Angelo’s Restaurant has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1956. Started by a Greek immigrant and his wife, the eatery has been serving up some of the best French toast, eggs and bacon in Ann Arbor for more than 50 years, earning its cachet among local breakfast- and lunch-goers.

Nathan Wood

Situated on the corner of Catherine Street and Glen Avenue, Angelo’s is a short walk from Central Campus and just a block away from the Biomedical Science Research Building and Medical Campus. On the outside, its architecture is unassuming — a simple brick building with a flat roof — but inside, the place bursts with character. The walls are covered in earth-tone paints, save for an accented wall of patterned black-and-white tile that matches the floor. Victorian crown molding skirts the ornamented ceiling, providing a stark contrast to the 1950s-diner-style vinyl booths and barstools. An eclectic mélange of original artwork hangs between the windows, and a shelf of nondescript baseball trophies leers from above.

This eccentric backdrop sets the scene for the hustle and bustle of the Angelo’s experience. The waitstaff is perpetually in a hurried shuffle from one end of the room to the other. Bowls and glasses clang together in busboys’ buckets, silverware is heard striking customers’ ceramic dinner plates, and customers’ orders successively collide with the stainless-steel counter connecting the kitchen and dining room. Voices compete with one another, rising in intensity as families, college students, locals and hospital employees discuss the day to come. There’s certainly never a dull moment in this packed-full, chaotic brunch rush.

I sit down and, like any good college student unfortunate enough to not be in bed at 10 a.m., the first words out of my mouth are, “Coffee, please.” I strongly advise ordering something to sip as you wait for your food, because here you will certainly wait: My friends and I chat for upwards of 45 minutes before breakfast arrives. The coffee is a standard Paramount brew, but their freshly squeezed orange juice is spectacular. An attractively vibrant yellow-orange, the juice is stingingly acidic yet perfectly sweet, not overly so as store-bought juices often are. It does have a healthy amount of pulp though, so beware if you, like me, prefer for the pulp to stay with the orange.

As far as food goes, almost any dish here is a safe bet, but let me highlight some of my favorites.

If you’re a vegetarian or just in the mood for some rather inventive breakfast food, go for the spinach and feta omelette — it’s far and away my favorite offering. To achieve the savory splendor of this breakfast bite, three eggs are combined with loads of fresh feta and dark green spinach and then cooked until it just begins to crisp. When it hits the table soon after, the feta has melted only partially, yielding textured, tangy, briny cheese that oozes in every bite. Lastly, as an added bonus for flavor and presentation, the omelette is lightly brushed with salted butter that gives it a sheen in the warm sunlight pouring through the windows.

The most famous dish here, the stuff of freshman-orientation factoids, is Angelo’s deep-fried French toast. Crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, these three thick slices of battered bread are late-breakfast heaven. I always opt for raisin bread, but the traditional, homemade white bread — which I find to be satisfyingly dense and yeasty in flavor — is also a good choice. Deliciously rich whipped cream tops the bread, as do a decent number of whole strawberries and blueberries. Add some maple syrup (the real stuff is available upon request) and cinnamon sugar to round out this splurge of a meal. And if you need something savory to balance the incredible sweetness, or even if you don’t, order a side of sausage patties. They’re made of the most perfectly flavored, juicy and tender breakfast meat I’ve ever had, putting even Bob Evans’ original recipe to shame.

If you’re feeling more like lunch, though, anything with bacon is the right decision. The cured meat shatters in your mouth like a perfectly fried potato chip, never tough, chewy, dry or burnt. The kitchen staff piles it high on the sandwiches, so feel free to slip a piece out for a quick pregame before you dig in. The BLT is a great go-to, but the turkey club takes the sandwich to a whole new level. Be sure to specify that you want yours with smoked turkey, and toasted, for the ultimate meaty nosh. I like a little more mayonnaise than what’s generally slathered on, but I’m willing to accept that this is maybe just a personal preference.

Basically, whatever you’re in the mood for, Angelo’s has you covered. The restaurant has earned its title as an Ann Arbor classic, and the line of customers waiting outside leaves no doubt that it’s for good reason. The atmosphere is full of energy, the food full of flavor and the experience full of college memories waiting to be made.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.