Once upon a time I was a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Sure, Ann Arbor may be famous for having the school, but it is almost as famous for having a little deli called Zingerman’s. Well, back in 2003 they opened a non-deli restaurant called Zingerman’s Roadhouse far off campus and I paid them a visit. At the time, all I needed to be happy was a $1 slice of pizza (okay very little has changed) and I wasn’t much for the fancy stuff. So, at the time Zingerman’s Roadhouse did very little for me and simply didn’t feel special.
Now, nearly ten years later I found myself back in Ann Arbor willing to give the place a second chance. What I found was a Zingerman’s Roadhouse totally unlike the one of my memory. Rather than struggling to find something that looked good to eat, I struggled to pick just one thing. Although it was brunch, I was torn between BBQ and breakfast. Ultimately, I went with breakfast, but not before letting the waiter know my conundrum.
In true Zingerman’s fashion, the waiter brought me some of their Pit-Smoked BBQ Beef to try out on the house. I have to say it was quite awesome on many levels. The first of which being that it was literally cooked up outside in the dead of winter. The second of which was that it was juicy, flavorful and perfectly tender. Finally, the Alex’s Red Rage Tomato BBQ sauce on it was also a winner. Yet, while it was tasty, I was happy that I went with breakfast.
That’s because my breakfast was their Georgia Grits & Bits Waffle. The sweet and savory take on the waffle uses grits and Vermont cheddar cheese in the actual waffle batter. It sounds heavy, but somehow Zingerman’s Roadhouse has found the perfect ratio to make this unique without weighing the waffle down. But that’s not all, it’s also topped with bacon and bonus shredded cheddar. On the side is some local Michigan Maple Syrup to pour all over. The waffle is delicious without the syrup, but the syrup pushes it into a whole new dimension of sweet and savory perfection.
Despite the Zingerman’s name, I had low expectations for my revisit to Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Even with all the good press it has gotten, I thought I was going to be let down. To my surprise, Zingerman’s Roadhouse ridiculously exceeded those expectations. Not only was the “Zingerman’s touch” apparent in every aspect of the restaurant (awesome staff, unique flavors, hand-picked ingredients…), the food itself was simply superb. In the past I would have recommended a dozen or so Ann Arbor restaurants before getting to the roadhouse. Now, I’ll go on a limb and say it is a must-eat.