So besides being a nationally-ranked top public school or housing Harbaugh’s football army, we all know where University of Michigan stands out from other colleges: the EATS. Ann Arbor is known across the country for its food scene, and as college students here we are more than obligated to accept this gift.
Whenever my parents visit I’m always dying to take them out to Ann Arbor’s best downtown spots, but no matter what I do I can’t get them to suck up the stressful parking struggles and hit Main Street.
Contrary to popular belief, we actually have some crazy good food joints hiding on the outskirts of campus. These lack the hustle and bustle of downtown but still let you experience the hype that is A2 food (and guarantee a non-parallel parking space). Do you too have parents or friends who refuse the parking meters in front of Jolly Pumpkin in exchange for the parking lot at The Cheesecake Factory? Have no fear – here are some of the best drive-able AA restaurants to take your visitors.
Nick’s has a variety of breakfast and lunch options that focus on both quality and flavor, and it’s just a quick 10 minute drive from campus. Their unique dishes such as the Elvis French Toast and the LA Burger will tingle your tastebuds, but if crazy flavors aren’t your ish, Nick’s is still killing it with old school recipes. Plus, they have a seasonal menu with several timely dishes (like the favorite, Pumpkin Pancakes) that will keep your guests happy all year long.
2. Tmaz Taqueria:
Though this place might not seem like much from the outside, Tmaz knows how to stand out in what’s really important: the food. Their classic Mexican and Latin American dishes are prepared fresh every single day from the highest quality ingredients around. Think tacos are too typical to please your visitors? Seriously, don’t write this place off – I didn’t even know what a taco was supposed to taste like until I tried Tmaz. Ranging from tacos and tortas to homemade Mexican baked goods, no one will leave here hungry. But hey, good thing you drove and don’t have to uncomfortably walk home with your newfound food baby.
Tip: Don’t save this one just for your guests. Have a friend with a car? Go get authentic $1.80 Barbacoa Tacos any (or maybe every?) day and never crave Taco Bell again (I still love you, Taco Bell).
3. Haifa Falafel:
Ever heard the question, “If you were to be transformed into a food, what would it be?” It’s an ice breaker we know all too well, and for me, without a doubt, I would be reincarnated as a fattoush salad. My obsession with this dish has led me on a quest for the perfect Mediterranean place at U of M, and I have finally found it at Haifa. This family-owned restaurant offers quick, authentic Mediterranean food that will properly introduce your guests to these ethnic flavors and exceed the expectations of any avid Mediterranean eaters. Coming from someone who has searched far and wide for a good fattoush, this place is legit.
Tip: Try ordering the Mega Sandwich, a side fattoush salad, and a few appetizers like hummus or falafel – then SHARE. This should feed 2-3 people and will let you try more of what Haifa Falafel has to offer.
4. Satchel’s BBQ:
#Latergram time! After seeing (and smelling) these all over #A2SF I had to try one! From the actual cart of course, saving a few dollars ? It was really good and even better when I put avocado on it at home! #Satchels #SatchelsBBQ #annarbor #markscarts #foodcart #SoulOnARoll #bbq #pork #sandwich #manwich #coleslaw #lunch #food #foodporn
The sight of Satchel’s giant wood burning smoker will already get your stomach grumbling. In 2010 the restaurant modeled themselves to live up to southern barbecue standards, and let’s just say they know how to deliver. Though one of the only traditional BBQ places around, Satchel’s delivers the same quality and flavor as the showy downtown restaurants, but they do it with a southern kick. Pick from a bowl of Satchel’s Stew, a juicy pulled pork sandwich, or even create your own plate with their various BBQ meats and sides. Take your guests here to guarantee them a hearty, classic meal, especially if they’re not about that trendy, kale salad life.
Tip: Don’t forget about the cornbread. It’s $1. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Did you know?
Zingerman’s Delicatessan and Cafe Zola have more locations than just in downtown AA. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse and Zola Bistro to give your guests a glimpse at your fave restaurants without cruising down Main Street (and its traffic).