The Beginner’s Guide to Eating Out at UMich

Having attended summer camp on the University of Michigan campus for three consecutive summers, I regret not being more adventurous when it came to eating out.

I didn’t venture out of South Campus much; I can only describe what is down below as a starting guide, as it is woefully incomplete.

Comment down below any restaurants or joints that I missed out on; your opinions will do nothing but help out the debate camp students that this guide is intended for. 🙂

Craving bubble tea?

Bubble Island offers a membership deal that actually makes sense, in the form of a Flock Tag: every 5 drinks, you get a free drink.

Try a classic black milk tea with bubbles and lychee like I would, or experiment with a Thai tea, or a frozen beverage. But make sure to consider their mochi ice cream, which is green tea, chocolate, or another exciting flavor of ice cream wrapped in chewy, Japanese gelatin, dusted with powdered sugar.

While you’re there, you can start up an exciting game of Jenga, like my friends and I did.

Craving a sandwich?

Panera Bread is convenient and offers tasty food. In the summertime, I enjoy their iced green tea, always perfectly sweet. Their bakery is forever abundant, an instant breakfast if you’re running late for lecture or something.

However, if you think ahead far enough, you can call while you’re on the way and have a chocolate chip bagel with schmear waiting for you when you bounce through that door.’

But there’s also Potbelly’s, a more rustic version of its prevailing competitor.

Order the Pizza Sandwich you’re craving comfort food, and a Skinny Mushroom Melt if you’re just stopping in.

Potbelly’s offers sweet and creamy chocolate shakes. However, they are known for their long lines, so hit this place up if you’re looking for a casual sit down meal (for dinner, perhaps?) There’s upstairs dining so you can gawk at the people walking in.

But for the truly adventurous, try Amer’s Deli, which features a vaguely Mediterranean menu overflowing with details and words.

Even the vegetarian options come in a quantity of abundance, so make sure your stomach is nearly empty if you decide to go. I recommend Lindsey’s True Grazer.

Date night?

Hail a taxi and head to Zingerman’s, which is famous across America for much more than just their bread.

Because their ingredients are of high quality, the prices might just be higher than that of your average delicatessen.

Prior experience at Sava’s reveals that this restaurant is for people who look and act mature. Your best bet, as high schoolers, is to take someone here on a date.

If you come in with a screaming, pant-wetting group of friends, you’re sure to not be taken seriously.

A long wait is constant at this restaurant, so try to call ahead and schedule a reservation if you can’t.

Craving Asian?

Ayaka Sushi is THE place to go. Order a dragon roll and create a weekly tradition with your closest friends for cheap but delicious food.

Sadako Japanese is a place just around the corner from Ayaka that also does sushi, nearly as great, but also offers great teriyaki dishes and decent bowls of udon.

Kang’s Korean is a restaurant you might just call a hole in the wall, but if you want really good food and are willing to suffer a bit, GO.

The place is TINY, a real nook; it’s also sweltering hot, and the spicy food doesn’t help much. Regardless, your meal will be memorable, and that’s all that really matters, right?

Craving dessert?

Head over to Insomnia Cookies, which closes ridiculously late (3AM!) and even delivers greasy sugar bombs (“cookies”) straight to your dorm! It’s a genius concept, and you can even order milk to accompany your cookies, simply because they are best friends.

But let’s say you want a chilled dessert…

Yeah, there’s a Ben & Jerry’s…what of it? You can find them anywhere, so spend your money elsewhere in this town, like Iorio’s Gelateria, hidden a bit further from the main part of town. With fresh, homemade ingredients, the Italian take on ice cream is guaranteed to impress.

If you don’t want to walk as far, there’s a Stucchi’s running along S. State Street, which, besides the fact that it serves both froyo AND ice cream, is an old-fashioned looking shop, a blast to the past.

Need a caffeine shock?

Two major coffee shops battle it out all over campus, and those are the corporate giant Starbucks and the much smaller Espresso Royale, though still a franchise.

Really, the two are rather similar, except that the nibbles and goodies that Royale serves seem much simpler and better-for-you.

I’m not a coffee or tea expert, so I couldn’t really tell you if one coffee shop is better than the other. It really comes down to if you feel like being mainstream or not. Both places have comfy couches and sofas for sittin’; take your pick.

Craving a burrito?

You might expect me to tell you to take the road less traveled and eat at Panchero’s over Chipotle, but my experience with Panchero’s has consistently been less than subpar. The food is simply off, and this time I feel better swimming mainstream.

Need food quick?

Five Guys is classic but also overpriced and too greasy; for some reason, however, people still really enjoy food from there. I get it…we should indulge once in a while. But we can better indulge ourselves somewhere else…limit your visits.

Meanwhile, Jimmy John’s is cold cuts on white bread delivered speedy quick. If you like that kind of stuff, then take advantage of the service offered. Many a time I have skipped dinner break and just gorged on a sandwich or something.

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Angelo’s! – Looks like an especially great place to go for Sunday brunch. This Greece-inspired restaurant presents a yummy looking breakfast menu, along with many lunch favorites that scream “comfort food!” They also have a coffee shop called Angelo’s on the Side that compliments the original very well.

Frida Batido! I’ve heard many great things about this place, starting and ending with its Cuban burgers, or ‘fritas.’ The traditional version is made with spicy chorizo, which sounds mouth-watering as of right now.

Atop your burger you can request exotic slaws, avocado spreads, and more, and on the side, you might enjoy plantains, conch fritters, or “the best snack ever,” described as: layered coconut-ginger rice, black beans, melted meunster & cilantro-lime salsa. Yum.

Tomokun! Noodle bar and Korean BBQ; if that doesn’t have you booking a plane ticket right now, I don’t know what will.

The noodle bar: Udon, pho, stir-fries, ramen, and twists on many other beloved Asian noodle dishes.

Korean BBQ: hot pot (!!), super spicy stir-fries, bibimbop, and bbq combo platters, which provide an exciting mix of multiple dishes. If I ever get back to A2, I’m definitely trying this restaurant.

No Thai! A simple menu of noodles, stir-fries, and fried rice that is sure to please…they care enough about their customers’ boundaries to provide 4 different levels of spiciness, ranging from “weak sauce” to “the death touch”. So yeah, I am jumping up and down in my chair.


So, yeah. Like I said above, this is a rudimentary, beginner’s guide. It was written by someone who remembers a town she loves fiercely with slight fuzziness, as it’s been a year since I was last there.

Feel free to comment if you have any dining wisdom to share!


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