Ann Arbor Recommendations
A friend asked me to recommend places to eat in Ann Arbor, Michigan, knowing that as a graduate of the University of Michigan, I was a good source of information. The request triggered serious college nostalgia, reminding me of all the great places to eat there, and I thought I’d share them. Great for new students and people going for a visit:
Red Hawk: A bar and grill known for its burgers and right in the middle of downtown Ann Arbor. Burgers, sandwiches, and beer.
No Thai!: A short order Thai place serving the staples of any American Thai restaurant: Pad Thai, Pad See Yu, etc. Diners choose a dish and a level of spiciness ranging from none to “Dim Mak” (“The Death Touch”). Frequently packed, be ready to order takeout because you won’t find a seat.
Ashley’s: Ashley’s is known for their boast of having over 70 beers on tap. The beer menu fills a small booklet, which lists the various beers by color and taste, giving short descriptions of each to help consumers select the right beer for them. The food, consisting mostly of greasy bar fare, is pretty good as well.
Arbor Brewing Company: Originating as a microbrewery, the founders eventually added a hangout-style restaurant to the operation, providing patrons with great food and amazing beer.
Conor O’Neill’s: An Irish pub that is more than just Irish in name, the pub has beautiful wooden walls and serves Irish fare, including fish and chips, mussels, shepherd’s pie, and black and white pudding. They also serve traditional American for the less adventurous.
Real Seafood Company: Featuring a rawbar, live Maine lobster, an assortment of local freshwater and flown-in saltwater fish, and delicious sides, Real Seafood Company is a great place to go for special occasions.
Middle Kingdom: Upon entering this superb Chinese restaurant, you will be greeted with some of the greatest smells you can imagine (and in the winter, a flush of warm air). The smells give way to delicious food, some of the best Chinese in the city.
Pizza House: An Ann Arbor staple, known for being open until 4am every day, they serve the best pizza in town. All of the ingredients are high quality, and unlike many pizza places, their definition of “sausage” is slices of Italian sausage, rather than tiny balls of meat. They also have large salads and an extensive milk shake menu, which encourages mixing and matching (the raspberry hot fudge was a personal favorite).
Cafe Ambrosia: A small coffee shop on a somewhat-hidden street, Cafe Ambrosia is not widely known, but is much loved by those that know it. Serving delicious coffee, tea, and Italian sodas, it will no doubt serve you caffeine in a delicious manner.
Blimpy Burger: This burger grill looks like a relic of a bygone era, because it kind of is. Opening in 1953, Blimpy Burger has been going strong ever since, serving delicious grilled burgers and fried everything (seriously, if it’s a vegetable, you can almost certainly get it fried here). They make no qualms about the health benefits of their food (a sign on the wall says that the only health food item they serve is water), but when the food tastes this good, who cares about calories?
The Brown Jug: Another Ann Arbor staple for over 50 years (it opened in 1938), the Brown Jug is a bar and burger joint that also serves as a place to watch a Michigan football game on Saturdays.
State Theater/Michigan Theater: Located in the heart of campus (and within a block from each other), these two theaters each have their own unique charms. Both run films that tend not to get wide releases, with the State focusing on fiction and the Michigan on documentaries (but both show films beyond their focus). The State has weekly midnight screenings, showing classic, cult classic, and “traditional midnight” films every Saturday. The Michigan features a pipe organ in the theater, with an organist playing before showtime, and is also home to the yearly student film festival.
Vault of Midnight: One of the best comic book shops I’ve ever been to. The staff is friendly and very knowledgeable and the selection is extensive. The shop consists of two floors, with the ground floor shelving new releases, trade paperbacks, and toys, and the basement serving as home to rare older issues and a mock-up of Buffy Summers’ tombstone.
Good Time Charley’s: Much more of a bar and place to watch football games than some of the above entries. Charley’s does serve food, which is pretty good, but the thing it’s most known for is its fishbowl Long Island iced teas. Not for the faint of heart.
Stucchi’s: With a couple locations around the city, Stucchi’s is a great place to get some ice cream. They carry about 15 to 20 flavors and make great sundaes and frozen drinks. Also, the company is local.