This article is from 2016, but still has some great ideas for ways to experience Ann Arbor! For updated event dates, click HERE.
Coined by a 2016 travel industry report, the “Bourdain Effect” refers to the rise of attracting visitors to destinations by prominently featuring local culinary gems. The goal is to appeal to a visitor’s sense of adventure by presenting unique culinary experiences, similar to those immortalized by Anthony Bourdain.
Of course, we’ve been singing the praises of the Ann Arbor area’s culinary scene for decades. And while we may not be able to recreate some of Bourdain’s more outrageous episodes, you won’t be disappointed with these uniquely Ann Arbor area culinary experiences.
- Zingerman’s Deli
Most food-related lists about the area start here. What makes Zingerman’s uniquely Ann Arbor is that the founders have no plans to franchise. So, for the full Zingerman’s experience — exceptional service, amazing food, knowledgeable staff, a full belly and radiating happiness — an in-person visit to at least one of Zingerman’s retail locations (Deli, Bakehouse, Creamery, Coffee Company, and Roadhouse) is a must.
- Monahan’s Seafood Market
This local-favorite and amazing eatery was actually visited by Anthony Bourdain in 2010. In addition to providing some of the freshest seafood in the area, the lunch counter serves anything to order directly from the case. Monahan’s is open for lunch Monday-Saturday from 11am-3pm and Sunday from 10am-3pm for Bagels & Lox. If you have difficulty deciding, the Bernie’s Fabulous Chowder of the Day or the Fish & Chips are solid choices.
- Wurst Bar (Ypsilanti)
Wurst Bar is a triple-threat for the Bourdain effect. First, the entire menu is amazing (house-made tater tots, anyone?) and foodies have an abundance of appreciation for the artisan bratwursts that are all ground and smoked in-house. Second, those looking for more adventurous cuisine can find it here. Try the Spicy Rattlesnake Chorizo Brat, the Alligator & Crawfish Boudin, or one of the other “unusual brats” available on the seasonal menus. Finally, the Wurst Bar boasts endless options of craft beer. With more than 20 taps and five times that amount on-hand in bottles and cans, you can find the perfect brew to pair with your dinner.
- Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger
Two words: Come Prepared. An Ann Arbor institution for more than 60 years, Blimpy has a reputation for its production-line ordering process. It’s critical that you understand the etiquette before proceeding or you’ll experience some terse remarks (never sincere — just part of the fun) doled out by the folks manning the line. You’ll be asked a series of questions (here’s a great primer) and rewarded with the best burger in Michigan.