The A2P Foodist: Restaurant Review—Broadway Cafe
Restaurant Review: ** (good, reliable)
Broadway Cafe & Jumbo Steak Hoagie
1139 Broadway St., Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am – 6pm, Sat: 11am – 2:30pm
Run by a Korean opera-singing coach and his wife, the Broadway Cafe in Ann Arbor serves up two kinds of food: Korean and cheesesteaks. The right side of the short menu is devoted to bibimbop ($8), bulgogi ($9.50), and soondooboo jjigae ($9), on the left side you’ll find fries ($2), and a cheesesteak hoagie ($7) made with American cheese and thinly shaved ribeye on a just-chewy-enough steamed, seeded roll.
Believe it or not, this small, simple, hole-in-the-wall is one of the most highly rated Ann Arbor restaurants on Yelp.com. Broadway Cafe has 4.5 stars, a higher rating than flashier, better known eateries such as Zingerman’s (four stars), Frita Batidos (3.5 stars) and The Earle (3.5 stars). You can easily drop $50 for lunch for two at Zingerman’s, Frita Batidos and The Earle. You’d have to hurt yourself to drop $50 for lunch for two at the Broadway Cafe. In fact, if you spent more than $25 you’d need a trip to the nearby U of M Emergency Room, because in all probability spending that much at the Broadway Cafe might mean you’d had not one but two hoagies. No one should eat more than one Broadway Cafe hoagie at a sitting. However, once you’ve had one, you’ll be back for another—and probably sooner than you should.
The restaurant has relatively limited hours, and just recently began accepting credit cards. There are about a dozen formica tables in the place, and ordering is done at a counter in the front of the one-room restaurant. Food is prepared in a large kitchen that has a better inspection record than many downtown Main Street Ann Arbor eateries you’ll step into and drop big bucks at under the mistaken impression that spending $25 for an entree means the chef knows how to keep the kitchen clean. Broadway Cafe’s most recent inspection was done on April 18, 2011 and the restaurant was tagged for one critical and two non-critical violations by Washtenaw County’s restaurant inspectors.
The menu board (right) is on the wall to the left of where customers place orders. The menu choices are limited. There is Bi Bim Bop, chicken dishes and, yes, hoagies (with or without cheese or mushrooms), and fries. There are soft drinks and bottled water for sale, as well.
Most food is served in disposable bowls and plates, and the napkins are, as you might imagine, paper.
If the hoagies are excellent, served piping hot every time on rolls that can stand up to sliced ribeye, onions and whatever else you might like to have piled on your sandwich, the Bi Bim Bop is some of the best tasting and best prepared in town. The dish comes in a simple steel bowl, and you can include chicken, beef or tofu. The veggies are always done perfectly and of excellent quality. Typically, the Broadway Cafe Bi Bim Bop includes cucumbers (seasoned in a light vinegar), carrots, spinach and now and again bean sprouts. The rice is white (no brown rice is available) and perfectly steamed. You can count on the fact that you’ll never get lumpy or undercooked rice here. Your egg, whether scrambled or over over easy, comes cooked perfectly and piping hot. In fact, if there were one complaint about the food at Broadway Cafe it would be this: the food is often served scalding hot (in temperature).
The french fries in this restaurant are never limp, and (you guessed it) always crisp and very hot when brought to the table. Zingerman’s Roadhouse line cooks could take french fry lessons from the Korean woman who prepares all the Broadway Cafe’s food, and serves up perfect order after order of fries, soup and entrees that always look and taste as though she were cooking for friends of the family.
Take a friend, or sneak off for lunch by yourself. You’ll see plenty of individuals enjoying quiet meals, as well as small groups. It’s not a spot to bring your 10 best friends. You won’t be able to sit together. However, I can guarantee if you did show up with your 10 best friends, all of your meals would be prepared well, served with a smile by the owner, priced reasonably, and incredibly tasty.
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