For me personally, a trip to Ann Arbor, MI, is without exception a trip to Zingerman’s Delicatessen (one of a whole slew of Zingerman’s businesses that might as well form a city in and of themselves). Locally and nationally observed for its dedication to the fresh and artisanal, Zingerman’s is to the foodie what Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is to the wide-eyed, Golden Ticket-bearing child. Everything–from cheeses (many of which originated in Zingerman’s own Creamery) to freshly baked breads (from their Bakehouse), to olives and pickles and condiments and spreads–can be tasted right on the spot, in a generous good-business gesture so welcoming and wholesomely Midwestern it makes me proud to hail from Michigan. Not that I’m biased or anything; in fact, I urge you not to take my word for it. “Literally every single employee,” according to one Yelp reviewer, “made me feel like an old friend.” There you have it.
At the crux of this übersuccess of a Delicatessen are the meats. Showcased in a seemingly endless variety of made-to-order sandwiches (okay, okay, Zing’s has veggie options, too–and lots of them), the meat, from corned beef to pastrami to un-corned beef to pork to turkey to chicken to, yes, even lox and whitefish, the meat shines whether it’s tucked between two slices of specialty bread or wrapped tight in parchment paper all the way home. At Zingerman’s, it’s best to think ahead. For example, a few days later, you might be halfway through a hike or in the home stretch of the ball game when hunger starts to set in, and you might be looking for some reminder of your recent trip to one of the Top 25 Food Markets in the World–by Food and Wine magazine’s estimation–in the form of a snack. To help you prepare for such occasions, let us point briefly to the corner of the store where our own excellent Landjaeger is sold, “day in and day out,” according to my Zingerman’s source. (Landjaeger, meaning “country hunter,” is not quite salami and not quite jerky. It is, however, a very satisfying little hunk of meat, made with beef and pork.) At any rate, we’re proud to have a spot in the deli counter of such an extraordinary and beloved institution. And, okay, I may be more than a little biased, but I’d recommend a trip to Zingerman’s as soon as you can possibly get yourself to Michigan. No, seriously, I’d book my flight now. You can thank me later.