Great fare in A-square
A shortlist of dining spots in Ann Arbor
Published: August 3, 2011
$=$5-$10; $$=$10-$25; $$$=$25-$50; $$$$= $50+
Afternoon Delight 251 E. Liberty St.; 734-665-7513; afternoondelightcafe.com; $: Open every day until 3 p.m., serving a variety of creative breakfast and lunch plates to an often — particularly on Sundays — out-the-door crowd. Catering service available.
Anthony's Gourmet Pizza 621 S. Main St.; 734-971-3555; anthonysgourmet.com; $$: 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; $$: In the summer months, historic Kerrytown's Aut Bar spills out onto a quiet courtyard. Functioning as a restaurant and a bar, the second level is 21 and older only. And, since 1986, there's been a popular Sunday brunch (10 a.m-3 p.m.) and, more recently, even a weekday lunch (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.). For brunch, Mexican specialties are standouts, including breakfast burritos or huevos motulenos. The Aut Bar caters to the LGBT community and their friends, families and allies.
Amadeus Cafe & Patisserie 122 E. Washington St.; 734-665-8767; amadeusrestaurant.com; $$: 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; $$: Upscale but casual, with dozens of beers on tap, a massive menu of bottled beer, and scores of single-malt scotches and small-batch bourbons. Open Monday- Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m., noon- midnight on Sundays.
B.D.'s Mongolian Barbeque 200 S. Main St.; 734-913-0999; $: This place gives new meaning to the term "open kitchen." In the center of the dining room is a massive grill, staffed by "Natural Born Grillers," whipping up an endless array of meat, vegetables and spices. Don't complain about the food, or the size of the portion. Not because the chef is wielding a large oak stick, but because you are responsible for choosing raw meat and accompaniments from the buffet. If you're unsure of good combos, the staff has some suggestions. Very high energy on the weekends.
Bell's Diner 2167 W. Stadium Blvd.; 734-995-0226; $: Bell's seems to be a normal American diner — and, especially at breakfast, it's much like one. But its kitchen also excels at producing the Korean items on the menu, giving you a choice of bacon or bulgogi.
Ben and Jerry's 304 S. State St.; 734-665-4440; benjerry.com; $: In progressive Ann Arbor, it's a given that the hippie-founded ice cream empire has a location.
Big City Organic Coffee 2370 E. Stadium Blvd.; 877-822-8772; bigcitycoffee.com; $$: Progressive caffeine aficionados in Ann Arbor will enjoy BC's pledge to brew and distribute only certified organic, fair-trade, ethically sourced beans from around the world. Stop in to buy a bag or have it delivered to your door.
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 ($14.95) to all five ($26.95) 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.
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.
> Email Michael Jackman