Where To Eat In Ann Arbor, Michigan

Above: Frita Batidos on East Washington Street in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan
Above: Frita Batidos on East Washington Street in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan

“What’s in Ann Arbor?” You’ll probably get asked this if you tell someone you’re traveling there. But this college town about an hour’s drive from Detroit is filled with superb restaurants, serving up everything from fantastic fried chicken to comforting Turkish cuisine—yes, in Ann Arbor. The city has long valued local produce—the farmer’s market is 94 years old—and thanks to ever more favourable shipping costs for restaurateurs, the huge foodie trend the world over and the cosmopolitan crowd the university draws from big cities, the food scene here is growing faster than ever.

Plan for a long weekend in this cute city and in between doing a tour of the Big House and visiting a few craft breweries, fill your belly well—here is where to eat in Ann Arbor.

Ayse’s Turkish Cafe

Don’t be dissuaded by the drab little complex of small business and restaurants of the neighbourhood mall where you’ll find Ayse’s Turkish Cafe. This delightful restaurant is the perfect spot to grab a delicious home-style meal for lunch. Start with grape leaves stuffed with lamb, and for your main, the chicken with plum stew is comforting with its balance of sweet and savoury. A side of the bright and refreshing carrot salad will round out your meal nicely.  Finish with a Turkish coffee for a sweet little buzz to get you through your afternoon.

The Ravens Club

If you’re looking for a fun night out with great grub, pop into The Ravens Club. This boisterous farm-to-table resto has people piling in for the craft cocktails and the flavourful gastropub fare. Don’t miss out on ordering the snacks—include the deviled eggs and pimiento grilled cheese—presented so handsomely on a board, you may not want to disturb its foodporn perfection. Don’t fill up on them, though, there are creamy grits made with honey butter, cheddar and chives to be devoured.

Vellum

For some fine dining (perhaps you’re taking out your lady friend for a fancy night out?), make your reservation at Vellum. The atmosphere is serene and elegant, so you’ll have to do your best to refrain from diving into your plate of fresh tagliatelle with scallops and asparagus. Encourage her to get the sea bass (served with brussel sprouts, parsnips and light lemon, olive oil and oregano sauce) so you can steal some off of her plate.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse

Rowdy and fun, Zingerman’s Roadhouse is where you have to ditch your eat-clean plan. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on superb juicy on the inside, and crispy on the outside fried chicken (it’s amongst the best we’ve ever had). Pile some mouthfuls of creamy Roadhouse mac-n-cheese on top of that, and we hope you’re wearing your fat-boy clothes, because it’d be a sin to skip Ari’s Donut Sundae, a Dutch donut piled with vanilla gelato, whipped cream , drizzled with bourbon-caramel sauce and finished with a sprinkling of Virginia peanuts that add a delectable salty crunch, and, of course, a cherry on top.

Frita Batidos

Top Chef fans and non-fans alike must make a pit stop into Frita Batidos. Chef Eve Aronoff was on season 6 of the TV show, but don’t get distracted by those 15 minutes of fame (along with many others—her many accolades include being  in the 2013 Compendium of Best Chefs America). Grab a seat at one of the communal picnic-style tables in the casual modern joint to enjoy her beyond tasty Cuban-inspired menu will have you wanting to book a vacation pronto to the Caribbean island. Try a frita, her take on the traditional Cuban burger of chorizo on a bun, but for us the stars of the menu are all of the sides: conch fritters so good you’ll swear you’re enjoying them oceanside, addictive salty crisped plantains with avocado spread and garlic-cilantro fries. Balance these fried savoury flavours with sips of a batido (a tropical milkshake)—the coconut cream one will round out beach vacation vibe you’ve got going on.

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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