At the very least, four years at the University should breed a taste for Middle Eastern cuisine. Every block seems to have a restaurant to provide relief to your insatiable cravings for hummus or shwarama. This is one spot, however, that sets itself apart. Located in a yellow-painted, box-shaped building on Fifth Street between Liberty and William, Jerusalem Garden is unlike any Middle Eastern restaurant in Ann Arbor.
At first glance, Jerusalem Garden seems like the prototypical Ann Arbor restaurant, reminiscent of the good old days when Treetown was full of bookshops, Zingerman’s was cheap and the people protesting wars were under 30. It’s the type of place that you can only find west of State Street. The inside is small and dimly lit, but when the shell of cold weather is lifted, the patio is one of the best places to have a long lunch with friends. Jerusalem Garden is one of those restaurants that reminds you why you actually do like Ann Arbor, despite its endless winters, unavoidable puddles and smug, earthy locals.
Simply put, Jerusalem Garden’s food deviates from the traditional style of other Middle Eastern restaurants. For instance, the meat isn’t skewered but grilled, giving their non-vegetarian sandwiches a texture. If you are vegetarian, the falafel plate is a filling meal with three falafel patties, soup or salad and rice pilaf or mjaddara. Any dish at Jerusalem Garden offers a distinctive take on familiar Middle Eastern foods. It’s also the only restaurant within walking distance of campus to offer authentic Turkish coffee with cardamom.
Jerusalem Garden is a special place that serves memorable, yet inexpensive meals. The wait-staff is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed but intimate. But, if you go, go for the food.