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Posted on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 10:45 a.m.

Frugal Friday at The Brown Jug - food prices are reasonable, Wolverine memories are free

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

The annual battle for the little brown jug is tomorrow: Michigan vs. Minnesota. And so, in honor of this annual event, it only seemed fitting that today's Frugal Floozie Friday post should honor the tradition. Today, we visit an Ann Arbor institution: The Brown Jug!

This restaurant has been in Ann Arbor since 1938, and its walls are lined with pictures and miscellany relating to the Wolverines. Many people who've been in town for as many decades as I have remember it as a dark but convenient place to grab a burger and a beer. But both the dining room and the menu have been updated, and many options are available for those of us who are looking for frugal finds that cost $5 or less.

My very dear friend The Other Mary (each of us is "The Other Mary," by the way) joined me for my adventure, as neither of us had been to the Jug for years and years. Mary used to work there, back in the 70s, as a waitress; oh, the stories she can tell! It was a different time...

But I digress...

Mary and I looked over the surprisingly extensive menu and found so many options that would qualify, whether for individual portions or as split dishes. Like me, she's happy to share: you can try more foods, and you can avoid over-eating due to abundance and generosity of servings.

We started with the Feisty Feta, pictured above: "A mix of feta cheese, tomato puree, green onions and Serrano chili. Served with pita bread." It was creamy, spicy, and really delicious! At $4.99, it falls within our mandatory budget for one serving. But it was also a lot of food, so splitting it was a nice option that would allow for drinks or dessert or other dishes in addition to the appetizer.

brownjugreds chickensandwich.JPG

Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

Red's Grilled Chicken Sandwich was our next course: "Grilled chicken breast topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Served on Ciabatta bread." This very large sandwich — which comes with potato chips and a pickle and costs only $6.99 (a mere $3.50 per person when you share it with a friend) — is named in honor of legendary hockey coach Red Berenson.

The Brown Jug offers many, many items which qualify for our mandatory $5 Frugal Floozie Friday budget: pizzas are readily shared, as are appetizers. Many of the latter are priced so well that you could even order them individually: fries or chips and salsa cost $3.99; and hummus, olive pate, tzatziki, saganaki, and fried cheese sticks are all $4.99. There are lots of vegetarian dishes, as well.

The menu is fun to peruse, especially for those of us who are familiar with the folks for whom items have been named. A sampler basket of jalapeno poppers, chicken tenders, onion rings and cheese sticks honors former UM football player Braylon Edwards; and a Mediterranean salad pays tribute to Dhani Jones, TV star and former Wolverine.

Current football coach Brady Hoke receives acknowledgement in the Meat Lovers' Omelet. New England Patriots' quarterback and former UM star Tom Brady gets his tribute with a gyro sandwich. And even long-time rival Woody Hayes — infamous late coach of Ohio State — has a hot 'n' spicy Cajun chicken sandwich to remember him by (as though all the stories we still tell here in Ann Arbor aren't sufficient!).

For very friendly service, good food, excellent prices, and lots of memories and hero worship, stop by The Brown Jug for your next frugal meal.


Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

The Brown Jug
1204 S. University
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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Mary Bilyeu writes for on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, telling about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests, meeting new friends ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions, comments, or suggestions:

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — where she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related; and look for her monthly articles in the Washtenaw Jewish News. "Like" her on Facebook, or send a tweet on Twitter, too.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.