For those new to the area, Ypsilanti (pronounced IP’ sill an tee – the Y is silent) may be a total unknown town, or they may know it as a sister city to Ann Arbor, or the town where Eastern Michigan University (EMU) is. But to us locals we know it as so much more! It’s the town where artists settle and create, it’s the town that has not one but TWO downtown type areas, and it’s the town where we like to go for a great dinner, a fun drink, and music or a play.
What follows is THIS broker’s knowledge, impressions, and reviews of the City of Ypsilanti. I hope it’s helpful and encourages you to look at Ypsilanti as a great place to live, work, eat, play and more!
Let’s start with some basic facts taken straight off Wikipedia!
Ypsilanti, commonly shortened to Ypsi, is a city in Washtenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan, perhaps best known as the home of Eastern Michigan University. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 21,018. The city is bounded to the north by Superior Township and on the west, south, and east by Ypsilanti Township. Ypsilanti is located 6 miles (10 km) east of Ann Arbor and about 18 miles (29 km) west of the Detroit city limits.
The geographic grid center of Ypsilanti is the intersection of the Huron River and Michigan Avenue, the latter of which connects downtown Detroit, Michigan, with Chicago, Illinois, and through Ypsilanti is partially concurrent with U.S. Route 12 Business and M-17.
The US Census site estimate from 2018 says we’re basically holding steady at 20,995. I believe that when the 2019 estimate comes out that will nudge up a bit.
As mentioned above, Ypsilanti has TWO downtown type areas. The Michigan Avenue corridor which is the official downtown and Depot Town located on East Cross Street, surprisingly enough, located by the train tracks that run through town. Both areas have great restaurants and shopping and are a draw even for Townies from Ann Arbor who sometimes get a little nervous when they think about driving east of US-23!
Let’s start exploring Downtown Ypsilanti which in my mind is bounded by Hamilton St to the west, a one-way south street which takes you straight to I-94 and Ypsilanti Township south of that. Ferris St to the south, which is one block away from Michigan Ave. Washtenaw Ave two blocks to the North of Michigan Ave, and Riverside Park/The Huron River to the east about one block east of Huron St. which is the major one-way street heading North from I-94 taking visitors through town and all the way to EMU and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
Downtown Ypsi Food
There are lots of fun, good, and interesting places to eat in Downtown Ypsilanti and more opening all the time which as a foodie, I particularly enjoy! Since I (and many other people) experience life through my gastrointestinal urges, I’ve chosen to start our exploration of the area with highlights from our local Ypsilanti food scene. These are in no particular order other than that which they came into my head! Try them all, I have!!
Beezy’s Café: locally owned and operated by Bee Roll, it’s a great breakfast and lunch cafe featuring local, organically grown food prepared in creative and yummy ways.
B-24 Espresso Shop:locally owned, gonna see a theme here, great place for a hand crafted coffee or cuppa tea and conversation with friends. They have a selection of coffee house type treats to go with your drink.
Wok Mandu: brand new, and I literally just tried it for the first time the day before writing this. It’s AMAZING and I can’t wait to try more. It’s a Tibetan and Nepalese place with good pricing and did I mention the food was fabulous?
Bobcat Bonnie’s: also new but a few months older than Wok Mandu. The owners are out of Detroit where the first Bobcat Bonnie’s was born in Corktown. Their website says they are a gastropub so I believe that makes is a first for Ypsi. They have fabulous, creative cocktails and an innovative lunch and dinner menu. On weekends they have a great brunch with bloody mary, mimosa, and coffee bars!
Red Rock Barbecue: Great BBQ, amazing mac n cheese, and a large rotating selection of local brews on tap. One of my favorite bars in the area because it wraps around and under these awesome brick archways. They have a great happy hour with 50% off beer, wine, and cocktails. Did I mention the mac n cheese?
Ma Lou’s Fried Chicken: This place is a great little hole in the wall. They’ve got Nashville style spicy fried chicken and biscuit donuts that are to die for. If you’re one of those crazy folks who likes it the hotter the better, you can take it all the way here. They have less spicy stuff for those of us who still have working taste buds lol. Add to that great sandwiches and wings and you have a fun place for some different grub.
Haab’s: This place is like walking back in time! In fact, once a year on their anniversary, you can truly walk back in time by eating their original menu items of chicken dinner, spaghetti dinner, and bbq sandwich and fries and deduct 34% in honor of their 1934 founding date!! They still have one of the most happening happy hours in town and are a favorite place for local groups to have a meal together.
Ypsi Alehouse: Is a local brewery featuring their own brews, of course, and live music of varying styles on a regular basis. My favorite is their Blue Racer, a tasty Blueberry Honeywheat ale topped with real blueberries! They have pub food and lots of different events to check out.
Go Ice Cream: This place the haps! They make their ice cream right there on premises and it’s amazing. They have whipped cream from scratch and fresh ingredients to make all sorts of frozen concoctions. There’s usually a line in the summer but they are thankfully open all year round for those of us who like ice cream any time of year!
Encuentro Latino: Latin Encounter!! This place serves Central American food specializing in Guatemalan dishes. If you haven’t tried a papusa yet, what are you waiting for?!? You can get a nice selection of hard-to-find, authentic food in a cozy diner environment.
The Tap Room: This is your typical local bar…but better. The drinks are cheap and strong, the bar food is surprisingly really good and the atmosphere is top notch local dive bar vibe. They’ve got a fabulous old bar, pool table and table top shuffleboard, and The Annex which hosts private events, live music, and Drag Queen Bingo on occasion!