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Iconic restaurants of Ann Arbor

Memories are made of this

Gail Offen, BGS ’78, knew it was a bold move titling her book Iconic Restaurants of Ann Arbor (Arcadia Publishing, 2016).

Iconic Restaurants of Ann Arbor, book coverAfter all, “my iconic may not be your iconic,” she says.

That said, few readers — student, professor, traveler, or townie — could dispute the “iconic” status of the establishments Offen and co-author Jon Milan present in their 96-page ode to the tastes of the town they love.

The book is filled with rare photographs, advertisements, menus, and other ephemera culled from numerous sources, most notably the Janice Bluestein-Longone Culinary Archive in U-M’s Special Collections Library in the Hatcher Graduate Library.

Listen in, as Offen serves up a menu of memories sure to get you salivating. Sadly, one no longer can savor the limeade at the long-shuttered Drake’s, the Sicilian pizza at Thano’s Lamplighter, or the Detburger at Del Rio (named for cook Bob Detweiler).

But fear not! You can still dive into the hippie hash at Fleetwood Diner, spoon up some lobster bisque at Le Dog, or grab a coveted bran muffin (yes, you read that correctly) at Afternoon Delight Cafe. In fact, you may even be able to afford the Gandy Dancer now…

Which of Ann Arbor’s most beloved diners, dives, pubs, and joints do you still hold dear?

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  1. Marc Shapiro - '71

    I loved the Del Rio. Worked there tending bar ’72-73. My favorite was not the Detburger but the hot shaved & stacked ham and cheese on an onion roll.


  2. Robert Hoop - 1981 (MPH)

    The Cracked Crab, located downtown, was my favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor for many years. Excellent food. Good service. Reasonable prices. However the Cracked Crab expanded and the place went downhill after that. Eventually it closed.


    • Bruce Buchan - 1978

      The Cracked Crab was my favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor and the Sea Maiden’s delight was my favorite meal. I was so disappointed when it expanded, as were others. Great memories.


  3. Mary Robins English - 1960

    I fondly remember The Pretzel Bell and The Parrot.


  4. Linda Grigg - 1975

    Pizza Bobs was the best! Huge subs, great pizza, Sister Ann calzone, delicious milkshakes, delivered up by Fast Eddie! Nothing like it since.


    • Jacqueline Matchett - 1984

      I worked at Pizza Bob’s! Quite an experience…. They would make any kind of pizza. One time someone ordered a chocolate pizza. We went out the back door, bought some chocolate chips and made it for them!


  5. Jack Edgerly - 1979

    I remember a great dinner at the Whiffletree on W Huron, Steve’s Lunch on South U had the best breakfasts, late night/early am The Jolly Tiger on Stadium, and while on Stadium, who could forget Everett’s Drive-In for outstanding burgers.


  6. William Boor - 1978

    I have no recall of Del Rio but Pizza Bobs was great for subs, and Gandy Dancer was very nice for a special meal. Bicycle Jims for the mushrooms and Lamplighter and Cottage Inn for Pizza. Cracked Crab was great on paper plates with a dive location and then they upgraded to hard plates and a nicer spot; the food was still good but it seemed like twice the price. My favorite though was Metzgers which I think was on Liberty and now is alive and well way out west of town. There was also a French restaurant back in the 74-78 time frame but I cannot recall the name. In any case, you could enjoy a number of different cuisines all within walking distance of campus. Thanks for the memories.


    • Mark Summers - 1977

      I think the French place may have been Chez Crepe.


  7. George & Caroline Wanstall - 1963

    Who can forget the Pretzel Bell? More for its revelry and the joy of reaching age 21. When I think about memories as a student of going out for fun with friends AND a really affordable, good meal, I think of the Cottage Inn. To this day, when we return to AA, we never miss a chance to revisit the Cottage Inn.


  8. WILLIAM E TAYLOR, MD - 65 BS, 70 MD

    I grew up in Ann Arbor and I always thought Drake’s was a unique place, and went there in high school, and in undergrad. I worked at the Pretzel Bell briefly, and always thought they had pretty good food, besides all the suds. I was sorry to hear the Old German closed, and always go to Metzgers when I am in the area.


  9. Jack D. Rollins

    On the Good Ship Lollipop: Childhood Memories of Drake’s — The Drakes were my grandparents. Growing up in Ann Arbor, attending Ann Arbor High School (Go Pioneers), made me a genuine townie and in my case already a long-standing connoisseur of the sandwich shop’s menu. To me, it was like an enchanted place all full of sweets and cinnamon rolls soaked in high octane butter. I did not propose to my wife there, and I am sorry about the lady who lost her tooth, but the many testimonials this story occasioned gave me a sense of comfort knowing that so many others still hold cherished memories of the lasting goodwill, generosity, and food that seemed to gentle the condition of every man Jack who entered the door disappearing quickly in the cavernous wooden booths which lined the walls. These memories anchored in the many desperate lives who experienced the joy of Drakes paralleled mine. When my father married the dashing Jacqueline Drake, Grandpa Drake sold my father a house (which I grew up in) for a few hundred dollars which my father paid back in monthly increments of fifteen dollars a month. As I remember it, there was no interest.


  10. Daniel Ziegler - 1980

    Does anyone else remember “Crazy Jim’s” at the corner of Packard and Division? The sign in the window boasted, “Cheaper than food.” The Crazy Jim burger was a mix of some kind of meat and other things.


  11. Sheri Circele - 2008

    I don’t think any has mentioned Bimbos, next to or near the P Bell. So wish the new P Bell had brought back that black russian rye bread! Stadium Tavern is another local fav (now gone, corner of Liberty and Stadium). Yes Jack, go Pioneers, class of 1972.


  12. Chris Holden - ,'83 '91

    I’m a Drakette, forever a Drakette though my tour of duty was 1980-1984. My sister and one of our best childhood friends from Livonia were Drakettes. Those of us who worked there named ourselves that. Millie and Truman Tibblals, owners of Drakes for eons, until it closed, liked to hire siblings and friends. The entire job interview was “when are you going to start working here?” We loved the work atmosphere despite having to wear a skirt, any skirt, even if you were wearing army boots, heels, rain boots or Converse high-tops. We paid ourselves from the cash register and put our tax $ in a peanut can under the phone. Truman was the biggest cheap skate ever, and very resourseful. Floors were painted with surplus battleship grey paint. The upstairs Martian room was closed for business by the time my contemporaries were there , but we got to see the Circa 50s wallpaper when it bacame the tea stockroom. Truman made the simple syrup for limeades at night. The AAPD checked in on him every single night. Millie was on duty in the day.


  13. William Hall

    My father William R. Hall worked for Mr. Tibbles at Drake’s in the late 1930’s, said that Mr. T was good to work for. I claim to be a true creation of Drake’s. While not on the menu, my father met my mother there for the first time.


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