208 S. First Street
It’s hard to believe now, but the thoroughly yuppified Downtown Ann Arbor of today was home to a number of seedy watering holes only a generation ago. All but one are gone, but the one that remains, the 8 Ball Saloon, is a magnificent example of the specimen. The bar is located underneath Ann Arbor’s legendary concert hall, the Blind Pig, and attracts everyone from hipster show-goers, serious billiard and dart players, fresh-faced students, and crusty old townies. It’s neither clean nor well-lighted. The aesthetic is basic basement, the beer list is minimal, the cocktails aren’t particularly “hand-crafted,” it only accepts cash, and the jukebox is a never-ending battleground of cacophony. A great place, in other words.
316 S. State Street
There are tons of places to grab something good for lunch in Downtown Ann Arbor, but when you’re just looking for a great sandwich, you can never go wrong with Red Hawk. They offer a variety of solid eats, from the Teriyaki Salmon Pita with spinach and sweet and sour cucumber to the Parmesan Chicken Club with double-smoked bacon and caesar mayo to a damn fine Cubano. Vegetarian? Don’t miss the Whole Grilled Portabella Mushroom on focaccia with herbed goat cheese and roasted tomatoes, or the Black Bean Burger on brioche with jalapeno jack, chipotle mayo, salsa, and guac. Add a salad, the city’s best steak fries, coleslaw, or another side, and you’re good to go.
Best Chinese: TK Wu
510 E. Liberty Street
A cozy little Chinese spot situated near campus, the family-owned TK Wu has what you crave, whether it’s familiar Americanized dishes like Egg Drop Soup, Sesame Chicken, or Beef and Broccoli, or more authentic fare such as Taiwanese Rice Noodles, Pork Congee, or Roast Duck with Rice. Plus about another hundred or so mouthwatering options. The portions are large, the prices are reasonable, and the friendly servers speak Mandarin -- or you can, naturally, order takeout or delivery. What’s the TK for? They're the first initials of the owners’ two children.