If you find yourself in Ann Arbor for a sporting event, likely a game at the Big House, making sure you fuel up well before an after the game is critical.
I opted to tour Ann Arbor via my tastebuds and I was not disappointed.
I sacrificed my waistline to make sure that I did proper research. You’re welcome.
Perhaps what surprised me the most about the food scene in Ann Arbor was that it was incredibly diverse. In hindsight, this shouldn’t have been terribly surprising. The University of Michigan, is after all an educational institution that attracts students from a wide swath of cultures.
The culmination of the above, results in a culinary wonderland, that is Ann Arbor.
Best places to grab breakfast in Ann Arbor:
Our guides told us that Wilma’s is easily one of the most instagrammable spots in Ann Arbor. I can see why. It is bright, airy and has some great spots. I commented a few times that I could see myself bringing my laptop and getting some work done over their awesome avocado toast or an acai bowl.
Cafe Zola prides themselves on using the freshest and best ingredients for their signature omelettes, crêpes, waffles, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrées and pastries. Their coffee is specially blended and roasted by a small roasting company in Durham, North Carolina, and is delivered fresh.
As basic as it may sound, I really liked their French toast, it really hit the spot!
Best Places for Lunch in Ann Arbor
Ayse’s Turkish Café:
Having lunch at Ayse’s was as if I had stepped into my Turkish grandmother’s kitchen, you know, if I had a Turkish. You can tell the care that Ayse has for every patron that comes through the door of her restaurant.
While all of the food that I tried was quite good, I have a soft spot for the delicious Turkish desserts that were placed in front of me.
The Zingerman’s empire is something to take note of, and is exactly what restaurant owners dream of becoming one day.
The deli is a bit of a magical place with the best branding (because they do it in house) and staff members that will open anything in the deli to let you give it a try before committing to it.
Here’s a bit of trivia as well, two of the paper mache pickles on the ceiling are made to look like the Zingerman’s founders Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig.
If you are a reuben fan, make sure you try it, Barack Obama said it was killer, I tried it and can confirm that it is a good sandwich.
Everyone that passes through the doors of Miss Kim, and the locals of Ann Arbor in general raves about the fantastic tradition of the food.
The chef of Miss Kim is Chef Ji Hye Kim, she is a native of South Korea and she’s made it her life’s work to study old Korean cookbooks. She has crafted amazing food that features fresh Michigan produce when it is is available. My favorite was the stone bowl fried rice, the stone bowl makes it really crispy and super delicious.
The Roadhouse concept is one featuring full on American fare. Barbecue is a focus here, and the mac and cheese is not to be missed. The staff was more than willing to print out on a recipe card any of the recipes that you really found yourself liking.
Pro Tip: The trailer outside of the main entrance serves up (according to my sources) the best breakfast burritos that you can find anywhere in Michigan.
Ollie Food + Spirits
This restaurant is just outside of Ann Arbor in Ypsilanti Michigan. Featuring a seasonally rotating menu made up of high-quality, locally sourced ingredients.
Don’t worry, there is lots for vegans and vegetarians to enjoy on the menu as well.
I really was surprised by how much I liked the creamy beet and chevere spaghetti. Trust me on this, get past the pink from the beets and chances are you’ll love it.
Not to miss dinner spots in Ann Arbor
Standard Bistro & Larder
The Standard was dinner I had on the first night in town. The Standard serves up their version of French fare.
We were treated to the creamiest French Onion soup I’ve ever tasted. I know it seems weird to describe French Onion soup as creamy, but trust me, it was.
The Standard also had some really innovative cocktails that were just as tasty as they were pretty.
I don’t have any Italian in my blood but I always joked that I must have, given my my extreme love of pasta.
Gratzi is a fantastically authentic Italian restaurant. The pasta dish with scallops that I was fortunate enough to enjoy was the favorite item that I got a chance to taste.
This spot is a Spanish tapas restaurant and while tapas are the focus, for me the show stopper was the paella.
Beyond the food, though was the focus that meals are best shared together with great friends and family.
Mani Osteria & Bar
I saved my absolute favorite restaurant that I discovered in Ann Arbor for last.
Mani is an Italian eatery that emphasizes local ingredients, small production wines, and hospitality.
I heard about the pickled tomatoes and whipped ricotta long before I walked through the doors of Mani. For someone who isn’t a big fan of tomatoes, I wasn’t sure what I would think. All I can say is that they live up to their hype.
The dish that I have been dreaming about since I left was the pesto gnocchi. In fact all of us at the table raved about the gnocchi, and had just a bit more of it even though we were totally stuffed!
Mani also has fantastic pizzas that are innovative yet classic at the same time.
Ann Arbor is full of fantastic gems of shops, and restaurants alike, the hospitality in this town reminds me of the South. In fact, a few times I forgot that I wasn’t in a Southern town! So, the next time you are in Ann Arbor, stretch your taste buds just a bit, you won’t be disappointed!