Ann Arbor, Michigan proves that some of the best travel destinations are also the best food destinations.The quaint college town 45 miles west of Detroit is home to more restaurants per capita than any other American city. The rich mix of cultures strewn throughout the charming, walkable downtown provided visitors the opportunity to feast on hole-in-the-wall beer pubs, old-world European cafes, hip brunch spot and everything in between.
A 1930s movie theater turned upscale Italian bistro, Gratzi has been the go-to destination for romantic date nights in Ann Arbor for 30 years. Tables in what was once the Orpheum Theater’s second floor balcony overlook the bustling bistro and its elegant Italian decor including a 40-foot-long by 10-foot-high Italian Renaissance mural. The Northern Italian inspired menu changes with the season, but some of the favorite staples include rustic meats, Caprese, Cesare Salad, Mushroom Risotto, Pappardelle Bolognese and Lamb Chops. Because red wine never goes out of season, Gratzi’s serves from a long list of Italian wines.
Arbor Brewing Company
Twenty years ago Matt and Rene Greff left their corporate jobs to open a brewpub in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. Today they brew award-winning beers in Michigan and in India. Even for those who do not enjoy craft beer, the”gastro street fare” food menu is reason enough to stop by. The kitchen emphasizes fresh, locally sourced food with vegetarians and vegans in mind. Everything from vegetarian dishes to burgers to shared plates is made from scratch. Arguably the most decadent item on the menu is the Duck Poutine, crispy thick-cut seasoned fries, duck confit, faricy stout mushroom gravy and Wisconsin cheese curds. The Vegetarian Southern Board, a
Pub mac with cornbread crumbs, pickled beets, crunchy slaw, fried green tomatoes with an over-easy egg and smoked BBQ tofu, and the Classic Pierogi, a potato and cheese pierogi topped with melted cheddar, lettuce, scallions, are not to be missed either.
Named after the 18th-century musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the old-world Viennese cafe Amadeus serves authentic Central European dishes. Sitting under the soft glow of the chandeliers among fresh flowers, sepia-tone photos and marble tables it is easy to be transported to Victorian-era Austria. The heavily Polish-influenced menu, along with some Austrian and Hungarian dishes, is hearty. Start with the Polish sausage or Golabek, a rice and pork-stuffed cabbage roll braised in a tomato sauce. The dinner menu highlights include Goulash, a classic Hungarian beef stew served over egg noodles, Krakow chicken, grilled breasts in a dill sauce and Bigos, a pork sauerkraut stew.
No trip to Ann Arbor would be complete without a stop at The Roadhouse. Just like the neon sign above the entrance says, “Really Good American Food” is served here. Whether it is Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes or Nashville Hot Fried Chicken, the American brasserie serves traditional comfort food from every region of the country. Macaroni and cheese lovers have eight styles to choose from with the original winning the James Beard Foundation award and the Best Comfort Food in America on Alton Brown’s Food Network Show Best Of. Though the menu is hearty much of the ingredients are locally sourced with several available vegetarian and gluten-free options.