If you have never been to Bloomington and you want to get a sense of the IU spirit, this is where you go. Their wings are better than anywhere else in town and the whole place is decorated with IU paraphernalia and sports memorabilia. It is just so…IU. They have lots of charitable events too-a friend’s fraternity frequently has philanthropic battle of the band-type events there. The handsome and kind proprietor might even come and talk to you and welcome you to Bloomington. I love the mild wings and the teriyaki wings, but people who can handle spice better than I can will love the hot wings too. And you drink beer in little buckets.
The farm has great locally sourced food and a really fun, eclectic interior. It’s a little on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. They have delicious buffalo burgers and specials every day. There is also a great tea selection. The bar downstairs is really chill and doesn’t have the Greek population that typically stakes out the other bars in town. Once I tried to go to the bar (which is called the Root Cellar) through the back entrance and I found out it was closed and they had just left the door unlocked. I’m not recommending this because I’m sure that was a one-time thing and also it was creepy in there!
Mother Bear’s Pizza
This is where you go for pizza in Bloomington. Don’t argue with me because I know what I’m talking about. They have a comfy, wood-paneled decor covered in scratched and written messages, names, and pictures from previous guests. They have beer and deep-fried mushrooms for appetizers (beer counts, right?). They have delicious breadsticks and pizza that is so good you won’t believe your tastebuds. Chad gets the deluxe which is loaded with toppings and I get the big cheese which has lots of cheeses mixed and browned to perfection. They have tons of great specialty pizzas (my favorites are the spinaccoli-spinach and broccoli, the Monet, and the poulette de Paris) and their strawberry lemonade is so good, you might forget yourself and fill up on it instead of pizza. True story: first time I went to Mother Bear’s I ordered the Monet with a friend and we asked for no red onions or green peppers (because I was there!) and the waiter offered extra sun-dried tomatoes instead for free. Since extra sun-dried tomatoes is the best idea ever, we agreed. Then he brought it out with no onions or peppers and only the regular amount of sun-dried tomatoes. So he apologized (even though we didn’t mind at all) and brought us ANOTHER PIZZA. Awesome. But most of all, their mascot is a bear with boobs and they bleed IU spirit. What could be better than that??
The Trojan Horse was the first restaurant I visited when I came for IU orientation. I had a gyro and shared the Greek sampler with a friend. On a later visit I tried the baklava ice cream and oh Lord. Baklava ice cream is what the Greek gods actually ate (the rumors about ambrosia are crap). The Trojan Horse is a Bloomington favorite. And if it’s your first Bloomington restaurant, you and I are like, totally samesies. Hah!
There are two Turkish restaurants in Bloomington, but you want to go here. Not only is it cheaper, but the food is better and more authentic. Shafik, the owner/chef, is the sweetest man in the world. He will humbly thank you for your patronage and if you brought little kids, he might give them toys. Try the roasted red pepper appetizer or the potato koftesi, eat as much red lentil soup as he’ll let you, try the lamb chops or ask for recommendations for the pides (Turkish pizzas). Everything is halaal and if you are up for dessert, try the Turkish coffee cake-more like tiramisu than American coffee cake. Finish with traditional Turkish tea or coffee.
If you want an awesome burger and the best beer in Indiana, look no further than Upland, Bloomington’s local brewery. The menu changes all the time and usually includes bison burgers, ridiculously good chili, and incredible fries. A while back they had mini soft pretzels with a delicious mustard sauce, but sadly they took it off the menu. Drink the beer straight from the giant, um, beer maker/holder things (I’m so knowledgeable) and buy growlers to take home.
Go here for dates, y’all. It’s right next door to Trojan Horse! This place has a beautiful dining room, an American/Cajun/Creole menu, and a bar that shows all important soccer games. Seriously, single girls? Go to the bar during soccer games. You’re welcome. Try the dinner specials because they’re usually even better than the regular menu and way cheaper. Say yes to dessert and just walk around the square after to walk off those extra calories. Oh! And breakfast is awesome too. There aren’t better blueberry pancakes in Bloomington. Trust.