about Casey's? Although they serve food, it's more barlike than restauranty in my book? Hard to find real dive bars in Ann Arbor, because it's really a restaurant town. Outside of town, for a real bar, check out Katies in Dexter or Seitz' Tavern in Chelsea. You will definitely interact with folks at either of those two places, but I wouldn't go there looking for a spectacular cocktail or anything.