Itinerary Ideas: Vegetarian and Vegan
Ann Arbor restaurants have so much more to offer to vegetarians and vegans than just a sad salad. Check out this three-day itinerary for a long weekend with just a few of the many tempting vegetarian and vegan food options around town!
Greet the Day with Hippie Hash at Fleetwood Diner
Fleetwood Diner is famous for their Hippie Hash - a sizeable pile of homemade hash browns topped with grilled tomatoes, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and a layer of melty feta cheese. Try it with tempeh mixed in if you're looking for a bit more protein. If your hunger knows no schedule, have no fear! Hippie Hash and the complete Fleetwood menu can be enjoyed 24/7.
Veg Out for Lunch at Detroit Street Filling Station
Detroit Street Filling Station's menu is made from scratch and 100% vegan, with an emphasis on the "filling." Hits include the Backyard Burger made with seitan, mushroom bacon, cheddar-style vegan cheese, veggies and an herb aioli. Try the southwestern style taco salad, the organic tater tots with Yum Yum Sauce, or the ever-changing seasonal soup du jour. The menu is clearly marked for those with nut, gluten, and soy allergies. If you taste something you want to replicate at home, the staff will happily share a recipe with you! The entire menu is vegan and is marked for gluten, soy, and nut allergies.
Savor a Cheesy Pocket Snack at Loomi Café
Grab a seat at Loomi Café, a casual lunch counter inside Kerrytown Market and Shops serving a mixture of Middle Eastern, South American, Turkish, and Indian cuisine. Be sure to return again and again - the menu changes daily with available market produce and the imagination of the chef. For those looking for a quick bite, try a Cheesy Pocket - Loomi's upgraded version of a grilled cheese sandwich - filled with specialty cheese and a varying vegetable. It's quick, cheesy, portable, and satisfying. There is always a small plate vegetable available as well, but, like everything else on the menu, it's never small in flavor. Loomi offers a rotating vegetarian entree as well, for those who have a bit more of an appetite.
Flavor by the Pound for Dinner at Earthen Jar
Earthen Jar is a mostly vegan Indian buffet priced by the pound, offering a rotating assortment of hot and cold dishes and desserts. Try the dal moong wash - comforting creamy lentils sauteed with onions, or the channa masala - chickpeas in a thick, spicy tomato and herb masala sauce. Other options include baindan bhujia - eggplant in a spicy thick curry sauce, and savi green beans cooked in a medley of spices. Fresh naan bread, samosas, fruit juices, and vegan dessert options round out your meal. The menu is clearly marked with vegan and gluten-free options.
Sweeten the Deal with Dessert at Blank Slate Creamery
Blank Slate Creamery boasts deliciously creamy, homemade, all-natural ice cream in their Downtown space. They offer not only an assortment of vegetarian-friendly ice cream, but vegan options as well, including sorbets and coconut-based ice cream. The dairy used in their ice cream is from local, hormone-free dairy cows. Non-dairy flavors rotate, but have included Blackberry Riesling Sorbet, Peppermint Chocolate Sorbet, Cookies 'n' Cream, Coconut Matcha, and more. Vegetarian and vegan options are clearly marked at the counter.
A Complete Breakfast at Juicy Kitchen
Juicy Kitchen is a little café that offers a seasonal menu and rotating specials featuring local, in season, fresh ingredients. The stars of their food are whole grains, beans, leafy greens, and fresh fruit. Miniaturize the traditional breakfast sandwich with a breakfast slider, served with egg or tempeh on whole wheat focaccia - or gluten-free bread - and seasonal vegetables and a zesty sauce, with or without white cheddar. Try the power bowl full of grains, beans, and veggies, the Scottish oatcakes made with oats and flaxseed, or the weekly changing quiche with seasonal vegetables. All of Juicy Kitchen's baked goods are made with natural sweeteners and are vegan. The menu is clearly labeled with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
A Fast-Casual Farm-to-Table Lunch at Fresh Forage
Fresh Forage sources ingredients from their own family farm, as well as other local farms, and sustainably forages ingredients from the deep woods of Michigan. The menu changes with seasonal and local availability, and quick service and low-waste production are priorities in the space. The menu offers pre-designed forage bowls including the coconut curry pork bowl, vegan nirvana bowl, or the Super Spoodler with sweet potato "noodles." You can also make your own bowl - choose from rice, quinoa, noodles, spoodles, or greens for your base, pick a protein - including tofu, seitan, chickpeas, and black beans, then top with a sauce, up to five veggies, and top with an avocado, egg, local kimchi, or other special toppings. Smoothies are also available, as are vegan and gluten-free dessert options. The menu is clearly marked with vegan and vegetarian options as well as major allergen symbols.
Snack Like a Millenial at PoCai
PoCai offers the perfect afternoon snack: fresh avocado toast with pickled red onion, radish, pea shoots, and whipped feta. You can also have the toast without the feta to make it a vegan treat, and you can also choose gluten-free toast. PoCai also serves a vegan acai bowl with fresh fruit and almond milk and an assortment of toppings - chia seeds, coconut flakes, granola, and more. For a full meal, try a poke bowl with tofu, pickled red onion, brown rice, edamame, cucumber, OG Ponzu, shallot-garlic crunch, and spicy sriracha mayo, or see what the special bowl of the day has in store. The menu is clearly marked with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
Appetizers, Tapas, Drinks and Dessert at Aventura
Aventura has you covered with a full tapas menu, cocktails, and desserts. Start with a three-cheese board featuring manchego curado, caña de cabra, and garrotxa and a mahón & higo flatbread (mahón cheese, fig cream, poached pear, Maldon sea salt), available gluten-free by request. Then order a generous spread of tapas - try the calabaza (acorn squash, goat cheese, pepitas, hazelnuts, lemon), the verduras escabechadas (pickled carrots, saffron pickled cauliflower, grapes), and the croquetas de queso (crema de idiazabal, quince). The crispy patatas bravas with local egg and honey aioli are not to be missed - just order two from the start. If you're with a crowd try the verduras paella with artichokes, green beans, mushroom, cauliflower, and green onion - a great vegan option. Top off your meal with a pitcher of sangría (choose from three options) or an alcohol-free pomegranate and spice sangría falsa, and finish with fresh-fried churros dipped in chocolate or chocolate y frambuesas - chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, berry gel, and raspberry ice cream (and maybe an espresso or apéritif to go with.) The menu is clearly marked with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
A Leisurely Brunch at Seva Restaurant
Seva Restaurant has been a vegetarian staple in Ann Arbor since 1973. Every Sunday they serve a special vegetarian brunch, and all dishes are either vegan or can be modified to be vegan upon request. The menu features such hits as Korean bibimbap, a vegan fruit and yogurt parfait, and the California egg or tofu scramble with spinach, tomatoes, green onions, avocado, and cheese - or vegan cheese upon request. You can also enjoy appetizers including yam fries or General Tso's cauliflower, as well as salads, entrees, and a brunch drink menu including mimosas and the Bunny Mary - a bloody mary made with fresh carrot juice and homemade brine. The menus are clearly labeled, and kids and gluten-free options are available as well.
Lunch is in the Name at The Lunch Room
The Lunch Room is the sister restaurant to Detroit Street Filling Station, and it too is all vegan, all the time. The Treetown Tempeh Reuben may not be the most famous Reuben sandwich in Ann Arbor - that honor lies with Zingerman's Deli - but it's certainly the best vegan Reuben around. The star of the show at the Lunch Room is the mac & cheese, with a sauce made of butternut squash and red bell pepper topped with parsley, almonds, lemon zest, and sesame seeds. Also worth a shot are the loaded nachos and the Taco 'Bout It salad with grilled tofu. Wash down your lunch with anything from the beer, wine, and cocktail menu, or with some fresh sangria. Housemade sodas are available with or without alcohol. There is also a second location that houses The Lunch Room Bakery and Café - also all vegan - which features freshly baked breads and sweets and light breakfast and lunch options. The entire menu (at both locations) is vegan and is marked for gluten, soy, and nut allergies.
An Indian Street Food Snack at Hutkay Fusion
Head straight for the bites and chaats at Hutkay Fusion. Indian street food makes a killer mid-day snack, and can clear your sinuses right up if you amp up the spice factor. Try the pani pudi - semolina, peas, and onions with a tamarind-date sauce. Taste the papdi chaat (pea-chickpea mix, tamarind-date mint sauce, yogurt chutney, wheat chips) or the bhel puri (turmeric seasoned puffed rice, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, peanuts, wheat chips, and tamarind-date mint chutney.) A samosa with tamarind-date mint chutney is a great grab-and-go option, or try the chaat version with a topping of chickpea mix, yogurt chutney, and onions. Accompany your meal with a cold mango lassi. Hutkay Fusion also offers wraps, bowls, soups, salads, and desserts. The menu is clearly labeled with vegan and vegetarian options as well as gluten-free choices and allergens.
A Fresh Take on Dinner and Dessert at Spencer
Spencer is a bright yet intimate space where you truly may never see the same dish twice - the menu and ingredients change daily with seasonal availability and the whims of the kitchen. The folks at Spencer make magic with local, fresh ingredients and from-scratch pastas and baked goods. When you arrive, speak first to the wise cheesemongers and get an assortment of cheeses, olives, bread, and other accompaniments to go with your wine or beer from the curated global and local selection. Vegetarian dishes have included a pear and ricotta anolini with sage walnut pesto and brown butter, roasted squash with cheese, nuts, and dried fruits, roast brassicas with homemade sunflower miso, aged gouda, and mixed seeds, and pole beans with sprouts, cashews, and lemon zest. You may encounter a vegetable you've never heard of before (like brassicas! It's kind of like cauliflower), and the staff is happy to answer questions regarding dietary restrictions. Don't leave without dessert - at press time, the offerings were a pear and ginger almond cake with black tea cream, cacao nib and caraway pavlova with chocolate ice cream and malted yogurt, and a sage and whey cream soda float with plum swirl ice cream and sage shortbread.
Ann Arbor truly is a foodie's delight, and the wealth of options is sure to satisfy even the most discerning of vegetable-based folks. Now, if you'll permit, the author needs a snack.
For more area vegetarian and vegan restaurants, check out our listings here.