Friday, July 2, 2010
Put the words “food” and “Ann Arbor” in the same sentence and most people will immediately think Zingerman’s Delicatessen. The crown jewel of Ari Weinzweig’s specialty food empire has been serving up bountiful sandwiches and inventive side dishes for nearly thirty years now.
Food enthusiasts around the world have made the pilgrimage to this jewel of a city to sample cheeses, breads, and various other food stuffs whilst waiting to get their hands on one of the many sandwiches on the Zingerman’s menu.
Chances are that if you come during the typical hours of lunch or dinner there is going to be some type of line. Not to alarm anyone, but the line looks much worse than it is. Fairly fast moving, the legendary customer service that all of the various Zingerman’s outlets have, do a great job of keeping things moving without turning it into an anxious experience.
As you wait in line, the small bakery counter is set up on your right. The normal lineup of breads is offered along with a few specialty breads that seem to go pretty fast. If buying bread is what you truly have your heart set on, you can head across town to the actual bakery where the supply is much more robust. We’ve found – as in the case of most bakeries – that the supply at the deli seems to really take a hit at lunch. My neighbor has me pick her up a couple loves of bread every time we go. A good sandwich always starts with good bread and Zingerman’s does bread very well.
On the left hand side is the cheese counter. While I would say that the prices seem to be a couple of bucks higher than you find at home; the selection is absolutely awesome. Again the service is extremely accommodating. The staff at the counter is very well versed in the origins, ripeness, and makeup of all of the cheeses they offer. Even if you aren’t a cheese person it really is a lot of fun to talk to them and sample some things you normally wouldn’t try.
In the very back of the deli is where you place your order. The case in the back has all of the sides that are available for that day. If you’re looking for the deep fried stuff you aren’t going to find it here. If given the choice, I would never eat another French fry again if I had daily access to some of the sides. While the prices may seem a little steep it becomes readily apparent after the first bite that they are using quality ingredients and a lot of them.
After ordering you go to the cash register that is located to the right. On this side of the building is a pretty good selection from the famed Zingerman’s Mail Order catalog. A very good selection of balsamic vinegars, olive oil, jams, and other specialty foods that would most likely make the list of “Stuff White People Like”. And like everything else, the very friendly staff is more than willing to let you try a sample of anything – seriously.
Zingerman’s Next Door. No matter where you end up sitting, the tireless staff will eventually unite you with your food.
I think the food here is great. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had anything that I would consider average. The sandwiches come in a regular and large size. The large is pretty damn big, so if you’re ordering sides I’d suggest exercising a little restraint and order the regular size. In the past I’ve ordered the Jay’s BBQ Chicken (probably my favorite), the D-$’s Cuban Conundrum (very good), Frank & Kathy’s Half-Italian Sub (okay, this one’s good, too).
As good as the sandwiches are, one would think the sides are just a throw in. Hardly. Let’s put it this way, if you brought the Carrot Top or Swiss Potato to a family picnic and walked away for ten minutes, you would be out of luck. It would all be gone.
If you come to Ann Arbor you have got to come here – as well as their other outlets (Next Door, Bakehouse, Roadhouse, Coffee Company, and Creamery). The staff here is very knowledgeable as well as eager to share information about all of the products they carry. Zingerman’s is the crown jewel in a city full of wonderful gems.
422 Detroit St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104