Ann Arbor Restaurant Week occurs twice a year and the winter version is here again with close to 60 restaurants participating from Sunday, January 12 through Friday, January 17. Depending on the restaurant, diners can expect a multi-course dinner for $28 or lunch for $18. A few of the pricier establishments have dinner for $38 and many others are offering two-for-one specials. With so many restaurants in the lineup it’s pretty much impossible to try them all in six days.
Those familiar with restaurant week employ different strategies for picking a restaurant from visiting “special occasion” restaurants in the middle of the week to trying new cuisines to just revisiting an old standby. Here are some of the specials that are worth a look.
The Best Values
Many of the special menus aren’t special at all, in that the selections or prices aren’t very different from the regular menus. But for the ones listed below, regular menu items often come close to or exceed the $28 restaurant week price, so they’ve come up with special menu items not typically available. For new customers, it’s a wallet-friendly opportunity to try out a place. For returning customers, it’s a way to see an old favorite in a new light.
Grange Kitchen and Bar | Menu
Grange’s farm-to-table menu changes daily based on the best available ingredients from local farmers. That focus on seasonality means a restaurant week menu with hearty dishes like pan-roasted chicken with smoked sausage hash — perfect for a Michigan winter’s night.
Zola Bistro | Menu
Zola Bistro’s dinner menu features a wide variety of Mediterranean-influenced fare paired with a well-curated wine list. The restaurant week menu is also one of the longest among participating restaurants with over 20 different items in generous portions. With a couple dining companions and strategic ordering, it’ll make for a grand feast.
Zingerman’s Roadhouse | Menu
Zingerman’s Roadhouse serves up award-winning regional American cuisine with an emphasis on comfort food made. Diners can’t go wrong with any of the options and all meals finish with the popular donut sundae.
Blue Llama Jazz Club | Menu
Blue Llama’s gorgeous dining space and live jazz make for a special atmosphere to enjoy the “jazz-inspired American shared plates.” The crispy foie gras PB&J with Marcona almonds and strawberry jam was inspired by Billie Holiday’s love of the sandwich and is a can’t-miss item.
Grab Lunch Instead
With the special menus, restaurants may get pretty crowded for dinner. Dining in the daylight hours will help to get a coveted table while offering customers a tasty alternative to brown bag lunches.
Neopapalis | Menu
The special prices are even more so with the $18 option feeding two people at Neopapalis. The restaurant’s giant stone oven produces a perfect crust for its traditional Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Avalon | Menu
Avalon is another spot offering a 2-for-1 special for lunch. The menu has mostly vegetarian and vegan options like the potato tacos and the brassica bowl filled with broccolini, hummus, kale, and other veggies.
Mani Osteria | Menu
One of the Ann Arbor’s liveliest spots is Mani Osteria. This spot is known for its terrific small plates, salads, and wood-fired pizzas. Restaurant week diners may sample each of those with options like the chorizo-stuffed dates and puttanesca pizza.
A mere $28 won’t be able to transport anyone to another part of the world, but it will buy a meal in a restaurant where, with a little imagination, one can briefly forget the familiar Midwestern landscape outside its doors.
Blue Nile | Menu
Blue Nile serves Ethiopian cuisine in the traditional way — on communal plates with sour, spongy injera bread. The second course features an “all you care to eat” feast of spicy meats or vegan specialties.
Shalimar | Menu
Shalimar is a popular Main Street spot known its flavorful Indian dishes in generous portions. Whether a diner is a novice to the cuisine or an old hand, the restaurant week menu offers a broad range of options.
Korean BBQ Nagomi | Menu
Korean barbecue can make for a fun social activity as diners enjoy a lavish dinner prepared on grills built into the tables and accompanied by an assortment of sauces and side dishes.
• Ann Arbor Restaurant Week Website [Official]
• An Essential Guide to Dining and Drinking in Ann Arbor [ED]
• All Ann Arbor Coverage [ED]