The University of Michigan's Crisler Center; Home of the 2023 Big Ten Championships (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Ann Arbor is a truly awesome place. I was lucky enough to spend the first 17 years of my life living there, and I have to say, I should have appreciated it more. I should have gone to more football games, explored downtown more, spent more time in Nichols Arboretum, and appreciated the restaurants more. I still have friends who live there, and my Mom still lives there, so I go back a couple times a year, but it's hard to fit everything I want to do into each trip.
Now I don't expect you to be able to fit all of what I'm about to tell you into your trip to Ann Arbor for the Big Ten Wrestling Championships, but I will give you a guide so you can make the most of this trip. Now I don't claim to be the main authority on the city of Ann Arbor Michigan, so I collaborated with Myles and Malik Amine on some places they suggested as well, so you can have confidence that these were largely suggestions from two world-class athletes and myself. I hope to share with you some great places to check out in between sessions, and some fun things to do at night. Let's begin;
Food: There are several places that will be listed below that offer food, but I have to start with the most important place to go. Zingerman's Deli is an absolute must! 422 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Zingerman's roadhouse is also good, but the Deli is the one you have to check out. Awesome and enormous sandwiches, with delicious breads, and awesome ingredients. Sherman's Sure Choice is the single greatest sandwich I've ever had, but check out their menu and be sure to plan this trip while you're in town.
Another excellent place for dinner, or in-between session meals and drinks, is Knight's Steakhouse. This place has excellent food, and gigantic drinks. Knight's pours are different from your regular pours. You can swim in them. More importantly, though, the food is delicious. There are three locations of Knights in Ann Arbor, but the one I'm most familiar with is located at 2324 Dexter Avenue, although the one probably best for people attending this event will be downtown at 600 E Liberty Street. But yeah, if you're looking for delicious burgers, steaks, and sandwiches, this is a great place to go.
Main Street has a diverse grouping of restaurants, bars, and shops. If you're looking for high-class dining, they've got that in places like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, The Chop House, and Real Seafood Company. They even have Blue Llama Jazz Club if that's your thing. Main Street also has more casual establishments such as The Grotto, Bill's Beer Garden, and Old Town Tavern.
You can even finish your night with some delicious diner food at Fleetwood just west of Main Street. Fleetwood is a great place to wind down at the end of the night, and has a super chill atmosphere. Connor O'Neills is a solid spot, located at 318 S Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. It's your traditional Irish Pub offering reasonably priced food and drinks and a great atmosphere. Their website says they are "Michigan's favorite Irish pub, and who am I to argue with that? I expect this will be a busy spot Saturday night.
Other places to venture while in the heart of Downtown include Frita Batidos (117 W Washington Street) which is Cuban-inspired street food and tropical cocktails! Super great food, and certainly going to offer different drink options and food options than 90% of the other places. Also a great atmosphere. Also located right near Main Street, the Jolly Pumpkin is a cool brewery with a variety of great beer options. They are located at 311 S Main Street. If craft beer isn't your thing, they also have a variety of cocktails they can make up as well.
One last Main Street Staple to check out is Pretzel Bell. From 1934 to 1985 The Pretzel Bell was a local favorite of students and the general population. It had closed for many years, but then in 2016, a group of alumni decided to bring it back. It has an awesome location on Main Street, and you can't miss the giant sign and bell on the corner of Main and Liberty.
The last place I intend to check out is called The Circ Bar. It used to be called The Circus, which was this awesome place with free popcorn, pool tables, and they did karaoke on Saturdays. Now it appears to be more high-end, but still looks cool, and they have karaoke on Saturday still, so best believe I'll be singing a song or two… or three or four. I'm for-sure signing Area Codes. They are just off of Main Street at 210 S 1st St, just two blocks west of Main Street.
South University is where you should go if you're looking for good old-fashioned college bars. This was our main stomping grounds whenever I'd come to visit Ann Arbor because of the variety of options you have. The two most famous and long-lasting spots on this street are Good Time Charlies (1140 S University) and The Brown Jug (1204 S University). GTCs is a great college bar with good service, a large sprawling area with tables and booths, and a nicely positioned center bar. The Brown Jug, named after the trophy that Michigan and Minnesota share in their "rivalry" football game, is a similar vibe to GTCs, but a less wide-open layout. This is like a big long hallway of tables and booths, but equally good drinks and food options. I once did Karaoke at The Brown Jug while Denard Robinson watched in awe. Some say it was the highlight of his Michigan experience.
As for coffee options in the area, M36 Coffee Roasters is another Myles Amine-recommended spot. This is located at 1101 S University. We'll cover South University rather extensively as you keep reading. M36 is also located right near the Diag, which is a great spot to walk with your coffee and get a great view of what Ann Arbor has to offer.
A great restaurant in this area also is Pizza House. They have over 500 seats, which means that they typically have a very short wait. Also, they have delicious food, and not just pizza, so if you'd like sandwiches, salads, etc… It's an option. Our mainstay back in the day was the Blue Leprechaun. Formerly called Touchdowns, this place went through a name change and overhaul in 2008. This was greatly needed. Touchdowns was the home of Monday night beer pong tournaments, where former Michigan Wrestler Nick Velissaris and his partner Jason Coben honed their skills on their way to winning the very first World Series of Beer Pong in Las Vegas. Their team name was Team France and they beat a team by the name of Slippery Fetus in the finals. Most people don't know that, but I do, and that's why I'm sharing this with you. The point being, The Blue Lep (as it's affectionately known) is awesome. It has two stories of a fun college bar, and all the people and shenanigans that go along with it. I highly recommend spending at least a good portion of one night on South University.
Near the Crisler Center; I will be at Fraser's Pub as often as possible. This is not as high-end as Knights, in fact far from it, but I love this place. Great bar, reasonable drink prices, solid bar food, and a fun cast of characters who will certainly not disappoint. Located at 2045 Packard Road. I hope to see you there.
The Drip House is located at 1336 S. Main Street, which is just West of the Crisler Center. This is clearly the closest recommended coffee location to the venue hosting the event, but in addition to that, it also comes recommended by Myles Amine. Their goal is simply to make your day brighter, which seems like an easy goal to accomplish if your goal is to get good coffee. I have not been, but I have it on good authority that it's a solid spot.
Roos Roast is a great spot. This place is just down South Industrial road at 1155 Rosewood St B, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, so if you're coming to the Crisler Center from the South East, this will be on the way. My Mom still lives in Ann Arbor, and not far from Roos Roast. This coffee is so good that I don't even bother breaking out the coffee pot when I come to visit. I just cruise over to RR for a delicious cup. This place also has the Amine seal of approval as well, which should be good enough for us all. Check them out.
Sightseeing gems; Thankfully the first main one is right next to The Crisler Center. That being The Big House! It's not every day you get to take a look at a football stadium that holds 117,000+ people, so while in town it's certainly a must-see. I don't know if it'll be open, but as someone who while in high school got in there pretty freely, I trust there will be some level of access.
Another great spot is Nichols Arboretum. Located at 1610 Washington Heights, this is an absolutely beautiful place to walk and enjoy nature. If there's decent weather, this is a must-see. Students flock to the Arb for a variety of outdoor activities beyond assigned studies, such as jogging, picnicking, and sunbathing. In fact, I have seen several Instagram shots of the Michigan wrestlers jogging through the Arb, which seems like a damn beautiful place to get a workout.
Another awesome thing to check out is Graffiti Alley. This is exactly what it sounds like. An alley decorated over the years with awesome graffiti. The beautiful kind. Not the kind that's just on the side of a train as you wait to cross the tracks. If you're spending time on Main Street, you can head east on Liberty for about three or four blocks and it'll be on the North side of the road between Division and State street. It's near Hop Cat, which is another great restaurant with a tremendous selection of beers, so you can pack those two things together if you'd like.
Well, that's it for now, but feel free to shoot me a DM through Twitter (@Claunchinator) and I'll be happy to share some other cool destinations and activities that may be specifically nearby your hotel or wherever you're staying. Rock On, and see you in Ann Arbor!