I am a senior, which means, unfortunately, I’m graduating this year. It’s one of those statements that you refuse to believe is true until you say it out loud and let the reality of impending adulthood, 401(k)s (literally what are those?), and
sober semi sober Thursday evenings set in. These four words, “I am a senior” solidify the fact that I am, indeed, washed up and nearing the end.
And, as depressing as that sounds, that’s not to say that I (and all other seniors) aren’t going out with a freaking bang and a tattoo of a Wolverine on our lower backs (I’m half kidding). So, in order to ensure that this final year is everything it should be and putting the wisdom I’ve gained in my elder years to good use, I’m providing you with the base guide of where to go to eat and drink around Ann Arbor, depending on what you’re looking for.
1. Where to go when you’re sick of Starbucks: Espresso Royale
As polarizing as the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob choice circa ’08, is the
Twilight coffee saga that is Starbucks vs. Espresso Royale. Although most people only swear by one, there have been some known to go with the coffee flow and switch between the two (something I’m guilty of – sorry, Starbucks, love you). The thing that differentiates Espresso Royale from Starbucks is its plethora of brewed coffee flavors, weekly deals, and GIANT large iced coffees (this is literally the size of a two-liter coke masked as a semi-more acceptable plastic iced coffee cup).
What to Order: $2 lattes on Wednesdays (caffeine will never be cheaper) or a large iced coffee for when you’re pulling an all-nighter.
Location: 1101 S. University Avenue and 324 S. State Street (two locations means you’re never more than a 7 minute walk from either, no matter where you are)
2. Where to go when you’re craving a slice: South U Pizza
While Ann Arbor gives you many options to satisfy the pizza palette genetically embedded within us all, South U Pizza takes the
cake pie. Not only is it super accessible because it’s open late night, but it’s also in one of the most central locations on campus. More than likely, you’ll pass it on your way home after a night out, and if the wafting smells of warm dough drowning in cheese alone don’t get you inside, the line of people winding out the door, (which probably includes the person you’ve been hoping to see out that night) definitely will.
What to order: If you’re a poultry peep, definitely go for the Buffalo Chicken Pizza. It’s like if everything you love about Buffalo Wild Wings decided to go swimming in mozzarella. But, if you’re not down for cooked birds, the classic cheese slice definitely hits the spot.
Location: 1106 S. University Avenue (literally a ten minute walk or shorter from basically anywhere on campus)
3. Where to go when you’re hungover: Angelo’s
Nothing says “I shouldn’t have taken that last shot” like strolling into Angelo’s on a Saturday morning in uniform, and by uniform, I mean sweatpants and the shirt you wore out the night before (subject to change if there’s puke on it, let’s use some discretion here, okay?) Between the greasy home fries, the giant omelets, and the infamous raisin toast (only available by the stack-load – single slices are not an option), you’ll forget about your throbbing headache just as easily as you forgot about drunk texting your ex last night.
What to order: If you’re really hating yourself from the night before, do yourself a solid and get the deep-fried french toast – it’s a dessert disguised as breakfast with the power to fix anything. Buuuut, if your hangover cravings are more on the savory side, you can’t go wrong with the make your own omelet, it’s an order that gives you the liberty to choose, a liberty that alcohol often makes less feasible.
Location: 1100 E. Catherine Street (8 minute walk from the hill)
4. Where to go if you want to check out live music: Mash
This is the perfect bar to go to if you want to listen to some live jams, feel way cooler than you actually are, and potentially run into your GSI. The drinks list is extensive and features the must-try pickleback shot (guaranteed to tickle your pickle if you like salty foods). The snack menu offers bar classics like wings and sliders, but, like the artistic crowd this spot attracts, it also gets creative with options like fried pimento mac n cheese and the burnt ends of a beef brisket.
What to Order: A pickleback shot (or seven)
Location: 211 E. Washington (8 minute walk from the popular bar, Skeeps, and makes for an ideal pregame spot)
5. Where to go if you’re trying to be healthy: Salad’s Up
In a world where make your own salads have become as common as the name “Rachel,” it’s baffling that so many college campuses lack this healthy, customizable style of dining. Thankfully, in Ann Arbor, Salad’s Up stepped up. The restaurant features a menu of choosable, fresh salad ingredients that are comparable to sweetgreen and boasts other healthy options, like smoothies and wraps. Hey, if you’re choosing to be healthy, you should definitely be rewarded and that means getting to choose how you want to consume your leaves.
What to Order: You should make your own salad, but if you’re indecisive and suffer from ordering anxiety, the signature Robbs Cobb salad is the way to go. It one-ups a typical cobb salad and swaps bleu cheese for feta and bacon for turkey bacon. Trendy cobb.
Location: 611 E. Liberty Street (8 minute walk from the undergraduate library)
6. Where to go when you’re craving something sweet: Insomnia Cookies
Nothing mends a broken heart, fixes a failed exam, or says, “Happy Birthday!” like Insomnia Cookies. Although the extensive cookie menu, featuring choices like s’mores and chocolate peanut butter cup, would make Cookie Monster damn proud – it’s not the only sweet thing offered here. Insomnia (underrated) has the best ice cream in all of Ann Arbor, and obviously, since it is a cookie shop, that means customizable ice cream cookie sandwiches for all.
What to Order: Cookiewich – I’ll let you choose what cookies and ice cream you want because no option is a bad option.
Location: 1229 S. University Avenue (5 minute walk from the diag)
7. Where to go when you turn 21: Rick’s American Cafe
Named one of the top 25 college bars in America by the Daily Meal, Rick’s is the closest thing to a bar fused with a nightclub that campus has to offer, but when it comes to IDs, this place isn’t messing around. Your Connecticut fake that looks like it may or may not have been made by your eight year old cousin, isn’t going to cut it. So it’s the perfect place to turn 21, since you can celebrate a coming-of-age and finally getting in.
Playing music you can actually dance to and featuring alcoholic drinks that come in literal bowls with multiple straws, you’ll leave intoxicated, sweaty, and happy that this is what’s setting the tone for your future adulthood.
What to Order: The Mind Probe, guaranteed to help you celebrate a night of legality that you’ll literally never remember after finishing one of these.
Location: 611 Church Street (4 minute walk from most apartment buildings and a 10 minute walk from pretty much anywhere on central campus)
8. Where to go when you’re craving Mediterranean: Jerusalem Garden
Since I spent the summer in Israel, I feel like I have some sort of street cred (even if I absolutely don’t) and can, therefore, deem this the best Mediterranean restaurant in Ann Arbor. The late founder, Rubi Ramlawi, was born in a village in Jerusalem and fled to Jordan during the diaspora, so the recipes are authentic, meaning this is much better than Sabra hummus. Featuring giant portions at a relatively low-cost, this place is every college student’s ideal restaurant, a spot where both your stomach and your wallet will leave full.
What to Order: The chicken shawarma and hummus plate. It’s the same price as a regular chicken shawarma plate, but it lays on top of a waterbed-esque mound of hummus.
#SpoonTip: They have sick catering deals, so if you’re throwing a party, hosting a meeting, or suggesting what your professor should carry-in for the last day of class, this is a fantastic option.
Location: 314 E. Liberty Street (10 minute walk from the undergraduate library)
9. Where to go when you’re “doing it for the ‘gram”: Sava’s
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Sava’s is probably the prettiest restaurant in Ann Arbor. The playful, modern interior of the restaurant matches the same appealing aesthetic of their food, but what really makes this place so Instagrammable is the lighting. With such an open layout and giant windows that bedeck the entire restaurant, your food will be more photogenic than you (sorry).
What to Order: Sava’s Famous Greek Salad (it’s famous for a reason) and Sweety Fries (sweet potato fries that will make you swear off regular potatoes).
Location: 216 S. State Street (8 minute walk from the undergraduate library)
10. Where to go when you’re trying to watch the game: Good Time Charley’s
This place is basically required to live up to its name, so if you want a fun atmosphere to watch the game in, it’s a no-brainer that this is where you should go. With multiple TVs, indoor/outdoor seating, and drinks like “Blue Motherf*cker,” “Slippery Nipple,” and “Ninja Turtle,” you’ll probably have a smile on your face, regardless of whether or not your team wins.
What to Order: A burger and a Blue Motherf*cker fishbowl. The fishbowl is, essentially, a giant vat of sugary alcohol (perfect for game days), and the burger will help soak up some of its contents, leaving you happily full and still pretty drunk, but not too drunk.
Location: 1140 S. University Avenue (7 minute walk from most of the tailgates)
11. Where to go when your parents are visiting and they’re footing the bill: Cafe Zola
Once upon a time my friend Annie turned 20. We went to Cafe Zola for dinner, her parents were footing the bill, and do you know what we did? We Lebron Jamesd – (aka WE BALLED OUT). This is one of those places where you get an expensive piece of fish, and suddenly, you think you’re a food critic – like you know what “fresh” tastes like or what a “quality cut” is.
Who are you kidding? You just ate pizza out of the garbage yesterday, but the food here is so good and of such high quality, it’ll have you channeling your inner Anthony Bourdain as soon as you take your first bite.
What to Order: If you’re going for dinner, go Lebron style and order the Lamb Chops “A La Turque.” They’ll make you feel like you can appreciate good meat, and after all, your parents are paying. If you’re brunching, definitely go for either the shakushka or the Turkish eggs – no other brunch place in Ann Arbor has unique egg options like this on their menu.
Location: 112 W. Washington Street (15 minute walk from the Undergraduate Library)
12. Where to go for your vegetarian friends: The Lunch Room
This is one of those places carnivores begrudgingly go to, pout at, order the thing that most resembles red meat, and then admit isn’t “that bad” after cleaning and licking their plate and suggesting it the next time lunch plans roll around. In other words, it’s really freaking good, and there are a ton of options. The entire restaurant is vegan, so there’s nothing hiding in any of the meals, and almost every night of the week there’s a different special, so if you come two nights in a row (no one’s judging you), and you’ll have a completely different dining experience.
#SpoonTip: They have special meals on Saturday mornings from 8-11:30 am for “Saturday Breakfast” and an entirely different set of special meals on Sunday mornings from 10 am-3 pm for “Sunday Brunch,” so try coming early on the weekends.
What to Order: The PowerUp Bowl – it has a maple dijon drizzle that will make you jizzle, and you can add on as many extras as you can afford.
Location: 407 N. 5th Avenue (Kerrytown, which is a bit off campus, but what is really just a 5 minute drive and an enjoyable 25 minute walk when the weather is nice)
13. Where to go if you have the munchies, and it’s 3 am: Fleetwood Diner
Nothing is a more confusing time than 3 am – is this late night or early morning? Thankfully, if you’re late night grubbing at Fleetwood, you don’t have to choose. This diner’s specialty is breakfast 24/7, so either you’re eating breakfast for your second dinner or breakfast for your first breakfast (before, ya know, the sun actually rises).
What to Order: Hippie hash, which is basically a mound of crispy hash brows, grilled veggies, melted feta, and two eggs (any style). This is literally the only way to go.
Location: 300 S. Ashley Street (15 minute walk from Skeeps)