By Candace Bulkley and Trina Fuller
Candace and Trina became friends in the Temple Beth Emeth adult b-mitzvah class that graduated in 2022. They will be honing their palates, visiting, and writing about a variety of independent, locally owned Washtenaw County restaurants, catering to a variety of dietary preferences.
Introduce your tastebuds to their new best friend, Spiedo
We ordered so much food that the server brought us a second table.
That pretty much sums up our experience at Spiedo. We had been waiting for several weeks to stop in, but their limited soft opening hours made it a challenge. Just in time for this month’s WJN issue, they expanded their hours and are now open until 9 p.m.
Spiedo is the newest venture by the team that runs Takoi in Detroit and previously ran a pop-up predecessor called Katoi in this same location. Long-time Ann Arborites will remember this small spot next to the Earthen Jar as the original location of Jerusalem Gardens. More recently it housed the downtown location of Chela’s. With a fun new paint job, Spiedo is ready to stand on its own.
Our diners tried three out of the five flatbread sandwiches that were being offered at the time of our visit. All of the sandwiches are rolled in freshly griddled flatbread, topped with pickled onions, shredded napa cabbage and are dressed with mild ranch-esque Spiedo sauce.
The Zhoug Knight features thinly sliced, generously seasoned chicken and a vibrant green cilantro zhoug sauce paired with the more timid Spiedo sauce. It was a tasty, somewhat pedestrian, safe-bet option and a generous portion of food. Next we tried the Sabich with griddled eggplant, hard-boiled egg, and crispy potatoes, topped with amba, the tangy pickled green mango condiment which is beloved throughout Israel, the Middle East, and India. These seemingly simple ingredients combined magically when nestled in the tender freshly made flatbread. The star of the sandwich show was the Oysterhead. Filled with meaty slices of King Oyster mushroom, Chinese celery, lemon, dates, and almonds, this was a flavor combination we had never experienced before, and it was absolutely delicious (insert applause for the chef here)!
Even though the sandwiches are featured, to us the true shining stars were on the Vegetables and Sides menu. The item described as “Roasted Beets” on the menu is so much more. Diced beets atop a honey lemon yogurt sauce, dressed with date molasses, sunflower seeds, fried shallots, min,t and Pilpelchuma, a Libyan Jewish red chili paste. If we hadn’t already ordered so much food we would have ordered another serving. It was that good and we’re still thinking about it days later. Because we always try the french fries, we ordered the Griddled Potatoes. This beautifully presented plate was full of big flavors: smashed new potatoes in a serrano chili infused crème fraîche sauce with charred scallions, and fresh herbs. Once again, we left only an empty plate that we were tempted to lick clean. Our final dish was ironically named “Lackluster” Rice Soup. It was anything but lackluster — the unpretentious bowl was filled with a thick porridge-like rice soup, topped with crispy shredded chicken, fresh dill, crunchy fried shallots and a bright hit of fresh lemon juice. This is the soup you will want on a chilly evening or to bring to a sick loved one.
Aside from the food, the drink menu is also not to be missed. We ordered and enjoyed a well-made and not too sweet Fruit by the Foot vodka cocktail and a hard cider from nearby Bløm Meadworks. After dinner we couldn’t resist and gilded the lily by sharing a delicious chocolate tahini milkshake which was rich with chocolate flavor and nutty from the sesame tahini. Happy hour is offered from 4–6 p.m. daily with $2 off most food and drinks.
Spiedo’s Mediterranean-inspired menu is centered around rolled sandwiches in their freshly griddled flatbreads. They have some selections featuring the “meat on a spit” that is their namesake, but several vegetarian and a couple of vegan offerings, too. For gluten-free diners, they offer their sandwiches in the form of rice bowls with a $1 upcharge. Vegan and vegetarian items are clearly marked on the menu. You won’t find salt and pepper on your table either — a true sign of a confident kitchen preparing well-executed and flavorful recipes.
Place your order at the counter and the service staff deliver your drinks and meal, check in on you and bus your table. The dining room is small, giving you a close-up view of what your neighbor ordered and an opportunity to start up a conversation about the food we are all eating together, helping you to decide what to order next time! Our group arrived at 5 p.m. and the restaurant quickly filled up and had a steady line while we were dining. Dining room service was friendly and efficient. The tables turned quickly and getting a table did not appear to be an issue even on a busy Friday night.
Spiedo sources their ingredients locally whenever possible, supporting the local food web. Our server told us their local vegetables come from HiO Farm in Detroit, an urban farm oasis in the Core City neighborhood. If you think a menu item sounds good, order it! We were told menu items will rotate on and off the menu based on the availability of ingredients. This is a great excuse to visit again and see what new crave-worthy food is on the menu!
307 S. Fifth St.