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A close up of paella with shrimp, scallops, lemon, and other ingredients. Rosa Maria Zamarrón

13 Essential Ann Arbor Restaurants

Must-visit classic and contemporary dining destinations in Tree Town

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As a college town, Ann Arbor attracts students and visitors from around the world. Many of them like the place so much they extend their stay — sometimes for decades. Mix them in with a healthy dose of counterculture dating back to the 1960s and Midwestern small-town sensibilities and the result is a diverse blend of tradition, global outlook, and an eye towards the future. Since everyone has to eat, Ann Arbor’s restaurant scene is an eclectic mix of eateries that reflects the diversity of the people there.

There's no shortage of the usual college town standbys — pub food, pizza, burgers — and many are excellent (a few are listed here). This map features restaurants that can only be found in Ann Arbor and can't be missed during any visit. Even if that visit lasts a little longer than planned.

Two local institutions have re-joined the list — Miss Kim and Ricewood — as Aventura, Bellflower, and York make their debuts. Aventura’s menu is a greatest hits collection of Spanish favorites, including Chef Raul Cob’s now-world famous paella and Bellflower’s Southern-inspired dishes are served in a no-nonsense atmosphere. Meanwhile, York’s combination of food, wine, cocktails, and special events have made it the quintessential Ann Arbor experience.

This map is updated semi-annually. Is your favorite Ann Arbor restaurant missing? Passionately make your case in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or at the tipline.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Ricewood

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Ricewood has become an essential local dining spot for its rice bowls topped with a variety of Texas-style barbecue and spicy finadene sauce. The Maple Road location also features a rotating month-long special burger packed with novel layers of flavor that should not be missed. Previous specials included a reuben burger with a half brisket/half pastrami patty and the a burger topped with Swiss cheese, chili oil, smoked mushrooms, and arugula. 

Ricewood/PopChockPhoto [Official photo]

Knight's Steakhouse

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Knight's is your textbook steakhouse with swimming pool-sized cocktails. While the restaurant has a flashier Liberty Street location in the vibrant downtown area, the original Dexter Avenue eatery’s historical charm makes it a classic.

Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger

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This humble burger joint is the epitome of the town’s counterculture identity. The dizzyingly wide variety of combinations and the unique cooking methods are the antithesis of the gourmet burger chains that have proliferated across the country. While some label the burgers as laden with “grease”, the preferred term is “natural juices.”

Frita Batidos

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Celebrity chef and Ann Arbor local Eve Aronoff opened her Frita Batidos as an ode to Cuban street food. The fritas (chorizo-based burgers) and batidos (tropical milkshakes) served in the stark-white dining room sets it apart from anything else in Ann Arbor — or the Midwest.

Spencer

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Spencer has wasted no time in putting its stamp on the local restaurant scene. The small space and casual atmosphere make it easy to miss. However, the commitment to seasonal, micro-local sources, and beautiful presentation has gained national attention. Be sure to dive into the spot’s carefully curated wine list, which gained Spencer a James Beard Award semifinalist nod in 2023 for Outstanding Wine and Beverages.

Aventura

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The best of Spain awaits diners at this gorgeous downtown spot. Chef Raul Cob has been recognized as one of the top paella chefs in the world and his team serves five different kinds of the popular rice dish. The menu also features an all-Spanish wine list that perfectly complements their full line of tapas, pintxos, and other Iberian delicacies.

Miss Kim

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Since opening the doors of her eponymous restaurant in 2016, Chef Ji Hye Kim has gained national acclaim including two James Beard semifinalist nods. Miss Kim’s menu highlights local Michigan produce through approachable Korean comfort food like bibimbap and tteokbokki resulting in dishes that sing with deep flavors and freshness. 

Miss Kim | Emma Boonstra

Zingerman's Deli

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This Ann Arbor institution is considered to be one of the best delis in the country. Dozens of sandwich options all on house-made bread with top quality ingredients make it worth the wait and the price. Bakery and specialty items make it a food lover's paradise.

Mani Osteria

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The menu features innovative, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, small plates, and salads. The dishes are meant to be shared which, along with an open-concept dining room, gives Mani the liveliest and most energetic atmosphere in town.

Tomukun

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What began as a noodle bar, featuring several kinds of East Asian comfort foods, now includes a full-on Korean barbecue section with tabletop grills and other Korean standards. Tomukun may be the best place to see townies and students dining in perfect harmony.

Sava’s occupies a prominent spot on State Street and in the hearts of many in the Ann Arbor area. Their Mediterranean-influenced menu is filled with well thought-out dishes using quality ingredients and refined techniques. The Capellini Marlon is as decadent as a pasta dish can be with its lobster, shrimp, and saffron butter cream sauce.

Sava’s

YORK Food and Drink

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Once an European-style deli and party store, York has become a vibrant community hangout with its spacious, art-filled wine garden and special events. In addition to their sandwiches and charcuterie, York also features local food trucks and is the home of Bao Boys and the original Ricewood. 

John Reyes

Bellflower

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Bellflower’s serves seafood-forward, New Orleans-influenced dishes in an unpretentious atmosphere that perfectly matches downtown Ypsilanti’s overall vibe. The dinner menu changes daily to take full advantage of best-available ingredients, while the lunch counter features locally-sourced salads and po’ boys served on the spot’s signature milk bread. 

Ricewood

Ricewood has become an essential local dining spot for its rice bowls topped with a variety of Texas-style barbecue and spicy finadene sauce. The Maple Road location also features a rotating month-long special burger packed with novel layers of flavor that should not be missed. Previous specials included a reuben burger with a half brisket/half pastrami patty and the a burger topped with Swiss cheese, chili oil, smoked mushrooms, and arugula. 

Ricewood/PopChockPhoto [Official photo]

Knight's Steakhouse

Knight's is your textbook steakhouse with swimming pool-sized cocktails. While the restaurant has a flashier Liberty Street location in the vibrant downtown area, the original Dexter Avenue eatery’s historical charm makes it a classic.

Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger

This humble burger joint is the epitome of the town’s counterculture identity. The dizzyingly wide variety of combinations and the unique cooking methods are the antithesis of the gourmet burger chains that have proliferated across the country. While some label the burgers as laden with “grease”, the preferred term is “natural juices.”

Frita Batidos

Celebrity chef and Ann Arbor local Eve Aronoff opened her Frita Batidos as an ode to Cuban street food. The fritas (chorizo-based burgers) and batidos (tropical milkshakes) served in the stark-white dining room sets it apart from anything else in Ann Arbor — or the Midwest.

Spencer

Spencer has wasted no time in putting its stamp on the local restaurant scene. The small space and casual atmosphere make it easy to miss. However, the commitment to seasonal, micro-local sources, and beautiful presentation has gained national attention. Be sure to dive into the spot’s carefully curated wine list, which gained Spencer a James Beard Award semifinalist nod in 2023 for Outstanding Wine and Beverages.

Aventura

The best of Spain awaits diners at this gorgeous downtown spot. Chef Raul Cob has been recognized as one of the top paella chefs in the world and his team serves five different kinds of the popular rice dish. The menu also features an all-Spanish wine list that perfectly complements their full line of tapas, pintxos, and other Iberian delicacies.

Miss Kim

Since opening the doors of her eponymous restaurant in 2016, Chef Ji Hye Kim has gained national acclaim including two James Beard semifinalist nods. Miss Kim’s menu highlights local Michigan produce through approachable Korean comfort food like bibimbap and tteokbokki resulting in dishes that sing with deep flavors and freshness. 

Miss Kim | Emma Boonstra

Zingerman's Deli

This Ann Arbor institution is considered to be one of the best delis in the country. Dozens of sandwich options all on house-made bread with top quality ingredients make it worth the wait and the price. Bakery and specialty items make it a food lover's paradise.

Mani Osteria

The menu features innovative, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, small plates, and salads. The dishes are meant to be shared which, along with an open-concept dining room, gives Mani the liveliest and most energetic atmosphere in town.

Tomukun

What began as a noodle bar, featuring several kinds of East Asian comfort foods, now includes a full-on Korean barbecue section with tabletop grills and other Korean standards. Tomukun may be the best place to see townies and students dining in perfect harmony.

Sava's

Sava’s occupies a prominent spot on State Street and in the hearts of many in the Ann Arbor area. Their Mediterranean-influenced menu is filled with well thought-out dishes using quality ingredients and refined techniques. The Capellini Marlon is as decadent as a pasta dish can be with its lobster, shrimp, and saffron butter cream sauce.

Sava’s

YORK Food and Drink

Once an European-style deli and party store, York has become a vibrant community hangout with its spacious, art-filled wine garden and special events. In addition to their sandwiches and charcuterie, York also features local food trucks and is the home of Bao Boys and the original Ricewood. 

John Reyes

Bellflower

Bellflower’s serves seafood-forward, New Orleans-influenced dishes in an unpretentious atmosphere that perfectly matches downtown Ypsilanti’s overall vibe. The dinner menu changes daily to take full advantage of best-available ingredients, while the lunch counter features locally-sourced salads and po’ boys served on the spot’s signature milk bread. 

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