Where to go: Frita Batidos
This Cuban-inspired restaurant hones in on the street food trend with a twist on a traditional burger that is flavorful and robust. The Frita Batidos burger is made with your choice of ground meat (chorizo, black beans, chicken, fish, or beef) and spices and your choice of toppings like a fried egg, tropical slaw, or avocado spread. The burger is served with shoestring garlic Parmesan fries that come with a garlic-mayo dipping sauce. For those looking to go the extra mile, the restaurant also serves tropical milkshakes with fruit, ice, and sweetened milk. Patrons can choose to kick up their milkshake with a shot of rum, if they so choose.
Where to go: The Beet Box
One of the most innovative culinary spots in all of Ann Arbor is Mark’s Carts, a courtyard garden that is home to eight different food trucks serving everything from authentic Mexican to homemade pizza. But one cart that is a true standout is The Beet Box, a health-inspired truck that specializes in everything beet-related. From freshly made beet juice to quinoa bowls filled with beets and fresh goat cheese, this local spot allows the vegetable to shine in many different ways. All of the carts on the premises prepare their cuisine in a shared commercial kitchen.
Within only a few block radius, the town is also home to restaurants like Seva, a vegetarian and gluten-free-friendly establishment that offers everything from salads to sandwiches, as well as Amadeus, a classic Old-World restaurant that serves Polish, Hungarian, and Austrian cuisine. The Salzburg chicken salad entrée that includes shredded cooked chicken, carrots, celery, onions, golden raisins, and slivered almonds, mixed with a creamy homemade dressing, is a local favorite.
Where to go: Café Zola
Café Zola looks like any ordinary coffee shop, but the restaurant with Turkish routes serves up some incredibly tasty dishes that far surpass the run-of-the-mill casual spot. The Turkish eggs breakfast is a complete meal filled with Mediterranean flavors. It includes two oven-baked eggs with organic spinach and feta cheese, served with slices of tomatoes and cucumbers topped with mixed olives.
Where to go: Mani Osteria
This sleek Italian osteria is known for its wood-burning ovens that churn out tasty artisan pizzas, like the Tartufo (fontina, black truffles, and egg), and homemade pastas. The restaurant also offers other delicious authentic dishes like the whole branzino with fennel, olives, and salsa verde, a light but filling dish with balanced flavors that just may beat any pizza out there. Another menu favorite is the crispy pork belly with apricot marmalata and oregano. While a direct contrast to the branzino with its hearty and robust texture, it’s best to share this delicacy as an appetizer.
Where to go: The Ravens Club
This restaurant is part of the revived Prohibition cocktail movement that features classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, and the Dark and Stormy, among others. It also has a variety of gin and rum cocktails for all palates, most notably the Prohibition martini made with Broker’s gin, Noilly Pratt vermouth, orange curacao, and TRC orange bitters. Locals and college kids alike enjoy the laid-back atmosphere that offers live music on the weekends.
Where to go: Blue Nile
If you decide to have an authentic Ethiopian dining experience, it’s wise to order the Ethiopian platter as a way to sample all of the restaurant’s meat and vegetable dishes. There are a variety of dishes such as lentils, chopped collard greens, yellow split peas, and cabbage with onions, garlic, jalapeños, and spices. For meats, the platter has tender chicken and lamb cooked with herbed butter with onions, garlic, and jalapeños. In true Ethiopian tradition, the feast is served on a large round platter. The meal is traditionally meant to be eaten with your hands, scooping up a mixture of items with Ethiopian bread. Indulge in a delicious spiced Ethiopian tea to complete the experience.