When it’s time to start choosing Halloween costumes, Ann Arbor locals know it’s also time to get back to The Jolly Pumpkin. With a menu full of re-imagined classics — and, of course, those fantastic housemade ales — the Main Street café and brewery is a favorite restaurant pick on cold autumn nights.
The year-round décor screams “Halloween!” a little too much for my taste, which can be kinda weird in March and April. (Notably, the upstairs bar has a haunted-house vibe, with framed pictures of pumpkins on the walls and tattered window curtains. Overkill? You be the judge.)
But if you’ve ever visited the place, I know what you’re thinking: I am way too busy biting into a JP Burger (an over-the-top beef burger covered in cambozola cheese, crimini mushrooms and applewood smoked bacon, all on a toasted challah roll) — to notice the cheesy decorations. Possibly true.
Newbie tip: start with cult-favorite Truffled French Fries and finish with the truffle pizza. You cannot have enough “truffle” at The Jolly Pumpkin — although I wouldn’t object to a few more mushrooms on top of the pizza, to go along with the tantalizing goat cheese, Parmesan, mozzarella and arugula combination. (Yum.)
From there, mix and match from the menu’s extensive salad, sandwich and pizza options. With portions ideal for sharing, if you leave with a large tab, you’re doing it wrong.
Now, onto those aforementioned house-made ales the brewery is known for. You can’t really go wrong, but if you’re not sure, ask for a suggestion. Servers are really beer-savvy and happy to give you a sample before you make your final selection. The North Peak Siren Amber Ale is a lighter draft beer, a smooth accompaniment to the restaurant’s hearty American fare, and the seasonal Pumpkin Ale trumps a Pumpkin Spice Latte any day. For non-beer drinkers, there’s also a bottled hard cider, seasonal cocktails, wines and even a delicious, fresh berry non-alcoholic mojito. Cheers to that.
Know beforehand that Jolly Pumpkin does fill up nightly – even with enough seats for over 200 people at the main floor tables, upstairs bar and rooftop deck. Read: it gets loud. If you’re not a noise person, avoid the Friday-Sunday rush.
And word from the wise: if there’s a wait, ask about the upstairs or rooftop, which is seat yourself. I was able to grab an upstairs table immediately on a busy Friday night, despite an hour-and-a-half wait downstairs.
Location: 311 S. Main St.
Hours: For main floor: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Hours slightly differ for the upstairs bar and rooftop deck.