Ji Hye Kim's Ann Arbor City Guide

The 2021 Best New Chef swears by Michigan baked goods, sandwiches, and mead.

Learn more about the 2021 class of Food & Wine Best New Chefs.

The City Signature

"If there's only one place you can visit in Ann Arbor, go to Zingerman's. Order the Reuben—the '#2,' as the regulars call it, or 'a killer,' in President Obama's words. It's simple but classic: a huge sandwich made with slices of Jewish rye bread from Zingerman's Bakehouse, local corned beef from United Meat and Deli, sauerkraut from The Brinery, Swiss cheese, and homemade Russian dressing."

The Drinkubator

"The Bar at 327 Braun Court is located in an unassuming house in a courtyard of shops. The cocktails are so good; it's the only place in the world where I'd happily order a White Russian, made with fresh heavy cream from the local Calder Dairy. The Bar has been hosting small food entrepreneurs for years, and many have spun out to open their own restaurants. (I was one of them, and so was Spencer, another local favorite.) The current residency is Prismo's, which specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza made with naturally leavened pizza dough and locally sourced seasonal ingredients."

Brunch on the Go

"On Saturday mornings, I love walking around the Ann Arbor Farmers Market and grabbing croissants and butter from White Lotus Farms, radishes from Goetz Greenhouse, pita and spreads from HumusFalafel, and a baguette from Café Japon, where they pair Asian flavors with French techniques and make my favorite pastries, like apricot danishes and red bean buns. Ann Arbor has 161 parks, so I'd walk to one in the area, like Wheeler Park (named after the city's first African American mayor) for a picnic. I'd also bring a bottle from Ground Control Wines because 11 a.m. on a weekend is a perfect time for a glass."

Chef's Night Out

"The menu at Spencer changes often, and the food is delicious and complex. It's a treasured neighborhood restaurant with casual but friendly service. It's where I'd choose to go for a rare night off."

Michigan Mead

"Bløm Meadworks makes session meads and ciders that are pleasantly bubbly and not too sweet, all from Michigan ingredients. While you can find their meads and ciders elsewhere, I prefer to drink their rotating seasonal flavors on their patio."

Best Bottle Shop

"I grab my bottles of wine from Ground Control Wines. The shop is tiny and whimsical, with bold wallpapers and a record player constantly spinning good music. The shop proprietor, Kristie Brablec, knows her stuff from visiting many of the regions and vineyards herself, and it is the most fun when she recommends her favorites from lesser-known regions."

Legendary Bakes

"Often made with locally milled flour, the loaves at Zingerman's Bakehouse are naturally leavened, long-fermented, hand-shaped beauties with a crusty crust and a moist crumb. Pick any loaf off their shelves, and it will be top notch, the best in the country—I don't say this lightly; it is not a hyperbole. If I feel funky, I might go for a fougasse or a chestnut baguette. When festive, cranberry pecan, chocolate cherry, or Parmesan pepper. But most often I go for the simplest bread—Italian paesano bread, all hole-y and covered in cornmeal."

My Favorite Stroll

"To clear my head, I take long walks with my dog Flyte around the Huron River behind my house, looping around the Argo Park Canoe Livery and Cascades to Bandemer Park, walking through the wooded path that people often use to play frisbee, past Ann Arbor Rowing Club. It is just about 5 kilometers long and was where I ran to prepare for the Dexter–Ann Arbor Run every spring before my dog became too old to be running that long. These days she and I usually stop at a quiet spot overlooking the river for a break, and I try to coax her into taking a picture with me. She's never into it."

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