As a growing “Foodie” destination, Ann Arbor has some really excellent restaurants, bars and brewpubs. My top recommendations include:
Pacific Rim by kana: At 114 W. Liberty, this is an Asian fusion restaurant. With a contemporary décor and creative menu, this is a great spot to try. The Japanese-style sablefish entrée marinated in miso and sake, pan roasted with a soy-tamarind sauce and served over sautéed napa cabbage, shitake mushrooms and Korean vermicelli noodle is really exceptional.
Zingerman’s Road House, 2501 Jackson Ave.: A part of Zingerman’s, with large indoor and outdoor dining options. The brunch items are excellent. There is also a drive up window in an old trailer outside that features coffee and sandwiches. The eggs benedict and coffee drinks are excellent! They offer special dinners on a regular basis each with a different theme or featuring a different local purveyor. It was named a semifinalist for the 2020 James Beard Award for Outstanding Hospitality.
Sava’s: At 216 S. State St., near the University, the Art Museum and the theaters, this is a great spot for lunch or brunch. There is indoor and attractive outdoor seating along the side. The Bang Bank Shrimp and Shrimp and Quinoa were big hits. They do have great brunch items as well.
Café Zola at 112 W. Washington is known for its international cuisine and wines. For their brunch menu, they use the freshest and best ingredients for their omelettes, crêpes, waffles, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrées and pastries For lunch and dinner they feature salads, seafood, steaks and pastas. I went for brunch and loved the crab cake benedict which consisted of a toasted and buttered Wolferman’s english muffin, organic egg, lemon-chive crème fraiche. I also liked the design and atmosphere of the cafe.
Taste Kitchen: Located at 621 E. Liberty St., Taste Kitchen is a bar and restaurant offering American dishes with a French and Asian twist. I enjoyed the experience with a local friend.
Other good options from my local sources include:
Frita Batidos, 117 W. Washington: Serving Cuban inspired street food and batidos, or fruit shakes, with sweetened milk.
Vinology: A recommended wine bar and restaurant at 110 S. Main St.
Slurping Turtle: Just opened off State St. at 608 E. Liberty is a branch of Takashi Yagihashi’s former Slurping Turtle, the Bib Gourmand restaurant in Chicago. They feature tapas, noodles, sushi and sake.
The Chop House for steaks, Mani Osteria & Bar for wood-fired pizza and Italian small plates, Le Dog + La Soup for soup and hot dogs and Isalita for Mexican standards are other recommendations.
Also recommended on Washington Street, one block north of Liberty are a wide range of dining establishments. They include Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery for barbecue, Aventura for Spanish tapas and The Blue Nile for Ethiopian specialties. Aventura is owned by the same group as Sava’s mentioned above.
On my recent trip I had dinner at Aventura. I really enjoyed the tapas and the seafood paella. 216 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor is also becoming a growing destination for microbreweries. Recommended spots to visit include Arbor Brewing and their downtown brewpub at 114 E. Washington plus HopCat at 311 Maynard which is a bar featuring regional, global and Belgian beers. You also might enjoy the Jolly Pumpkin Ann Arbor for food and craft beer at 311 S. Main St. At 211 E. Washington St., Mash is speakeasy -style bar featuring bourbon, whiskey, cocktails and beer bar also with live music. They also brew their own beers.
Grizzly Peak Brewing Company is a local brewing company and brewpub where you can taste one of their ales, lagers, IPAs and porters. They also feature a food menu of soups, salads, pizzas, sandwiches and main courses with an emphasis on local ingredients. 120 W. Washington St.
For cocktails you should check out The Last Word, a hip speakeasy downstairs bar, which is popular for classic cocktails, many whiskeys plus local craft beers and wine. They also have a creative food menu. 301 W. Huron St. I enjoyed the atmosphere and my old fashioned cocktail before my dinner at Aventura. The Blue Llama Jazz Club has cocktails, live music and tasty food. 314 S. Main
Eater Detroit also recommends The Earle, a fine-dining restaurant featuring French and Italian specialities along with live music.
Spencer is a highly recommended local farm-to-table spot that it now offering a prix fixe for it dinner menu that rotates every two weeks. 113 E. Liberty.
On my next trip, I would like to try Amadeus Restaurant at 122 E. Washington St. It specializes in Polish, Hungarian and Austrian fare served in an old-world cafe with live classical music on weekends.