2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for small businesses, especially restaurants, breweries, bars and coffee shops that have had to close their doors to in-person dining and drinking several times this year. And while this is definitely hard for established businesses, it’s even more devastating for businesses that have just recently opened. Due to the lack of foot traffic and closures, it has been hard to get the word out, causing many new restaurants to shutter their doors before they ever had the chance to shine.
So today, we rounded up a few Ann Arbor area restaurants, coffee shops, bars and dessert destinations that opened in 2020. These delicious newcomers could eventually become some of the city’s most beloved eateries, topping our list of the best restaurants in the city. We encourage you to support them as much as possible during this time, whether that is by ordering takeout, purchasing a gift card, or simply following them on social media!
211 West Liberty Street, Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of Aroma Indian Cuisine
After the success of their Farmington restaurant, Aroma Indian Cuisine has opened a location right here in Ann Arbor! They opened their doors in November, serving all of our favorites like biryani, masala, vegetable saag and so much more. Right now, they are offering curbside pickup. They source fresh ingredients from local farmers’ markets. No matter what time of year, you can be sure you’re eating the best of the season. Click here to place your order online.
1928 Packard Street, Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of @foodtruckwifey via Bao Boys
Bao Boys, a brand new stationary food truck serving “the dankest bao in Michigan” has taken the Ann Arbor area by storm. Even though they only officially opened a few months ago, Bao Boys has already garnered a cult following, with hundreds of Ann Arborites obsessed with their tasty steamed buns and innovative flavor combinations. They are always coming up with new dishes and bao fillings, so we recommend following them on Instagram to keep up with all their new menu additions!
209 Pearl Street, Ypsilanti
Located in downtown Ypsilanti, Bellflower is a brand new dining spot serving lunch, dinner, wine and cocktails. Their goal is to create meals that nourish in every way — sandwiches that spark delight and dinners to linger over with friends and family. That’s why they have a vast menu of hearty entrees along with a quick-service sandwich counter! Right now, they are offering curbside, contactless pick-up for all of their menu items including take-and-make meals, wine and cocktails. Click here to place your order online.
5 Nickels Arcade, Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of Tall Boys Studios via Bon Bon Bon
There’s no denying that Bon Bon Bon is a Michigan favorite. They have four locations across the Detroit area, with their newest location nestled right here in Ann Arbor’s Nickels Arcade! If you’ve never heard of this revolutionary candy shop, they create fantastic chocolates that can be enjoyed in “two polite bites” or just one large, less-than-polite bite (we don’t judge!). When you purchase a box of Bon Bon Bons, you aren’t getting a box full of ribbons and lace, paper cups, wax-molded bunnies or couture caramels—you’re getting good chocolate made from good things from the people of Motor City. You can build your own box (perfect for a birthday gift) and have it shipped directly to your door. Or you can visit their Nickels Arcade location to pick out your chocolates for yourself!
211 North Main Street, Ann Arbor
Experience authentic Mexican-style dishes without leaving Michigan at this brand new restaurant in Ann Arbor! Chapala offers a comprehensive Mexican menu, which includes favorites like sauce-smothered enchiladas, pollo, fajitas, burritos and so much more. They have great lunch and dinner specials every single week, so be sure to follow them on social media to stay abreast of everything going on!
1336 South Main Street, Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of Drip House Coffee
Drip House Coffee, located right across the street from Michigan Stadium, is your new favorite study spot, date night destination and relaxing home away from home (once the pandemic is over, of course!). They offer delicious, organic and vegan-friendly pastries and desserts from local businesses alongside great coffee. To help with social distancing in the winter, they’ve set up a heated open-air tent outside complete with comfy chairs and wifi.
305 Fleet Street, Plymouth
Boasting exotic drinks and exciting food, Plymouth’s first speakeasy is now open to the public! The Ebenezer is hidden in plain view off Fleet Street and nestled in the basement of the former First National Bank of Plymouth (now occupied by Greek Islands Eatery). While the tellers, loan officers and deposit slips are long gone, the former vault still exists and is now the bar’s private tasting room! The rest of the bar features an ambiance reminiscent of the roaring 1920s mixed in with a modern-day vibe.
414 South Main Street, Ann Arbor
View this post on Instagram
With locations in Grosse Pointe Farms, Rochester Hills, West Bloomfield and Lathrup Village, we were already big fans of The Jagged Fork. But now that they have a location here in Ann Arbor, we love them even more! This brunch cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch, featuring a menu full of classic brunch favorites like pancakes, French toast, waffles, crepes, egg specialties, skillets, sandwiches, salads and so much more. Click here to explore their new Ann Arbor menu and to place your order online for takeout!
2871 Carpenter Road, Ann Arbor
While 2020 presented small business owners with an unfamiliar challenge, it’s during these unprecedented times that new ideas are often born! That is where JJ Crabhouse came from. J and J, both experienced restaurant owners and seafood lovers, decided to turn 2020 into an unforgettable year by opening a crab house, selling some of the best, high-quality seafood in the entire Ann Arbor area! While their menu features plenty of fresh crab dishes, they also have a full Hibachi grill. Click here to peruse their menu and to order online for takeout or delivery.
5827 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of Lala’s
Lala’s opened on July 17th, 2020 inside the building of the former fine-dining space, Standard Bistro & Larder. This exciting new restaurant concept is the long-awaited project of Chef Allie Lyttle, inspired from her passion for traditional comfort food. Their menu offers new versions of classic dishes all while maintaining an approachable, fun take on modern food! We’re talking dishes like pierogies, latkes, fried wontons, grilled cheese, buffalo shrimp tacos, shepherd’s pie and so much more. Click here to view their entire menu.
312 South Main Street, Ann Arbor
From the same masterminds that brought us The Blue Llama Jazz Club, comes a brand new restaurant concept for dining in, carryout and delivery. Of Rice & Men combines traditional Asian cooking techniques with fresh, local ingredients to create an innovative, refined menu that journeys through China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and more. Enjoy unique dishes like Braised Beef Udon Noodles, Crispy Duck Dumplings, Pumpkin Miso Soup or Szechuan Pork Dumplings—they have something for every palette and diet on their menu!
44 East Cross Street, Ypsilanti
Photo courtesy of Waxbar
We couldn’t be more excited for this new Ypsilanti bar and lounge if we tried! Located in the heart of Depot Town, Waxbar is a record store/cocktail lounge mashup, decorated with art created by local artists and other funky decor. Even though they just opened this year, Waxbar is already struggling due to the pandemic. They created a Gofundme campaign to help cover debts and continue to pay their hardworking staff. Click here for all the information and to make a donation!
What about you?
Is there a new restaurant in Ann Arbor that you think everyone should know about? Tell us all about them in the comments below!