The Best Restaurants in Ann Arbor

Home to the University of Michigan, this small city is packed with team spirit and some exceptional food beyond the usual campus fare. You’ll also find one of the best delis in the country.

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Zingerman’s Deli

Zingerman’s is an Ann Arbor institution. Established in 1982, it quickly became one a must-try destination for deli fans from around the world, thanks to its overstuffed sandwiches made with bread from their bakery, cheese from the creamery, homemade sauces and some of the best meats around. But it goes beyond sandwiches – they have their own coffee, pastries, candy bars and plenty of amazing imported goodies.

Chop House

Every food town needs a solid steakhouse, and the Chop House is just that. Brimming seafood platters, wet-aged USDA prime steaks, impeccable service and sides like king-crab gnocchi and baked three-cheese macaroni with poblano peppers make this the perfect place for a night of indulgence.

Spencer

This bright and airy café serves fresh, unexpected flavors that liven up the standard lunch options. The menu updates daily, but could include turmeric pickled eggs spiced with za’atar, grilled savoy cabbage with chickpea, tahini, cilantro zhoug and a soft-boiled egg, or fennel-pickled shrimp with pollen aioli.

Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger

Everyone has a story about this Ann Arbor institution — it’s been around since 1953. The ordering is very specific: Pick your number of patties, your bun and all your fixins’, and they’ll grill it up for you. Over the years they’ve added a few “modern” touches to the menu, with a variety of hand-battered veggies and a few other non-burger options. But it’s the nostalgia of the stand that makes it a must-visit.

Detroit Street Filling Station

Housed in the historic Staebler Family Oil Company filling station, this 100% vegan restaurant has a destination patio and fabulous weekly live music. From from the folks behind The Lunchroom restaurant, Detroit Street Filling Station is perhaps best at brunch, when maple-whiskey-glazed apple fritters and house made biscuits with an onion-sage gravy lure big crowds. The friendly, welcoming owners aren’t proprietary with their recipes — they will gladly share their recipes with fans to recreate at home.

Café Zola

Established in 1996, local icon Café Zola is a favorite with both students and locals. Named for French writer Emile Zola, the restaurant serves crepes with sweet fillings like Nutella banana or savory ones stuffed with smoked salmon or ratatouille. The rest of the menu leans Mediterranean with some Turkish influence. This is the perfect place to sip tea and read or catch up with friends over a glass of wine at happy hour.

Miss Kim

From the Zingerman’s restaurant group, this restaurant brings creative Korean flavors to Ann Arbor’s dining scene. Korean-born chef Ji Hye Kim uses local Michigan produce in a regularly rotating menu of dishes that showcase traditional Korean food and fermentation skills, including a Koroyo carrot salad with julienned local carrots and beets from A2 Seed Co, as well as perennial favorite Korean fried chicken with Amish Miller chicken.

Sava’s

What started as a 23-seat café run by an owner who also served as waiter and busser has grown into a bright and eclectic 300-seat, two-level mainstay for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sava’s menu leans American, including dishes like lobster mac and cheese and a variety of burgers, with fun small plates like bang bang shrimp and burrata with and arugula-walnut salad and fig marmalade.

Mani Osteria

Late-night pizza is a must in any college town, but you won’t find wan, half-hearted pies at Mani Osteria. Instead you’ll find the wood-fired kind, typical of Italy, made with San Marzano tomatoes and fior de latte cheese. Handcrafted pastas, antipasti, soup and salad make this the perfect place to come with a large group to share food, stories and a bottle of one of the small-production wines they highlight on the menu.

Frita Baditos

Frita Baditos may sound like someone’s name, but it’s actually a pairing of two of Cuba’s most loved street food items – Frita, a buger typically made from spicy chorizo and topped with an egg and shoestring fries on a soft egg bun — and batidos, which are tropical milkshakes made with fresh fruit and sweetened milk. The menu is full of creative takes on both offerings. Burgers can sub in chicken, beef, fish or black beans. There are also other Cuban-inspired sides like crisped plantains or coconut-ginger rice.

Pizza House

The popular Pizza House is a favorite for its vast dinner menu and great selection of late-night college eats, too. It’s home to an Ann Arbor tradition, the chipati, created by Pizza Bob’s in the 1970s (which is another great spot to scope out). The chipati is a huge freshly baked pita stuffed with a salad, traditionally with lettuce, mushroom, cheese and sweet peppers. The secret is in the sauce – a zippy orange proprietary mix that’s perfect as both salad dressing and a dip for the bread. Other fan favorites are the breadsticks and pizza.

The Brown Jug

Head to The Brown Jug to enjoy a few brews while experiencing the true legacy of U Mich sports. This iconic spot, named for the trophy up for grabs when Michigan faces Minnesota in college football, is decked out in nostalgic memorabilia and old photographs. The menu takes its item names from notable alumni, including the Tom Brady Corned Beef Reuben, the (Michael) Phelps Vegan Beyond Burger and Jalen Rose’s Chicken Alfredo Pizza.

Grange

This farm-to-table restaurant lets the food speak for itself with a minimalist design – exposed brick decorated only with photos of local farms. It’s not unusual to see chefs breaking down animals or hauling in produce from nearby farms. The menu changes regularly with choices like dates with housemade chorizo and blue cheese; brussels sprout cacio e pepe; and grilled Michigan rainbow trout.

The Last Word

There’s no issue finding beer around college campuses, but finding solid craft cocktails can be another story. The Last Word, named after a classic cocktail created at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1921, is a hole-in-the-wall speakeasy with a book full of cocktails from creative to the classics. Try dishes like barbacoa poutine and merguez sliders with the perfect lit-cool pairings.

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