On Finding a Few New Hometown Favorites
By Luis D. Quiñonez, MBA ‘18
From the outside, Ann Arbor and Sacramento, Calif., seemed like polar opposites.
One is the capital of the most populous state in the nation, America's farm-to-fork capital with a Mediterranean climate and wine country in its backyard. The other was, I thought, a quintessential “college town.”
When moving to Ann Arbor to attend Ross, I knew one of the things I would miss the most about California was my favorite restaurants and hangouts. I didn’t exactly know what to expect from the bar and food scene here — but how could Ann Arbor compare to my favorite Tower Cafe?
When I visited campus prior to enrolling, I visited a few places multiple times (Good Time Charley’s, The Brown Jug, Rush, and LIVE). These are all great and unique to Ann Arbor, but I knew that when I moved here I needed to explore further.
It wasn’t long before my uncertainty about Ann Arbor faded away. I’ve definitely found some new favorites here that I’ll miss just as much as Tower Cafe when I graduate.
FRITA BATIDOS - CUBAN-INSPIRED STREET FOOD
The first restaurant I visited as a student was Frita Batidos, a Cuban-inspired street food restaurant. I followed the advice of a friend and ordered the Chorizo Frita, which was delicious!
The Frita is a burger made of chorizo with shoestring fries on top in an egg bun. That’s my usual when I visit. The Coconut Cream Batido and churros are great complements to round out a fine meal.
Since that first visit, every time I have out of town visitors, I take them to Frita Batidos. I promise you will not be disappointed. It’s definitely an Ann Arbor staple.
FRED’S - JUST LIKE THE HIPSTERS BACK HOME
Other great restaurants I enjoy frequenting with friends are Jolly Pumpkin and Fred’s.
Fred’s reminds me of a restaurant I can find back home. It’s a farm-to-fork, fresh organic restaurant, the kind of hipster place you can find throughout California (especially in the Bay Area and Los Angeles). Fred’s poke bowls and smoothies are great.
BRUNCH - SO MUCH BRUNCH
If you have friends in town for the weekend, Sava’s and Afternoon Delight are great restaurants for brunch. Heck, even if you don’t have friends in town, you can’t go wrong. Sava’s has a brunch buffet that will blow you away. Unless, of course, you recently had Afternoon Delight’s famous muffins, which will weigh you down enough to keep you on earth.
WHISKEY - SO MUCH WHISKEY
But also make sure to pay a visit to The Last Word and Raven’s Club — especially if you’re a whiskey aficionado. Both places will not disappoint.
The Last Word you need to know how to find. The speakeasy doesn’t have a sign and it's tucked away down a side street. There is a great ambience to catch up with friends, and they offer a wide selection of whiskey from around the world.
There’s no doubt I’ll miss these new favorites when I graduate and move back to California.
But I’ll miss more than that — I‘ll miss weekly dinner hangouts with friends as we try different restaurants throughout Ann Arbor. I’ll miss debating whether we should try the Spanish tapas place or the French bistro place, or maybe that new Nepalese place that just opened or the trendy cheese and wine place on Liberty that was recently written up in the Washington Post.
There are some differences between Ann Arbor and California — but they are nowhere near the polar opposites I assumed they would be.