Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Midwest Tastes Best: Ann Arbor

This three-part blog series highlights the food and coffee in the three cities Jorje and I visited on our bi-annual Midwest trip. My hope is to document the week of food and, if you happen to be looking for very specific recommendations for three Midwestern cities, you may get something out of it as well.

Part one: Indianapolis
Part two: Grand Rapids
Part three (this blog): Ann Arbor

Listed is a little bit of our experience and info on each place including what stood out, links to their websites, and the location of our visit though many have multiple locations in the designated city.

Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor has long had a reputation as a college-town full of artsy folks with quality food options. As I grow older (or rather, into full adulthood), Jorje and I are able to more fully enjoy this and, now having close friends Dauthan and Amanda living a few minutes outside the downtown area, we have friends who can give us the up-to-the-minute scoop on what's new and exciting.

Kerrytown ||

Zingerman's is a staple of Ann Arbor though this was our first visit to the famed deli, creamery, etc. Dauthan promptly asked one of the very knowledgeable employees for "an authentic Zingerman's experience." This led to trying fifteen or so different cheeses including both goat and cow varieties with a full explanation of each - all with little pressure to buy. My biggest take-away was that these people loved food and went all out to create the best products. As way of a full meal, we got sandwiches, a side of soup, and cane sugar sodas and then Jorje opted for a tiny dish of gelato to finish things off. 
Must-have: a sample of everything

Frita Batidos

Described as "Cuban Inspired Street Food," Frita Batidos has some legit, unique options. The staple dish is a frita, a Cuban burger made from chorizo with shoestring fries on top. Add some garlic cilantro fries and a rum infused fresh lime batido (milkshake), and you'll be good to go. We stopped by this place over New Year's Eve last year but I opted out of the burger to save room for further courses - I was glad to have the full experience this time around. 
Must-have: Chorizo Frita, Garlic Cilantro Fries

Downtown ||
Upon typing this review up, I'm realizing that I really just like well-made coffee more than any other special feature and with their use of Intelligentsia coffee, they didn't disappoint. With that said, Lab offers a few froyo flavors in addition to their coffee. Additionally, they are intentional about creating a space for people to interact and converse with each other (like Silicon Valley's labs where people are consistently building off of each other) they try to pour into the local community. To be honest, the service was fine though felt a little bit elitist. Coffee was delicious.
Must-have: anything coffee

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