The Short Course
To avoid wait: Avoid peak lunch hours.
Noise level: Low.
Bathroom amenities: Changing tables, step stool, bouncy seat for infants.
High chairs? Yes.
Kids’ menu? Yes.
Anything healthy for kids? Yes, so many options!
Food allergy concerns? Counter servers are happy to help you avoid allergens. Many items are gluten free.
A fresh take on classic menus
“Another bowl place?” That was our less than enthusiastic take when we heard about the menu at the newly opened Naked Burrito in Pittsfield Township. Build-your-own-bowl eateries are all the rage lately and after being disappointed by more than a couple of these places, we nearly bailed on Naked Burrito before we even walked through the front door. Boy, are we glad we decided to give the place a try! Delicious food, a family-friendly environment, and sustainable business practices all help Naked Burrito, owned by wife and husband duo, Daisy Howlind and Vincent Zhang, stand out from the pack.
A menu crafted with care
The setup of Naked Burrito has diners order at the counter, picking and choosing ingredients to build their personal bowl or taco creation. We let the kids play while one adult ordered for the family and waited for the food to be prepared. Total counter time was about 5-7 minutes. Our six- and four-year-old were pleased that this “bowl place” was capable of their go-to orders, chips with melted cheese ($3) and a cheese quesadilla ($6.95), respectively. Kids also have a choice of any bowl from the full menu ($5.95) or can select any of the sides served separately, such as spanish rice, white rice, or refried beans.
We tried the halal chicken ($7.95) and angus chuck roast ($8.95) bowls. The meat in both selections was very tender and flavorful. Mr. Zhang explained to us that they ensure that their meats are well-marinated and seasoned in the preparation process. “We don’t just throw a chicken breast on the grill here,” Zhang described. It shows.
What really set Naked Burrito apart from other fast-casual counter joints were their premium toppings. Bowls and tacos can be topped with beet onion salsa, mango salsa, black bean corn salsa, or their rainbow medley (a mix of apple, cabbage, bell peppers, honey, vinegar and seasoned salt), which were all delicious. We also tried the butternut squash soup ($3.95/cup) which was simply prepared without too much salt or oil. The three amigos tacos (cilantro lime shrimp, halal chicken enchilada, and vegan portobello) allowed us an opportunity to sample more of Naked Burrito’s protein options ($7.95). We loved that the corn tortillas were toasted-to-order and really enjoyed the earthiness of the vegan portabella, especially when paired with Naked Burrito’s house-made black mole sauce.
Next level kid-friendliness
Howlind and Zhang designed their restaurant with families in mind, starting with the dining area which features a toy table and a basket full of adorable woven fruits and veggies. Naked Burrito even offers a kids-eat-free promotion each Monday, with the purchase of an adult bowl and beverage. They also have, hands down, the most family-friendly bathroom that we’ve ever seen in Ann Arbor, or anywhere else for that matter.
Everything a parent might need, including a large changing table, step stool for toddlers, and even an infant bouncy seat with toys, are available. For every parent who has had to juggle multiple kids during a bathroom trip, this bathroom is a breath of [almost] fresh air.
Donuts for dessert, just around the corner
For dessert, we made a quick trip around the corner and up Packard to DJ’s Bakery. This classic bakery was opened in the spring by Kim Yam, the former owner of the local favorite Dexter Bakery. Yam was a delightful hostess, whose warm smile and infectious laugh made our time there that much sweeter.
Donuts ($1.15 each or $6.50 per half-dozen) are the featured star of DJ’s, but they also offer a range of other options under four additional menu sections; “pastries” (danish, muffins, sticky buns, scones, $2.25); “fancy” (apple fritter, cinnamon roll, bear claw, long johns, $1.65 each or $8.50 per half-dozen); “cake & cupcake” ($1.50 per cupcake or custom cake by the sheet); and “pretzels” ($1.00-$1.75 depending on shape and toppings) which were some of the best our little ones have ever tasted. We sampled the glazed, sprinkle, apple fritter, and long john donuts, all of which were fantastic. The dough was light and fluffy while also chewy and deeply satisfying. The soft pretzels, warm and glistening, were “almost shining”, our 4-year old added!
There was quite a bit of foot traffic in-and-out of DJ’s and plenty of space for our family to sprawl out in one of the many booths. The baked goods were fresh, the space was clean and the business very orderly with short wait times and friendly smiles, all evidence of Yam’s long history in the bakery business. We will certainly be adding DJ’s to our list of regular local weekend morning spots.
Naked Burrito, 2871 Carpenter Rd.
Open daily 11am – 9pm
DJ’s Bakery, 3031 Packard St.
Monday – Saturday 5am-7pm
Sunday 5am – 2pm