Food, food, food! An Eater’s guide to Ann Arbor

American Life, School News, Student Life

See a PDF version of this guide here: An Eater’s Guide to Ann Arbor

by Ezra Min

Looking for a quick meal or a spot for your next downtown hangout? Ann Arbor’s diverse culinary scene is sure to satisfy your cravings — there’s truly something for everyone. Here’s my quick guide to Ann Arbor’s eateries and dessert options.

Quick and Easy Bites (<$15/person)

  1. Blimpy Burger: Blimpy’s juicy and customizable burgers have been featured on American food TV for decades. Just be sure to read the posted placards telling you exactly how to order — the workers are trained to be strict! (If you do need help though, just ask!)
  2. Jamaican Jerk Pit: Be sure to try the Jamaican beef patties. They also have spicy jerk chicken, rice, and peas for a more hearty meal. 
  3. Fat Daddy’s HOT Chicken & Waffles: As long as you don’t mind the grease, Fat Daddy’s might have the best chicken sandwiches in the entire city. Menu highlights include the Mac Daddy (fried chicken, pickles, sauce, and mac and cheese in a bun) and the Suga Momma (sweet-ranch glazed chicken sandwich with donuts instead of bread). 

Honorable mentions for quick bites go to Ricewood (Asian-fusion BBQ bowls), New York Pizza Depot, and Le Dog = La Soup (try the chicken tortilla soup!)

Sit-Down Foodie Fare ($15-25/person)

  1. Tomukun Noodle Bar and Tomukun Korean BBQ: These next-door neighbor restaurants are out of this world. Try the Noodle Bar’s creamy and belly-warming pork belly ramen. Be sure to visit KBBQ with a group as cooking your own assortment of meats on the tabletop grill is best experienced with more people — more people = more meats = more fun!
  2. Frita Batidos: The Cuban-inspired burgers, “fritas”, and milkshakes, “batidos”, at Frita Batidos are a combo that goes unmatched throughout Ann Arbor. This fusion restaurant is a must-visit.
  3. Chela’s Restaurant: Chela’s is a citywide favorite — the authentic Mexican tacos, burritos, and tamales are all prepared in a cozy family-owned bustling diner. Top menu highlights include the tortas, loaded burritos, and anything al pastor.

Honorable mentions in this category go to Zingerman’s Deli (legendary Reubens and other sandwiches), Jerusalem Garden (Middle Eastern), and Avalon Cafe and Kitchen (American with great vegetarian and vegan options).

Pricey but Worth It (>$25/person)

  1. Zingerman’s Roadhouse: Zingerman’s Roadhouse is all about American comfort food. From mouthwatering BBQ to multiple mac and cheese variants to decadent desserts, every dish is sure to delight.
  2. Knight’s Steakhouse: A classic A2 mainstay, Knight’s is perfect for dates, work dinners, receptions, or a night out. Obviously known for its steaks, a more affordable option is Knight’s wide assortment of delicious pasta dishes.
  3. Gandy Dancer: Housed in a beautifully restored train station, indulge in fresh seafood and elegant entrees at one of Ann Arbor’s finest restaurants. The seafood dishes are known across the city as some of the best!


Ann Arbor is serious about dessert. First up, ice cream — these sweet frosty treats will keep you cool throughout the warmer months! Top picks include Blank Slate, Washtenaw Dairy, and Milk & Froth. Washtenaw Dairy is especially well-known for its massive portions at reasonable prices. The others make their much pricier ice cream in-house but are equally worth the buck. Expect around $5/cone — though the Dairy will give you much more ice cream for the money!

Here’s a rapid-fire list of the many downtown boba spots — there’s nearly one on every street corner! Humble cups of tapioca and milk tea can set you back as much as $5-$7 per cup, though!

  • Ding Tea
  • Sweeting
  • Quickly
  • Coco
  • Sharetea
  • Tea Ninja
  • UniTea
  • Jasmine

Top flavor picks amongst locals are taro, mango, and Thai.

Ann Arbor also has an assortment of various bakeries, beloved by all who love sweets!

  • Miss Fields Cookies
  • Crumbl Cookies
  • Insomnia Cookies
  • Big City Small World Bakery
  • Tous Les Jours

Baked treats vary in prices but are all largely reasonable.


From quick bites to indulgent desserts, Ann Arbor offers a culinary adventure for everyone. Enough reading — it’s time to explore the city and get ready to eat your way through Ann Arbor!