Good places to eat in Ann Arbor

Submitted by turfboy on January 2nd, 2010 at 8:51 AM

i have clients and their young kids coming with me to osu hoops game tomorrow...any suggestions on good places to go (keeping kids in mind)wanted to try something new besides a chain when we come into the way, any idea how will the crowd be for this one?



January 2nd, 2010 at 9:08 AM ^

It's a little more pricey but the food is very good. They have a kids menu, too. You'll need a car, though, because it's not walking distance from Crisler. Check out the Zingerman's website for the menu and address - I think it's on Jackson.

Also, anything on Main is closer to the stadium. Hopefully someone else will post about some of those places. I haven't been to Real Seafood in years, so I'm not sure how that is, and there are a couple of Italian places I haven't been to, as well. Good luck, and go blue!


January 2nd, 2010 at 9:14 AM ^

I can't tell how fancy of a place you're looking for. The word "client" suggests to me that it should be reasonably high-end (though kid friendly). I'm also assuming that you're looking for lunch/brunch, and not a full-blown breakfast (favorite breakfast: Afternoon Delight or Seva).

If you have a car, the best place to eat in Ann Arbor is Zingerman's Roadhouse in the Westgate plaza. It's kid-friendly, but does really delicious, fairly-expensive Southern comfort food. On the weekends, they do my favorite brunch item ever: the Grits-n-Bits Waffle. It's a waffle stuffed with grits, bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese, served with real maple syrup. If you dig the savory + sweet combo, you'll be in heaven.

If you want something less formal, Zingerman's Deli in Kerrytown is an Ann Arbor institution. It does high-end sandwiches with sides like potato salad or mac-and-cheese. Definitely kid-approved (unless we're talking about babies?).

If you're looking for lower on the price scale (i.e., if by "chain" you mean MacDonald's rather than Olive Garden), you'll want to hit up Blimpy Burger. A short drive or a long walk from the arena, they do a delicious greasy burger with signature surly service. The key to the burger is customizability, so explore the menu fully. My favorite: Triple w/ fried egg, hard salami, bleu cheeze, grilled onions, banana peppers, stone ground mustard, and lettuce on a pumpernickel roll. Add in some fried mixed veggies or onion rings. :)


January 2nd, 2010 at 9:18 AM ^

There are a ton of good choices on Main Street. Palio's and Middle Kingdom are both pretty good, family-friendly restaurants with enough ambiance to be client and child appropriate.


October 6th, 2010 at 1:21 PM ^

I'm with MGoBlue95 on Palio's. It's a nice, relaxed, reasonably priced restaurant. It's on Main Street so afterwards you can stroll around town or find a bar if you want. During the warm months check out the sangria on the rooftop deck which has a different menu than the regular restaurant.

And coming from a Palio's alumnus, toss the bartender or server a few extra bucks.


January 2nd, 2010 at 9:19 AM ^

thanks guys that helps - yes, mid to high end and kid friendly is fine...they are also good friends an have some buckeye ties some i'm trying to show them what a great place AA chains i meant i was tired of taking them to the "outbacks", etc - was looking for something with some UM memorabilia possibly, something "AA authentic" so to speak...i've had these guys for years and have already dined them on $100 steaks - they just want a good quick eat and off to hoops game...thanks again


January 2nd, 2010 at 9:30 AM ^

IMO, i'd say cottage inn/pizza house is more kid friendly than zingermans/zingermans road house.

per the crowd -- i wouldn't be surprised to see a harem of osu fans there (and especially obnoxious after their rose bowl W); they've always seemed to travel well to crisler, when we played OSU in 2007 during spring break, there were probably 30-40% ohio state fans.

el segundo

January 2nd, 2010 at 11:00 AM ^

I can't agree that Pizza House is better or more kid friendly, especially not if the poster's guests have been treated to $100 steaks in the past and if the poster wants to point out something special about Ann Arbor.

Pizza House is pretty ordinary. Several things on the menu are good, but there is a lot that is just like anything you can find at a million different places. Look at how long the menu is. You can't have that many different dishes on the menu without having quite a few that just come straight out of the Sysco package.

This is a small example, but a telling one. I went to Pizza House with a friend recently. I had intended to take her to University Cafe for Korean, but it was closed. She was cold, so we just went across the street. She ordered a "mocha." When it came, she could barely drink it. The server noticed and asked if it was ok. My friend said, "no, it's really not." The server said, "I know. It's just regular coffee with some hot chocolate mixed in. A lot of people order it and expect a real mocha and then they're disappointed." She didn't charge us for it. But why have something like that on a menu when the staff knows it sucks, when the customers often complain about it, and when it's just not made properly and is not what it pretends to be? I think it says something about the way the management makes decisions about the menu. And it shows a little bit of contempt for the customers.

Everything at either Zingerman's is first rate, and there is plenty of stuff on the menu that kids of any age will like. Both the deli and the Roadhouse are truly unique and in the first rank of restaurants around the country. If you want to impress someone with Ann Arbor, go there.

I'm not saying Pizza House is horrible. It does some things well. I'd go there again for a chipati or a few other things. But there are places like Pizza House everywhere, including Columbus. The only way in which Pizza House meets the poster's criteria is that it has lots of Michigan paraphenalia on the walls.


January 2nd, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

""I know. It's just regular coffee with some hot chocolate mixed in. A lot of people order it and expect a real mocha and then they're disappointed." She didn't charge us for it. But why have something like that on a menu when the staff knows it sucks, when the customers often complain about it, and when it's just not made properly and is not what it pretends to be?"

I had the exact same "WTF?" at the Cottage Inn after the Western game - I ordered a Caesar salad, they gave me a house salad with tomatoes and onion and some Parmesan sprinkled on top. I think it even had ranch dressing (one of the top five reasons Americans are fat IMHE).

I asked if they were sure this was the right thing, the manager came out and explained that was how he made a Caesar salad. I came close to accusing him of false advertising and he took it off the bill.

I could understand if it was an item for which restaurant variance was part of the deal, but every single other Caesar I had ever had was identical to the others with this one being the outlier.


January 2nd, 2010 at 9:43 AM ^

Grizzly Peak has good food and hand crafted beers. Kids are not a problem. Pizza House is also a winner. If you go to Pizza House I strongly recommend the meatball sub followed up by a strawberry milkshake. Great shakes!


January 2nd, 2010 at 10:34 AM ^

if you're looking for quintissential ann arbor brunch, you can't go wrong with angelos or northside grill (my personal fave). food is cheap, but amazingly tasty. service is great.


January 2nd, 2010 at 11:00 AM ^

The Fleetwood Diner (aka Greasewood) in quintessential Ann Arbor but probably won't impress the clients (do they still sell Muther's Oats?). For my son the teenager it would be Mongolian BBQ which I guess is a sort of chain.

Sgt. Wolverine

January 2nd, 2010 at 11:44 AM ^

Pizza House isn't really unique to Ann Arbor -- I recently ate ate a Pizza House in East Lansing. Same name, same logo, same menu. Just different stuff on the walls. (I unwittingly went there the day of MSU's winter graduation, so the place also happened to be full of new MSU graduates. I had to hold back countless jokes.)

I'd vote for the Cottage Inn restaurant or Grizzly Peak. Both are excellent.


January 2nd, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

Since they may still be closed for the holiday break. Got mine and my boys' haircut at State St. Barber Shop on New Year's Eve and had my face fixed for Bob's. Alas, closed due to the break. Maybe they'll open up for the game on Sunday.


January 2nd, 2010 at 12:20 PM ^

Grizzly Peak or Pizza House for classy dinner, with a hint of chain without looking like an Applebbes/Fridays.

People bring kids into Arbor Brew and Blue Tractor, but I would not unless they are over 10. Arbor is more about being a beer pub with good pub food, BT is more about having good food (almost as good as Griz, and better beer than GP).

The Red Hawk is good burgers, but not so kid friendly for dinner. I love Ashleys, but no way for kids.

I know I am in the minority here, but I think Zingermans is overpriced and overhyped. However, they are famous for new york fancy style deli and for their 'experience' (customer service at a upper middle class NY level) and it is the place your clients are most likely to have heard of.

Ann Arbor is where I fell in love with BD's, but now they are a chain and you can go to one anywhere.

Heidelberg would be good if they want good family dining without a chain, but it is nothing impressive for showing a client a great time.

If you really want to show off, and do not mind a $80 per person check, Gandy Dancer. They do very fine dining and know how to feed kids.

If you want to show off for their wives, take them into Vinology for a pre or post dinner sampler. The kids should behave long enough for the women to get three half glasses down, and women love that place like they love Tiffany's in New York.


January 2nd, 2010 at 2:16 PM ^

I'll add a few restaurants to the list that seem to be missed so far. I assume you are not looking for inexpensive.

If you want a very nice dinner, Eve is a place we go to on occasion. The food is excellent and interesting. Try their nachos as an appetizer - not your conventional nachos by any stretch, or their mussels. Amazing. You will generally need a reservation. Very nice ambience also.

Grizzly Peak is also good, but somewhat noisy if you and your client want to discuss business. Their hanger steak is very good.

Pacific Rim is an Asian fusion restaurant that is very good. Any of their tuna dishes are worth a try. Their specials are very good and often very interesting.

As others have mentioned, on Main Street there is the Chop House, a steak place, which can be very good. Some of the side dishes are worth a try - creamed corn or garlic mashed potatoes are very good. Their steaks are excellent but pricey. We listen to their waiters who often have good recommendations.

Grazie, next door to the Chop House, has very good Italian food. The restaurant can be crowded at times, but you can get a very good, albeit not an inexpensive meal.

My family is a combined Zingerman's fan club. I love the deli but, unlike a few of you, we are rather equivocal about the Roadhouse. We find their food to be good, but not great, and somewhat expensive for what you get. I think the deli is superb. Best corned beef sandwich outside of NYC and the best BLT on the planet. Their assortment of cheeses, meats, balsamic vinegar, etc. is nothing short of amazing. Zingerman's personnel are extremely generous with samples. Zingerman's and their several subsidiaries are an Ann Arbor institution, founded by a couple of Michigan grads in the '80's and frequently used as a model at the Ross School of Business as one of the best small companies in the US.

Kind of missed the young kids part - Eve and Pacific Rim are two places where I would not take young kids, and possibly the Chop House. The other places would be fine.


January 2nd, 2010 at 2:04 PM ^

First of all...props to you for avoiding chain restaurants. have soooo many options so I'll try to hit two that haven't been mentioned (or that I didn't notice because I'm lazy and didn't read everything).

-Prickley Pear: On Main street. Great Tex-Mex without any of the Chi-Chi's type of fake atmosphere and bad food. Kids and adults should love it.

-Coffee Break (might be called "Kang's" but my generation calls it "Coffee Break"): On South U by Washtenaw. If the kids are adventurous and you want Korean; this spot is excellent. A2 is one of the only places where you can eat Korean goodness in an old American diner style.


January 2nd, 2010 at 2:47 PM ^

zingerman's deli is first class all the way. since you'll be expensing, you shouldn't have issue with the lofty price tag for a deli sandwich. as far as deli sandwiches go though, it doesnt get any better. the best nyc delis dont hold a candle to zingermans. good, fresh, ingredients. plenty of options for kids. this is probably top-o-the-list recommend to out-of-towners classic ann arbor food fare. taste of the town is always at zingermans on game day.

zingerman's roadhouse is the comfort food sit-down cousin of zingerman's deli. fresh ingredients and produce. a fun menu including 5 variations of mac and cheese. there is something for everyone here. kids no problem here whatsoever and will offer menu items theyll enjoy.

cottage inn pizza. def a one-of-a-kind pizza. not the best pizza ever, but its pretty good. i would strongly suggest this over pizza house. has more of a true restaurant feel to it. this is a place the teams often bring recruits. just a general overall crowd pleaser. will have something for everyone and is def family friendly.

i would stick to those with the kids. if you didnt have the kids with you, maybe you branch out to some of a2's 'finer' restaurants.

some other 'safe' options where the food isnt bad, atmosphere will work- but no one will walk away impressed: good time charley's, grizzly peak, red hawk

in response to some of the other threads above. do NOT goto:

pancheros --- mexican fast food, think poor man's chipotle

knights --- in no way shape or form is this as good as the chop house- if you custy wants a good steak, chophouse is your only option in a2.

brown jug --- very a2, only problem is, the food is awful

fleetwood diner --- unless your cusomter has a serious weed game and you plan on arriving to town between 4-7am.

spots --- is basically a takeout place for wings and cheesesteaks

pizza bobs --- unless a milkshake counts as lunch (the rest of their food is barely edible)

any restaurant on main street --- just want jive with the kids.