Returning to Ann Arbor in September is my favorite homecoming. Between the mad rush of students racing back to campus, the delight in the eyes of young freshman and the air of a beginning, September is my favorite month. Ann Arbor is special in that it is home to our beloved University and a city that is constantly growing and changing in accordance with demands from the thousands of students to stay on top of trends. The foodie culture and restaurant atmosphere in Ann Arbor is no exception to the rule. On any given day, one can experience a wide and diverse array of cultures and flavors through the culinary offerings lining the outskirts of the University. To pay homage to these recommendations, I’ve compiled a drool-worthy list of some of my favorite places in Ann Arbor.
The place to become a Sunday Morning regular:
Open since 1969, Frank’s is one of Ann Arbor’s best kept foodie secrets. Known for thick, buttery French toast drizzled with sweet syrup, loaded western omelets piled on top of chipped white plates and familiar faces, Frank’s is not exactly what it seems from its exterior. A hole in the wall tucked off of E. Liberty, Frank’s is full of home-y personality and a history that dates back 50 years. Frank’s is a go-to for a breakfast you won’t forget and a late-night option if you crave breakfast at all hours of the night.
If you’re craving hummus and missing your grandmother’s baba ghanouj:
Jerusalem Garden began in 1987 with the family recipes of an Ann Arbor resident who was originally born in Jerusalem. Their creamy homemade hummus is layered on almost every menu item and the crispy falafel cannot be beat. Priding themselves on a strong background of family and heritage, Jerusalem Garden serves the best Mediterrean food in Ann Arbor. It is a versatile option with both dine in and to-go options.
The best taco in Ann Arbor:
If you hail from the west coast and are used to authentic Mexican food on every street corner, it may come as a challenge to find similar quality eats in Ann Arbor. Chela’s, however, has cornered Ann Arbor’s market on Mexican food. If you’re looking for a perfectly seasoned pork, beef or chicken taco on a double layered homemade corn tortilla, a Cubana torta, homemade chicken tamales and a horchata, Chela’s is your place.
When you want the best burger in Ann Arbor, plantain chips and an alcoholic milkshake, all at once:
This cuban-inspired street food set in a chic all white space in downtown Ann Arbor may be my number one recommendation for any time of day, any occasion and any palate. The female-owned business serves fritas (chorizo-based, Cuban-inspired burgers) and batidos (tropical milkshakes) in various flavors made with fresh fruit and rich vanilla ice cream. The unique, versatile menu is accented by fresh ingredients and a constantly buzzing atmosphere. Frita’s also serves 6-person fishbowl margaritas and hosts happy hour Sunday through Thursday from 4-6 PM as well as their last hour of service.
When you have to recap your night out over breakfast:
Since 1956, Angelo’s has opened its doors on Saturday and Sunday mornings to hordes of students and locals alike patiently awaiting their weekly breakfast tradition or guilty pleasure fried French toast. The quintessential diner vibe should not be overlooked. When it comes to breakfast food, the team behind Angelo’s knows what they’re doing. A family business passed down through generations, Angelo’s is the perfect place to go to in your pajamas with all your friends to recap the previous evening’s endeavors. After piling into cozy booths slightly sticky with maple syrup, you’ll leave Angelo’s incredibly full and your hangover miraculously cured.
A non-awkward first date spot:
A unique twist on traditional Japanese ramen bars, Slurping Turtle is a laid-back eatery serving customizable ramen bowls, sashimi and a variety of shareable appetizers. The low-stakes setting and high-top seating allows for a casual dining experience that isn’t too loud or too quiet, too fancy or too low-key. In addition to a delicious and unique menu, Slurping Turtle offers a fun cocktail list and a variety of wines and sake. Slurping Turtle is perfect for friends and family, a casual first date spot or the best comfort food when the winter months have you down.
Just finished tailgating, feed me:
In 1953, Blimpy Burger opened in Ann Arbor, and tailgating would be changed forever. Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger is a known fan and student favorite, cultivating lines down the road on football Saturdays with tipsy fans craving a greasy cheeseburger and crispy jumbo onion rings. With the stove right in front of you and not much seating space, Blimpy Burger is your on-the-go kind of joint. The steak fries are so good they should only really come in the larger “papa” size. The burgers are the star of the show, however, and an adventurous, hungry eater can opt for the ‘quint,’ a five-patty burger all tucked under one bun.