Ann Arbor is a huge tourist destination in Michigan. Being the home of one of Michigan’s two Big Ten athletic teams, that brings a lot of visitors. In fact, the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitor’s Bureau estimates 5.6 million people visited there in 2014. If we figure that 1% of the population has Celiac Disease, we could estimate that 50,000 people are in need of gluten-free dining options while in the area. So to help make your trip a little bit easier, here are my list of top 5 Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant suggestions.
My first mention in my Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant suggestions is Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Why? Because Zingerman’s is synonymous with the name Ann Arbor. The level of care that they take with their food prep is PHENOMENAL. With dedicated fryers, toasters and waffle irons, it gives peace of mind while you’re enjoying your meal. I mean, look at those Bits & Grits Waffles?! I wish I had a plate of them right now. Or their a gluten-free fried chicken. Fried Chicken folks! While you’re in the area, make a pit stop at Plum Market across the street for Ethel’s Edibles treats and other gluten-free goods.
Of all the Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant options, Earthen Jar is the only one that has a 100% gluten-free kitchen. That’s right, no gluten anywhere. Period. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! Earthen Jar is more than a gluten-free restaurant. It’s 100% vegetarian as well. That means you can indulge in gluten-free samosa, chana masala, sag dal and more. All foods are served buffet style and charged by the pound. There are gluten-free desserts in the display case as well, made by Simple Pleasures. (*There is naan available, which does contain gluten, but it is made off site and is only available by request.*)
I think I’m in love with Frita Batidos. Even though their “fritas” are served bunless for us gluten-free eaters, it may be the most delicious beef patty I’ve ever tasted. Did I mention that their beef is locally sourced? Their signature fries can be cooked in a clean, fresh pot of oil upon request. That’s a huge thing for those of us with Celiac Disease. Their batido milkshakes are wonderful. I could eat my weight in their cajeta, which is made-in-house salted goat’s milk caramel. Cover one of their sweet deep-fried plantains in the stuff and you’ll never want to leave. Add rum to their batidos and it truly is a happy hour. Make sure you add this eatery to your list of Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant excursions.
Ann Arbor is a place with many eclectic flavors and attention to healthy eats. Juicy Kitchen focuses fresh, local food with options for all kids of eaters. Gluten-free? Check. Vegetarian? Check. Vegan? Yep, that’s covered too. This delicious gluten-free stuffed french toast is cooked on a dedicated griddle with clean utensils and bowls. Cooks never share the egg wash from the regular French Toast. I highly suggest taking a bite with a bit of strawberry. This Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant option is also a member of the Grubbable network. Use their app to find restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients, and get 10% off of your order.
Arbor Brewing Company
Arbor Brewing Company really impressed me. Not only are they a great Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant destination, they have scores of vegetarian options. Never did I think I’d say “vegetarian” and “brew pub” in the same sentence. Everything we tried there was delicious. Arbor Brewing Company serves gluten-free burgers on locally made Rumi’s Passion buns. French fries are made in a dedicated fryer. And you can get vegan poutine! French fries covered in gluten-free dairy-free gravy. Come. To. Mamma.
Other Ann Arbor Gluten-Free Restaurant Suggestions
1. Pilar’s Tamales
Pilar’s Tamales is a small Salvadoran restaurant on Liberty St. Corn flour comprises the base of almost every item on the menu. They do make a few non gluten-free desserts. I highly suggest the pupusas stuffed with cheese and loroco flower.
The chairperson of the Tri-County Celiac Support Group, which meets in Farmington Hills, recommended Paesano’s to me. This restaurant is listed in Triumph Dining’s book as an excellent Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant choice. I was unable to meet up with the chef to discuss their cooking practices, but hope to do so in the future.
3. Silvio’s Organic Pizza
I’ve visited Silvio’s Organic Pizza a few times. It was the first Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant option that I ever visited. The Find Me Gluten Free App listed it as being highly recommended by many people. (For those unfamiliar with the app, this free app uses your GPS location to find restaurants closest to you with gluten-free options.) I remember the pizza being delicious and feeling elated that there were gluten-free options in this big city.
4. Miki Japanese Restaurant
My friend Jen Burch, from Blue Bear Aware, highly recommended this Ann Arbor gluten-free restaurant option to me. The biggest issue for any Asian restaurant is the presence of wheat in soy sauce. She reports that Miki offers gluten-free soy sauce for their dishes. If you get a chance to eat there safely, report back so I know!
5. Stadium Market
Stadium Market isn’t really a restaurant. It’s a party store with a functional kitchen, selling gluten-free pizza and breakfast sandwiches Again, Find Me Gluten-Free has many reviews about this place. I sought the advice of Valarie Mates, the moderator of the online Gluten-Free Ann Arbor Yahoo Group. She said that it’s “awesome.” Stadium Market reportedly has many gluten-free beers, and sells a selection of Udi’s products. If you can attest to their steps for preventing cross-contact, please let me know!
Living with Celiac Disease and dietary restrictions can be difficult. However there are many restaurants take the necessary precautions to help make eating out easier. As always, I suggest calling restaurants prior to dining to speak with staff. This allows you to get the best information without staff being distracted during a food rush. Luckily, Ann Arbor is a forward thinking city and there are plenty of options. You can even eat safely at University of Michigan dining commons!
Where do you look to eat in Ann Arbor? Leave me a note and I’ll be sure to check them out!
**In full disclosure, I was provided free meals at some of these establishments, but that does change my views or my comments.**