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Wanna start an endless debate? Ask four friends, “What’s the best restaurant in Ann Arbor?” I’ve had this debate ad nauseum since descending upon the Huron River Valley in 1995. It’s an exercise in futility as nary few other topics elicit such visceral and irrational reactions. Still, it’s the type of masochistic pastime I relish. 

That said, I’ve grown tired of the echo chamber that is my circle of friends. So in late 2010 A2GastroBoy commissioned a team of researchers to explore the tastes and preferences of Ann Arbor diners at large. I’ll admit, the design was flawed from go. We used our own friends and acquaintances to build sample (a “researchy” term for respondents) creating an inherent bias. 

Even with that bias we were amused and befuddled by some of the results. So much so that we now endeavor to conduct the survey annually, growing the sample size and adding questions. Below are the highlights of our findings. Take a look, digest the answers – then draw your own conclusions. Most importantly though, tell me what you think! Use the comment option to join the debate. 


PS: Here’s a few notes for the nit-pickers. 

Methodology: Respondents were filtered for residency, seeking only diners who live in Ann Arbor. The results are based on respondents who live within the 48103 (66%), 48104 (27%), 48105 (5%) and 48108 (1%) zip codes. 92 people passed the filter and started the survey. 82 completed it. The restaurant ranking portion of the survey included 57 local establishments, all of which posses a liquor license (no fast food). The survey was administered by Surveymonkey.com. 

Disclaimers: Yes - I know Blimpy Burger's logo is included in the collage above, yet they don't have a liquor licese. Not all the restaurant logos above were included in the survey - and not all the surveyed restaurant's logos are include in the collage. Get over it.

Respondents were given nothing for their time (other than the pride of participating in history!). We’ve consciously omitted the names of some local businesses from the results so as not to inappropriately offend or do harm upon the fine, hard working folks who’s establishments did not score well. The survey is not intended for commercial use. All rights are reserved by A2GastroBoy. Suck it. 

          This is fairly self evident...of the 82 folks who finished the survey, 98% of them have been to the Roadhouse, the highest score of any restuarant listed. 90% reported having been to the Gandy Dancer...I wonder if that would hold true had we added, "within the last [1,2,3] years" to our query. 

 I'll admit, I was amused and impressed by a few points. First of all, Pacific Rim took the top seed - and while I guarantee I didn't fix it, I couldn't agree more. Second, I was absolutely blown away to see Shalamar break the top ten - a true nod to Ann Arbor's diversity. And it does my heart good to see Casey's round out the top of the list - even if they no longer serve peanuts in the shell. It's also noteworthy that we included a handful of restaurants from the outlying community (Chelsea, Dexter, Saline, Ypsilanti). The Common Grill was the only establishment to hit the radar - and what a hit they made. Finally, am I sad that Logan didn't make the top 10? Yes. There, I said it. Zagat likes Logan and so do I.

Need I say more? Clearly the Ann Arbor elite who took this survey don't think highly of chains. Who's names am I hiding? I'll never tell. Momma always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

 Is that it? No! We asked a few other questions as well. But I'll save those results for a later date. Don't forget to comment 'ya hear!

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