A shortlist of some notable Ann Arbor eateries
Published: October 27, 2010
Carson's American Bistro 2000 Commonwealth Blvd.; 888-456-3463; $$$: Good, solid American fare such as steaks and chops, but with gluten-free options too. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays; 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays; noon-9 p.m. Sundays.
Casey's Tavern 304 Depot St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-6775; caseys-tavern.com; $$: Thick burgers with a slew of topping choices (think grilled mushrooms, guacamole and bleu cheese) are Casey's signature, courteously offered as either turkey, veggie or beef burger. Don't worry about a parking garage, since it's just outside the downtown cramp. Casey's is classic and classy.
The Chop House 322 S. Main St.; 888-456-3463; thechophouserestaurant.com; $$: Luxurious, comfortable and pushily elegant, serving prime beef, fine grain-fed protein and exceptional premium wines. Opens at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 4 p.m. Sundays.
Crazy Wisdom Tea Room 114 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-9468; crazywisdom.com; $: The ground floor twinkles wholesomely with spiritual paraphernalia. Upstairs, enjoy a pot of tea or coffee with a view of Main Street. Live acoustic sounds some nights. Call for details.
Dominick's 812 Monroe, Ann Arbor; 734-662-5414; $$: Nestled in a quiet Ann Arbor neighborhood at Monroe and State Streets, Casa Dominick's is a almost-50-year-old sidewalk cafe. Suffused with ample outdoor seating, Dominick's porches, balconies, courtyards, and outdoor fountain welcome those who love fair weather March though November. More an "afternoon spot" than a nighttime hangout, this informal oasis is open until 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. It's a favorite after-work or lunch destination for townies, city workers, professors and students alike. No waitstaff here — the menu is written in colored chalk on boards above the counter. And although Dominick's may be more famous for their selection of beers on tap, don't miss their house recipe sangria and special invention "constant buzz" (a fruity frozen drink) served in Mason jars. Closed Sundays.
The Earle 121 W. Washington, Ann Arbor; 734-994-0211; theearle.com; $$$: The vault-like Earle is an Ann Arbor legend, with its candlelit tables, imaginative kitchen and live jazz. Start in the elegant wine bar with its daily specials or check the 30-page wine list. Happy hour 5-8 p.m. Monday-Friday. Open 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Fridays; 5:45-11 p.m. Saturdays; 5-8:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Sundays for the summer.
Earthen Jar 311 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-327-9464; earthenjar.com; $: Catering to vegetarian tastes, their signature "mostly vegan buffet" is heavily Indian influenced, with hints of Pakistani (yellow lentil dal moong), Italian (tofu lasagna) and even dishes of the American South (turnip greens). It presents a hodgepodge of an herbivore's feast.
Eve: The Restaurant 415 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-222-0711; evetherestaurant.com; $$$: Our local showcase for the slow food movement is a bit pricy, but does not disappoint. Under the guidance of Top Chef contestant Eve Aronoff, the restaurant pulls together farm-fresh food, naturally raised proteins and an extensive wine list, making for memorable meals. This restaurant is open for dinner only. Closed Mondays.
Fleetwood Diner 300 S. Ashley, Ann Arbor; 734-995-5502; $: The only 24-hour diner in downtown Ann Arbor, this is genuine greasy spoon eating. The Fleetwood looks like a small trailer propped atop the hill at Ashley and Liberty, packing in cheap-breakfast seekers on a dozen bar stools and at a handful of tables.
Gandy Dancer 401 Depot St., Ann Arbor; 734-769-0592; $$$: One of Ann Arbor's most popular restaurants offers a daily menu of fresh fish, seafood, steaks, and pastas in a historic brick and granite structure. Live jazz during the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday brunch. Known to U-M students as the place to take Mom and Dad (when they're picking up the tab, that is).
Gratzi 326 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-6387; $$$: One of Gratzi's most popular offerings is the antipasti buffet, where a little sign informs you that the items are changed every three hours, for freshness. This seems unnecessary in a joint with pretensions to class, but never mind: The grilled vegetables; marinated olives and mushrooms; prosciutto, cappicola and sopressata make for hearty appetizers. An extensive wine list is Italian and American, with bottles ranging from $20 up. Gratzi offers fish, chicken, veal, pork and beef dishes as well, including an Angus porterhouse.
Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. 120 W. Washington, Ann Arbor; 734-741-7325; grizzlypeak.net; $$: Grizzly Peak has the feel of a restrained hunting lodge that enjoys its own history more than its kills (you'll find a mounted buck or two, but the exposed brick interior tends to remain neutrally bare). But the award-winning beer is the real centerpiece. Some specialty brews go fast — call for detailed offerings.
Heidelberg Restaurant 215 N. Main, Ann Arbor; 734-663-7758; heidelbergrestaurant.com; $$: With the facade sign imploring "Eat, drink, dance and be merry," it's not kidding. With a 50-year-plus tradition of bringing Ann Arbor's German roots alive, it boasts a genuine rathskeller (a German-style basement bar) complete with German wheat beers and lagers; the dining room offers schnitzels, wursts and other German plates; and the Club Above plays host to entertainment. Call for details.
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