Zingerman’s Roadhouse

Review by: Michael Stern

Like Zingerman’s Deli, Zingerman’s Roadhouse can be maddening. No matter how many people I go with, no matter how much I order, I am sure to walk out regretting I didn’t have a chance to taste, for instance, the yellow-and-blue-corn hushpuppies made from Anson Mills corn or the hand-pulled Texas cabrito or the buttermilk-fried chicken or the whole Yazoo catfish or the West Coast cioppino macaroni. You see, everything I have tasted is terrific, many items among the very best versions of the dish I have ever had.

If you described Zingerman’s Roadhouse to me, I would be skeptical. I love its motto — “Really Good American Food!” — but what is a place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, doing with a menu that lists iconic meals from the Deep South, New England, the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Gulf Coast, not to mention the Midwest’s own heartland? I would think no kitchen could have such a broad reach and maintain a deep understanding of how all these diverse things ought to taste. But they do; and if you doubt that, have what is listed as “Eastern North Carolina Pulled Pork.” These pulled and chopped nuggets of long-smoked hog are right up there in a league with the Skylight Inn, the Brick Pit, and Wilber’s: just barely sauced with vinegar and only enough pepper to coax out all the exquisite flavor that blossoms in a fine veil of smoke. From a completely different culinary mindset comes “Really Wild-Wild Rice Roast,” built around hand-harvested Minnesota rice. Those earthy, al dente grains are mixed with radiant dried Michigan cherries and candied orange, plus fire-roasted local vegetables, all drizzled with organic cider vinegar syrup. Wow, what a flavor thrill.

I will leave more detailed descriptions to the photos and captions, but it is important to make note of the superb bread that comes to the table before dinner – slices from a dark loaf so crusty-good with delicious chaw that it was all I could do to refuse a refill when my basket was empty, which I did only because I had about six other things for which I was desperately trying to save appetite.

The dining areas, which include a lively bar with multiple TVs, are big and spacious, décor including lots of retro salt-and-pepper shakers as well as maps and postcards signifying trips along the great American road. I walked out glowing with joy and wanting to burst out singing Woody Guthrie’s “This land is your land, this land is my land…”

What To Eat

Ceres Salad

Corn Dogs

Wild Rice Roast

Flight of the Bumblebee


Pulled Pork

Macaroni & Cheese


Zingerman’s Roadhouse Recipes


What do you think of Zingerman’s Roadhouse?

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