Exploring Ann Arbor: Taking It to the Next Level

The more I travel, the more I enjoy finding the places that are off the beaten path in the places I visit. The easy thing to do when you’re on the road is to grab a burger at McDonald’s, a quick meal at an Applebee’s, or a coffee at a Starbucks. That’s not nearly as much fun as exploring the local options and finding those places where the food and atmosphere have a local flair.

Since Brad has been attending Eastern Michigan University, I’ve had the opportunity to do some exploring of the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area. It has also helped that I know a person who lives in the area that has pointed me towards some of the better places around town. I’ve written previously about a couple of my favorite spots in Ann Arbor, and here a few more that are worth visiting when you’re in the area.

Juicy Kitchen

1506 N. Maple Rd, Ann Arbor, MI (map)
On my most recent trip to Ann Arbor, a good friend suggested meeting at Juicy Kitchen. We had met up for breakfast recently in Southern California at Le Pain Quotidien in Westlake Village (a great place, by the way), and she wanted to find something similar in Ann Arbor. Juicy Kitchen fit the bill perfectly. It also fit great with my recent low-carb diet choices, too. Juicy Kitchen is a breakfast/lunch cafe, and its menu is very health conscious. You might pay a little more for breakfast than you would for the Grand Slam at Denny’s, but it’s worth it.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse

2501 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor, MI (map)
Zingerman’s Roadhouse has become a regular part of my restaurant rotation when I visit Ann Arbor. It’s also a local favorite. It gets very busy around the dinner hour, and it’s not out of the ordinary to wait upwards of an hour if you don’t have a reservation. In fact, I waited about 45 minutes on my last visit there, and it was on a Monday evening!

The menu at Zingerman’s changes regularly based on what’s in season. They source a lot of their foods from local farms, which makes for some creative and delicious dishes. Also, if you’re into beer, they serve up a number of local microbrews. All-in-all, the combination of the food, beer, and atmosphere make for an enjoyable experience. It’s no wonder they’ve received restaurant awards at both the local and national level.

Black Rock Bar & Grill

41601 Ford Road, Canton, MI (map)
OK. Technically, Black Rock Bar & Grill isn’t in Ann Arbor, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area. Black Rock has three locations around Ann Arbor. The Canton location is about a 20 minute drive from Ann Arbor, with Novi and Hartland being the other two locations. They’re also expanding into Florida with locations in Orlando and Tampa.

When you go to Black Rock, the key is to order the steak. They’ll sear the meat in advance, but they bring it to your table with a volcanic stone that has been pre-heated to 755 degrees. It seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen, but our waiter gave us clear and easy to follow instructions on how to cook the steak to the desired done-ness that I wanted using the stone. It was an interesting experience being able to slice and cook the meat the way you wanted. In addition to great steak, the sauces and condiments that came with the steak were great as well.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I showed up at Black Rock, but I do expect that I’ll being going back on one of my next visits to the area.

Zola Bistro

3030 Washtenaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI (map)
While wrapping up my last trip to the area, I decided to try Zola Bistro with Brad and his girlfriend. It’s just off Washtenaw Avenue on the outskirts of Ann Arbor as you head towards Ypsilanti. What I liked about it is that the menu is creative. It’s made up of many items and dishes that you won’t find at your typical chain restaurant. I really enjoy eating at places where the chef isn’t afraid to experiment and take some risks. It makes Zola very similar to The Ravens Club, which is another one of my favorite restaurants in the area. Overall, I was pleased with the choice and  would recommend Zola Bistro if you’re looking for something a little different.


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