2501 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor
Overview: Zingerman’s is a well-known name in Ann Arbor. The moniker is attached to a string of shops and restaurants that sell various specialities. Zingerman’s even has a mail-order service for baked goods, which can be shipped all over the country. The Roadhouse opened in 2003 and has proved popular with customers ever since. In 2010, the restaurant was recognized by the Food Network for having the best comfort food (macaroni and cheese). Just off Interstate 94, it is easy to find.
Décor: The restaurant is moderately sized, with a nice, warm color scheme. It seems more of an appropriate setting for a nice lunch or dinner with a few people. Toward the entrance is a section that looks somewhat like a general store, with extra goodies (like Zingerman’s renowned candy bars) customers can buy.
Drinks: Diners can choose from nonalcoholic or alcoholic beverages (cocktails are priced between $8-$15).
Appetizers: Items range from seafood-based ($9.50-$12.50; market price) to traditional or sweet potato fries and onion rings ($4.50 for a half-order; $6.50 for a full order). A particular standout is Ari’s Pimento Cheese ($5.75). Served with uniquely cut celery sticks, this dip has an enjoyably nippy taste.
Entrees: Try the buttermilk-fried free-range chicken ($19.50 for four pieces), the pit-smoked barbecue beef ($19) or the grilled Carolina white grits ($18). Three variations of salad are available: the Roadhouse Garden, the Classic Caesar or the Warm Spinach and Mushroom Salad ($6.25-$7.75). Many more choices are available.
Alternatives: The vegetarian New Mexico Black Bean and Hominy Burger ($12) would be better with a little more flavor. This burger is spiced with roasted garlic, red peppers and onion. It's served with avocado salad, lettuce, onion and pickles on a Bakehouse onion roll.
Service: The wait staff is friendly and courteous. Customers have the option of placing an online reservation for busier times. Visit www.zingermans.com.
Signature dish: Several variations on macaroni and cheese. The Roadhouse Mac & Cheese includes homemade bechamel sauce and lots of 2-year-old raw-milk Vermont cheddar, caramelized with artisanal macaroni from Tuscany ($13.50). The Memphis Macaroni ($18.50) includes Alex's Red Rage barbecue sauce, applewood smoked bacon, Cornman Farms pulled pork, New Mexico green chiles and fresh cilantro caramelized with pasta.