Ann Arbor is known for its exceptional selection of local restaurants, but picking a place to try can be overwhelming. Here is a short list of my favorite places to eat in town that you won’t find anywhere else.
1. Frita Batidos
The creation of Chef Eve Aronoff, Frita Batidos serves Cuban-inspired street food, which can be enjoyed at communal-style picnic tables inside the restaurant. Fritas are essentially burgers made from spicy chorizo with fries on top in an egg bun, and batidos are just fruit-based milkshakes (served with or without rum), which makes the restaurant more or less a tropical version of Steak-n-Shake. Despite the casual atmosphere and relatively low menu prices, the food is very high quality with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
2. Grange Kitchen & Bar
This local farm-to-table restaurant is nothing short of amazing. Chef Brandon Johns works tirelessly to create a seasonal menu that is constantly changing to take advantage of each crop at the peak of its harvest. He also butchers animals in-house and employs a technique called “nose-to-tail” which uses every part of the animal to minimize waste. To top it all off, the rustic-but-classy atmosphere sets the mood for a farm-fresh meal, and the staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive.
3. MANI Osteria & Bar
The name MANI means ‘hand-made’ in Italian, and an Osteria is an Italian eatery much like a tavern. It’s no surprise then, that inside MANI Osteria you can find authentic Italian dishes and artisanal pizzas prepared in wood-burning ovens. Although everything is good at MANI, the pizza is easily the hottest attraction. But with offerings such as Cipollini – made with mozzarella, roasted arugula, bacon, and balsamic – or Tartufo – featuring fontina, black truffles, and egg – don’t be expecting your average greasy, saucy, cheesy, American pizza.
4. Blank Slate Creamery
There’s nothing better than deliciously creamy, homemade ice cream on a hot summer day, and there’s no one better than Blank Slate to make that dream come true. Their menu is overflowing with original and inventive ice cream flavors – all made in-house with local ingredients. These creative flavors include: Salty Caramel Coffee made with coffee from Mighty Good right down the street, Fresh Basil drizzled with olive oil and lemon zest, and Blueberry Pancake which includes real pieces of pancake. Don’t be deterred by the long lines – this ice cream is worth the wait.
5. RoosRoast Coffee
According to John Roos, “Coffee is a commitment. It’s a commitment to the quality of the purchasing of the coffee, it’s a commitment to roasting, it’s a commitment to who you buy it from, it’s a commitment to the people you sell it to.” And Roos has brought this philosophy to life at RoosRoast. This small bohemian coffee shop, tucked away off the beaten path in Ann Arbor, specializes in espresso made with ethically sourced beans. Many would consider it a coffee Mecca of sorts, and come from all around to try the famous triple-shot long-pull coffee made with their signature blend, Lobster Butter Love.
Also check out:
- Sava’s – Another delicious farm-to-table restaurant serving locally sourced seasonal dishes in a classy atmosphere.
- Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery – Known across the country for their sour beer, if you’re into that sort of thing. And their food is pretty decent too!
- lab – Downtown coffee shop with especially good cold brew.
- Afternoon Delight – Classic breakfast café known for their Eggs Benedict.
- Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger – You must follow a strict set of rules while ordering at this burger joint to avoid angering the chef and losing your chance to taste a legendary Blimpy Burger.
I’m sure there are some Ann Arborites who would throw a fit if I didn’t mention Zingerman’s Delicatessen, but it’s always seemed a bit over-hyped to me. Anyways, there you go – it’s been mentioned.
No matter where you go in Ann Arbor, you’re sure to find some delicious food in an enjoyable setting. I hope this list is helpful in selecting a new place to add to your Ann Arbor experience.