The Best Restaurants and Bars to Visit During the Ann Arbor Art Fair

The Ann Arbor Art Fair is back.

After a yearlong hiatus, the largest juried art fair in the nation returns to 30 city blocks of downtown Ann Arbor.

This year’s AAAF, which could draw a half-million attendees, will run from Thursday, July 15, through Saturday, July 17. It encompasses three independently juried, nonprofit art fairs that run consecutively: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original; Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair; and Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair.

Concerns about the pandemic and fallout from a quick reversal in plans mean things will look a little different at the fair this year, even on the food front. The food court is on hold, and a planned food truck rally for William Street has been scrapped.

There’s still plenty to eat. Restaurants are taking the food “out in the streets.” says a spokesperson for the fair. Here’s where to eat and drink outdoors while browsing the fairs.

Two croquettes topped with poached eggs and an orange sauce on a gray, rectangular plate.

Croquettes from the Blue Llama
The Blue Llama [Courtesy photo]

Main Street Area (part of Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair)

Alley Bar, This boisterous dive bar attracts locals with its craft cocktails, cold brews, and chill vibes. 112 W. Liberty St.

Avalon Cafe, The cafe is equal parts coffee shop, grab-and-go bakery, and restaurant with brunch and farm-to-table dinners with a selection of fine wines and local beers. 120 E. Liberty

Black Pearl. Seafood and martinis in a lounge atmosphere. 302 S. Main St.

Blue Llama. The jazz club has become known for both its live music and jazz-themed menu. The menu features inventive takes on traditional dishes like filet mignon served with bleu cheese fondue. 314 S. Main St.

Chop House. Elegant chophouse offers premium steak and an extensive wine list. Enjoy dessert and a cigar afterward. 322 S. Main St.

Cloverleaf. Known to many locals as the “Leaf”, this longtime downtown fixture primarily caters to a crowd seeking a gyro, a burger, a coney dog, or a Greek salad. The sign on the awning reads “Breakfast Anytime.” 201 E. Liberty St.

Conor O’Neill’s. This Irish pub serves up burgers, sandwiches, pot pie, and draught beer. 318 S. Main St.

Jim Brady’s. American classics and cocktails in casual, modern digs, 209 S. Main St.

Old Town Tavern, Cozy “townie” bar has served Ann Arbor since 1972. Serves soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and traditional American classics for dinner. 122 W. Liberty St.

Pacific Rim. Pan-Asian food with a curated wine list. 114 W. Liberty St.

Palio Restaurant. This country Italian restaurant has a convivial setting and a great rooftop patio. 347 S Main St.

Pretzel Bell. A modern American tavern serving classic dishes where you can carve your name in the tables while sipping a great Michigan beer. 226 S Main St.

Ravens Club. New American food and more than 150 whiskeys. 207 S. Main St.

Real Seafood Co. Specialties include seafood alfredo, jambalaya, shrimp and scallop risotto, stuffed Atlantic salmon, crab legs, and lobster tails. 341 S Main St.

Regent’s Field. This joint serves classic sports bar fare: burgers, soups, salads, along with fried pickles, Greek fries, and spicy chicken sandwiches. 204 S Main St.

TAQ Taqueria. Fusion craft tacos, with beer, wine, and cocktails. 106 E Liberty St.

The Grotto. Watering hole features three dozen constantly rotating craft beer taps from all over the world, a wine list, and craft cocktails. 303 S. Ashley St.

Vinology Extensive wine selection is complemented by entrees such as halibut, miso seared salmon, duck confit pot pie, filet mignon, and fried chicken and waffles. 110 S Main St.

West End Grill. Fine dining menu features rack of lamb, lobster tail, sea scallops, and grilled salmon. 120 W. Liberty St.

State Street Area (part of Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair)

Amer’s Delicatessen. Go to this coffee house meets deli for classic sandwiches such as the Reuben, Brooklyn Reuben, smoothies, or an acai bowl. 314 S State St.

Ashley’s. Ashley’s carries a wide variety of craft and international beers on tap and bottled, and the list is always changing. Some of the most popular food items include pesto fries and fish and chips. 338 S. State St.

Chatime. Bubble tea is the star of the show here and is brewed fresh daily. The menu also includes various tea lattes, smoothies, fresh premium tea, fruit tea, and milk tea. 340 Maynard.

Detroit Cookie Co. Cookies, coffee, and croissants. 609 E. William St.

HopCat. Brewpub has an extensive beer list and serves creative pub fare and brunch items. 311 Maynard St.

Isalita. Paying tribute to Mexico City markets, this sister eatery to Mani Osteria has an Incredible selection of modern Mexican food that’s designed for sharing. 341 E. Liberty St.

Knight’s. Steak, salads, seafood, and burgers. 600 E Liberty St.

Mani. This sister restaurant to Isalita serves wood-oven pizza and Italian small plates and contains a bar serving old-world wines and local beer. 341 E. Liberty St.

Michigan Creamery. Family-owned shop serves 30 classic and imaginative ice cream flavors and two custards. .302 S State St.

New York Pizza Depot. Serves New York- and Chicago-style pizza by the slice. 605 E. William St.

Pita Kabob. This longtime standby serves shawarma, hummus, falafel, and mixed platters in a tiny Mediterranean shop. 619 E William St.

Red Hawk. Burgers, wings, sandwiches, and salads. Art fair hours: Closed Wednesday, noon to 9:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, closed on Sunday and Monday. 316 S State St.

the dining room at sava’s has lots of light from big windows and a line of yellow banquette seats with white marble tables and red flowers on top. The chairs are pink and green bucket seats.

The dining room at Sava’s
Sava’s [Official]

Sava’s. The globally influenced menu at Sava’s includes several lighter items that pair well with the bar’s many rosés. 216 S State St.

Slurping Turtle, Japanese choice with long communal tables for tapas, noodles & sushi, plus sake

South U. area (part of Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair)

Good Time Charley’s. Casual dining spot serves salads, homemade soups, chili, sandwiches, burgers, and Mexican specialties. Charley’s count twists—fat breadsticks filled with cheddar and hot pepper cheeses and topped with sesame and poppy seeds—are a customer favorite. 1140 S. University Ave.

Joe’s Pizza This outpost of a “Greenwich Village institution,” Joe’s has been offering the classic New York slice for decades. 1107 S University Ave.

Oasis Deli. Quick-serve joint dispensing a compact menu of Mediterranean wraps, salads & mains plus smoothies. 1201 S. University Ave.

For more information about the Ann Arbor Art Fair, visit its website.

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