Culinary Mecca: Zingerman's Deli

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli

Almost everyone has their favorite place to eat when they go home. If you’re from New England it could be the down-the-road clam shack with its towering fried seafood plate and fresh-from-the-sea lobster rolls. Maybe it’s the pizza joint that’s been making pies for generations. If you’re from the South, your first meal might be at the mom and pop BBQ joint with the fall from the bone ribs, or the railroad car diner that serves the greatest fried chicken and grits.

If you grew up in the Midwest, more than likely, Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor Michigan is not only on the top of your list of places to visit, it IS the list.

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli

Started on the ides of March in 1982, Zingerman’s began as a small, brick faced delicatessen. Zingerman’s quickly became a local favorite for their reuben, hand-made sandwiches, and unbelievably impeccable customer service. Since its opening, Zingerman’s has continued to grow in popularity, spurring Zingerman’s growth into a culinary mecca.

Rather than letting its popularity propel the business outside of Michigan, Zingerman’s has remained fiercely loyal to the locals. Zingerman’s continues to grow and currently has numerous well-run eateries that include a creamery (for home made gelatos, ice cream and cheeses), a bake house (for freshly baked bread and sweet treats), a coffee shop (for gourmet coffee and bake house treats), a Road House (for delicious, regional American food and handmade cocktails) and ZingTrain, a consulting and training branch that teaches business the successful business and training models of their business.

Ever since opening day 26 years ago, lunch customers can still be seen braving the elements to line up around the block to wait their turn for a Zingerman’s sandwich. Everyone has a different strategy to finding the best sandwich. Some never stray from the classics (the #2 Ruben, the #11 Pastrami special, the #48 Binny’s Brooklyn Reuben, the #73 Tarb’s Tenacious Tenure), while others adventure beyond the usual and try to sample all the newest staff-created sandwiches.

What you should know before you go:

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli
Study the menu. There are lots of great choices!

Get a hold of the deli menu and study it before you arrive. Ruminate. Plan. Know what you’re getting before you step through the front door.

Get in line at Zingerman's Deli and get inspired!

Zingerman’s award-winning signage, eye catching food packaging and delicious aromas can easily distract a person.

The Zingerman’s food counters are to any foodie, what sirens were to seafarers. Planning ahead will allow you to leisurely peruse the cheese and bread counters, rather than sweating your choices as you furiously struggle read the small print on the sandwich boards.

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli
Peruse the cheese. Oh the cheese!

If you’re only visiting once, try a few things. Get a pastry. Sample some cheese. Splurge and get two sandwiches.

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli
Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli
Zingerman's Bakery

Eat half and save the rest for the drive (or flight) home. Drink a delicious coffee handpicked by the owners from a far away coffee plantation.

Buy something from the retail area. Olive oil, jelly, cookies and cookbooks travel well. Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating will teach you how to find all the foods you’ve been longing for.

Culinary mecca: Zingerman's Deli

Zingerman’s Deli
422 Detroit Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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Brooke Burton nominated for best food writing

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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

3 Comments

  1. Steve
    July 13
    Reply

    Even loyal Ohioans, let alone us turncoats, know that Zingerman’s is The List. How good was that Randolph’s Grand Debut?

    Hope you guys had a great trip.

  2. Maggie
    August 25
    Reply

    I could have used an extra loan for my Zingerman’s cheese fund in college. It’s still my last stop out of Ann Arbor whenever I visit so I can take something good home.

  3. […] Others go to shrines, nature, the farmers market, or a synagogue for a higher message. For me, mecca is a tiny delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan named […]

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