Since its opening in 2017, the patio of Detroit Street Filling Station has overflowed with plants, people and music. This Kerrytown staple has been recognized as the Best Vegan/Vegetarian Food in Ann Arbor for the second year in a row. 

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, The Lunch Room — which received the same distinction in 2018 and 2019 — Detroit Street Filling Station serves an exclusively vegan menu to its clientele seven days a week. The restaurant incorporates fresh vegetables into its dishes through partnerships with local businesses such as the Ann Arbor Farmers Market and Ypsilanti-based Dawn Farm

From the fan-favorite Pad Thai to the savory Southwest Salad, Detroit Street Filling Station has something for everyone — even the most fervent of meat-eaters. For us, the Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are an appetizer fit for every occasion.

However, for founder and owner Phillis Engelbert, the heart of Detroit Street Filling Station isn’t the vegan fare. Rather, it is the personal and professional growth of its staff in which Engelbert finds the most value.

“We have a number of employees who came to us straight out of treatment and are now managers, several who are three or four or five years sober,” Engelbert said. “We have other employees who came to us from jail or homeless shelters and treatment and are now students at (the University) … That is the best part, is seeing the successes of our staff members.”

According to Engelbert, Detroit Street Filling Station feels a sense of duty to give back to a community that has embraced the restaurant with open arms by providing food and raising funds for those in need.

“We just did (a fundraiser) for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico,” Engelbert said. “During the heaviest part of the pandemic, we gave away a lot of free meals and groceries and teamed up with TeaHaus with their school lunch program. Even now, we give away our chili to anybody who just wanders by and needs something to eat.”

Despite the ceaseless construction, Engelbert says Detroit Street Filling Station will continue to offer its unique menu — with its recently-reopened indoor seating — for its patrons for years to come. 

“We have a welcoming and inviting culture both for our patrons and for our staff,” Engelbert said. “We want everybody to feel comfortable coming here regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation … I really like that we have such a diverse crowd that eats here and works here, and people can just be comfortable with who they are.”

Daily News Editor Anna Fifelski and Daily Staff Reporter Irena Li can be reached at and