Best Sandwich: Zingerman's

Allison Farrand/Daily
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By Andrew McClure, Daily Arts Writer
Published April 10, 2015

Chicago has the Bean. Gotham has its skyline. Portland has its skyline of pubic beards. And, for whatever reason — maybe because most never admit food is their everything — Ann Arbor’s most synonymous landmark is not Angell’s steps or the Bell Tower, but Zingerman’s Delicatessen. With branding on-par with Google and sandwiches that beg to be ogled at, this Detroit St. jewel feels less a restaurant than the dual-townhouse of your wacky, kitchen-bound auntie. The food is doubtless on-point, but it’s the smiley staff, the bread-oil samples, the almost-cluttered claustrophobia of the place, the Aztec-meets-Adult Swim menu characters, and the peerless sentiment of better that keeps the word-of-mouth engine revving.

For 33 years, Zingerman’s has had customers, rookies and returners alike, waffling over what to order. It always starts with your preferred meat(s), as if that’s supposed to, A) Be a mindless decision and B) Get any closer to choosing one of hundreds. And even if you’re dragged there by a Zingermite, the panoply of salads, breakfast plates, pastries and caffeinated drinks will keep your head spinning until a staffer tells you to stop, cool it and try some espresso-doused gelato.

We seniors depart for bigger things or smaller basements in mere weeks, and when grown-ups in the real world ask about our stay in Ann Arbor, we’ll have some ammo: the bad posture over a screen, the multi-tabbing, the late nights, the one good professor, how fast it all went and, never missing a beat, Zingerman’s. The delicatessen that justifies not truncating the word to “deli.”