Outside of Afternoon Delight Cafe at 251 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor. Grace Lahti/Daily. Buy this photo.

Restaurants are more than just their food — they are the experiences had and memories made sitting at their tables. A few years ago, when I decided I wanted to come to the University of Michigan (my mom’s alma mater), I asked her for restaurant recommendations. Even though my parents always told me I’d mainly be eating in the dining halls (which has not proved to be true), restaurants were an important part of my college decision. Restaurants set the tone for the culture and life of a city — especially a city like Ann Arbor, which is known as a “foodie” town with a plethora of options for different cuisines.

However, when guests from out of town come and visit me, or when friends touring need a recommendation, I never know what to recommend — there are too many options. Recently, though, my mom came to visit and we were walking down Liberty Street when we passed Afternoon Delight, a quaint and charming diner. My mom peered in and remembered her time here 30 years ago. She told me that she used to love going to Afternoon Delight when she was in college because it was practically the only brunch spot. After eating there this past weekend, I can attest that Afternoon Delight’s legacy around Southeast Michigan still stands — not only is the food fantastic, but the atmosphere created by the employees is homey, comfortable and warm. 

My meal at Afternoon Delight was one of the most lovely breakfast/brunches I’ve had in Ann Arbor so far. Although it was freezing cold outside, the café was cozy and warm inside. When you first walk into the restaurant, you enter a line to order your food instead of immediately sitting down. When my roommates and I stood in line to order and find a table, we got to talking with one of the employees behind the counter. They told us that the restaurant tries to employ those who were previously incarcerated, acting as a safe place of employment for those who are trying to get back on their feet. Learning about the restaurant’s social impact made the experience even more enjoyable. 

Inside of Afternoon Delight Cafe at 251 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor. Grace Lahti/Daily. Buy this photo.

When we sat down, we were immediately offered water and asked if we needed anything else. Like most reviews I’ve heard about Afternoon Delight, we too felt welcomed and wanted by all the staff. Their attention and care to our experience, even when it was clear that they were very busy, made for a lovely meal and overall time. Many of my friends know I am an absolute coffee snob — which is why they were so surprised that I had two full cups. Even the little things at Afternoon Delight are incredibly delightful. I ordered the bagel with smoked nova salmon lox and it was amazing — I’m a sucker for lox, since my family only gets it on Easter — so I was more than excited about my meal and had fairly high expectations. It was nothing short of delicious. Even after we finished eating, the restaurant was still bustling and we realized we didn’t want to leave. 

After eating at Afternoon Delight, it is clear that the restaurant is more than just its food. It is its people, its atmosphere, its warmth and its impact. Though Afternoon Delight may have just served us our breakfast, we left with more than just full stomachs. Afternoon Delight, on the corner of Liberty Street, serves delicious brunch food and offers a dining experience that is simply delightful.

Daily Arts Writer Constance Meade can be reached at ccmeade@umich.edu.