an Ann Arbor institution that has to be the most overrated deli in the world. Not that it's bad. It just doesn't live up to its reputation, unless what you're looking for is a Midwestern translation of an upscale New York deli (which, if you're actually used to New York delis--unfortunately a dying breed--you almost certainly are not), with New York prices and beyond. Actually, some of its products, like bagels, are affirmatively bad, which would be forgiveable given the location if Zingerman's didn't have it's own bakery.

If you're in Ann Arbor and find yourself with a hankering for New York-style food, I recommend NYPD, a pizzeria with two locations. It doesn't compare with the best of Brooklyn, but it's way better than anything I've found in the entire D.C. metro area, so far.

Nate F (www):
I will agree that the DC Metro area is severely lacking in New York style pizzerias and delis.

If you ever get the urge to eat kosher Israeli-style food though, Pita Plus in College Park, adjacent to UMD, is very good, despite its tacky name. I can't speak personally to authenticity, as I have never been to Israel, but many of my friends who have say it's pretty authentic.
5.2.2007 10:13pm
Realist (mail):
Zingermans is not even the best deli in Ann Arbor - that award goes to Amers.
5.2.2007 10:21pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
David Bernstein,

This is obviously a nefarious plot by the libertarian Bernstein to make me hungry.

Doh! He has succeeded. Damn him!
5.2.2007 10:21pm
Max's in Wheaton is pretty good for shwarma and falafel.
5.2.2007 10:33pm
Not NY style, but there are a few good pizza places in the DC area. 2 Amy's in NW and Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington, to name two.
5.2.2007 10:35pm
This post is pretty accurate, but understand that most people in the Midwest are judging things by Midwestern standards, not by East Coast standards. Our idea of a nice seafood dinner is Red Lobster. So yeah, if you're a New Yorker assuming that this is an awesome deli because of all the buzz, you're probably going to be disappointed, but New Yorkers are generally disappointed by what they find elsewhere. It doesn't mean that Ann Arborites are wrong to think of it as a pretty cool deli (and yeah, Amer's is arguably better).
5.2.2007 10:35pm
I lived in Manhattan a long time and Ann Arbor for a little while, and I've eaten in a lot of restaurants in both places, some of them very good. I think you're totally wrong. Sandwiches at Zingerman's are not as good as at Second Avenue Deli or Katz's, but they're better than pretty much anywhere else in Manhattan, especially the supposedly quintessential NY deli, Carnegie. Katz's is the best deli on the planet, and Second Avenue Deli is really good. But to claim that Zingerman's would be mediocre in NY is just silly.

I won't defend the bagels, though. H&H still makes the very best bagels anywhere in the world.
5.2.2007 10:49pm
Justin (mail):
I agree with wrong. Breaking fast at Zingerman's is one of my fonder memories. And while (the now defunct) Second Avenue Deli was better, and Katz is just as good, there's no other better restaurant.

I think DB just finds out what I think and posts things portending to be his "opinion" to piss me off.... ;)

(Note: I've never had their bagels. And Murray's beats H&H, though my old local bagelry in Queens beats them both).
5.2.2007 11:38pm
I don't think Zingerman's pretends to be a New York deli. It is far more upscale (with a large selection of balsamic vinegars and obscure salts, etc...) I think it is outstanding at what it does. I never miss Zingerman's when in Ann Arbor. The $90 mail order reubens are outrageously expensive, but I can you, they are much appreciated gifts.

I love 2nd Avenue Deli, but it is a completely different animal.

One of my favorite (and most sadistic memories) is when I went to Ann Arbor to recruit for my law firm. I bought a pastrami and chopped liver sandwich to eat on the airplane home. I think it stunk up the entire plane. I was in heaven. The other passengers, less so. (Plus, my doctor keeps telling me to eat more organ meat).
5.3.2007 12:07am
Chris Lawrence (mail) (www):
Ah yes, the divine New York Pizza Depot, far to unhealthily close to the Diag for my own good. (At least there's a Jimmy John's just down the street so you can balance it out...)
5.3.2007 1:38am
David Sucher (mail) (www):
"...upscale New York deli..."

In itself a comical idea.
5.3.2007 1:52am
I've never quite understood why New York is famed as having the best delis in the world - have you people never been to Schwartz's in Montreal? And whats with calling bread with a hole in it a bagel? A bagel is dense, chewy, and has just a hint of honey. Sheesh.
5.3.2007 2:04am
Waldensian (mail):
Can't talk much about delis. But (a) NY clearly has better bagels than anywhere else in the country and (b) Manhattan pizza is vastly, vastly overrated. You can't throw a raw egg from a taxi in Manhattan without hitting a crappy pizza joint.

I don't know Brooklyn pizza.

New Yorkers tell me I just need to eat at the good pizza places; I buy that, just tell me where they are!
5.3.2007 2:10am
I love Zingerman's. Whenever I'm in Ann Arbor I make sure to drop in. And it's never struck me as a New York deli wannabe--it's just Zingerman's.

I've also been to a lot of New York delis, and I prefer Zingerman's to most of them. (Though right now I live in LA, where decent delis are few and far between.)
5.3.2007 4:10am
Speaking the Obvious:
I did my radiology residency in Ann Arbor. I remember Zingerman's as a wonderfully delightful deli, much better than anything I had available growing up in Akron, OH (Lou &Hi's was fine, but Zingerman's just blew it away.) I *LOVED* it.

All the other 7 radiology residents in my year felt the same way I did (albeit none of THEM were Jewish).

The one exception: The two Jewish residents from NYC. They couldn't understand for the life of them why everyone made a big deal about Zingerman's...
5.3.2007 5:02am
When my wife and I were in A2 we felt like outcasts for suggesting that the food there at Z's was overpriced and crappy. Better fun breakfasts and better tasting food were over at the cool little cafe near the hospital (can't recall the name).

Now the microbrew row five blocks SW of Zingerman's had great food and really great beers.
5.3.2007 9:43am
UK (mail):
Zingerman's is just Zingerman's, indeed. As one who shopped in their building when it was still a small butcher shop in the 70's and has watched the company grow over its whole life, I am always amazed at both their guts and their results. Seeing Ari both push the limits of "traffic will bear" pricing and also offer some of the best customer service on the planet is remarkable. His small book on the how and why of their customer service is priceless. One wishes all such organizations would adopt it, even if it takes a 12 dollar sandwich to afford it.

Transplanted to Houston, I miss Zingerman's. There are places here with equally expensive deli food, but none with the same ambience or service. Time for some mail order!
5.3.2007 10:05am
joe (mail):
Waldensian, try DiFara's, Pizza Una Napolitano, Joe's, Lombardi's and Grimaldi's. Under no circumstance enter any pizzeria that has the name "Ray" in it.
5.3.2007 10:54am
Matt L. (mail):
I second joe's NY pizza recommendations (and would add Patsy's); Una Pizza Napoletana, in particular, has the best pizza in the world. And I agree that the state of deli food in New York is pretty sorry, especially now that Second Avenue is gone. Carnegie Deli is just awful, a constant disappointment.
5.3.2007 12:19pm
AppSocRes (mail):
A little off topic, but I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned fragels.
5.3.2007 12:21pm
Patrick Wright (mail):
Happyshooter - I presume that you mean "Angelo's," a favorite breakfast destination for the University of Michigan crowd.

And the brew pub is either the "Arbor Brewing Co" or "Grizzly Peak," which I much prefer.
5.3.2007 1:07pm
SM (mail):
The best pizza in NYC can be found at L&B Spumoni Gardens (and by pizza I mean "squares") in Brooklyn. The environment is relatively yuppie-free and the spumoni is great too.
5.3.2007 1:29pm
Happyshooter has to be referring to Arbor Brewing, since Grizzly Peak's beers were pretty average at best. Their food is better than Arbor though -- Arbor is a brewery with a restaurant (their food is still quite good), GP is more of a restaurant that happens to brew beer. Everyone that I took to both expressed similar opinions.

The chef for Zingerman's Roadhouse (their restaurant, nothing like the deli) is a Beard Foundation nominee for Best Chef - Great Lakes this year. We ate there once and it was very good. Always liked the deli, though I am not from NY. Probably the same reason that the only time I really liked NYPD was when I was somewhat intoxicated and getting food on the way back from a bar. Give me Chicago-style any day.
5.3.2007 2:27pm
Waldensian (mail):
Many thanks for all the NY pizza recommendations. I am going to keep an open mind until I try them. Meanwhile I will try to drive from my mind the memories of one sorry, lame pizza after another in NY.

FINALLY the Volokh Conspiracy comes through with some real "news I can use." :)
5.3.2007 5:43pm
James Markey (mail):
Zingerman's is pretty good, though.

My vote for the best pizza in Ann Arbor goes to Cottage Inn, though.

And the best local beer in MI has be Bell's from Kalamzoo/Comstock.

The place that served fragels on University in Ann Arbor closed several years ago, unfortunately. They were really good.
5.3.2007 6:28pm
Dan Schmutter:
Unfortunately, the quality of NYC pizza has gone down dramatically on average over the years.

When I was growing up in The Bronx in the 70s it was very difficult to find a truly bad slice anywhere in NYC. While Manhattan pizza was never as good as pizza in the outer boroughs (especially The Bronx which clearly had the best pizza), Manhattan pizza places could still usually provide a serviceable slice.

Now it requires an effort to find a truly good slice though it can be done.


The average quality of pizza in NYC started its preciptous decline in the late 1980s with advent of the ubiquitous Korean salad bars. Everyone suddenly put a pizza oven in their store regardless of whether they knew anything about making pizza.

As a result, I think, the market was flooded with bad pizza. Since Manhattan has a fairly high percentage of out of towners who have moved to NYC after college, business school, law school, or whatever, there were a sufficient number of non-native New Yorkers around to sustain the flood of bad pizza into Manhattan. Whereas a population of pure born and bred New Yorkers would have run those faux pizza guys out of town, they thrived among the critical mass of non-natives. Thus, bad pizza gained a foothold in Manhattan and remains to this day.

5.3.2007 9:00pm
Thanks, you guys were right, Angelo's, I could not think of that name.

We liked Arbor and Grizzly Peak. Arbor beers are better, and their Black Gold is the best hands down cool and cold weather beer, but Peak has good beers and better food.

Ashley's over by the Law Quad didn't make their own, but with the huge selection on tap and bottles 1L classes were more of a challenge than they had to be.
5.4.2007 10:11am