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Zingerman’s Roadhouse Anniversary Celebration: 20 Dishes for 20 Years

Chef Bob Bennett holding a plate of BBQ at the Roadhouse.

Roadies Share Their Favorite Menu Items

The Roadhouse opened its doors for the first time on September 15th, 2003—so September 2023 marks 20 years of serving you really good American food! From comfort food classics to seasonal specials, we’ve cooked up a lot of memorable meals in those two decades. Asking us to pick our favorite dish would be like asking us to pick our favorite from our salt and pepper shaker collection—impossible! But we thought it might be possible to narrow it down to 20. So, in honor of our anniversary, we rounded up our staff, affectionately known as “Roadies,” to find out what their current favorite Roadhouse dishes are. Some have been on the menu since the very beginning, some are specials turned regulars, and some don’t actually appear on the menu at all… How can that be?! Read on!

20 Dishes for 20 Years (In No Particular Order)

1. Roadhouse Macaroni & Cheese

Voted Top Comfort Food by Alton Brown on the Food Network Show “America’s Best.” Our classic Roadhouse Macaroni & Cheese features house-made béchamel sauce and lots of Cabot cheddar caramelized with artisan Mancini pasta (the grain for their pasta comes from their own fields!). Busser Allen Bostwick says, “My mom managed to convince me to have a graduation celebration by ordering this for my party. It beats every other mac and cheese I’ve ever tried.” Try it for yourself at lunch or dinner.

2. Tuna Melt

Our Tuna Melt features house-made, line-caught tuna salad and melted Chalet Swiss cheese on toasted sourdough bread from Zingerman’s Bakehouse. Roadshow Supervisor Sammy Melton recommends trying it with pimento cheese instead of Swiss, explaining, “Our pimento cheese makes everything better!” It’s available at the Roadshow every day starting at 11am.

3. New Mexico Grilled Chicken Sandwich

This sandwich features a grilled chicken breast with Monterey jack cheese, Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado salad, New Mexico green chiles, and spicy mayo. It’s our Bartender Bob Brunelli’s pick, and he explains, “This is what we call a ‘secret special,’ because it’s not on the menu but we can make one for you.” Ask for one at lunchtime to try it for yourself!

4. Pimento Cheese & Bacon Macaroni

An all-out Southern comfort food, this Macaroni & Cheese features Mancini pasta, béchamel, Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon, and our house-made Southern pimento cheese. (Want it vegetarian? Ask us to leave out the bacon!) Supervisor Gaelan Campbell-Fox recommends going all out for dinner and ordering a side of Pimento Cheese & Bacon Macaroni along with “a steak, fries with poutine fixings, and mashed potatoes loaded with pimento cheese.” Enjoy this one at lunch or dinner.

5. New York Strip Steak

Felipe Diaz, our Bar Manager, turns our dry-aged New York Strip into a Surf and Turf special by enjoying his (medium rare) alongside Sautéed Scallops and sides of Pimento Cheese & Bacon Macaroni, Bacon-Braised Greens, and Sautéed Spinach. He suggests pairing “all those big flavors” with a glass of the Two Mountain Cabernet Franc.

You’ll find the New York Strip on our Dinner Menu, in the Meat and Three section. It’s a Southern tradition available right here in Ann Arbor that’s just what it sounds like—you choose your meat and then pick your three sides to round out your plate. Our steaks come from a pasture-raised old breed of cattle and they’re all dry-aged approximately five weeks, which creates a unique complexity of flavor that can’t be achieved any other way.

6. Cajun Steak Pasta

We toss dry-aged sautéed steak bites with house Cajun spice blend, bell peppers, cream, and Mancini pasta, and top it all off with SarVecchio Parmesan cheese, scallions, and fresh herbs. Expediter Nico Bachman exclaims, “It’s my go-to! It’s meaty, it’s creamy, it will fill you up. It’s just scrumptious.” Come on by for dinner to find out for yourself how good it is!

7. Classic Caesar Salad

A classic take on a classic salad, ours features whole leaf romaine lettuce tossed with our really good Caesar dressing (made with raw egg and anchovies) and topped with SarVecchio Parmesan cheese and salt-and-pepper croutons made with Zingerman’s Bakehouse breads. Catering Manager Sierra Alley-Wright says, “I love the anchovy flavor in the dressing!” It’s available in two sizes (small or large) during lunch and dinner.

8. Monterey Jack & Chicken Macaroni

Clearly, our Macaroni & Cheese menu has a lot of fans! Chris Chiapelli, one of our Sous Chefs, declares this one to be “the perfect combo of smoky, spicy, and cheesy.” A recurring lunch and dinner special, it’s made with Ig Vella’s Monterey Jack cheese, pit-smoked free-range chicken, freshly cut corn, New Mexico green chiles, fresh cilantro, our housemade béchamel sauce, and Mancini pasta.

9. Ribeye Steak

Joey Quick, one of our Servers says, “I love the Ribeye so much. It’s dry-aged, delicious, and the perfect portion size. I couldn’t find anything like it when I was traveling in Europe!” Like the New York Strip, you’ll find this one on our Dinner Menu, in the Meat and Three section.

We also offer a recurring special of our Ribeye that is smoked on our pit before we finish it off on the grill. Sous Chef Jessica Forbes says, “The Smoked Ribeye special is the best possible marriage one could imagine between steak and barbecue!” Look for this special to pop up on our Dinner Menu, and enjoy it while it is available!

10. Roadhouse Burger

The signature Roadhouse Burger is made with pasture-raised, dry-aged beef that’s grilled over oak and served on a Bakehouse brioche bun with a side of hand-cut, twice-cooked fries. Marketing Manager Marcy Harris is a big burger fan and says, “The texture is firm, and it doesn’t need anything extra added to the patty because the dry-aged beef tastes so good on its own. I like that you don’t have to add a bunch of toppings to compensate for flavorless meat. It’s available at both lunch and dinner and it’s also available as a Blue Plate Special on Monday evenings.

11. Memphis Macaroni & Cheese

Also known as Memphis Mac for short, this twist on our Macaroni & Cheese adds our Red Rage BBQ sauce (a tomato-based sauce made with beer, Turkish Urfa pepper, pequin chile peppers from New Mexico, Telicherry black pepper, coffee, Muscovado brown sugar, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, and chipotle), our pulled pork, smoked for over 14 hours, and SarVecchio Parmesan cheese from Wisconsin. Busser Austin Foust recommends this one, saying “There is a nice smokiness from the BBQ in the dish.” The Memphis Mac is a “secret special,” meaning you won’t find it on our menu, but we’re happy to whip up a plate for you.

12. Kale & Pinenut Salad

This salad features thinly shredded kale tossed with dried cherries, pinenuts, a garlic lemon vinaigrette, and SarVecchio Parmesan cheese. Our Door Runner, Joy Bennett, customizes it with the addition of a little protein, saying, “Our grilled salmon is so good!” It’s available in two sizes (small or large) during lunch and dinner.

13. Pit-Smoked Spare Ribs

We smoke our Niman Ranch St. Louis ribs over oak for nine hours. They’re served with Red Rage tomato BBQ sauce, mashed potatoes, and a side of mustard coleslaw. Server Laura Fulton loves them, saying, They are so tender and fall right off the bone.” Enjoy a half or full rack for lunch or dinner.

14. Diez y Dos Burrito

Cousin to the Diez y Uno Breakfast Burrito, the Diez y Dos Burrito features pit-smoked pork, Carolina Gold rice, house-made guajillo chili salsa, refried Camellia pinto beans, New Mexico green chiles, and Ig Vella’s Monterey Jack cheese wrapped up in a flour tortilla, then grilled to perfection. Roadshow Roadie Andrew Klaver says, “My favorite part is the salsa roja, which is made with guajillo chiles and has a nice smoky flavor that goes well with the pork.” It’s available at the Roadshow every day starting at 11am.

15. Creole Potlikker Fish Stew

This stew is made with the chef’s choice of Creole-seasoned fresh fish, sautéed with pot likker (made with lots of bacon). It’s served atop Anson Mills’ stone ground organic grits and bacon-braised greens and just so happens to be gluten-free, too. Catering Manager Taralyn Brinks calls it “the all-time comfort food.” It’s available at both lunch and dinner.

16. Southern Reuben

A Roadhouse take on a Zingerman’s icon, this sandwich features Nueske’s applewood smoked ham, Chalet Swiss cheese, Brinery sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on griddled Roadhouse bread from the Bakehouse. Server Dawn Walkowiak says she’s really loving it right now and adds, “Gotta get it with extra Russian dressing for my fries!” Snag one for yourself at lunchtime.

17. Gluten-Free Pasta

Any of our Macaroni & Cheese dishes can be made to be gluten-free with gluten-free fusilli egg noodles and gluten-free béchamel. Supervisor Fionna Gault shares, “I love our gluten-free pasta, especially the way the spirals soak up the sauce.” Give it a try at lunch or dinner.

18. Mussels & ’Nduja

Bartender Cori Scharmen declares, “I love the heat in this dish. I could eat them every day!” That heat comes from the spicy Calabrian ’Nduja sausage—ours is the winner of a Good Food Award and comes from Tempesta Market in Chicago. The sausage gets sautéed with Blue Hill Bay mussels, fresh tomatoes, and white wine, and the dish is served with grilled sourdough bread from Zingerman’s Bakehouse for soaking up every drop of deliciousness. Mussels & ’Nduja is available in two sizes (small or large) as both a recurring lunch and dinner special.

19. Chicken-Fried Steak & 20. Smothered Grits

Lisa Schultz, our Managing Partner, rounds out our list with a delicious duo. She insists, “I couldn’t pick just one!” Our Chicken-Fried Steak starts with a tenderized sirloin that’s lightly breaded, fried, and smothered with chicken gravy. You’ll find it on our Dinner Menu, in the Meat and Three section. Our Smothered Grits is a vegetarian favorite that features fresh corn, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onions sautéed in our cider vinaigrette on a bed of Anson Mill’s grits and topped with Cabot cheddar cheese and garnished with scallions. They’re available at lunch and dinner.

Did your favorite make the Top 20?! We’d love to hear all about it. Make a reservation to come see us and tell us about what would top your list.