A dining destination
A shortlist of Ann Arbor restaurants
Published: September 19, 2012
Jamaican Jerk Pit 314 S. Thayer St., Ann Arbor; 734-585-5278; irierestaurant.com; $$: Serving jerk chicken, jerk pork and various other Caribbean delicacies under the guidance of chef Robert Campbell.
Jerusalem Garden 307 S. Fifth Ave.; 734-995-5060; jerusalemgarden.net; $: The brick garden patio is the perfect accompaniment to Jerusalem Garden. It covers the basics for less than $5 or $6: falafel with baba ghanouj and hummus options, shawarma, kebabs.
Jolly Pumpkin Cafe and Brewery 311 S. Main St.; 734-913-2730; jollypumpkin.com; $$: While pub-like in atmosphere, the food is a bit more up-to-date. Expect tofu cracklings, French fries flavored with rosemary and truffle salt, and a butcher's snack board of cured meats and more. There is no real entrée menu as such. A small list of daily specials is offered, such as broiled walleye and mushroom risotto. The rest of the list consists of salads, sandwiches and pizza. Children are considered with an entire section of their own. And, of course, there is the beer. Diners not yet familiar with Jolly Pumpkin beers might want to ease into the experience with something slightly tamer, like a North Peak Amber Ale. But hardcore fans will likely find the cask ale to be the liquid they want in their glass.
La Dolce Vita 322 S. Main St.; 734-669-9977; $: Located inside the Chop House restaurant. Offering the finest in after-dinner pleasures, including chocolaty cakes, fruity tortes, mousse parfait and more.
Logan 115 W. Washington St.; 734-327-2312; logan-restaurant.com; $$$: The eclectic fare, which emphasizes Asia and the Caribbean, is reflected in the appetizers. For example, Thad brilliantly executes a platter of four crispy Chinese pork dumplings atop cilantro, laced with a subtle, tamarind-infused tomato sauce. Although the portion size will disappoint those hoping to share, the tuna tartare, a small mound of yellowfin folded into a dijon-thyme dressing, is a pleasing delicacy. Other appetizers include broiled mussels and crab cake.
Mark's Carts 211 W. Washington St.; markscartsannarbor.com; $: Not a restaurant, but a food court filled with food carts, this is the brainchild of Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden, as well as the food court and commissary kitchen behind it. Hodesh, who opened the Fleetwood Diner in 1972, decided to take the rear property he couldn't rent and turn it into a kitchen and court for carts. Open since last spring, they have several carts up and running, serving food that ranges from ethnic to vegan.
Mani Osteria & Bar 341 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-769-6700; maniosteria.com; $$$: This Italian restaurant has embraced the national trends toward comfortable dining and shareable plates, adding energy and buzz to the area between State and Main streets. Inside, the bar and several high tables occupy the front area, and a few stairs lead to the main floor. An open kitchen overlooks everything, and the glow of wood-fired ovens set into the tiled cooking space is visible across the spacious, contemporary dining room. Meeting the growing demand for better drinks even at casual establishments, Mani offers some creative cocktails. Most are thematically on point, featuring ingredients of Italian provenance: Carpano Antica vermouth, prosecco, Campari, and so on. When ordering, one will find a long, thoroughly appetizing list of small, shareable antipasti plates. Try as many as you can.
Melange Bistro Wine Bar 314 S. Main St.; 734-222-0202; $$: Unique dining experience, casual, sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere in a contemporary, subterranean bistro. Eurasian eclectic cuisine infused with worldly ingredients. Happy hour 4-6 p.m. weekdays. Closed Sundays.
The Melting Pot 309 S. Main St.; 734-622-0055; $$$: A new way of dining mixed with an old favorite, the Melting Pot brings back the fun of fondue. Dipping an assortment of breads, vegetables and apples in your choice of cheese fondue allows you to dictate your desired taste.
Old Town Tavern 122 W. Liberty St.; 734-662-9291; oldtownaa.com; $$: A tavern since 1867, the brick walls are covered in old photos and playbills, and the wood floor and tin ceiling radiate history. Reliable menu, always a Bell's beer on tap, and window tables excellent for people-watching.
Palio 347 S. Main St.; 734-930-6156; paliorestaurant.com; $$$: Italian fare in a convivial setting, with the usual pastas, lasagnas and chicken, veal and fish options. High culinary standards.
Pizza Bob's 814 S. State St.; 734-665-4517; pizzabobs.net; $: It's about $7 for a 10-incher with pepperoni. Kinder still, you can share a 16-incher with same for $6 each. Lunch, dinner, takeout and delivery.
Prickly Pear Southwest Café 328 S. Main St.; 734-930-0047; pricklypearcafe.com; $$: Unique Southwestern dining in a lively decorated and casual atmosphere, serving scallop quesadillas, sweet potato enchiladas and sought-after margaritas.
Real Seafood Company 341 S. Main St.; 888-456-3463; realseafoodcorestaurant.com $$$: Comfortable, casual and sporting a great seafood menu, this "unchain" does it all, from fresh pastas to raw bar delicacies.
Red Hawk 316 S. State St.; 734-994-4004; redhawkannarbor.com; $: A nice stop for a hot sandwich or a glass of uptown brew after scoring at the bookstores on Liberty Street. The burgers are 7-ounce wonders, available with more than a dozen toppings, some unusual, like dill pickle chips.
Seva 314 E. Liberty St.; 734-662-1111; sevarestaurant.com; $$: A few steps above the street, the raised patio offers diners a bit of respite from the foot, bike and car traffic criss-crossing downtown Ann Arbor. The eclectic dishes change weekly and range the globe (from Ethiopian to Mexican, Indian to Italian), converting traditional meat-based fare into vegetarian or vegan. They also offer a full bar and juice bar, smoothies and cocktails (all juices fresh squeezed, right down to the margarita lime), along with an extensive wine list. But these all-in-house-made offerings come at a moderate price. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays; half-priced wine on Tuesdays.
Sweetwater's Cafe 123 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor, 734-769-2331; 407 N. Fifth Ave.;734-622-0084; 3393 Plymouth Rd.;734-327-6330; $$: Three clean-lined, wood-floored, pricey-baked-good-stocked locations — one in historic Kerrytown, one just a block from Main Street and Liberty, and one at Plymouth Green Crossings — position Sweetwater's as the sophisticated café choice in Ann Arbor. Signature coffees include the Dragon Eye (house coffee and condensed milk) and the Monkey Cap (a chocolate cappuccino).
Vinology 110 S. Main St.; 734-222-9841; vinowinebars.net; $$$: The Jonna family's Ann Arbor wine shop aims to educate people about wine. And flights of wine are paired with delicate small plates to heighten everybody's enjoyment.
Weber's Restaurant 3050 Jackson Rd.; 734-665-3636; www.webersinn.com/restaurant; $$: Fitted inside this deluxe, full-service hotel, founded in 1937 by Herman Weber, this restaurant is still owned and operated by the Weber family. Sunday brunch.
Zingerman's Delicatessen 422 Detroit St.; 734-663-3354; zingermanscommunity.com; $$: Opened in March of 1982 by Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, the deli served as the foundation for the extended Zingerman's kingdom of today, which includes Zingerman's Next Door (422 Detroit St.; 734-663-5282; $$), as fine a deli as anyone could wish for, and Zingerman's Roadhouse (2501 Jackson Ave.; 734-663-3663; $$$) American food served in a setting that harks back to the day when weary travelers could recharge with a comforting meal by the roadside.
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