Heart of downtown


Jamie Tang

The Vibrant Veggie Omelet comes with a side of bacon, multi-grain toast, and raspberry jam.

Jamie Tang, Staff Writer

Downtown Ann Arbor is a melting pot of dynamic cuisine from Cuban to Chinese, but we often overlook the secret ingredient—family-owned restaurants. Last weekend, my dad and I drove by Downtown Ann Arbor when we spotted First Bite Foods on 108 Main Street, one of the many Ann Arbor family businesses drawing inspiration from locally sourced ingredients. The morning sun shining through the window over the rustic wooden interior felt inviting.

My dad ordered the Vibrant Veggie Omelet, consisting of three eggs sauteed with spinach, plus a side of bacon, toast, and raspberry jam. The eggs were soft and fluffy, loaded with the most spinach I had ever seen in an omelet. The spinach was sweet and mildly acidic, a far cry from frozen ones and the multigrain bread offered a satisfying crunch. 

I was impressed by First Bite’s clearly labeled vegan and vegetarian options, so I decided to give their vegan Blueberry Pancakes a shot. Vegan pancakes are often dry and coarse without the extra oomph of traditional butter and milk.  I was surprised when two very fluffy pancakes arrived on my plate. The pancakes were a tad dry, but they harbored the kiss of tart blueberries and the nuttiness from the whole-wheat flour. It came with a pitcher of organic maple syrup. The syrup had a warm orange color and blushed with full-bodied floral notes.

Finally, we enjoyed a shared hot chocolate. The Dutch cocoa was rich, smoky, and not too sugary. First Bite also offers non-dairy milk alternatives (almond, oat, or soy) free of extra cost, perfect for lactose-intolerant customers. 

I would give First Bite four out of five stars. The portions were on the small end, and the prices were steep: the final bill was nearly $40 with tax (for healthy meals under $10 in Downtown Ann Arbor, I recommend Ginger Deli’s banh mi or Le Dog’s hot dogs and soup). Besides the price, I was disappointed by the tiny slice of orange that accompanied the food, not enough to balance the hearty pancakes. While I agree with Google Reviews that First Bite has “slow service” and “bland” flavors, these critiques did not bother me.  I spotted only one waiter and four cooks to serve the cafe, packed with ravenous football fans, so it was reasonable that the food took twenty minutes to arrive. 

First Bite is not the place for a quick meal or an outlet to explore exotic spices, but the food is the product of loving attention to detail, from the vibrant colors to freshly sourced products that you can only find in family-owned restaurants. I recommend stopping by First Bite only if you want to taste the best local Ann Arbor produce in the simplest form.