Culinary Tour of Michigan

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

I’m more than a little fixated on food. I work in the restaurant business. I write about food. Personal photo albums are dedicated to meals and ingredients. My wallet brims with receipts from restaurants. So it should be no surprise that my travel itineraries are structured to maximize breakfast, lunch, and dinner plans. When I hit the road, I’m always sure to go with an empty stomach, an open mind, and a stack of research on where to find the city’s best food. Give me a new city and I will give you a list of the top ten places to get food within just a few Google searches.

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Over the past few years, I’ve had the great pleasure of becoming part of my husband’s Michigan-based family while eating my way through the south-east part of his home state. Lucky for me, my extended Michigan family appreciates my food-centric leanings and affection for culinary fact-finding missions. Thanks to my Michigan family and friends, I have discovered much of Michigan’s diverse food scene with nary a Google search.

After coming back from my fall trip to the Ann Arbor area, I decided to backtrack a little, to see what other people had to say about my favorite Michigan food destinations. After a good deal of research, I was surprised by the lack of comprehensive listings for such a culinary rich state. In hopes of making other food lovers aware of Michigan’s food traditions, I offer you this food tour round up.

My beloved Michiganders have lead me to food destinations from Detroit, to Ann Arbor, and from Dearborn to Plymouth. Along the way I have come to know some of Michigan’s incredible food artisans, culinary experts, restaurants, farms, and specialty food shops. So if you’re ever planning to spend any time in Michigan—and you should, because it really is beautiful–I offer you this ever-expanding food tour listing for south-east Michigan.

Petting zoo at Plymouth Orchards

Ann Arbor, MI


Lisa at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Zingerman’s

Home to the University of Michigan (and its more than fifty thousand students), Ann Arbor is a quintessential college town that keeps its residents well fed at its local breweries and pubs. Also located here is one of the state’s best one-stop-shopping culinary hotspots: Zingerman’s. Starting with its Deli this small gourmet and sandwich shop began in the early 90′s and inspired a small gourmet empire—that includes a Creamery, a Bakeshop, a Road House, and an Online Catalogue. This culinary mecca caters to locals and students hungry for a Rueben (the #2), a scoop of house made gelato, artisan olive oil, imported cheeses, handcrafted candy bars, freshly baked cakes, and loaves of artisan bread.

Check out my previous post on Zingerman’s Deli with detailed suggestions of what to try and buy. Interested in a review and wrap up of  Zingerman’s Roadhouse please read this Food Buzz 24×24 post or this review. For a post that focuses on Zingerman’s commitment to service go here.

Michigan trip

Zingerman’s: The Original Deli; 422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104; (734) 663-DELI; Open everyday 7am-10pm.


Michigan trip

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market features over a hundred Michigan farmers, food artisans, and handcrafts in the historic Kerrytown District. Held every Wednesday and Saturday from May until December (and Saturdays only in January through April), this open air market is a wonderful way to discover the best of Michigan’s local food producers.

Ann Arbor Farmers Market

On my most recent trip, I discovered Roos Roast, a Michigan coffee roaster that specializes in offering high quality, freshly roasted beans. Founded by a former chef, Roos Roast coffees are roasted fresh every week and put into interesting blends like “Lobster Butter” a rich, smooth combination of Ethiopian and other beans. Beans are roasted fresh every week, and bags are individually block printed.

Roos Coffee

Ann Arbor Farmers Market: 315 Detroit St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104; (734) 794-6255. Every Wednesday and Saturday (May until December) and Saturdays only (January through April)


Michigan trip

Kerrytown Plaza

Stop by the Kerrytown Plaza for a bottle of wine from the pleasant and knowledgeable people at Every Day Wines, or grab some fresh caught fish at Monahan’s Seafood Market for the barbeque. If you need a little pick me up there’s always Sweetwaters Coffee for a cup of joe.

Kerry Town Shops: 407 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

Dearborn, MI


Once you enter the city of Dearborn, Michigan, one of the first things you notice as you drive the length of Warren Avenue are the Arabic signs posted on every billboard and the women with head scarves dressed in Islamic tunics. Unlike other cities with small, dense ethnic enclaves, this Detroit suburb has the largest Middle Eastern population outside the Middle East. Considering this fact, it should come as no surprise that the Middle Eastern food in Dearborn Michigan is some of the most authentic within the continental U.S..

Michigan Food Tour

Al-Ameer Restaurant

Of all the Middle Eastern restaurants, Al-Ameer Restaurant, is one of the most beloved by the Middle Eastern population, local cops, and value-seeking food lovers. Thanks to my friends Ibrahim and Marie-Carmen, I have discovered some of the best examples of Baba ghanoush, hummus, and kibbeh I have ever tasted. If you come with friends, be sure to order the Family Tray, a generous sampler plate that can feed ten for just $79.

Michigan Food Tour

Al-Ameer Restaurant: 12170 W. Warren, Dearborn, MI; (313) 582-8185.

Shatila

Shatila

After a good meal at Al-Ameer, be sure to swing by Shatila for dessert. Known for its traditional Arabic and French pastries, this sweet pastry box of a shop will make you wish you could try every pastry and gelato flavor.

Display at Shatila

Shatila: 12710 W. Warren Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48126; (313) 582-8185.

Plymouth, MI


Plymouth, Michigan

Thirty minutes west of Detroit, you will find this pleasantly rural community with more than just a quaint downtown to offer.

Michigan Apple Orchard

Plymouth Orchards

Plymouth Orchards opened its sixty-acre farm to visitors in 1977. With an eye on simplicity, this rural farm offers children and adults alike, wagon tours of its orchards during the fall season. The apple farm grows nine varieties of apples as well as raises a small petting zoo complete with goats, sheep, cows, ducks, and chickens. School children flock to the farm to romp through the pumpkin patch and taste the results of the hand-press cider mill.

Empire Apples from Plymouth Orchards, MI

The apples of Plymouth Orchards are flavorful and hearty. Varietals like the Northern Spy are crunchy, juicy, and sweet; good for eating and baking. Another favorite is the Cortland, a sweet and tangy cross between a Macintosh and Ben Davis apple. The Cortland is good for baking, eating, and cooking.

Plymouth Orchard's Cider Donut

Plymouth Orchards’ sweet, buttery, and slightly crunchy cider donuts (especially decadent when fresh from the oven) are not to be missed. Hot cider is especially good on a cold day.

Plymouth Orchards: 0685 Warren Rd., Plymouth, Mi. 48170; (734) 455-2290. Open Aug. 29 to Nov. 1

Other Resources

If you’re planning a culinary tour of  Michigan, here are some other valuable resources to check out before you go.

The Farmers Marketer: To find what’s fresh and local, go to the Farmer’s Marketer website to find Michigan based producers, coffee roasters and other artisan food makers.

Farmers Market: For a complete listing of Farmers Markets in Michigan.

Cortland Apples from Plymouth Orchards, MI

Plymouth Orchard’s Apple Sauce Recipe

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)
1 cup water
6 apples peeled, cored, and chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
5 whole cloves

In a 4 quart sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium for 7 min. Add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Serve warm or cold.

9 comments

  1. The Healthy Apple

    Wow; these pictures are beautiful. I’ve never been to Michigan but this is unreal! Great post and I enjoy reading your blog..wonderful content! I’m looking forward to meeting you in San Fran this weekend for the Foodbuzz Festival!

  2. Pingback: Sampler: what’s new in the world of food | The Sage of Discovery
  3. Sheila | Live Well 360°

    Michigan is my home state! When you mentioned good eats, the first thing I thought of was Zingerman’s. They made my wedding cake – best vanilla bean cake with raspberry preserves and lemon curd, with fresh, fluffy buttercream frosting I have ever had…

  4. nudnik_numan

    zingermans deli opened in 1982, but began diversifying itself into the various parts (i.e. bakery, creamery, roadhouse… ) as you said, in the 90′s. also …

    GO TO ANGELO’S IN ANN ARBOR FOR BREAKFAST. yes it’s in all caps for a reason. also a few fine restaurants that are newer (last 10 years) to the area are: the grange, focusing on local food, eve, with it’s talented and dishy chef and vinology, where i’ve had some of the most memorable meals and wines of my life.
    kerrytown is also home to the best sushi and traditional japanese food in the great lakes/rust belt. it’s right next to eve no, it’s not the midwest.

    the next time you are in the detroit area, make sure to check out buddys or shields pizza or any other pizza place that’s been around for decades. detroit has it’s own distinctive pizza style. square, semi dish, with sauce ladled in alleys on top of the cheese, toppings under the cheese. a bit of a sicilian influence.
    or the eastern market in detroit. just look it up on google images. the detroit area has so much to offer a foodie in the know.

    if you miss it, move back you quitter.

  5. Vincent

    Nice post. I’ve never been to MI, this Zingermans sounds like a reason to make my way over there…love good deli sandwich! I like middle eastern pastries too…but I have to say I’m not shatila’s biggest fan. If you want the best pastries I would have to say check out http://www.mansoura.com/. I ordered from here….pastries to die for!

    Happy eating!

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