A dining destination
A shortlist of Ann Arbor restaurants
Published: September 19, 2012
$=$5-$10; $$=$10-$25; $$$=$25-$50; $$$$= $50+
Afternoon Delight 251 E. Liberty St.; 734-665-7513; afternoondelightcafe.com; $: Open every day until 3 p.m., serving a variety of creative breakfast and lunch plates to an often — particularly on Sundays — out-the-door crowd.
Anthony's Gourmet Pizza 621 S. Main St.; 734-971-3555; anthonysgourmet.com; $$: The closest thing to Chicago-style deep dish in Ann Arbor, also serving Sicilian and "gourmet" deep dish (with a vegetarian option).
Aut Bar 315 Braun Court; 734-994-3677; autbar.com; $$: In the summer months, historic Kerrytown's Aut Bar spills out onto a quiet courtyard. Functioning as a restaurant and a bar, the second level is 21 and older only. And there's a popular Sunday brunch that has spilled over into weekday lunches. The Aut Bar caters to the LGBT community and their friends, families and allies.
Amadeus Cafe & Patisserie 122 E. Washington St.; 734-665-8767; amadeusrestaurant.com; $$: Like an old-world Vienna café serving a variety of traditional dishes from Central Europe, desserts, and a unique list of wines and beers. Candlelit dinners and live classical music on weekends make for romance. Closed Mondays.
Arbor Brewing Company 114 E. Washington St.; 734-213-1393; arborbrewing.com; $: This brewpub's drinkable house brews complement a menu of "upscale pub food." The award-winning spot hosts regular beer tastings for the serious fans, but it's also accessible for those wanting to try beer that brims with flavor.
Ashley's Restaurant and Pub 338 S. State St.; 734-996-9191; ashleys.com; $$: Upscale but casual, with dozens of beers on tap, a massive menu of bottled beer, and scores of single-malt scotches and small-batch bourbons. "Michigan's premier multitap," also serves a full menu of food, with popular choices being their round 8-slice pizzas, their burgers and their "specialty fries," including such flavors as pesto and bacon-cheddar-chives.
B.D.'s Mongolian Barbeque 200 S. Main St.; 734-913-0999; $: You know the drill: In the center of the dining room is a massive grill, staffed by "Natural Born Grillers," whipping up an endless array of meat, vegetables and spices, which you, the diner, select from a fresh, raw buffet and bring to them. You can't complain when you get what you want.
Bell's Diner 2167 W. Stadium Blvd.; 734-995-0226; $: Bell's seems to be a normal American diner — and, especially at breakfast, it's much like one. But its kitchen also excels at producing the Korean items on the menu, giving you a choice of bacon or bulgogi.
Black Pearl 302 S. Main St.; 734-222-0400; blackpearlonmain.com; $$$: A seafood and martini bar that aims for "comfortable and cool," well-suited for socializing and entertaining. Opens every day at 5 p.m. Becomes a lounge after 9 p.m.
Blue Nile 221 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor, 734-998-4746 Family-owned and operated, this western outpost of the Blue Nile Ethiopian dining mini-chain offers an unusual experience. Diners are handed piping-hot washcloths for their hands, and then the food, which is sponged up with bits of bread called injera. And the food, which can include meats but can also be veggie-only, is slow-cooked, healthful and delicious. Since it's all-you-can-eat, nobody will walk away hungry.
Blue Tractor 207 E. Washington St.; 734-222-4095; bluetractor.net; $$: Decorated in wood and rough metalwork, it exudes the feel of a big, rustic barn, ideally suited for serving up barbecue to 100 close friends. Blue Tractor offers combo plates ranging from two to all five of the meats. The largest is presented attractively, like a family-style dinner, certainly big enough for two people to share (and perhaps to take some home). Their Bumper Crop IPA isn't burdened with too much hoppiness and will wash down a plate of ribs pretty damn well. Beer-heads might consider going with a sampler of five or six beers, or asking about their rotating seasonal beers — recent seasonals on tap have included strawberry-and-cream ale, which the bartender called "creamy in body and mouthfeel, with a subtle finish of strawberries."
Brown Jug 1204 S. University Dr.; 734-761-3355; brownjug-annarbor.com; $: In the heart of U-M's campus since 1938, with walls festooned with Wolverine history and football memorabilia. Catch the game while enjoying more than nachos and cheese sticks, enjoying Greek sausage and even calamari.
Cafe Felix 204 S. Main St.; 734-662-8650; cafefelix.com; $$: The tradition of a European café holds true to form, with a prime wine assortment, coffee drinks and delicious food. Every finishing touch within the butter-colored walls is on point.
Cafe Zola 112 W. Washington St.; 734-769-2020; cafezola.com; $$$: One of the more comfortable restaurants in Ann Arbor. Mains have included lamb chops a la Turque, flat-iron steak with garlicky chimichurri sauce, and ahi tuna in a sesame-seed crust with wasabi butter. The wine list, a thoughtful if somewhat pricey one, contains a handful of relatively obscure bottles in the high 20s to the middle 30s. In season, a sizable outdoor patio beckons.
Carson's American Bistro 2000 Commonwealth Blvd.; 888-456-3463; carsonsamericanbistro.com; $$$: Good, solid American fare includes both turf (filet mignon, rib-eye steaks, prime rib, tender beef medallions) and surf (crab cakes, cedar planked salmon, blackened tilapia, Parmesan-crusted lemon sole), and a few more affordable sandwiches (such as a bistro burger or bison burger). Then again, this is Ann Arbor, so expect smoothies and gluten-free options as well. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
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