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Posted on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Dining in the eye of the hurricane - 5 places to eat out during the U-M-Notre Dame game

By Jessica Webster


Knights Steakhouse

Even if you don't have tickets to Saturday's Notre Dame game under the lights, every Ann Arbor resident knows that you have to plan your day around the massive influx of traffic and football revelry.

For most of us, it means hunkering down and watching the game from the comfort of our living room, but it doesn't have to be that way.

"We are passing on the game and instead have reservations to eat downtown in the 'eye of the hurricane' at 8:00," wrote my friend Jim on Facebook.

While it's true that making your way across town before or after a Michigan football game is next to impossible, the truth is that once those 107,500 people have taken their seats and the game has kicked off, the rest of Ann Arbor gets eerily quiet.

Here's a short list of 5 places in Ann Arbor where you can eat good food between 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, during the 'eye of the hurricane':

Isalita (341A E. Liberty St.)

Excellent small plate Mexican dining from the same team that brought us Mani Osteria. I love the Mexican Street Corn and the Queso Fundido. Bonus: Isalita is offering Coronita Buckets for $5 during the game from any seats that have a view of game on the bar-mounted televisions. Reservations accepted for parties larger than 6: 734-213-7400

Knight's Steakhouse (2324 Dexter Avenue)

In addition to having the best, or at least the stiffest, drinks in town, Knight's has a great menu of bar food and salads to go with their legendary steaks. TVs are mounted in the bar, and you will be able to see the game from many of the tables in the restaurant. Bonus: their "out of this world" brisket is on special this weekend. Reservations accepted: 734-665-8644

Zingerman's Roadhouse (2501 Jackson Ave)

Upscale comfort food reigns supreme in this westside Zingerman's outpost. Grab a seat in the bar area and enjoy some barbecue or macaroni and cheese along with a cool Michigan draft beer. Reservations accepted: 734-663-3663.

The Raven's Club (207 South Main St.)

This cozy, speakeasy-themed Main Street restaurant is known for craft cocktails and locally-focused small plates. The restaurant's new chef is earning rave reviews from friends, especially the burger and the heirloom carrot and polenta small plate. And yes, there are televisions at the bar. Reservations accepted: 734-214-0400.

Jolly Pumpkin (311 South Main St.)

Nationally renowned for Belgian-style beers brewed in Dexter, the Ann Arbor outpost for this brewpub is also an excellent destination for hand-tossed pizzas, inventive salads, small plates and sandwiches. The game will be on in the bar, and TVs are visible at some of the tables. Reservations accepted until 6 p.m.: 734-913-2730

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for, a part of the MLive Media Group. Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Lou Perry

Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

On game days Weber's has a "special" menu v. regular menu. The game day menu has the same items but at higher prices. Don't know if other restaurants do the same.


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

Will there ever or is there now a place acknowledged as having go food, that does not serve alcohol?


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

I ate at Palm Palace last night (yes, former Bill Knapps spot). We had a great meal, under $20 with desert, and they do not serve alcohol.


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Michigan Man proves the point. There is PROFIT in alcohol. Bill Knapps (which marketed themselves to an older crowd) and could not change to attract younger people. Older people are not a great restaurant market for many reasons 1. They dont eat as much 2. They do not eat late 3. They tend to not spend as much 4. They repel younger people 5. They die and then you have lost a customer.


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Maybe what jcj means is that places that don't serve alcohol usually don't have noisy drunks?


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

See you guys at al anon!

Boo Radley

Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

I have never been in a restaurant that required that I order alcohol.


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Michigan man, William sleeps was a great place, they have a Facebook page check it out


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

How many of the acknowledged restaurants require patrons to order alcohol?

Michigan Man

Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

Remember and long live Bill Knapps!


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

An article today on student drinking. Yet every place mentioned had to have the type of drinks they serve acknowledged as well! Is it any wonder students binge drink?


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

I see, there is a direct correlation between fine restaurants open during the game and student binge drinking. Not everyone has a problem with reasonable drinking.


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

I have lived here for over 30 years. Most of it in Ann Arbor until 20 years ago to Ypsi. What I find interesting is and I agree with this article most heartedly, yes, the denizens come out of their shelters to do whatever needs to be done in the time frame of the home game, finish and then run back to their shelters to weather out the football storm as I call it and on Sunday? Pray December can't come fast enough. So glad I moved out of the area. There are great restaurants in Ypsi that don't have to weather the storm and I like it that way.

The Eyes of Justice Team

Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 10:19 a.m.

Ravens Club is not good. Dont waste your time....


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

I've been there several times and had good food and good service every time.

Jamie P.

Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 1:45 a.m.

Downtown Ann Arbor is insane during these football weekends. I just attempted to eat at 5 different restaurants all with over 45 minute waits. I already miss summer time in Ann Arbor.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

Please stop talking about Knights! It belongs to us townies that have been going for years, it's already packed with the people that have been it's regulars. The rest of you can go to their soon to open downtown location but leave the original to us, the select few. But if you absolutely MUST go then go during lunch when you will have a better shot at getting a table. Their lunch menu burgers are a great value.


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Surest way to kill a restaurant is to let it in the hands of the old time regulars. The old time patrons begin to die and then you are left with an empty restaurant. Ask Bill Knapps how appealing to the geriatics crowd did for them


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 11 a.m.

Believe it or not I have seen them but never visited them. Want to but they are too out of the way for were we live. Enjoy your local venue.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

Ravens Club 's website says it doesn't take reservations for parties smaller than 6. I would be shocked if you could get a restaurant in town to take a reservation this Saturday. I like Mac's in Saline for football Saturdays :)


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

I just checked the Grange and they have some later reservations available on their website.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

Oh and for those of you who won't run up the tab with ethyl, don't forget if you are going to sit there for the whole the game to tip your server well. They count on turnover of tables to make money.


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

Excellent point! Two thumbs up!


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Logan and Vinology take reservations even for small parties. And there's Shalimar, Frita Batidos, the Earle, etc.

Jessica Webster

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

Also great choices! You've named a few of my favorite restaurants. Do you know if The Earle has a TV at the bar?

Linda Diane Feldt

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

The best bet is to stop by the Homegrown Festival at The Farmer's Market. Samples and vendors for a full meal and local beer and wine and music as well!


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

I wish this was mentioned in the article!


Sat, Sep 7, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

The Cosmo burgers are to die for. Use to get them all the time when I lived in that area. Don't but do keep dreaming I might get back there some day.

Steve Bean

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Local shelter from the storm. See you there.

Jessica Webster

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

That's exactly where I will be, LDF! See you there?


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

French Dip, medium rare, with mushrooms and Swiss cheese please.


Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Jolly doesn't take reservations after 6 pm, and there are only a few tables with a good view of a tv, just FYI.

Jessica Webster

Fri, Sep 6, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Thanks Kat. I didn't think JP took reservations, but the Yelp page indicated that they do and I couldn't get anyone on the phone over at the restaurant. I've adjusted the text now.