ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ann Arbor has one of the best food scenes in Michigan. Period. To accompany its thriving food scene, Ann Arbor also has an ever-growing group of popular Instagram accounts dedicated to and run by Ann Arbor foodies.
aa_cravings is one such account. With over 5,000 followers, this micro-account showcases student noms and local favorites.
Curated by University of Michigan junior and Ross School of Business student Cara Lisser, the account takes followers on food tours of Ann Arbor and, as Lisser travels, a taste bud tour of the world.
We reached out to the New Jersey native, currently studying in Europe, and asked about her inspiration, ties in Ann Arbor, and the most appetizing A2 restaurants.
A4: Firstly, your account is full of mouthwatering photos. What was your inspiration to start a foodie Instagram?
Lisser: “My inspiration to start my account came after I found an app called Wine and Dine, which is like Instagram but for food pictures only. It was so fun to look at restaurants and see the menu before I had to order, I would spend huge amounts of time scrolling thru this app; however, Instagram oftentimes had more and better pictures, so I decided to switch to that.”
A4: Your first post was in 2017. Did you ever think that in less than two years you would have over 5K followers?
Lisser: “Never. I remember when I started it was almost like a fake account I used just to mess around with. Then I started gaining followers and taking it a bit more seriously. Sometimes when I go all the way back in my history, I can’t believe the kinds of pictures I posted. It was definitely a fun learning curve.”
A4: You showcase food from all of the world and Ann Arbor. Do you do all of the traveling?
Lisser: “I try to mostly post original photos, which is me doing all of the traveling -- mostly around Ann Arbor and New Jersey. However, sometimes I post other foodie account content when my life gets too busy, but I always tag and give credit to the owner. Right now though, I am spending the semester abroad in Spain and traveling constantly, so all of the worldwide photos are original and taken by me during my travels. Also, many of my friends and family like to be involved and [they] send me some of their best photos, if they ever go to crazy restaurants. It’s a lot of fun when my friends get as geeked out about the account as I do.”
A4: What does it take to get the "best" shot?
Lisser: “That’s a really good question. Lighting is everything. Always use flash, even if you are in a crowded restaurant, it turns an average photo into a great one. I remember it took me a long time to learn that one.”
“Also, practice makes perfect, if you take a bunch of photos, one is bound to be the perfect shot. My friends and family sometimes get annoyed with me when we go out to eat because they are not allowed to eat ‘til I’ve taken a picture of everything -- it’s a running joke.
“Lastly, editing is everything, always increase the saturation of your pictures. There are a few apps out there like VSCO that have really good free tools to edit pictures. I don’t use the Instagram versions because I don’t think they work as well.”
A4: aa_cravings showcases some Ann Arbor food institutions. What are some of your favorite places to eat in Ann Arbor?
Lisser: “My go-to is from Maize and Blue deli. You need to get the #86, which is chicken cutlet, lettuce, tomato, provolone and Russian dressing on challah bread. To take it to the next level you need to add a fried egg to it. Unreal.”
“One of my favorite hole-in-the-wall places is Rich JC on SouthU [South University Avenue]. From the outside, you would never expect it to be so good but I go all the time and always order the spicy chicken in a hot stone bowl. The sauce is perfectly spicy-delicious and the rice gets all crispy from the stone bowl, making it one of the best dishes I’ve had in AA. Seriously, I go once a week.”
Hungry for more? Check out our interview with the editorial board of the U-M student-run foodzine WolverineCuiZine.
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