South Bend, IN may not scream "thriving metropolis," but have no fear, us Golden Domers find ways to make the best of the ND food scene. Due to some of our older dorm room kitchens looking like they come straight out of horror movies, Notre Dame students are always down to get off campus and explore.
We locked down the best restaurant locations in the area. From the premier girls night out to the perfect place to impress your date, to the best place to black out—this guide hits it all.
1. You want to eat and party: Salsa's Mexican Grill
If you're craving a bomb margarita, Salsas is the place for you. The guac is made right in front of you with your choice of mild, medium, or hot. The best complement to some mouthwatering guac is none other than a jumbo margarita—or the hurricane margarita if you're feeling really crazy.
My personal favorite combo is a small pomegranate margarita followed by a jumbo peach margarita to end, or should I say begin, the night.
Location: 4160 Grape Rd, Mishawaka, IN 46545
2. You need a GNO: Woochi Japanese Fusion & Bar
Sushi lover? Woochi is the South Bend spot for you. Hate sushi? Don't give up on this spot just yet. Woochi offers a full menu of crazy rolls, like the Godzilla roll featured above, and amazing Asian fusion entrees, including classics like sesame chicken and orange chicken. For an amazing appetizer, try the Avocado Tower. You won't regret it.
Woochi is great for big groups and has something everyone will like, even that friend who will only appreciate the restaurant's neon lights and thumping music. Woochi's flavored Sake makes for some fun birthday memories.
Location: 123 W Washington St, South Bend, IN 46601
3. You just failed your midterms: Rocco's Pizza
When dining hall pizza just isn't cutting it, make the short trip over to Rocco's Pizza for authentic Italian food in a comforting, friendly environment. Rocco's is a traditional favorite among Notre Dame students, faculty, and alumni. Everything is made from scratch daily, so you know your food will be fresh.
One of my favorite pizzas is the Rocco's Veggie Combo, topped with tomatoes, garlic, and basil. You can never go wrong with a classic pepperoni pie, either. If you aren't in the mood for pizza, try Rocco's spaghetti with homemade sauce or the meatball sub with melty mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Whatever you order, you will definitely want to savor every last bite. Buon appetito!
Location: 537 N St Louis Blvd, South Bend, IN 46617
4. You want the best French toast of your life: Uptown Kitchen
Uptown Kitchen is THE brunch spot in South Bend. Their Stuffed French Toast is what dreams are made. First, you get your choice of bread: cinnamon or challah. Then, you get your choice of two fillings: chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, peanut butter, banana, blackberry and raspberry compote, strawberry, blueberry, honey, or cream cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
If sweet isn't your thing, you can get baked oatmeal or eggs. My personal favorite is the Mediterranean Fritata with a side of wholegrain toast and raspberry jam. With something for everyone, even your pickiest friends will leave with a fully belly and a smile on their face.
Location: 7225 Heritage Square Dr #208, Granger, IN 46530
5. You're craving some comfort food between classes: Brothers Bar & Grill
Brothers is the close-to-campus place to go to for a beer and some quality time with your friends. Their cheese curds are as cheesy as they get, and their every day drink specials are perfect for the college budget.
#SpoonTip: Get the Bacon Cheese Hash-Brown-A-Rounds after a day of dartying and you'll be ready to rally.
Go there on Wednesdays for 25 cent wings (bone-in or boneless) from 9 pm 'til they're gone and have some $2 Hot Shots if you're pre-gaming for Finnie's.
Location: 1234 N Eddy St, Suite 125, South Bend, IN 46617
6. You've never heard of 'fried guac' but you're down to try it: Evil Czech Brewery
Evil Czech is without a doubt my favorite restaurant in South Bend. Complete with a menu diverse enough to suit any craving, Evil Czech does the trick every time. If you aren't full after their fried guac and spinach dip appetizers, give one of the five baked mac n' cheese options a whirl.
Go there on Tuesdays to experience the full glory of 'Taco Tuesday,' where tacos start at $2, or try their infamous Sunday Hangover Brunch after a long and unforgiving game day.
Location: 3703 N Main St, Mishawaka, IN 46545
7. You need to satisfy that weekend sweet tooth: Rise n' Roll Bakery
Let me tell you the secret to this bakery's success: the recipes are Amish. Do we know what that means? Not really, but it certainly makes a difference. Rise n' Roll's Amish donuts, featuring flavors, such as cinnamon caramel and white powdered, provide the classic frosted donut satisfaction in addition to an amazing sweet and powdery finish.
If donuts aren't your thing, try one of their decadent pies, muffins, cookies, or sweet breads.
Location: 3915 Grape Rd, Mishawaka, IN 46545
8. You know kale withdrawals are for real: Purple Porch co-op
If you're out in The Bend and craving something wholesome and green, look no further. Cafe Max at the Purple Porch offers a cafeteria-style food bar with a rotating variety of homemade local and organic dishes with must-try items like deconstructed hummus, an expertly crafted raw kale salad, and tabbouleh.
A trip to Purple Porch isn’t complete without a free sample of kombucha from the most health-conscious tap in the city. You’ll be needing the detoxifying power of this fermented tea to keep you feeling your best come Monday. Feel good about loading up your plate because with every bite you are supporting Michiana's local farmers.
Location: 123 N Hill St. South Bend, IN 46617
9. You wanna blaze but then remember you go to Notre Dame: Blaze Pizza
Notre Dame kids definitely veer towards the hardo side when it comes to blazing and praising. You will quickly learn that in ND tongues, "blazing" means devouring the bad boys pictured above and "praising" means heading to the Basilica to repent for our gluttony. Regardless, Blaze Pizza hits the spot every damn time.
You can order one of the pizzas they create for their menu or have one tailor-made especially for you. My personal favorite is a white cheese pizza, heavy on the mozz, with bacon, roasted red peppers, basil, and tomato. Also heavy on the parm. I'm definitely lactose intolerant but what of it though?
#SpoonTip: Download the Blaze app and order even whilst in the restaurant to have your pizza ready literally miles before everyone else.Location: Eddy Street Commons, 1234 N Eddy Street, South Bend.
10. You're craving Chinese/Japanese food and you aren't afraid of the ensuing stomach ache: Ichiban Golden Dragon
Ichiban's Japanese tea garden aesthetic is sure to make your meal peaceful and relaxing. While the 8-page menu makes your meal decision challenging, you won't be disappointed with the result. My personal favorite order begins with a vegetable tempura starter and ends with the sesame chicken meal. The pineapple sake-tini makes for a fantastic complementary drink.
Location: 1733 S Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46637
11. Your parents are in town and covering the bill: Corndance
Go ahead and make a reservation for Corndance Tavern next time your parents are in town and be sure to bring friends. The menu at Corndance changes seasonally, but one thing that always stays is the Lobster and Shrimp Rigatoni. This pasta is served in a mason jar and you get to take your leftovers home in the mason jar (10/10 recommend eating cold the next morning).
Besides pasta, Corndance Tavern has amazing steak, seafood, flatbreads, and salads. The presentation is always amazing and the taste is even better.
Location: 4725 Grape Road - Mishawaka, IN 46545
12. It's Thursday and you're trying to get drunk: Club Fever
If you end up making it to Feve on a Thursday, your night will probably be as dark and blurry as this pic of a Long Island Iced Tea. Feve is indescribable to someone who hasn't attended. From sweaty freshmen grinding on each other as if they've just been touched for the first time to stumbling students mumbling out their next drink order, Feve is a beautiful environment like no other in the ND social scene.
I recommend the Adios M*therf*cker, a vibrant blue drink that's sure to guarantee you'll be too hungover to make it to your class the next morning.
Location: 222 S Michigan St, South Bend, IN 46601
13. You're too hungover to get your own food at the dining hall: Sorin's Morris Inn
If you're literally too hungover to grab your own tray and get your own food at the dining hall, roll into one of the booths at Sorin's Morris Inn for brunch. The vanilla lattes are absolutely delicious, and the omelettes couldn't hit the spot more. Maybe even take a quick nap in the warm natural light coming in from the massive glass windows.
Location: 1399 N Notre Dame Ave, Notre Dame, IN 46556
14. You want to try something different: Mango Café
Go for something different and visit Mango Café, the only Venezuelan restaurant in South Bend. They are best known for their arepas, which are made of a grilled corn dough and best when filled with chicken or pork, cheese, and avocado.
If you're "starting your diet on Monday," order the massive and delicious patacones (pictured above). Their prices and their food will make this one of your favorite go-to's. Photo Creds: Cristina Adum
Location: 1740 South Bend Ave, South Bend, IN, 46637
15. You're broke and starving: J.W. Chen's
When you arrive at J.W. Chen's, you will be kindly greeted by the owner, Jeanne. She will sit at your table with you and ask you if you want meat, chicken, or fish. Take any and every suggestion she gives you. This woman is a genius. If you're into spicy food, get Jean's Hot Hot Chicken (pictured above). You won't regret it.
During lunch time, you can get a choice of protein, fried or steamed rice, soup, and an egg roll... all for $7. Broke and hungry? This is the place for you.
Location: 1835 South Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46637
16. You feel like impressing your date: Café Navarre
If you're really trying to impress your date or trying to get the Ring by Spring, Café Navarre is the spot for you. The location is a renovated old bank, their drinks are fancy, and the modern American cuisine is to die for. Go for a fresh piece of seafood, like the scallops pictured above, or a classic New York Strip. Either way, you'll be sure to make a good impression on your date.
Location: 101 North Michigan Street, South Bend, IN 46601
17. You need to escape South Bend: Chicory Cafe
Chicory Cafe is South Bend's New Orleans-inspired cafe. Located in the Jefferson Centre downtown, they specialize in coffee and Cajun. Their relaxed atmosphere makes for a great spot to come and hangout with friends or to study with a pumpkin chai latte. If you love donuts, you will love their number one seller: beignets, a square piece of dough deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
They are not only true to their New Orlean's roots with their food, but they also have a vibrant live-music scene, featuring jazz, blues, and a little zydeco. Be sure to check out the Live Music calendar on their website to see who is playing there next.
Location: 105 E Jefferson Blvd #103, South Bend, IN 46601
18. You know you want to leave happy: The Mark
If you're tired of the DH and in the mood for comfort food, The Mark is for you. I have eaten at The Mark an embarrassing number of times in my past three years here. I have made it through several menu changes and can honestly say that I have never had a bad meal.
Whether you are in the mood for a hearty salad, a burger, or steak, they have it. Be sure to save room for dessert. Their cake is to die for. No joke, I want their German chocolate cake to be my wedding cake.
Location: Eddy Street Commons, 1234 N Eddy St #111, South Bend, IN 46617
19. When you want the happiest gameday night of your life: CJ's Pub
CJ's hands down holds the title of the best Saturday night in South Bend. Dance all night to the enriching combo of old favorites and new tunes, eat popcorn and throw it at people to mess with them, and of course, rejoice in a heavy pitcher of RBV.
CJs's sports bar atmosphere, complete with retro memorabilia embodies the school spirit of ND. Plus the management and staff are epic individuals that I am always happy to hang out with. Whether we win or lose (or don't even play that day) CJ's is always a good decision.
Location: 236 South Michigan Street, South Bend, IN 46601