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Aventura
Photograph: Courtesy Aventura

The best Ann Arbor restaurants right now

From a legendary sandwich shop to fine dining that will tickle your taste buds, head to these Ann Arbor restaurants right now

Written by
Karen Dybis
Written by
Brock Wilbur
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Considered one of the most exciting cities in Michigan, Ann Arbor offers locals and tourists a terrific amount of things to do, from family fun and shopping galore to a famous college campus (Go Wolverines!) and tree-lined streets so pretty you’ll want to spend most of your time outdoors. But we can't forget the city’s fabulous options for eating and drinking. Whether you're in the mood for a sandwich (we’ve got a legendary one in town) or blow-out fine dining, you're bound to find something that'll tickle your taste buds within the city’s friendly confines. Just follow our lead, and we'll guide you to the best Ann Arbor restaurants right now. 

Best Ann Arbor restaurants

Ask the average person who has lived or worked in Ann Arbor about the city’s top dining options and Aventura will likely be at the top of their list. The Spanish tapas menu is filled with fresh, tangy, fragrant and flavorful main dishes and accompaniments—all made that much more inviting with Spanish bread on the side. Order the bacon-wrapped dates (just do it), or veggie-loving palates can opt for the coles de bruselas dish instead. That would be Brussels sprouts with pistachios, apples, olive oil and honey.

Known since 1977 for its great bar scene and award-winning French and Italian cuisine, The Earle looks like a place where Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra could swing by at any minute. The impressive wine list, which boasts over 1,400 selections, is ready to accompany succulent lamb chops, beef tenderloin, duck breast, sea scallops and more. Head here Tuesday through Saturday to hear live jazz in the dining room. 

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The seventh property in the Zingerman roster of Ann Arbor eateries, the Roadhouse focuses "solely on the amazing array of really good American food that we've got right here at home." The menu is expansive, with an entire section dedicated to fried chicken. And we know a few University of Michigan alum who still regularly dream of the sky-high sandwiches, creamy mac-and-cheese and delectable desserts on offer here. 

With a cute cartoon turtle as their logo and an enjoyable ethos of slurping, you can guarantee a good meal out at this ramen joint. Leave your Western manners at the door — in the west, slurping is seen is rude, but in the East it's taken as a huge compliment to the chef — and prepare fora hearty bowl of noodle soup. The classic is the Tokyo shoyu, with pork belly, egg and bok choy. But the adventurous might prefer the spicy miso tonkotsu. Sashimi and maki are on offer too. 

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Think of this as an amalgamation of the very best aspects of Vietnamese, French and American cuisines. The menu, heavy on local produce and meat, changes pretty often—so you’ll get to eat something different every time you visit. Some regular items do, however, take permanent spot on the menu, like the tuna poke, shrimp spring rolls, eggplant cannelloni, shaking beef and Berkshire pork.

Picture that popular street cart that emanates the kind of smell that fully distracts you when you’re walking around town and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Frita Batidos is all about. Definitely try the Frita, a traditional Cuban burger, which can be made with chorizo, chicken, black bean, beef or fish and includes a sunny-side-up egg, avocado spread and bacon.

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Generosity is the norm at The Ravens Club, where the farm-to-fork menu and well-poured drinks take center stage.  Heavily focused on local vendors, the menu here changes often. Some standout (and standard) favorites include the deviled eggs, pork belly buns and steak carpaccio bruschetta alongside main course offerings like the lobster mac with big chunks of seafood, pad Thai and cilantro lime chicken.

Forget the kebab, when it comes to late-night hunger pangs, beeline for Tio's tacos instead. This sizeable spot on East Liberty Street is a favorite with night owls and early birds alike since it's usually open 11am-2am Monday to Saturday (temporarily operating from 11 amto 10pm for pickup). So whether you're popping in for brunch, lunch or a snack in the wee hours, Tio's got your back. Tacos, burritos and huevos rancheros are the big-hitters, with a load of sauces available and lip-smacking guac.

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If you’re looking for white tablecloths, exquisite waitstaff and an overall memorable dining experience, Gandy Dancer is your destination. Located inside a restored 1886 Michigan Central Depot, the popular eatery has hosted a whole lot of weddings, graduation dinners and family get-togethers throughout the years. The menu is well rounded with a sizable selection of the day’s seafood catches, lamb, steaks and prime rib options. 

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Boasting high ceilings, exposed brick and communal tables, Café Zola has earned its spot as a trendy yet comfortable dinner meeting spot. The menu features a delightful array of tastes — we promise you’ll find something for everyone on the menu — showcased in dishes like the Moroccan chickpeas, parmesan and rosemary pommes frites, Hawaiian ahi tuna and the classic Kobe burger. 

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Hidden in the back of a suburban shopping center, you might miss Ayse’s Turkish Café if you’re not looking for it. You can call it a hidden gem but, to us, this is just a great local destination. And we can happily overlook the whole “let’s see if we can find it” aspect to dining here. Try the pepper lamb dolma and chicken with chickpeas and grab some dessert before leaving.

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Vinology, which describes itself as a curated food-and-wine experience, offers a well-rounded meal at wine bar prices. While the wine here does take center stage (you can expect over 150 varieties of vino on premise), the food is just as good, from the duck confit pot pie to braised short rib. If you’re really just looking to munch on something while reveling in the wines, order the shareable charcuterie board or the Michigan baked brie. 

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When you first walk into Mani Osteria & Bar (“mani” means hands in Italian), what hits you is that pleasant, smoky aroma that accompanies a wood-burning oven. Next, you’ll pick up the faint scents of oregano, basil and other traditional Italian spices used to make pizza, pasta and everything else that pleases the stomach. Small plates, local ingredients and homemade flavors make this a must-visit. Be prepared for generous portions of cheese, olive oil and spices in everything from the pappardelle to the butternut squash soup and the “pasta messy” for the kids.

Practically every Ann Arborite thinks of Jerusalem Garden with affection. Located just outside of the University of Michigan’s campus, the small restaurant features a trio of like-minded cuisines that work deliciously together: Lebanese, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. There is something so right about enjoying a chicken shawarma sandwich with a side of golden French fries. Right?

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This fuss-free Korean eatery is especially popular with the students (probably because you can easily eat for under ten bucks here). The hot stone bowls – known as bibimbap – are a classic Korean dish and something that Kang's does very well. But if you want to be a little more adventurous, have a go at the bu dae jigae, a firey beef broth with various pork cuts and kimchee.

For vegan options in Ann Arbor, there are few better places than The Lunch Room Bakery and Cafe, where sweet treats come out tasting wonderful and ever so slightly better for you (at least we tell ourselves). But even if you're not vegan, you'll delight in the menu here and at sister spot Detroit Street Filling Station (one of our go-tos for hangover brunch!) Think churro donuts, apple cider pancakes, pad Thai and hot dogs – and it's all vegan-friendly! 

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Ann Arbor's best vegetarian-vegan spot can be found in an unassuming shopping center. Looking for the veggie equivalent of your favorite dish? This is the spot for everything from pad thai and pesto pizza to breakfast scrambles at any time of day. While there is an extensive list of wines, you probably don't want to leave without grabbing one of their trademark smoothies.

This hip spot prides itself on placing the utmost care in food prep and, as they say, "treating each bottle of wine to be a treasure." The rotating, limited menu of top-notch options, also offers the kind of pairings you could only find at an establishment that is a wine shop first and foremost (which it is). Seating is extremely limited, so make sure to get your reservation on the books early.

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