Inside: The Foodie Buckeye’s guide to safely crossing into enemy territory to sample all the amazing food Ann Arbor offers.
I graduated from THE Ohio State University.
I met the love of my life at THE Ohio State University.
I have been entertained by the-best-damn-band-in-the-land at THE Ohio State University.
I dressed my 2-day old newborn up in Buckeye gear, from head to toe, for her first Ohio State Buckeyes football game. She could spell O-H-I-O before she could spell her own name.
There is no confusion as to where my loyalties lie and the blood in these veins runs scarlet.
So it is with a long breath and a shaky voice that I describe to you a charming foodie town that I actually…..love.
And it kinda hurts to talk about it because it resides in that state “up north.”
But I’m going to talk about it, because your stomach deserves a chance to experience the foodie haven that is Ann Arbor, M*ch*g*n.
But don’t worry, foodie Buckeyes, I have a plan on how to infiltrate enemy territory while still keeping your soul intact.
Things to Know Before You Go – The Foodie Buckeye’s Guide to Visiting Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor is about a 3 hour drive from Columbus. While it’s entirely possible to do this trip in one day, it’s more relaxing to stay for a night or two. For the truly hardcore, I remember hearing fans talk about driving “up north” to the game and refusing to fill up their gas tank behind enemy borders.
If this is you, then please know that Toledo is the last safe place to fill up and plan accordingly.
Related: The Best Damn Brunch in the Land
For the drive itself, I recommend blasting some “Hang on Sloopy“, or “Across the Field“, or maybe even a little “I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State.”
We chose to teach our little one the words to “I Don’t Give a Damn For the Whole State of Michigan.” Proudest moment was when she knew what to do with her arms ALL BY HERSELF, no prompting. #buckeyebaby
And this might just be my preference, but wait to play the “Buckeye Battle Cry” until you’re driving right through U of M campus.
As far as where to stay, I’d recommend somewhere a few miles away from campus. A safe option is the Stone Chalet Bed and Breakfast.
I’ve been here and there is absolutely NO blue and maize decor, no wolverines stuck to any walls and no references to U of M to be found.
In other words, it’s perfect.
The Foodie Buckeye’s Guide to Visiting Ann Arbor – Where to Eat
For your first stop, I recommend hopping up to Washtenaw Dairy for a scoop of ice cream. This is an Ann Arbor institution and has been around for over 75 years. They do amazing things to support their community, and have crazy awesome hours. They open at 5am every day and stay open til 10pm (11pm on the weekends).
I totally recommend walking up and ordering the BEST option of their 50 flavors – Buckeye!
*Technically it’s listed on the menu as chocolate peanut butter, but I’ve asked for a scoop of Buckeye ice cream and they don’t blink.
Because, in addition to having the TBDBITL, we also have the best ice cream flavor!
There are too many good options to list them all so here are some of my recent favorites.
Let’s start off with Zingerman’s deli, which is as tasty as it is fun to explore. They have so much more than just the traditional deli fare, and they even have a small cafe next door where you can grab a cup of coffee and a pastry. Their sandwiches are GIANT and full of the good stuff.
We also appreciate their kid’s menu, and that you can even pick up a little “picnic pack” to take with you to enjoy outside somewhere beautiful.
Taste August’s Awesomeness with the Sandwich of the Month! Yanni’s Pastrami is the winner of The @chadtoughfoundation auction. This sandwich was designed by a team to celebrate their beloved family member, Yanni, who embraced the spice of life! Hot sliced pastrami, cheddar cheese and creamy, zesty roasted red pepper spread on grilled rye bread from @zingermansbakehouse. See more August Specials > link in bio > GROCERY > SPECIALS.
Another favorite is Frita Batidos! They offer a great selection of Cuban inspired street food favorites. Their menu rotates seasonally and they source local ingredients from area farmers and purveyors. The food is colorful, whimsical and totally delicious! I recommend the chorizo burger with the garlic cilantro fries, washed down with a passionfruit milkshake and a splash of rum.
Or – check out Cafe Zola for its fresh, seasonal menu and tons of vegetarian offerings. This casual eatery has great vibes and a super eclectic menu. They are open for brunch and dinner, and have some of the best coffee I’ve ever had! I highly recommend the “Turkish Brunch” – a plate filled with Kalamata olives, cheeses (feta and havarti), grape leaf dolmas, eggs, vegetables (like cucumber and heirloom tomatoes), delicious farm butter, a basket FILLED with pastries, freshly baked bread AND a cup of coffee.
And let’s be honest -this looks pretty good too. (I can order more than one entree right? I’m on vacation.)
Another fun option is Aventura for Spanish style tapas and some of the best paella! (Food nerd alert: Did you know there’s an entire organization dedicated to sniffing out AUTHENTIC paella in North America? It’s delightfully named “Wikipaella” and recognized Aventura as one of only TWO authentic purveyors of paella?! I know that sounds totally made up – but seriously – google it!)
Condé Nast magazine also named it one of the best restaurants in the midwest.
For a quick bite to eat and some delicious coffee and wine, stop by Morgan & York. Everything they offer (wine, cheese, sandwiches, just to name a few) is artisanal. I’ve never had a bad meal here and recommend the cheddar and hot chutney sandwich, or even a simple tuna sandwich.
I listed just a few of my Ann Arbor favorites and will probably have to do a follow up post because I barely scratched the surface!
I hope this visitor’s guide SPECIFICALLY for foodie Buckeyes can help you get across enemy lines so that your stomach can appreciate all the amazing food Ann Arbor has to offer.
“Our honor defend”, friends. Once our bellies are full, we can “fight ’til the end for O-HI-O!”
12 thoughts on “The Foodie Buckeye’s Guide to Visiting Ann Arbor”
I absolutely loved This! 😂 So much humor and information wrapped into one. Well done! I look forward to reading more.
I love the Buckeye theme throughout the entire post! It’s great to know there are some good, Buckeye safe places in that state up north!
Thanks for the kind words! Ann Arbor is super cool, U of Mich aside!
When I was in college we would have skating competitions at the U of M and always checked out the local restaurants! There are so many good food options. Zingerman’s is a must!!!
I agree! It’s so yummy! What are some of your other favorites?
*instantly googles “Wikipaella”*
I love this post!! Although I’ve always been too afraid to enter enemy territory, I’m willing to do it for the foodie finds! Thanks for all of the great tips, we’ll have to make our next short weekend trip up here soon.
You’ll have so much fun.
There’s a certain “rebounding thrill” that comes from ordering Buckeye flavored ice-cream (and getting it, too) on U of M campus, lol…
There’s a ton of other spots to check out – Kerrytown is pretty awesome!
Two of my best friends went there for dental school or post docs so I was impressed with the food scene there. Just a shame about that football team 😛
I recently visited Ann Arbor and absolutely LOVED it. I went to Aventura and almost cried…the food was so good! Here’s my post in case you’re interested in comparing trip details!
Yum. Thank you for this post. I go up t o Ann Arbor monthly for my dog’s rehab treatment. I’ll have to keep these in mind. 🙂
I hate to admit it but they really do have great food there.