Good Eats: Taste the world at Zanzibar

Zanzibar—the Spice Island—the name conjures up colorful visions punctuated by the pungent scent of spices co-mingling to produce an exotic reverie of a faraway paradise.
While jetting off to the East African location off the coast of Tanzania may be out of the question for most of us, taking a day trip out to Ann Arbor for a taste of the world far outside Michigan’s borders is an entirely reasonable plan.

Zanzibar A2 MI

Downtown Ann Arbor’s Zanzibar restaurant is one of our favorite destinations after an afternoon of wandering around some of our favorite haunts in the city.

Find out what’s for lunch after the break…

The restaurant’s convenient State Street location puts it within a couple of blocks of the University of Michigan’s campus and some cool and eclectic shopping places, like our favorite indie bookstore, the Shaman Drum. We ate most recently at Zanzibar after visiting the University of Michigan Museum of Art and walking a couple of blocks over to the restaurant (read about our museum visit here).
Sitting in the front dining room that recent late afternoon, the busy city seemed far away, even as we watched a steady stream of foot traffic travel by the restaurant’s large picture windows.
Colorful woven cloths draped from the high ceilings give the dining area a sort of open-air marketplace ambience.

Zanzibar A2 MI

We considered our entrée choices as we enjoyed an appetizer of grilled flatbread accompanied by a trio of spicy feta and yogurt puree, sweet and hot pepper relish, and oil cured olives.
Initially hesitant to order fish tacos because it just didn’t seem right to me, I decided to try Zanzibar’s version of the dish after our server assured me it was one of the restaurant’s most popular entrées. Zanzibar’s version featured flash-fried catfish, a house hot sauce, chipotle mayo and cabbage with pickled onions. The dish laid my doubts to rest about the possibility that a fish-based taco would be able to stand up to a level of spice that would please a spicy food lover like me.
Tim likes duck (with the exception of those pesky waterfowl from Anaheim) and opted for a braised duck Panini with Persian bread and a smoked onion aioli. His sandwich was tender and flavorful without being too spicy.
We also like Zanzibar’s brunch, served Sundays from 10:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The brunch menu includes: Eggs Benedict featuring crab cakes; a smoked trout, goat cheese and baby spinach omelet; and vegetarian takes on classics like Eggs Benedict and omelets.
While we ordered our most recent meal at Zanzibar off of the regular luncheon menu, it’s always worth checking out the restaurant’s specials. One of our more memorable meals at the restaurant was a spicy West African stew offered as a special one cold winter afternoon.
Virtual world voyagers should enjoy Zanzibar’s bar offerings, which include a variety of brews from around the world on tap and in bottles, as well as a full bar that includes a selection of single-malt Scotches and small-batch Bourbons.
What are some of your favorite Ann Arbor haunts?

Zanzibar A2 MI

This article brought to you by the good folks at Urbane Apartments Royal Oak Michigan, Urbane Apartments Ferndale Michigan,Urbane Apartments Birmingham Michigan, and Urbane Apartments Dearborn Michigan

  • Eric Brown

    There are some great tweets going back and forth about other A2 Good Eats, so I have re-posted them here! Sounds like we have some Ann Arbor reporting to do!
    potsie: Sangria and atmosphere at Dominick’s, behind the Law Quad! @drintelmann @Eric_Urbane @Joem32
    16 minutes ago from Lounge · Reply · View Tweet

    drintelmann: @Eric_Urbane I agree with @Joem32 right next door the blue tractor is great too.
    39 minutes ago from TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet

    Joem32: @Eric_Urbane If you like good food in Ann Arbor, you should give Cafe Habana a try! Great food in a really cool atmosphere!

  • Eric Brown

    Here is another Ann Arbor favorite
    howardcollens: @Eric_Urbane Love Seva for vegetarian. Probably going Saturday night.
    30 minutes ago from TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet

  • DominiqueKing

    Seva is another favorite of ours–I always tell folks it’s the veggie place to take people to eat that claim to be real meat-and-potatoes people. I could be persuaded to go on out there for another meal soon :lol:

    We get out to A2 fairly often. Lots of great places to eat, great indie book stores, nice campus atmosphere, wonderful parks. I can think of more stories…

  • mai

    WOWW It is a good thing for me. Thanks. ^_^

  • DominiqueKing

    mai-We like Zanzibar. Seva is another Ann Arbor favorite–watch for my post here about that restaurant, too.
    I like places where the food is imaginative and they aren’t afraid of spices. Plus, they’re local places owned by local folks.
    Nothing worse than bland, chain-restaurant fare, IMHO.

  • Brandon

    Had a chance to have a drink here a couple of weeks ago on their outdoor patio/sidewalk. Was very civilized! I like Seva too — great food, and I’m decidedly NOT a full-time veggie.

  • DominiqueKing

    Brandon-We’ve eaten out on the patio at Zanzibar in the past, and it’s a nice little space.
    Stay posted, I do have a Seva story ready to go in the queue already :)

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