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Posted on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10 a.m.

Make your plans now for Ann Arbor Restaurant Week

By Jessica Webster

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There will be a variety of pizzas to choose from at Mani Osteria during Ann Arbor Restaurant Week.

Melanie Maxwell |

Editor's note: The ending date for Restaurant Week has been corrected in the following article.

The easiest way to stick to your New Year's resolutions is to make them something attainable and enjoyable. Cheating, you say? Maybe. But why not make a resolution to try more, explore more, and taste more?

With me so far? Then boy do I have good news for you. Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is nearly upon us. Here's our chance to sample food from 52 participating Ann Arbor eateries, all offering prix fixe lunch and dinner menus, Jan. 20-25.

I spoke with Maura Thomson, director of the Main Street Area Association, the organization behind this semiannual event. She's excited about the event and the number and variety of restaurants involved.

"We have more restaurants than ever. I want to say last January I think we had 46. And we’re up to 52. But I'm super excited about some of our new participating restaurants."

New eateries on the scene have jumped on the promotion, including Lena, Isalita, and Grand Traverse Pie Company.


Frita Batidos will be offering both a Cuban-inspired menu and selections from chef Eve Aronoff's previous venture, eve the restaurant.

Jessica Webster |

This year we've also got some veteran restaurants joining the fray, including Frita Batidos. This is the first year that chef and proprietress Eve Aronoff is participating in Restaurant Week, and her mantra appears to be: "go big or go home."

Thomson explains: "She is going to do two separated menus for Restaurant Week. She will offer food from the Frita Batidos menu with two for one pricing for lunch and dinner. But she will also be showcasing an eve-inspired menu at dinner."

That's right, friends. Head over to Frita Batidos at dinnertime during Restaurant Week and you'll get a taste of favorites from the late, lamented eve the restaurant. We're talking inspired nachos and pot de creme here. You can see the menu for Frita Batidos and all of the other participating restaurants on the Restaurant Week site:

Regular Restaurant Week goers will notice that the price has jumped $3 this year, with lunches priced at $15 and dinners at $28. I asked Maura Thomson about it.

"We started (Restaurant Week) in June 2009, and until now we’ve kept the price consistent. But I think people are all aware that food costs have gone up considerably. We wanted to keep up the quality and integrity of the event," said Thomson.

"We didn’t want restaurants not showing their best because they were constrained by higher food costs. The point of it is to introduce people to the best food we have here in Ann Arbor."


Conor O’Neill’s is one of 23 restaurants offering 2-for-1 pricing during Restaurant Week.

The good news for diners is that with this price increase, more restaurants have the flexibility to offer two-for-one pricing, so good deals are to be had. A total of 23 restaurants will have two-for-one specials at lunch and dinner, with another handful offering just reduced lunch specials.

The best deals, perhaps, are to be had at Grand Traverse Pie Company and Jazzy Veggie, where both lunch and dinner are just two for $15.

Planning your trips out for your first Ann Arbor Restaurant Week experiences? Here are a few tips I've picked up over the years:

1. Make a reservation. According to Maura Thomson, some restaurants are already reporting heavy reservations for the week. Make your call as soon as possible to get in to your favorites.

2. Don't forget that, with a few exceptions, drinks are not included in the price. Make sure to allow for that in your budget.

3. Even with reservations, plan to spend a little longer waiting, whether it's for a table or for your food. Other than Art Fair, this is as busy as most restaurants find themselves, and even the best preparations sometimes go awry.

Here's my most important tip: be generous. Waitstaff are working hard, often for checks much lower than usual. You're getting a good deal on your meal; try to budget enough to be fair with your tip.

The full list of participating restaurants: Amadeus Restaurant, Arbor Brewing Company, The Arena, Argiero’s, Bandito's California Style, bd's Mongolian Grill, The Black Pearl, The Blue Nile, The Blue Tractor, Cafe Felix, Carlyle Grill, Carson’s American Bistro, The Chop House, Conor O’Neill’s, The Original Cottage Inn, The Earle, Frita Batidos, Gandy Dancer, Grand Traverse Pie Company, Grange Kitchen & Bar, Gratzi, Grizzly Peak, Isalita, Jamaican Jerk Pit, Jazzy Veggie, Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery, Lena, Logan, Mahek, Mani Osteria & Bar, Marnee Thai Restaurant, Mediterrano, Mélange, The Melting Pot, Metzger’s, Mercy's, Miki Japanese Restaurant, Old Town Tavern, Pacific Rim, Palio, Prickly Pear Cafe, The Quarter Bistro, The Ravens Club, Real Seafood Company, Satchel’s BBQ, Sabor Latino, Sava’s on State, Seva, Shalimar, Silvio's Organic Pizza, Vinology Wine Bar & Restaurant, and Weber's Restaurant.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Sarah MacDonald

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

There is still Earthen Jar with over 20 dishes to choose from! They taste amazing and now have a TON of gluten free desserts


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Reads like ad copy.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 4:54 a.m.

I'm going to White Caste, love my gut bombs.

Patrick Haggood

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

Paesano on Washtenaw ave, or Frita Batidos


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

Restaurant Week: When all the best restaurants serve all their worst food. Pass.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

Overpriced, to say the least.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

I like restaurant week because it helps businesses during the slow period in January, but also it encourages me to eat at restaurants that I never go to.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Yes...YES! *mad laugh*

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

Blimpy Burger. Where's my Quint?

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

It really isn't. A quint is "only" a half pound. It does seem like more, even when I make them at home. There's something about breaking a normal patty into little patties.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

Blimpy Burger, being cheaper than food to begin with, is not participating in Restaurant Week. I don't think I've ever ordered a quint. Isn't that a pretty formidable beef-to-bread ratio?


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

I particularly favor your unnumbered 4th tip, to be generous with the waitstaff. They work hard and, assuming the service and food warrant it (not always true), deserve to be rewarded for their diligence. From the article, "I spoke with Maura Thomson, director of the Main Street Area Association, the organization behind this biannual event." Biannual is a word with ambiguous meaning - twice a year, once every two years? My advice is to use "semiannual" for maximum clarity.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

Good point, Jessica, about the waitstaff's responsibility. I agree that they should not be held responsible for matters beyond their control. Thanks.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

I never hold waitstaff responsible for food quality, for what it's worth. I do hold them responsible for how they respond to issues that might arise about food quality, though. Customer service is their purview.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

Hey thanks, DBH. I'll use your excellent advice and make that change. I appreciate it.

Morris Thorpe

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

Here's how most restaurant-themed articles on this site look to me: Rah rah rah....Frita Batidos....rah rah rah....Mani....rah rah rah ...Zingernman's.

Tony Livingston

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:54 a.m.

Agreed. Tmaz is great food. But since they are neither fancy nor downtown they don't get the press.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Morris - here's a story we did on Miki when they changed ownership and updated their menu. I ate there recently and was very happy with my experience - you should give them a try if you're a sushi fan.

Morris Thorpe

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

Kyle, I did know about that article. In fact, you'll even see me praising right in the comments section! So don't discount me as one of your regular bashers :)

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

Zingerman's is mentioned often because they are awesome, and use only the best ingredients. Their bread and pies are incredible. It isn't the garbage ingredient list you get from a Grand Traverse pie company pie, or most other places. The Zingermans business is a huge draw to out of town visitors. Mediocre delis are common. Boar's head meat? Spare me. In the 80's and 90's, Zingerman's was pushing the envelope by offering rare imported retail products that just weren't available otherwise in A2. Now you can get many of those things elsewhere, but that wasn't always the case. When the Zingerman's founders approached banks for loans to start the business, the banks told them to go away. So yeah, keep mentioning Zingermans.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Hi MT- You may have noticed more stories about those businesses more recently due to the fact that they have made recent changes or investments eg: Zingerman's $6.7 million expansion, Adam Baru opening a second restaurant next to Mani Osteria, etc. We do lean some of our coverage to the immediate downtown area due to concentration of establishments, but make a conscious effort to include those in the surrounding area as well. Tmaz is a great example as they were featured in a review a few months back:

Morris Thorpe

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

a2roots, Of the ones listed? Probably Metzger's. Of those not listed? Tmaz on Packard, for sure. My point is...I know nothing about many of the places listed (Black Pearl, Miki, Marnee...) No one can deny that my aforementioned restaurants get lots of words dedicated to them here. Hey, if they're's pets, so be it. But I feel for the other restaurants who get little if any coverage at all.

Jessica Webster

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

The best deals, as noted above, are from Jazzy Veggie and Grand Traverse.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

So MT, what is your preference?