Hidden Gems

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Seva, located conveniently in the Westgate Shopping Center, is a restaurant specializing in vegan-vegetarian fare.

Upon entering on a Friday night, the place was busy, but my friend and I were seated right away. The vibe of the restaurant was reminiscent of most of the vegan restaurants I had been to; cozy, but with Ann Arbor hipster flair. It’s on the nicer side of casual, and definitely a restaurant suitable for a family outing or a date. The staff was young, many of them donning flannels and beanies over their Seva T-shirts. It isn’t a very large restaurant, but it’s not crowded. The tables are well-spaced, and it’s easy to navigate.

Although it is a vegan-vegetarian restaurant, Seva has a versatile menu. No, you can’t order a hamburger or a steak, but as someone who has been vegan for a year and an on-again-off-again vegetarian since middle school, I was pleased by the choices and ordered a spinach salad and cilantro-peanut stir fry.

The spinach salad, which came with chargrilled tempeh (fermented soy beans) in addition to the vegetables, was pretty standard, but perhaps a little overpriced at $13.

The stir-fry, which was $15, was a was a medley of vegetables over brown rice, with a “cilantro-peanut-ginger-lime sauce” that added flavor to what could have been another standard dish.

Overall, Seva offers a nice dining experience at a decent price. Although there isn’t  anything exceptionally stand-out about it, it’s a good option for vegans and vegetarians in the area.

seva

tlr

The Lunch Room triples as a vegan restaurant, bar, and bakery all tucked into a courtyard in Kerrytown. Finding the restaurant wasn’t particularly difficult, but finding the entrance posed a bit of a challenge. We ended up walking through a marketplace and considered asking one of the employees before we found it. Perhaps this could have been avoided if we had been more observant, but the layout is a little confusing.

Inside The Lunch Room, there’s a counter for placing your order with 15,000 bamboo skewers dipped in blue paint hanging above it, and I noticed several Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, and feminist friendly stickers on the windows.

During the lunch rush, the restaurant operates on a “first come, first serve” basis, as there aren’t very many tables crammed into the small space and they don’t take reservations or call-ahead seating. Fortunately for us, there were two tables available when we arrived, and there were only three of us.

At the counter, I ordered pad thai and a side garden salad. The food was brought out by a few different servers. The only employee that was particularly kind to us was the person who helped us at the counter, but the service was quick and nothing to complain about.

The side garden salad was only $6 and very enjoyable. The pad thai, at $10, was full of bold flavors and was served with some of the best tofu I have ever had at a restaurant. It was great value; I had enough leftover for lunch for the next day.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian or just someone who enjoys healthful eating, I would definitely recommend checking out The Lunch Room. It may be a little cramped and crowded, but the delicious food and eclectic atmosphere make up for it two times over.

the-lunch-room

Hidden Gems

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Here’s a fair warning:  if your parents aren’t paying for the meal, you might want to look the other way: it’s pricey. Black Rock is a mix between an upper class and a middle class restaurant.

When going in, the restaurant gives off a welcoming vibe, so welcoming that you feel apart of the Black Rock family. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be part of a family that seems to always have a hour-long wait time and won’t take reservations. Luckily, Black Rock allows call ahead seating, which isn’t that different from a reservation.

After waiting for around 20 minutes, I was escorted to the back of the restaurant. Most of the restaurant was filled with either people waiting or servers constantly running back and forth, so it made it difficult to navigate the restaurant comfortably.

When I got to the table it was presented nicely with a large table with plenty of space to move around. Considering the size of my meal, the space was not only welcomed but needed.

The restaurant’s signature calls for a volcanic rock to be heated up to around 700 degrees to cook food with, meaning they give you a hot rock and have you cook the meal yourself. Cooking food on a volcanic rock is a strange way to prepare a meal, but it’s a fun experience that allows you to cook your food the way you want.

I ordered a 25-ounce steak to split. Now before you freak out about how much the steak probably cost, it was only $39.99; at most places you couldn’t get a 10-ounce steak for less than $20. It was fun process making the steak, and the servers were very helpful: they gave a walkthrough on cooking and how to not get burnt. To add on, the steak was phenomenal.

Despite being pricey, Black Rock is a great experience that provides fun along with a tasty meal.

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Eating at The Broken Egg was an interesting experience. Located in the front of downtown Ann Arbor, it’s in a convenient location, right next to a parking structure.

The restaurant itself is in a building that is shared with other businesses; being only a small section, it felt cramped. The hostess was polite and escorted us to a table as soon as we entered.

The restaurant looked like the inside of a old home, but it gave off a good vibe and made it feel more comfortable to be there. It took about 10 minutes before a waitress came, and when she finally did, she was rude and impatient as if we were a waste of time. She took our orders and left to go to her other tables, and didn’t come back to check on us until food was done.

It was a Sunday morning. A basic breakfast of sausage, eggs, hash browns and toast was the choice. When asking the waitress to switch out toast for a pancake, the waitress rudely said it would cost me $7.50 to add one pancake because they “don’t do substitutions.”

Overall, the food was good. The sausage and hash browns were delicious, eggs were okay, and the toast was good.

The best part of the whole experience was the hot chocolate. The hot chocolate at The Broken Egg was the best I have ever had in my entire life. It was rich and creamy, and it even came in a special mug.

The hot chocolate made the bad waitress experience worth it tenfold. I wanted to get another hot chocolate, but I stopped myself before I ordered 20 more.

Despite the waitress, the experience was not a bad one, the food was good, and the meal was cheap. It’s a good place to go on a Sunday morning, even if it is just for the hot chocolate.

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Hidden Gems: Pieology & KouZina

By Jedidiah Howell and Caden Koenig

Subway, when it first started, became a pioneer for food service when we recognized its impact on ordering food. Subway set the bar for sandwiches, and now we see new people pushing that bar higher. In search of restaurants with a similar serving style, we headed to downtown Ann Arbor. This brought us to Pieology and KouZina.

Pieology

Only hearing about this new pizza place made us curious to how it would work with having a subway style order. Worries arose such as how long will it take? How much food will there actually be? Is it expensive?

Immediately walking into the restaurant some worries left as we scoped out pizzas from different tables on the way to the line. On the wall one menu stands with the best combinations of their pizzas, but they also let you create your own.

Photographer - Jed Howell
Photographer – Jed Howell

Along with the easy ordering process the atmosphere was nice. It was very modern and relaxed resembling a Chipotle-type vibe.

A big aid to the comfortable atmosphere was the customer service. The employees were easy going and well trained. After ordering and paying for our meal the waiting began. The music in the background and the comfortable booths made our five minute wait feel much shorter.

The fresh ingredients gave each bite its own flavorful experience. The only downfall to this pizza was that the eight pieces only lasted us about two minutes. To be fair there were three of us; however, for some it may be small for two people. This could change how the prices resonate.

At the $12 price point, one pizza would make a perfect lunch date or quick snack, but for a full dinner you may consider looking elsewhere.

The pizzas were very tasty, but if you are purchasing multiple pizzas the price starts to add up quickly. The overall restaurant was fantastic and we expect to be back soon. It seems Pieology has mastered the subway-serving style of one of the most beloved foods: pizza.

KouZina

As a fairly new restaurant in the Ann Arbor area, KouZina is relatively unknown, but we expect that to change. The first thing we noticed when we walked into KouZina was the modern, industrial style that occupies the space.

Another profound feature when entering the restaurant was the noise of the blaring music. The music was our only complaint concerning atmosphere. Once we got over the annoyance of the loud techno beats the experience was quite pleasant.

Photographer - Jed Howell
Photographer – Jed Howell

The ordering process began with the choice between a gyro, bowl or salad. We opted for the bowl mainly for sharing purposes. We were then helped down a line with a variety of toppings that we could add to our entrée.

In the end, we had a decent amount of food for under $10. The ordering experience was comparable to that of Chipotle or Subway. Personally, we thought the food was great; however, this was our first experience with greek food. We did find that we had an abundance of rice when comparing toppings.

The service was great as they were very quick allowing us to get in and out of the restaurant in less than twenty minutes. They were also quite friendly and helpful.

Our overall experience was positive, and we would definitely recommend for a lunch or quick dinner out.

The Hidden Gem Reviews: Mexican Style

On their Mexican adventure, two Squallers found ‘the best burrito’ they’ve ever had
By Amanda Fileccia & Lexi Heath

TacoKing

    At the corner of Stadium and Liberty a local go to is hiding some of Ann Arbor’s tastiest treasures. Taco King is a fast casual restaurant that serves all of your Mexican needs. Attached to the restaurant is “Tienda La Libertad,” a Latin American grocery store. This added an authentic vibe but did not make up for the lack of background noise. It was extremely quiet except for the TV that only played infomercials. We only saw one staff member, who took our order. It took about 10 minutes to get our food.

Their menu included everything you could think of. We dined on their enchiladas, one burrito, and two tacos. The burrito did not compare to the superior taste of Chela’s and the tacos were quite similar. The enchiladas at Taco King were outstanding. They each came with a different type of meat inside: ground beef, chicken, and shredded beef.  Our total for all three meals was $23.30. This was a great deal considering each plate came with beans and rice.

Illustrator - Kate Mesaros
Illustrator – Kate Mesaros

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The Hidden Gems Reviews

By Blake Leonard & David Merz

GRILLCHEEZERIE

Grillcheezerie is a unique restaurant located in Ann Arbor. They have many different takes on an American childhood classic. The most signature item is the “S’mac N’ Cheese,” which is three cheese macaroni and cheese, between aged cheddar melted on Italian white bread. They also have very different tastes such as the Honey Apple Grilled Cheese which is a grilled cheese with sliced green apple, red onion, and dijon mustard. If you’re not feeling very daring the Grillcheezerie also offers classic tastes like the pizza sticks which is a 3 cheese grilled cheese with pepperoni and pizza sauce. The Grillcheezerie had a very laid back environment with a rustic interior. On a Thursday night, we were the only one’s there, and the service was fast and friendly. Overall, the Grillcheezerie did not disappoint our high expectations and is definitely somewhere we would return.
GrillCheezerie

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