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Posted on Thu, Sep 2, 2010 : 5:11 a.m.

Sidetrack Bar and Grill remains a favorite for quality pub food

By Julie Halpert


An Amtrak train rolls through Depot Town next to Sidetrack.

File photo

I've enjoyed my prior visits to Sidetrack Bar and Grill, a popular dining destination in Ypsilanti's historic Depot Town, but found the cigarette smell a big negative. Michigan's new law banning smoking in restaurants makes this restaurant an even better destination.

Sidetrack, which has been owned by Linda French for the past 30 years, provides a wide variety of pub fare: burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas, soups and salads, as well as hearty dishes like mac 'n' cheese and baby-back ribs, that many patrons happily wash down with a beer. Sidetrack offers 16 beers on tap and more than 50 in bottles. And there's built-in entertainment here: the trains that whisk by on the track that sits beside the restaurant.

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Onion rings cooked in trans fat-free cooking oil at Sidetrack Bar and Grill in Ypsilanti.

File photo

To take advantage of Sidetrack's best features, you should abandon any plans of watching calories. One of my favorites is the homemade beer-battered onion rings. Gigantic rounds, they're thick, a little bit greasy, delicious and, as my daughter pointed out, the onion doesn't slide out from the skin when you bite into them. The mozzarella cheese sticks are equally as good, with a fresh, not frozen taste, oozing with hot melted cheese. Hand cut sweet potato fries are another, slightly healthier, indulgence. The only fried dish that failed on a recent visit was the regular fries, which arrived limp and undercooked instead of well done as my husband requested.

The tomato bisque soup was heavenly. Thick and creamy, perfectly seasoned, with big chunks of tomatoes, it was as good as I've had in far more upscale restaurants. The house salad also was a standout, full of fresh greens, and tomatoes that tasted like they'd been plucked from a nearby garden. I especially liked the blue cheese and ranch dressing. Those same healthful ingredients were part of the very berry spinach salad, a new offering that wasn't substantial enough to be a main course salad. The thin, uninteresting raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing was served on the side and didn't add much to the mix of fruit and greens, along with bland chicken breast.


Sidetrack Bar and Grill
56 East Cross, Ypsilanti

  • Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. every day.
  • Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express.
  • Liquor: Yes.
  • Prices: Inexpensive. Some sandwiches are only $6.50. Many dishes are in the $8.00 range.
  • Value: Very good.
  • Noise Level: Loud.
  • Wheelchair access: Yes.

But the rest of our meals were first-rate, including the Louisiana whitefish sandwich, fresh fish cooked in a flavorful, spicy corn meal with a tangy sauce. The classic club sandwich featured fresh turkey on wonderful toasted wheat bread.

Baby-back ribs are always a highlight here. I can't get enough of the tender pieces of meat that easily peels off the bone, smothered in sweet, syrupy barbecue sauce.

Though the food was nearly flawless, we weren't able to enjoy our dining experience as much as we'd like because of the server. Along with a couple of mistakes in orders, we waited an excessive amount of time for our entrees, desserts and our bill — with no apologies. It's a shame that the service was so poor on this visit, but the food here is as good as ever.

Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for



Fri, Sep 3, 2010 : 6:31 p.m.

I agree Gizmo,Tell us what kind of crowd hangs out there,what other foods are on the menu besides what you ate.How about going there more than once and have something different the next time.You are our eyes,ears and mouth for the places your reviewing so we can know if we want to go there or not

Ypsi Gizmo

Thu, Sep 2, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

My husband and I are at Sidetrack almost once every week, it's one of our favorites and we eat out quite a bit. I was excited to see the review, but after reading, I must say I am quite disappointed with the quality of this review. This review in no way gives you a sense of the place. Sidetrack is defintiely *not* your typical pub. This is a very quirky place, with old signs and a moose, and a cozy fireplace in the main room. There is ample covered seating outside; on a warm night you can find a vibrant community chatting and enjoying the night out. Sidetrack is literally on the side of the tracks and when the train comes by, the whole place shakes & rattles. I can't believe I didn't see the burgers mentioned in this article, nor the chili! Both are world class & have been awarded many kudos (as previously noted by Oprah & several national magazines). I often take my vegetarian friends here, their tempeh and other vegetarian offerings are to die for and you can never go wrong with Linda's Big Spring Salad, which is more than enough for a meal. Sidetrack also has an amazing tap list, with a good showing of local beers, along with a few international offerings; my only request would be that they rotate them a bit more frequently and offer more "special" beers like they used to. They keep their tap lines clean & the late night happy hour makes a night out very affordable. As for service, in over 100 visits, we've had mediocre service 3-4 times, the rest was stellar. If you haven't been to Sidetrack, ignore this review & go. And, can we get some better, more-in-depth restaurant reviews that truly give you a sense of the place?


Thu, Sep 2, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

My wife and I visit Sidetrack at least once a week and have enjoyed every visit. I am mostly a vegetarian and for me Sidetrack is paradise. I particularly like the vegie Reuben sandwich made with Tempeh. Other dishes use Tempeh and if you have not yet tasted it you should. The Gazpacho with sour cream is outstanding but only available during the summer. It is gone now (Oh, well!). My wife has enjoyed the ribs and also the pulled pork sandwich which is gigantic! She takes half home to eat later. The service has always been prompt and congenial with few mistakes. Sidetrack does have a training program as I have witnessed trainees tagging along with seasoned servers. If a server presents a problem the manager needs to be informed. If you are truly hungry and do not wish to wait for main dishes you can always request that your server deliver soups and salads promptly before receiving your main order. Also consider ordering the delicious sweet potato fries with Sidetrack's addictive spicy dipping sauce. Bon Appetit!


Thu, Sep 2, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

Sidetrack is one of my favorite places in town. The past few times I've been there, my visits have been plagued by bad service as well. I hope they get the service piece together because I love this place.