You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 11:04 a.m.

Wolverine Grill offers well-done diner fare at bargain prices

By Julie Halpert

Kevin Hill decided to take over the Wolverine Grill because he's a strong supporter of downtown Ypsilanti. "I didn't think a business, especially one that was a prominent part of our community, should be closed," he said. Wolverine Grill, owned by the same family since 1963, closed in October of 2011. Hill opened it in March, 2012 and is in the process of unveiling a host of new menu items.

Hill is eager to make the restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Ypsilanti, part of the downtown revival. Aside from cleaning, painting and refurbishing the equipment, "we did not change the character" of the place, he said. The bigger changes are in the menu. "We're making a serious attempt to go with as fresh and close to local as we can get," including drawing from the nearby Growing Hope urban farm. He also hopes to begin offering "signature items that people anticipate having," including Prime Rib scramble and a pulled pork breakfast sandwich.

We were a bit skeptical about this place when we entered. Wolverine Grill has a slightly dingy feel and shows its age. It's as if you're walking into a relic, a place that seems unchanged from this time, with no updates in the decor.

Outside, an old fashioned sign saying "Wolverine Grill, " along with "Enjoy Coca Cola," hints at the 1960s-era feel. There are black and white checkerboard floors underneath hard, simple booths and linoleum tables. A long row of old-fashioned silver stools are available for seating in front of counters that resemble the drugstore dining of a bygone era. Music from the 1960s and 1970s played in the background; we could hear Aretha Franklin belting "Son of a Preacher Man" on our second visit. It's clean, but basic.

But the simplicity and understated appearance belies what you get here: first-rate, fresh food at prices that are hard to find in the Ann Arbor area.

Wolverine Grill's menu isn't fancy. There are hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, a few dinner entrees and breakfast items, which are served all day. Different symbols beside each dish to let you know which is vegetarian or gluten-free. Hill says those with gluten allergies can be assured that his homemade potatoes and hamburgers contain no gluten.

Each entree includes either fries, soup or a side salad. The side salad we sampled was small, but the greens and vegetables were fresh. I appreciated the variety of giant, fresh olives in the Mediterranean Village salad, which came with wonderful grilled pita and a tasty hummus spread. Hill gets the spread elsewhere but is hoping to prepare it in-house in the future.

I went for a cheeseburger — quite a deal at $5.75, though it was hardly supersized, the moderate portion more in keeping with the way food used to be served years ago. The burger was quite good, on the medium/well side, though the server didn't ask how I wanted it cooked. The bun was fresh.


Wolverine Grill
228 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Plastic: Mastercard, Visa
  • Liquor: None
  • Prices: Inexpensive. Many items are just $6.
  • Noise level: Quiet
  • Wheelchair access: Yes
We were eager to try some entrees that we saw on the online menu, but were disappointed to see several crossed off the menu. The server explained that they were a bit behind in launching the redo, and said it would be a few days before those items would be offered. But before long, Hill, overhearing the conversation, asked, "What would you like? I can make anything." My husband told him he was looking forward to the fettuccine alfredo that had been listed on the new menu. "I can do that," he said.

The fettuccine that he whipped up on a whim was wonderful, flavorful and hearty, yet not overly rich, spiced perfectly, and an ample portion. The fresh vegetables, from Growing Hope, were more than just an accompaniment. A mix of broccoli, cauliflower, squash, zucchini, onion and baby carrots, they were not too soft, not too crisp, but just right, prepared in a wonderful mix of seasonings. This dish was as good as I have had in many more pricier establishments, and at $12 it was a bargain. The only thing missing was a piece of crusty bread, which wasn't offered with the meals.

Another highlight was the Wolverine club. It's been quite some time since I've ordered a sandwich that didn't feature processed meats. This had big chunks of fresh chicken just cut from the bone and was served on fresh, thick, Heartland crusty seed and grain artisan bread, along with a homemade, delicious herb mayonnaise. The crinkle cut fries were fine but are pre-packaged; Hill is hoping to start making his own at some point.

On our second visit, we made a point of ordering the breakfast items. The server boasted that omelettes are the specialty, and our veggie omelette, prepared with cheddar cheese, didn't disappoint. Tucked inside the fluffy eggs were a bounty of fresh vegetables including summer squash, kale, zucchini and heirloom tomatoes.

Just as good as the omelette were the amazing potato wedges. Hill hand cuts them, then cooks them in a deep fryer where they're blanched and seasoned with cayenne, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese.

The giant French toast, a special of the day, was also great, as was the short stack of buttermilk pancakes, stuffed with fresh blueberries. Though my pancakes were slightly undercooked, they were solid, and I appreciated the melted butter that the server brought with them, which made applying the topping far easier than digging a knife into hard butter. A short stack of pancakes, a very respectable portion, costs only $3; you can add chocolate chips or blueberries for an additional $1.50.

There are no offerings of fancy coffee drinks like cappuccino or cafe au lait. But the robust cup of Ugly Mug coffee, roasted in Ypsilanti, nicely topped off my breakfast. And at $2 a cup with free refills, it was quite a deal.

Though desserts are listed, the server on our first visit said they were out of them, but then checked with the owner and delivered a petite hot fudge sundae, which was fine.

The service had a home town feel, with eager-to-please servers who checked in on us repeatedly and delivered our food quickly. However, there was only one other party in the restaurant on both our visits, making their job a bit easier.

Bottom line: Wolverine Grill is a gem, a simple place that offers delicious, high-quality American fare at reasonable prices.

View Larger Map

Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for



Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

@ ahi. God must have loved those of us who prefer, as you posted, "cheap diner food," because He made so many of us! Actually, The Wolverine serves "gourmet" dinner food. The finest omelets between Montreal and Chicago are cooked on The Wolverine's grille!


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 2:18 a.m.



Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Been here a couple times and have not been disappointed. It's mostly cheap diner food made with skill and very good ingredients. I recommend trying the soup special. It's something different every day, but it's always good. It's not your typical mushy chicken-noodle.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Ate there with my family of four Wednesday night. Good food, good prices, nice people. We will be back. While the reviewer described it as having "a slightly dingy feel and shows its age" I would describe it as charming, authentic, historical. The old-fashioned look is part of its charm. If you want modern and polished, stick to the chain restaurants. This place is a gem for people who rank food and atmosphere above flooring and furnishings when looking for a place to spend their dining dollars.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

Hey Julie...I love that 60's vibe and the cool Motown music. All of that adds to the charm. of The Wolverine. I took my friend from Indy there and she loved it. Slightly dingy is ok and it fits Ypsi's vibe. Maybe can send a better reviewer next time without the A2 snobbery!

Daryl R.

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

We hit the Wolverine after church on Sunday, and never come away disappointed. My wife and I are on a low carb diet, and the giant french toast and whole grain pancakes are perfect. And GOOD! My son loves the burgers! The servers are very attentive, and we've never come away disappointed.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

What a coincidence. I ate lunch at this establishment today. I had a real nice waitress, I was brought back in time to my childhood with the set up, and for just over 9 bucks, I had a pretty healthy sized BLT, a generous order of thin crinkle cut fries and a good sized drink. The food arrived in a respectable time, and left me with 20 minutes to spare on my lunch hour. You guys and Gals will be seeing me again as I get over that way. It's very convienent and is right in the heart of Downtown Ypsi. I had no idea this existed until today when a co-worker reccomended it. I am fairly new on my job and will be in the area frequently. Thanks for a great lunch.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

I rediscovered this place a few months ago. It's nothing like the old Wolverine Grill. The food and how it's prepared are much healthier. I had one of their specials the last time I was there. The Vegetarian Frittata came with heirloom tomatoes and pea pods. The potatoes are roasted. On Sundays they serve a higher grade of coffee (Roo's, I think). I'm glad I'm seeing more and more folks going there.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

Wow, sounds wonderful! Will have to try that out for breakfast this weekend. Makes me think of the old Round Table.