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Restaurants & Bars 6

Ann Arbor Report: Blimpy Burgers and Zingerman's with Photos

elmomonster | May 20, 200610:19 AM


Blimpy Burgers was an enthralling experience. I was giddy with delight when I first saw the place. It's a small, greasy spoon with old swivel chairs. The line to order saddled up to a sizzling griddle and a bubbling deep fryer.

I was eager to eat, but one thing Joy said stuck in my mind. She warned that the people who worked there sported an attitude and expected that customers order with precision and without hesitation. I was thinking Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, but didn't really believe it.

Rude midwesterners? Impossible.

The first visit I made was on a weeknight. The joint was nearly empty, but alas, it didn't stop the young grill-man from yelling at a customer who was unwise enough to answer his cell phone in line.

"Take it outside! Can't you read the sign!?" he said as he pointed at it with his greasy spatula.

So before I saddled up to order, I wiped the smile off my face, righted myself, and rehearsed what I would say over and over in my mind.

"Double with egg, on an onion roll. Double with egg, on an onion roll."

As soon as I flawlessly rattled off my order, the guy plopped down two spheres of raw meat, the size of golfballs, directly onto the grill to heat. Then, without warning, he smashes it flat with his spatula to finish cooking on that side and then a final flip to finish. A fried egg, tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles and a slather of mayo later, my burger was ready to eat. An order of habit-forming, crunchy onion rings came in tall singular lacy gob that reached for the ceiling.

The burger was delicious. If I had to decribe it, it's as if In-N-Out and Fatburger decided to marry, have children, and move out to the Midwest. The patty is thin like In-N-Out's, but the add-ons like fried egg, chili, and bacon makes the burger endlessly customizable, à la Fatburger. They tout the fact that there's over a million possible Blimpy Burger permutations. With unconventional extras like salami, I don't doubt it.

On the second trip made over the weekend, a woman was flipping the burgers. It was then that I saw the trademark Blimpy Burgers attitude in its full splendor. No one was safe from her acid tongue. Fellow customers, her own co-workers, even small children -- if someone did something she didn't approve of, she'd have something to say to them. This was a mean woman who made mean burgers.

This time around, to accompany our Blimpy Burgers, we asked for the deep fried "Mixed Veggies". Mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower, onion and zucchini are dusted in a seasoned flour and cooked in gurgling oil to a deep golden brown. It was tempura-like in its execution, but exhibited a crumbly crunch instead of a light, lacy crisp. This was a side dish that's both dangerously addictive and unhealthy. Definitely the wrong way to get your daily recommended serving of vegetables, but why does it feel so right?

Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger
(734) 663-4590
551 S Division St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104


Zingerman's Deli is revered for being the best deli in America that isn't in New York City. Some folks in Ann Arbor might even debate that statement. They'd passionately proclaim Zingerman's as the best in the U.S.

I'll leave the verbal brawls to others who know better. But for what it's worth, I quite enjoyed the sandwich I ordered. Although I'm used to fattier, wetter incarnations seen in California, the carved pastrami and corned beef was just what I'd expect from a deli with Zingerman's reputation. Flanked by two kinds of bread with two kinds of cheese and slathered with a good deli mustard, it made for a hefty dinner.

Housed inside a cramped brick building, the store was well-stocked with hanging meats, cheeses, and canned goods. One shelf towered above all others with golden loaves of bread, some braided and some crusted with seeds; a gallery with edible works of art. This is the Louvre of food in Ann Arbor.

Next door to the deli, was Zingerman's "Next Door" which looked like a house the company took over to sell desserts and coffee. This was also where customers of the deli would be served if they chose to dine in. We did on our last visit and sampled an exquisite but simple slice of cocoa cake with a scoop of vanilla gelato while enjoying the spring air on their patio.

The employees, perky and cheerful students from the University, were all probably very happy to be working at the town's landmark. Or maybe it's perhaps because they get discounts on shots of espresso.

Zingerman's Deli
(734) 663-3354
422 Detroit St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104


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