Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, the winningest program in college football history, and a whole lot of great food. Here at The Infatuation, we have three University of Michigan alums who know the ins and outs of Ann Arbor restaurants, not to mention probably wish they were still there.
You can find great college staples like pizza, sandwiches, and fried stuff in Ann Arbor, but it also has a serious dining scene that would make some major U.S. cities jealous. These are the best restaurants in Ann Arbor. Those who stay will probably gain weight, and forever, go blue.
The most famous restaurant in Ann Arbor, hands down. Zingerman’s is not only one of the best restaurants in Ann Arbor, it’s one of the best delis in the world – facts only from a couple of biased guys. Everything they make is either homemade or expertly purveyed and brought in, and the people working here couldn’t be any friendlier, which is part of their shtick. You have to eat here. That’s an order.
You could get a burrito for brunch because it’s a college town and that’s acceptable, but if you’re looking for a real brunch, then Angelo’s has been the go-to spot since the 1950’s. Their homemade, thick-cut Greek style toast is where it’s at, especially the raisin toast.
Angelo’s is far on the east side of campus near the hospital, which is why Afternoon delight is important to know if you’re on the west side closer to Main St. It’s another strong player in the brunch and lunch game.
RIP to the original Blimpy Burger location, which was forced to move because the building was bought out. No matter. Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger found a new space where it’s still a hole-in-the wall burger joint with almost infinite burger topping combinations. The hardest part of Blimpy Burger is knowing how to order, a process you’ll inevitably mess up the first time around. They’ll give you a hard time, but it’s all part of the fun.
Once upon a time Pizza House was slanging pizzas out of an actual small house with no heat in the winters. These days Pizza House is more like a mansion with an absurdly large menu, but pizza and cheesy bread is still the move.
Ann Arbor is on the receiving end of a lot of hippie jokes, but that’s expected from a liberal arts school that has a whole weekend dedicated to legalizing marijuana. Whatever your feelings on that, one thing we can agree on is the Hippie Hash at the 24 hour Fleetwood Diner – eggs, potatoes, and a mix of veggies topped with melty feta cheese. Pro tip – make it a Gyro Hippie Hash.
The greatest most Americanized Thai food the world has ever seen. No Thai! is a college staple for carry out or a quick dine-in. Get some sort of stir fry or noodle dish for around $10, a tough deal to beat.
There are two things we have in common with Tom Brady. One – A love for the University of Michigan. Two – A love for Mister Spots’ wings, cheesesteak hoagies, and waffle fries. Every college student and four-time NFL Super Bowl champion married to a Victoria’s Secret Angel dreams of a place like this.
Pizza Bob’s might serve pizza, but it’s all about the chipati. For the uneducated, chipatis are an Ann Arbor way of saying let’s stuff some lettuce into a 1 lb bread pocket and pretend it’s a salad. It’s the quintessential healthy college meal.
Frita Batidos might be the relative new kid on the block, but they aren’t messing around. Fritas are cuban style burgers made from spicy chorizo, and batidos are tropical shakes made of fresh fruit, crushed ice, and sweetened milk. Get a chorizo frita and make it loco style for a ridiculous and delicious meal.
We think Pancheros has good burritos. We can’t be sure because things are always a little hazy when we’re there. Good burritos though. We think.
Don’t be scared off by the creepy look of Rich J.C. from the outside. This is your spot for bi bim bop, bulgogi, jap chae, or whatever else is your typical Korean food move.
We were there when Sava’s opened in 2007 as a tiny restaurant, and it’s pretty impressive to see what owner and namesake Sava Lelcaj has done these last few years. She runs sh*t between Sava’s, Aventura, Babo, and a separate catering/hospitality business. Sava’s has sinced moved to a bigger location across the street and can fit every need, from a casual dinner with your parents, to discussing last night’s details with your friends.
Hunter House has long been a favorite for sliders in suburban Birmingham, MI, which is about 35 minutes outside of Ann Arbor. So it makes sense they got around to opening a second spot here. Think White Castle, but family run instead of corporate chain. Two double cheeseburgers with chili cheese fries, just saying.
Every good Midwest town needs a classic Steakhouse, and Chop House is the Ann Arbor version. Located on Main St., Chop House could be in any big city and nobody would blink an eye. Come for business, serious date night, dinner with the parents, or a special occasion if you have a reason to celebrate with your friends.
Sophisticated without being stuffy, this tapas spot is a great way to show off how cultured Ann Arbor is to your East Coast parents while also getting the most out of your once-a-semester free meal. Bacon-wrapped dates with chorizo and some heavenly patatas bravas stand out for us, but honestly it’s hard to go wrong. Sava’s got this city on lock.
The Gandy Dancer is an old school and historically special place inside the former Michigan Central Depot, which is the original Ann Arbor train station built in 1866. The decor screams railroad baron elegance, and the dining room faces the train tracks still in use. Its beauty is really put in perspective when you take a look at the newer and way sh*ttier Amtrak station next door.
Pizza is the life-blood of any college campus. But Mani Osteria isn’t college pizza, it’s real Neapolitan style pizza. We’re talking wood fired pizza in one of those thousand degree ovens that comes out quick. Make sure to get some small plates and salads into the mix too.
Guess what? The Mani Osteria crew is good at more than just pizza. Isalita is their Mexican cantina directly next door, and while the cuisine is different, the quality of food is just as good. Go nuts on Mexican food at one of the best new restaurants in Ann Arbor.
Zingerman’s is more than just a deli these days, it’s an empire. And The Roadhouse is their sit-down restaurant off campus that serves “really good American food.” That means everything from locally grown Midwest pork, to Carolina grits, to Maryland crab cakes. We can vouch for the fact it’s all really good.
Remember Zoup!? Or maybe they still exist. Who knows, and either way that place sucks. Le Dog, on the other hand, is the mom and pop version of a specialty soup shop, and it’s great. While the original East Liberty location closed, the newer Main Street one is fully operational three blocks away, and in truth it’s a better space. Tortilla soup and lobster bisque on Fridays are the mainstays, but there are always new and different options.
Ann Arbor is a progressive place, which is why Mark’s Carts was quick to jump into the food truck game. You’ll find a number of individually owned vendors in this mini food truck courtyard on Washington St. not far from the Hands-On Museum.
Head about a mile south of Yost Ice Arena on Packard to find one of the best kept secrets in Ann Arbor. Morgan & York is an artisan wine and cheese shop, but what you really want are the sandwiches. European-style baguette sandwiches with excellent meats and cheeses.
If you want to know where sorority girls in pajamas are going on non-bar nights, check Rod’s. They go for the colliders, which are the equivalent of make-your-own fro-yo sundaes with infinite toppings. Rod’s also serves Korean food, and rumor on the street is the food is solid. But truth be told we don’t trust people who order anything but colliders at Rod’s.
Everybody loves $1 beers and $2 tequila shots, but a place like Mash is proof that Ann Arbor is more than an average college town. Mash is a bourbon, whisky, and craft beer speakeasy of sorts located beneath Blue Tractor, and you can always count on quality drinks, live music, and solid bar bites.
DAS BOOT! Heidelberg is a classic German beer hall except for it’s crammed into a small Main St. space. There’s a great beer selection, including an actual boot to prove you can drink beer with the best of ’em. Don’t sleep on the bar food either, particularly the wings, and take note of the weekday happy hour specials.
Ashley’s is a craft beer pub with an excellent brew selection and some solid bar food to back it up. Hang out over beers and make sure to order a couple of the specialty fries for sharing.
Summer in Ann Arbor is a rare species, so drink outside whenever you can. Dominick’s just so happens to be open only during the (mostly) warmer months. Order inside, claim your territory at a picnic bench in the back, and wait for your name to be called over the loud speaker. They’ve been serving drinks out of mason jars since before serving drinks out of mason jars was cool.
Charley’s is part restaurant, part bar, and all around see-and-be-seen spot on the corner of South University and East University. Snag a coveted table on the patio when it’s nice out, load up on drinks, and dip whatever you’re eating in their ranch.
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