Food Fight: Zingerman’s Roadhouse

Zingerman's Roadhouse
Image courtesy of Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse is a place where Ann Arbor townies, families, and those making a pit stop off the highway all can enjoy scrumptious foods that often taste homemade. Kids and children of all ages are also encouraged to partake in many specialty items just for them. 

We interviewed the co-founding partner of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB), Ari Weinzweig, who has been in Ann Arbor since 1974. 

According to Weinzweig, the “roadhouse” idea came in part because of its location.

“It started in September 2003,” Weinzweig explained. “The idea was and still is to serve really good American food, with roots in regional traditions. The name seemed fitting, and, as an old Bill Knapp’s building, it’s right off the highway, so.”

Zingerman’s Roadhouse

A roadhouse, according to the dictionary, is traditionally known to be an inn, tavern, or even cabaret, close to a highway that provides meals, drinks, and even sometimes dancing for those who stop in. And the name “Zingerman” was made up by co-founders Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig when the original name of their Deli founded in 1982, “Greenberg’s,” was taken by another business.

“They wanted a name that sounded fun and Jewish since it was a Jewish deli, after all, but, though they’re both Jewish, neither of their names worked very well,” according to their Frequently Asked Questions.

The Zingerman’s Roadhouse is known by many to be kid-friendly and has special dishes they enjoy. Some of the kids’ favorites according to Weinzweig are the Mac and Cheese and their burgers. Also popular are the kid’s fish, kid’s steak, and kid’s salad. Don’t forget how the children like the brownie sundaes and fruit plates, too!

Adults, on the other hand, have favorites like their fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, ribs, fresh whitefish, burgers, barbecue, sweet potato fries, classic cocktails, and their all-American wine list focusing on wineries and winemakers of color and women. Many adults reportedly like the donut sundae for dessert, which they also offer for free on your birthday!

Zingerman's Roadhouse
Image courtesy of Maalek Getchell.

Food and Fun at Zingerman’s Roadhouse

There are 14 highchairs available for children, and the Roadhouse plans on starting their special events again soon. They had previously stopped their events due to COVID.

A nice new expansion outdoors due to COVID has been their enlarged outdoor area titled the “Roadhouse Park.”

“We’ve added Roadhouse Park out front — 75 seats at picnic tables with nice plantings and a wonderful ambiance of an urban park!” Weinzweig exclaimed.

Also, Weinzweig explained that many of their traditional recipes come from the formula: “study history, cook, test, repeat.”

Another aspect that Weinzweig said is important to Zingerman’s businesses is their connection to the community.

“We care deeply about being connected to our community, and offering great guest experiences and a great place for people to work.”

Growing Business

Not only does Zingerman’s have their nationally famous deli, which offers delectable traditional European-Jewish sandwiches and dishes along with an assortment of fine cheeses, bread, olive oils, vinegar, and mustards — only to name a few. Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB) has expanded over the years into ten Ann Arbor-based businesses, such as Zingerman’s Roadhouse and Zingerman’s Bakehouse, with about 600 employees.

We have frequented Zingerman’s Roadhouse countless times for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and always had a fun time. Some of our favorites are also the fried chicken, barbecue items, sweet potato fries, and drinks.

The fried chicken is always extremely crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the barbecue items have savory sauces, the aromas of which permeate the surrounding areas, and their sweet potato fries have a wonderful texture and flavor as well as a nice dipping sauce.

The Roadhouse also does a nice job with unique takes on fish, salads, and soups, for healthier fare.

The Short Course

Kid-friendly: The menu is extremely kid-friendly and has many dishes and desserts made just for kids and children.
Kids’ menu: Kids have a full menu of their own. The mac and cheese and kid’s burgers are popular.
Anything healthy for kids: Healthier options include the chicken breast and fruit plate.
Food allergy concerns: Can accommodate, ask the server
Noise Level: Moderate inside.
Bathroom Amenities: Clean and manageable.
Highchairs: 14 high chairs available
To Avoid the Wait: Indoor usually requires reservations. There is no wait at the outdoor park. 

2501 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor. 734-663-3663.