Some people love to eat at Chili’s, or TGI Friday’s, or maybe Applebees. I don’t. These places offer good food an atmosphere, but they’re the exact same whether you’re in Ann Arbor, Anchorage, or Anaheim. Whenever possible, I like to eat at great unique restaurants. These sorts of restaurants add the charm to make a city great. It’s what differentiates a city or campus from every where else. Next time you visit Ann Arbor, I highly suggest you avoid the chain restaurants and try these fantastic unique restaurants!
Blimpy Burger/Crazy Jim’s
Blimpy makes the best burger I’ve ever eaten, honestly. Eating here, you’ll probably cut off a year of your life (the burgers are pure grease), but it will be well worth it. You can get my dad’s favorite: a quadruple burger with cheese and fried egg on it. Or you can pass on the fried egg and go with mushrooms, onion. Don’t worry, the sometimes rude and sometimes overly friendly cooks will cook everything while you wait.
It’s easy to miss now the NYPD has dominated campus, but you should run from the NYPD and hide in the backroom. At Backroom, you get $1 slices of pizza. Backroom has pizza that’s more authentically New York than NYPD has. It’s that great pizza that tastes cheap, but is just phenomenal. Backroom doesn’t have indoor seating, so you’ll have to sit on the outside benches. Most food places are busiest during normal business hours, but Backroom hits its peak around 2:05 AM, right after the local bars close.
Red Hot Lovers
Red Hot Lovers is a small place on campus that specializes in burgers hot dogs, and french fries. I wasn’t that impressed with the burgers, but the hot dogs and fries are great. I recommend the chili cheese dog. Red Hot Lovers is pretty cheap and casual.
The best Mexican food in town, hands down. Servings are huge and the food is wonderful.
I always thought Zingerman’s was overrated until they let me sample items. Zingerman’s has every bizarre meat, cheese, olive oil, and chocolate that you could ever imagine. It’s pricey for a deli, but the experience is great. I highly recommend trying free samples of the 100% cocoa chocolate (it’s bitter and gross to be honest), a $50+ bottle of olive oil, and a cheese that’s moldy because it’s supposed to. The sandwiches here are enormous, so order the smaller sizes.
I’ve actually never eaten Le Dog, but I’m told this food stand has some of the best soups you’ll find in Ann Arbor. And not simple soups like Chicken Noodle, but provocative soups like Lobster Bisque.
I happen to be an avid meat eater, but even I like the vegetarian food at Seva. Seva is probably the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the state, and maybe the region. Seva is borderline pricey (although no more than TGI Friday’s), but it’s well worth it.
Back to the meat. Champion House is a Japanese steak house where the cooks prepare the food on a scorching grill at your table. It’s like an improvement on the Mongolian Barbecue concept (which happens to be just down the road). Part of the charm is in the show that the cooks put on, but the steak, chicken, and shrimp are phenomenal. The Champion House is on the pricier side.
Chop House might not belong on the list, but it’s really my favorite Ann Arbor restaurants. Chop House undoubtedly will serve you the best steak you can find in town, along with the priciest bill. Expect to pay over $50 per person. After you’re meal, you can get dessert on the couches in La Dolce Vita, or lounge in the cigar room that amazingly does not smell smoky.