Every year, summer fades to fall to winter faster than Michigan fans can call for Brady Hoke’s firing. It’s too cold to sit outside and watch football, and even the trek for drunk gameday food becomes too difficult. But have no fear, sports fans and foodies. The end of football signifies the beginning of basketball, and we’re here to tell you that you can enjoy great sports and great food in the same place.
If you’ve never been to Crisler Center, you should definitely check it out. It was renovated in 2012 and holds just under 13,000 screaming, maize-and-blue-clad fans. Michigan’s basketball team has been very good over the last two seasons, making the winter just a tad more bearable in Ann Arbor. Regardless of the conditions, idiotic basketball fans wait outside for hours to watch their school and fellow classmates play basketball from November-February. For fans that spend hours waiting, they get really hungry. Lucky for them, Crisler Center has a wide variety of tasty options. Lucky for you, I’ve tried some. Here are a few of my favorites.
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If you wanna feel like a kid again, I highly recommend the chicken tenders and fries. Like apple pie and July 4th, chicken tenders have become an American staple, and these are no exception. Fried on the outside, all natural on the inside, they make for a perfect and affordable dinner.
Personal Cheese Pizza
For those that can’t get enough of that establishment on Church street that also serves cheesy bread, fear not. The folks at Crisler were smart enough to partner with Pizza House to ensure that hungry fans could still have their favorite Ann Arbor deep dish pizza. They also offer a pepperoni variety, so for those feeling just a tad ambitious, they’ve got you covered too. One of the highlights of the timeouts is when the cheerleaders will run through the stands and deliver about 15 pizzas. If you’re lucky enough to snag one, you don’t have to buy it. If you’re not as fortunate, it’s still worth it.
For those looking for more authentic Italian food than Chicago-style pizza, Crisler has that option as well. Tucked away at the far end away from the student section is Taste of Italy, including delicious fried ravioli, sausage and chicken flatbreads, and even an Italian beef sandwich. But my absolute favorite is the meatball sub. It’s packed with meatballs, mozzarella cheese and tons of tomato sauce, all on a hero. Be prepared for a messy meal though, as the woman behind the counter always tells me I’m “gonna need a lot of napkins.” She’s right, but it’s so worth it.
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Chicken Pesto Panini
For those with even more advanced palates, this a real crowd pleaser. Crisler decided to incorporate traditional sports food with gourmet sandwiches, including a Reuben panini and gourmet grilled cheese. I personally love the chicken pesto panini, filled with chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto. Served with a side of potato chips, it’s delicious enough to be from a restaurant, but simple enough that you could probably make it yourself.
Overall, Crisler has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a burger and fries, a trip to Italy or a gourmet panini, they’ve got it. Bring your friends or impress your family. Either way, be sure to check out Michigan basketball in the winter and eat great too.
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