A Modern Love Story: Ann Arbor and Millennial Foodies

Ann Arbor, Michigan– a college city dominated by millennials, rises to the occasion of each and every new millennial trend to take off– leaving students (and their instagrams) content with the hip college city we call home. This is incredibly clear when looking at the food trends that has taken off in Ann Arbor in the past few years. With students promoting the restaurant and eateries in Ann Arbor that are the most hip, have the best brunch, are the best looking and the most healthy and unique– more and more restaurants are popping up offering Vegan, Gluten Free, Vegetarian and “clean eating” options. Additionally, more and more places are fostering their menus and vibe to match the millennial aesthetic, one that seems to stem from a desire to constantly be connected – and to share photos with the world.

The millennial generation lives in a world where the internet is a one second click away at all times. Our constant link to technology pushes us to reach for an expensive acai bowl over a two dollar candy bar for two reasons. First, we have access to the internet in ways no generation has ever had before. We have a constant stream of information at our fingertips telling us about the healthiest food choices, the trendiest ingredients and recipes and what we should be eating.  Between Tasty Videos on Facebook, and quick articles from Buzzfeed…it’s impossible to ignore.

Second, we live surrounded by restaurants and cafes that are pushing themselves to foster that millennial aesthetic – to create food, beverages and an atmosphere that millennials will find worthy of their Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. The Millennial aesthetic stems from a desire to instagram, snapchat, tweet and text our way from place to place – making ourselves look hip and trendy online.

These notions are, in recent years, being replicated and promoted all throughout Ann Arbor. If your instagram feed isn’t cluttered with pictures of Fred’s acai bowls, poke bowls, avocado toasts (and/or a boomerang of a fork carefully slicing into an overeasy egg, so that all your followers can watch the yolk dribble down the side of the avocado and cascade over the edge of the toasted bread– don’t like you know EXACTLY what this is) it probably isn’t Sunday.

If snapchat and instagram aren’t filled with photos of perfectly swirled colliders from Rod’s, aesthetically pleasing brunch from Savas, Angelos, Avalon and Afternoon Delight, if you’re not documenting every moment of Korean BBQ at Tomukun, your latte at Lab, your flight of ice cream at Blank Slate, your drunk Hippie Hash at Fleetwood – did you really go?

The wait at Fred’s on any given weekend morning can be up to an hour long, with students waiting on the street for their picture perfect avocado toast and latte. For many students on this campus – that $12 avocado toast, on the clean white plate with the adorable interior decor inside of Fred’s– is worth it. For millennial foodies, it’s no longer about the cheapest, easiest or most convenient option. Students are seeking out the best ingredients, the healthier and trendier options– and the best looking choices.

Ann Arbor has two thriving vegan restaurants in Kerrytown alone – Detroit Filling Station and the Lunch Room, which not only promote healthy eating, but are also consistently jam packed. They are both expensive (yet look great) but students don’t seem to mind. On most afternoons and weekends both restaurants are full from open to close.

So what has pushed the college student– the modern foodie, to treat food as such a large part of their agenda? Larger than any generation before?

Many will equate it to technology– suddenly, with the ability to instagram your latest brunch spot, snapchat your favorite cocktail at your favorite bar and tweet about how #amazing the most recent vegan ice cream flavor at Blank Slate is… everyone has food on their mind, and in their camera roll.