Wednesday, June 10, 2009


For those of you who have randomly stumbled here, welcome. This blog chronicles a 2-week road trip taken in May 2009. Keep reading and you'll find ballpark reviews, food reviews, and stories about both a successful eating challenge, and a not-so-successful eating challenge.

Why should you read it? Well, it's the perfect way to kill half an hour if you're bored. Also...well, that's about all I've got. But I've been told by several people that at points, it even approaches coherence. So if you've got the time, read on. For best results, start at the first post (Syllabus Day) and read through chronologically to the last (Best of the Rest).

Questions, comments, profanity-laced diatribes....send 'em to Hope you enjoy the blog.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Best of the Rest

On this trip, a lot of stuff happened that I either forgot to write about or just didn't write about at the time. There's no real theme here, just a lot of random moments and observations that I thought were notable, funny, or Jesus-y enough to mention. Enjoy.

*The official speeding ticket count for the trip: 1. Driving from Cincinnati to St. Louis, not even 2 hours into our first big drive, we were driving near Indianapolis. The speed limit changed from 70 to 55 mph and Andy didn't see it. 76 in a 70 isn't bad. 76 in a 55 is. Whoops. Also, this gigantic distraction happened on the morning of our Pointersaurus attempt. But I'm not making excuses here.

*At every ballpark I went to, I bought a minibat. The cheapest was $5 (Washington). The most expensive was $9 (Cubs). The nicest paint job, surprisingly, was on the White Sox bat. The worst was on the Cardinals bat.

*I told Sam Klein that I'd write it up here if he ate 2 pizzas at dinner on Saturday night in Washington. He did, so here you go, Sam. Just for the record, if those are 10-inch pizzas (which I think they are), he would have had to eat 4 of them, each of them with almost a pound of toppings, to equal one half (one person's share) of the Pointersaurus. If they're 8-inch pizzas, then he would have had to eat 6.25 of them to equal half of a Pointersaurus.

*What's the highest point in central Illinois? I dunno, probably this giant cross. Unless there's an even bigger cross somewhere else that we don't know about. (Upon further review: nope -- it's the biggest. And not just in Illinois. In the world.) This wasn't part of a church or anything either, just a gigantic cross placed approximately 50 feet from the highway in Effingham, IL. Another speeding ticket be damned, we collectively slammed our semitic foot down and got out of there as quickly as we could.

*On our way from St. Louis to Chicago, while driving near Funks Grove, IL, we saw a series of 5 signs, each one part of a poem/message that began on the first sign. The signs read:

"When danger lurks / remember, Sonny / a rabbit's foot / didn't save no bunny /"

After some research, I can tell you that the website is part of the Champaign County Rifle Association, and contains such bits as: Of course, "Six Seconds from Safety" is no substitute for concealed carry of a gun in a holster – which we call "One Second from Safety"! 

*The number of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn jerseys we saw on the trip: 4. One at US Cellular in Chicago and three in Cleveland. Here are the two that I was able to inconspicuously take pictures of.

*If you're on a road trip like this and looking for a gas station, stopping at a Pilot Travel Center is always your best bet. Is it because Pilot has clean bathrooms? No, not at all. Some were clean; others had 25-cent cologne dispensers (just turn the knob to your desired scent, put in a quarter, and stick your hand under the nozzle) and feces on the toilet seats. Is Pilot's gas cheaper than other places? Maybe a little bit, but that's not why it's so good.

No, Pilot is the best gas station because of its soda dispensers. Not only do you get a choice between crushed and cubed ice. Not only do you get to choose between 16 sodas, energy drinks, and fruit-flavored beverages, including a full range of both Coke and Pepsi products. Not only do 44 oz. sodas cost only $1.29. But the big draw is that you get unlimited flavor shots. 

Want a lemon-cherry-vanilla root beer? You're in luck. Hell, I'm sure if you wanted a 44 oz. glass of vanilla syrup on the rocks, you could bring it up to the register, pay $1.29, and be on your way. There's no better way to eliminate the diet from a diet soda than by adding 2 shots of cherry and 4 shots of vanilla syrup. There's also no better way to make it absolutely delicious. 

So congrats, Pilot Travel Center, you win the award for best gas station. Wear it proudly.

Other trip bests:

*Best Roadside Sign: In Wisconsin, for Bong Recreation AreaFurther investigation reveals that this site was named for World War II fighter pilot Richard Bong. The website answers a lot of questions about the area; unfortunately, what Dick Bong's parents were thinking when they named him is not one of them.

*Best Tourist Trap: Also in Wisconsin, the Mars Cheese Castle. Rising off the highway near Kenosha, this dairy fortress sells all things Wisconsin. Cheese, sausage, Wisconsin microbrews, pastries, more cheese, fruit spreads -- the Cheese Castle has it all. Added points for all the free food they give out, especially the samples of several varieties of cheese, best of which was the pepper jack. Andy and I made a lap around the store, feasted on some samples, ate corned beef sandwiches, bought some Wisconsin food to go, and then jumped right back on the highway to Chicago.

*Best "Welcome to" State Sign: Wow, Wisconsin is just racking up the awards. If I was an Arts & Crafts teacher doing my quarterly evaluation, I would definitely have to say that Wisconsin "went above and beyond." 

*Best Job Making the Best of a Bad Situation: Imagine you're a relief pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bad situation, right? Now imagine the whole stadium starts doing the wave. What do you do? Do you let your anger get the best of you and refuse to join in the fun? No! You cast off whatever disillusionment you may have over your current career path and when the wave hits the bullpen, you ride that baby for all it's worth. Then, as a group, you bask in the ovation you receive from the stadium, because let's face it, you guys probably aren't giving them many reasons to cheer for you when you're actually on the mound.

*Best Burger: Blimpie Burger, Ann Arbor, MI. Blimpie Burger is one of those local institutions where if you don't know how to order the right way, they yell at you. But by looking at the menu, you can see that the prices are pretty reasonable. 

The food itself is great too. The burger patties are small, but Andy and I both ordered quints (5 patties), which the menu says is equivalent to a half-pound burger. Any of the standard toppings are free, and adding fries (they serve the thick-cut steak fries) or onion rings is always a solid choice. Using my tried-and-trusted food rating system, Blimpie Burger scores a solid 3.....check it out if you're in Ann Arbor and are looking for the tastiest burger in town.

*Best Dessert: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis, MO. A St. This frozen custard stand, which has only 2 locations, both in St. Louis, has been around for decades and is a popular post-Cardinals game hangout. Head there about half an hour after a Cardinals game ends, and you'll be stuck in line behind 50 people wearing Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel jerseys. The line moves quickly though, so you'll never have to wait for too long. 

The thing to order at Ted Drewes is a concrete, which is basically a McFlurry, but one that's actually made with quality ingredients and not rendered pork fat. It all starts with vanilla custard, delicious by itself, and then you can add as many ingredients that you want to it from a list of 30 or so. If you order fruit, they actually add real fruit to it, not fruit syrup. We ended up going twice, the first time as our dinner several hours after the Pointersaurus attempt, and the second time after the Cardinals game that we went to. 

The first time, I got a chocolate cookie dough concrete, the next night a strawberry banana one. Two completely different flavors; both were refreshing and delicious. Ted Drewes officially scores a 3-.....check it out if you're in St. Louis and are looking for a great dessert, or if you've been sitting outside in the heat for 3 hours at a Cardinals game and want the perfect way to cool off.

And now, a bunch of numbers:

For statistics' sake, I'm counting both Phillies-Reds games as 1 big game. Therefore, on this trip, I saw 8 baseball games, featuring 12 different teams: Pittsburgh (3 times), Philadelphia (2 times), St. Louis (2 times), Milwaukee, Washington, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Houston, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Cleveland, and the New York Yankees. 

On this trip, we saw every single team from the NL Central and went to every NL Central stadium except for Houston. Of the 8 stadiums we went to, only 2 of them were AL ballparks (White Sox and Indians).

From my starting point in New York until I got back to New York 16 days later, I traveled through 14 states. Andy and I drove roughly 1600 miles in a car, and I also spent 21 hours on a train and 4 hours on a bus.

I have now been to 16 of 30 MLB Ballparks and 40 of 50 US States.

And that's all I have to say about that. Stay tuned for some parting shots.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Ultimate Food Review

Over the course of our 2-week trip, Andy and I sampled some of the best and most regionally iconic food that the midwest has to offer. Even though basically everything we ate was delicious, give or take a giant pizza or two, there was a clear-cut winner for the award of best food on the trip. But before we get to the winner, we've got two other medals to hand out.

Bronze Medal: Primanti Brothers, 2AM. The mid-afternoon Primanti's trip was nothing spectacular, but due to the better late-nite sandwich choices of kielbasa and corned beef (as opposed to cheesesteak and capicola in the afternoon), plus our 2AM desire for a large amount of flavor-packed food, late-nite Primanti's was able to edge out Al's Italian Beef for the low spot on the medal stand.

Silver Medal: Jim's Original. Going to Jim's for delicious grilled polish sausages is a guaranteed great meal. The sausages are cooked perfectly, the mustard is sharp and has a nice kick, and the sweet sauteed onions are the perfect complement to the sausage and mustard flavors. As an added bonus, the prices are great ($3 for an italian sausage), and you get free fries with every sandwich. So when you go, bring $20 and stock up. Eat five of them at Jim's and save one to bring home and put on your medal stand.

And the champion....

Gold Medal: Pappy's Smokehouse. The clear-cut winner. I know there are scientists around the world working to cure diseases and build rocketships and whatnot -- but I really don't think it would hurt for them to take some time off to figure out the recipe for the dry rub on Pappy's ribs. Unfortunately though, the top spot on the actual medaI stand itself will have to remain unoccupied. I wouldn't even save one of Pappy's ribs to put on it; they're just too amazing not to eat.

The Final Overall Rankings

The Official Food Review Hierarchy
1) Not worth it
2) Stop in if you're driving by
3) Check it out if you're in town
4) I'd drive an hour for it
5) I'd drove across several states for it
6) I'd kill a man

Pappy's Smokehouse: 4.5 (I'd drive an hour AND wait in line for an hour for it)

Jim's Original: 4 (I'd drive an hour for it every now and then)

Primanti Brothers 2AM: 4- (I would take a $10 cab ride for it)

Al's Italian Beef: 3+ (Check it out if you're anywhere near Chicago)

Zingermann's: 3 (Stop by if you're in Ann Arbor and don't mind spending $15 on a sandwich)

Skyline Chili: 3 (Check it out if you're in Cincinnati)

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria: 3 (Check it out at one of its many locations if you're in Chicago)

The Ohio Deli (Dagwood): 2.5 (Pretty tasty sandwich in itself -- check it out if you're in Columbus and want a challenging, yet doable food challenge)

Primanti Brothers, 5PM: 2 (Check it out if you're driving by)

Pointer's Pizza: 0.5 (I would only eat it at sundown after Yom Kippur if there was nothing else to eat)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Final Ballpark Rankings

First, a few minor awards:

Best Food
Criteria: You're given $40 to get whatever food you want at each ballpark. Where will you find the best combination of food quality and food value?
Winner: Milwaukee Brewers. Get the grilled brat ($4) and add mustard and fresh cut onions at the full condiment bar. Get a side of fried cheese curds ($4), which I would best describe as a bowl of amazing bite-sized mozzarella sticks. Wash it all down with a 16 oz. High Life draft ($5.25). And even then, you still have more than $25 left. Get another sausage (polish or kielbasa). Spend an extra dollar on a beer to try a microbrew ($6.25). Try some locally-made ice cream. Even after all of this food, you'll still have $10. At Miller Park, the food is delicious, and you'll be able to eat until you're stuffed.

Best Value
Criteria: Which park gives you the best value, in terms of a combination of tickets, food, and souvenirs?
Winner: Cincinnati Reds. Milwaukee has the best food value, but its ticket prices are a little on the high side ($17 for standing room seats). Cincinnati has $5 seats available for every game, and the seats that we got from Andy's Dad a few rows behind the 3rd-base dugout were only $32 (season ticket price). Food is reasonable, and the souvenir minibat was $6, tied for 2nd place, only behind Washington's $5 minibats.

Best Design
Criteria: Which baseball park best combines unique ballpark features, sight lines, and a city's features (skyline, scenery, etc.) to produce the most aesthetically-pleasing ballpark?
Winner: Pittsburgh Pirates (with St. Louis a very close 2nd). The downtown view, which can be seen from all parts of the ballpark and includes the river and Roberto Clemente Bridge, is outstanding. There is also standing room space with a great view of the field anywhere you go in the stadium. Finally, for such a modern ballpark, retro-themed features such as the out-of-town scoreboard stand out and give PNC a classic, vintage feel.

Best Game
Criteria: Which game that we saw was the most well-played and entertaining?
Winner: St. Louis @ Milwaukee. Milwaukee's pitcher (Yovani Gallardo) had a no-hitter that was broken up in the 6th inning. Not to be outdone, St. Louis' pitcher (Chris Carpenter) had a perfect game going until it was broken up in the 7th. Both pitchers ended up going 8 innings and only allowing 2 hits each. One of the most masterful pitching performances I've ever seen by a pair of pitchers in the same game. It went to extras and Milwaukee ended up winning on a 2-out hit in the 10th inning.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, the award for best ballpark. Some people make spreadsheets with point values for different categories, total up the points, and determine a winner. But I think that overcomplicates it.

My criteria was simple: if offered the chance to go back to any of these ballparks to see a normal, regular-season game in the middle of the summer, what would be my first choice? After that, which ballpark would be my second choice, third choice, fourth choice, etc?

In case you want more details on any of these ballparks, click here to read all 8 of my full reviews. So now, without further ado, I present to you my overall rankings:

1) Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs. Just an amazing baseball experience that is unlike any of the other parks we visited. Eight rows behind the plate, upper deck, in the bleachers -- I don't care where I'd be sitting, I just want to go back.

2a) Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals. Beautiful stadium, devoted fans, perennially-contending team. Great combination.

2b) PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates. Everything good about St. Louis (with some aspects being slightly better) minus the whole being a contender part. Fans are still devoted, but when you've had 16 straight losing season, enthusiasm tends to wane, thus hurting the whole ballpark experience. Still, if Pittsburgh was even somewhat competitive, there's a good chance that it would jump St. Louis in the rankings.

4) Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds. The way that the park is built into the riverbank and has such a great view of the Kentucky shoreline makes GABP beautiful and unique. Basically, it's just a very relaxing place to watch a game.

5) Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers. This jumps up to #2 if I'm promised a Saturday night game and given a car full of friends, food, and beer. The tailgating scene at the ballpark is reminiscent of a big-program college football atmosphere, which is awesome. But since the usher said that it's not as lively on most weeknights, I'm keeping it at #5.  

6) Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians. Nice ballpark, but nothing special or memorable about it. When you're working with Cleveland as a canvas though, you're not starting out with much (as opposed to the great skyline or river views in other, non-Cleveland cities). Could've put the ballpark next to the Cuyahoga, but that might have been a fire hazard.

7) Nationals Park, Washington Nationals. The ballpark is fairly nice, but for something only a couple of years old, it ranks much lower than other brand new parks because of its overall design (lots of sharp angles -- like a video game ballpark), fanbase (just something for them to do until the Redskins start playing again), and location (in an empty warehouse district).

8) US Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox. A concrete bowl with only an upper deck. Was there a lower deck? I don't know. With my ticket, I couldn't go down there myself to confirm its existence.

Tomorrow, or whenever I feel like it: Final food rankings and random things from the trip that merit documenting.

Primanti Brothers

And now, a food review in two acts:

Act I: 5PM

Mere hours after arriving in Pittsburgh, Andy and I ventured down to Pittsburgh's strip district, home of the original Primanti Brothers. For those of you who have never watched the Food Network or Travel Channel, Primanti's started as a sandwich cart that fed Pittsburgh factory workers hundreds of thousands of years ago; it is now a regional chain with more than a few stores in the Pittsburgh area. Of course, we had to go to the original. Primanti's is famous for stuffing their sandwiches with handfuls of both fries and coleslaw. Andy and I had a plan: we would each order a different sandwich and then split them, so we would get to try as many as possible.

Andy went with the capicola (basically a spiced ham) and egg, which is touted as the local, Pittsburgh-type thing to eat. I ordered the steak and cheese, which is touted on the menu board as being the #2 best seller. The big joke, which I find absolutely hilarious, is that there is no #1 best seller. Just side-splitting stuff. Only the best at Primanti's.

We sat at the bar and watched intently as they cooked up our sandwiches on the grill. After hearing rave reviews about Primanti Bros. from nearly everyone that had tried it before, we were excited. Unfortunately, the bar may have been set too high. The sandwiches were good, but they were not the culinary orgy of flavors we had been led to believe we would encounter. 

The steak and cheese was solid, but both Andy and I were thrown off by the fact that the steak was not the standard chopped up or sliced cheesesteak cut. Instead, it was basically a beef patty. Still tasty, but I'd take a Pat's cheesesteak over this any day.

The capicola and egg was also good, but much like the steak and cheese, nothing special. It's easy to see why capicola and egg is described as a "Pittsburgh favorite." The spiced ham was a flavor that neither of us was used to, and we couldn't tell whether it was good or bad. I still don't think I've made up my mind, actually. But any time there's a local food with a somewhat funny taste, you can make it popular by describing it as a regional specialty. I really don't know if anyone in Pittsburgh would eat capicola if it didn't give them some sort of civic pride; I probably won't again.

Official verdict for Primanti Brothers, 5PM: Check it out if you're driving by. If you're hungry and and see a Primanti's, stopping in for a huge stuffed sandwich will satisfy your hunger. But don't expect anything amazing.


After the Pirates game, Andy and I hit the bars near the ballpark. After making some new friends (who, not surprisingly, could not be convinced that Sidney Crosby is a bitch, as hard as I tried to prove the point), we decided to venture back to Primanti Bros. for a true late-nite sandwich experience.

We decided to start walking and flag down the first cab we saw. Thirty minutes and zero cabs later, we were getting closer to Primanti's. Then things went downhill real quickly.

NOTE: If you want to go to the original Primanti's location in the strip district at 2AM, do NOT walk. I repeat, do NOT walk. Take a cab. Wait an hour for one if you have to. But for the love of God do not walk. A sandwich is not worth a stab wound. Well, most aren't. 

Clutching our Pirates minibats tightly for protection, we cautiously made our way through some not-so-nice real estate before thankfully arriving at the restaurant. We made our way to the same seats at the bar where we had sat roughly 9 hours earlier, and decided on our next two sandwiches: corned beef and kielbasa.

We waited with anticipation, hoping that our second visit would validate the hype that had been so lavishly bestowed upon Primanti's and that had not been fulfilled during our first visit. The sandwiches came. We each grabbed half of the corned beef. We readied. And then we dug in.

Without a word, we each looked at each other and immediately knew what the other was thinking: the hype was real. This was a great sandwich. We finished our corned beef and moved on to the kielbasa. Amazingly, the kielbasa was the best of the four we'd had on the day. The kielbasa itself was delicious, and its intense flavor was balanced out incredibly well by the coleslaw and tomato on the sandwich. 

Unfortunately, by this point, my camera was dying, so the only 2 pictures I have of our 2nd trip to Primanti's are this one of the kielbasa sandwich and the one at the top of the Act II post of my corned beef remnants. Still, even looking at these 2 pictures makes me hungry for another Primanti's kielbasa.

Official verdict for Primanti Brothers, 2AM: I would take a $10 cab ride for it. For me, Primanti's has joined the ranks of elite late-night food, taking its place right behind #1 Cosmic Cantina (the one in Durham, not the overpriced, second-rate NYC one) and #2 Pat's cheesesteaks. But remember to heed my words of advice: Take a cab (or go to a different location). Get the kielbasa. Go home happy. Someday, you'll look back on this and thank me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

PNC Park

Andy and I spent the afternoon eating sandwiches (for a change...) and then headed over to PNC Park, taking the preferred route by walking from downtown over the Roberto Clemente Bridge to the ballpark. There's a great view of the stadium from the bridge, and as you can see in the above picture, also a great view of the bridge from the stadium.

The ballpark atmosphere was fairly lively, which surprised us, seeing as how Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals (which the Penguins were in) was happening that night too. Evidently enough people wanted to go to see a 4th-place baseball team play a 6th-place team that the game was a sell-out, even when their hometown hockey team was in the finals. True, it was a Saturday night, and the weather was great, but for a town like Pittsburgh that loves their hockey (when they're winning and the bandwagon is rolling along), this was unexpected.

We bought under-face-value tickets from a scalper who said his friends had bailed due to hockey, and found our seats in the upper deck behind the plate.  That picture at the top? That's where we sat, and in terms of ballpark views, I don't think you can beat it. The skyline, the beautiful bridge, and the's just a great place to watch a baseball game from. Even from the lower seats, you get a great view of the city. And the ballpark designers also made sure that wherever you are in the ballpark, you have a great view of the game. For example...

Example #1: Most ballparks have ramps behind the concourses. PNC has a winding ramp that has views of the field on each level, where fans can stand and watch. I even witnessed people sitting on a blanket having a quasi-picnic on this ramp while still having a great view of the field.

Example #2: Left field standing room is literally 6 rows from the field. In other parks they put the standing room behind an entire large section, at least 25 rows back. Here, you can stand and watch the game from only 10 yards or so behind the left field fence.

Example #3: The ballpark itself is incredibly low. Even the upper deck seats seem closer than in other parks, because, well....they are. PNC is the 2nd smallest park in the majors, which means that ridiculously high seats, like the ones that they have in Chicago at US Cellular, do not exist here.

Other cool things about PNC:

The out-of-town scoreboard. It's modern, but with a classic sort of look that fits in perfectly with the rest of the ballpark.

The radar gun. We've moved past the days of just how fast a pitch was. I'll be damned if I don't know the vertical break of Ian Snell's every pitch.

They've got a prize wheel on the walkway behind right field right next to the river. They stamp your ticket, so you can only spin it once per game, but everyone wins something; you can win a Pirates t-shirt, bobblehead, umbrella, discounted ticket, or an unnamed grand prize. Andy stepped up, spun the wheel, and wound up with a free t-shirt. Sweet. Then I gave the wheel a whirl, and it landed on....a piece of paper with an online code for a discounted ticket. Screw that. One crumple and disgusted toss later, I was prizeless.

The food prices are pretty standard for a ballpark (i.e. high), but the selection is better than most places I've seen. PNC has incorporated several local eateries into their concession stands, so if you want a $25 bucket of wings from Quaker Steak & Lube, you're in luck.

At some point during the middle innings, for no apparent reason, a small cheer arose from the crowd. This turned quickly into dull roar, which gave way to a full-fledged standing ovation. What had happened? The Penguins had scored to tie the hockey game at 1. As a Rangers fan, and someone who hates all things Sidney Crosby, I didn't like it, but I have to admit that seeing this happen was pretty cool.

And the not-really-that-cool-but-still-okay-I-guess things:

Pittsburgh has a food race too. A bunch of pierogies race around the warning track. Who won? The red one, maybe? Honestly, I wasn't really paying much attention to it because I was too busy admiring the skyline, which keeps its hypnotic properties, even at night. Andy wasn't paying attention because he refused to watch any race that didn't feature ketchup.

Like the Yankees and the Reds, the Pirates do the YMCA. Strangely enough, the fans here seem to like it. As Meatloaf almost said, 1 out of 3 ain't bad.

The game ended, the Pirates won, the Penguins lost, and everyone stayed in their seats for the postgame fireworks show/ country music concert from some band I'd never heard of. While we waited, they used the jumbotron to entertain the crowd. Props to whoever was in charge of programming, because their choice was a winner. The best part might have been the fact that the entire skit was closed-captioned.

Then the music started. We sat through a couple of songs, including a cover of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, and eventually the fireworks began. The fireworks show was good, and the fact that they exploded right in front of the skyline was an added bonus. Also featured: the amazing explodable bridge! And the best part was that that night's show only killed 8 bridge pedestrians! No...I kid, I kid. The death toll was much higher than that.

After a few minutes, the fireworks stopped, and the band started playing again. We left.

Quick Summary: Hidden deep in the Allegheny Mountains, nestled among the steel mills and coal mines, you will find an absolute gem of a ballpark. The park designers definitely had the fans in mind when they built it; every view of the field is top-notch, and the way the ballpark is built into the city is spectacular. One can make an entire lap around the field and find standing room to watch the game everywhere aside from the center field concourse, which loses the field view, but gives you concessions stands with an amazing view of the river and the city.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


An Ann Arbor favorite for more than 25 years, Zingerman's is an upscale food retailer and delicatessen located on a small shopping street. Andy, his friend Dave, and I got there at about 1PM on a weekday during Michigan's summer session. Nevertheless, we were still met by a sizeable line. It moved quickly, allowing us time to look at the sizeable menu. Still, when we got to the front, we still weren't sure what we wanted to order. 

Zingerman's Wikipedia page says that the deli is known for it's customer friendliness. After talking with the girl taking our order, and watching how she put up with three first-timers like us, making recommendations, and never getting flustered or annoyed by our stupid questions, I can say without a doubt that the customer service is spectacular. We each ordered a large sandwich, and then got two sides for the table: the latke sticks and the mac & cheese.

We went to another part of the store to pay, and then to the building next door where there are tables where they bring the food out to you. The food arrived quickly, and it looked delicious. The latke sticks were warm, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the creamy pesto dipping sauce that came with was a nice touch. The mac & cheese was even better (and for Andy and Dave, their favorite item). Personally, I liked the sandwich. I got corned beef, cheese, coleslaw, and russian dressing on rye bread. The bread was toasted with a crunchy crust, and the meat was juicy and flavorful. Overall, just a great sandwich.

The downside was the price. The sandwiches were each $15. Each of the sides was $5. If the price was cut to what most other delis charged for sandwiches like this, then this could definitely be an everyday sandwich shop, but there's better food than a sandwich that you can get for $15. The food is still delicious though and it's definitely worth it to try Zingerman's if you've never been before.

Official verdict for Zingerman's: Stop by if you're in Ann Arbor and don't mind dropping $15 on a sandwich. Then stop in again sometime after your next paycheck.