We asked IU students to vote for their Bloomington food favorites. The results are in, and we have the info on the best in town, from best coffee to best drunchies to best place to take your parents, and everything between.
Best Bar: Kilroy’s on Kirkwood
A consistent member of national “Best College Bar” lists, it’s no surprise that KOK took the award for best bar in Bloomington. With Thursday shirts, Breakfast Club, and Open-to-Close, Kilroy’s is almost synonymous with Bloomington and IU for the over-21 crowd. And for the under-21 crowd, don’t worry, your time in the promised land is coming.
Best for When the ‘Rents Are in Town & Best French Fries: FARMBloomington
With a focus on using local and fresh ingredients, FARM’s menu changes seasonally so that they only serve the finest that Bloomington can offer. Parents are sure to be impressed with the fun, quirky atmosphere; the wide selection of beer, wine and cocktails; and of course, the scrumptious food. The only question is FarmFamous garlic fries or Farmhouse Fries – or both?
Best Cheap Eats: Village Deli
Hearts were broken all over B-Town on January 25, 2015, when fire took over our beloved Village Deli. But never fear Hoosiers, pancakes bigger than the plate and scramblers that will leave you in a food coma have returned to us. Village Deli boasts not only unreal food, but an absurd amount of it for a totally wallet-friendly price.
Best Place to Watch IU Basketball: Nick’s English Hut
A Bloomington tradition, Nick’s has been witness to all five IU NCAA basketball championships. With over 40 TVs and love for IU from floor to ceiling, it’s the perfect setting cheer on IUBB. Play Sink the Biz, order biz fries, and settle in for some Hoosier fun.
Best Brunch: Runcible Spoon
The charming, converted house that is Runcible Spoon invites its guests with smells of roasted coffee, locally made sausage and the Spoon’s own rich pancake recipe. From pancakes to eggs benedict to biscuits and gravy, there isn’t a poor choice on the menu. Just don’t forget the mimosa.
Best Burgers: Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream
Fresh baked buns and hand-pattied ground chuck makes Bub’s burgers the best in Bloomington. If you’re feeling ambitious, take on the Big Ugly Burger – a 1-lb. burger with a 1/2-lb. bun. If you finish it all, you get your picture on the wall. Or ask about their specialty burgers that aren’t on the menu for something a little different. No matter what, you can’t go wrong with any of these burgers.
Best Pizza: Mother Bear’s
Every IU student has been asked, “This a college town, where’s the place to go for pizza?” Answer: Mother Bear’s. With favorites like the Dixie Two-Step, the Monet, the Devine Swine, and the ability to make your own pizza, no matter what toppings you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
Best Thai Food: My Thai Cafe
My Thai brings a flavorful variety of Thai dishes to Bloomington, Indiana. If you’ve never had Thai iced tea, this is the place to experience it. And if you think you like spicy, consider yourself warned: I have known more than one person to shed tears when ordering their food hot.
Best Vegetarian Options: The Owlery
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, simply put, The Owlery creates beautiful, savory dishes. As Bloomington’s only entirely vegetarian restaurant, The Owlery specializes in reworking popular foods to be vegetarian or vegan friendly. I dare all of the non-vegetarians to try their Philly cheesesteak or chicken sandwich and to tell me it isn’t fantastic.
Best Mexican Food: La Charreada
From burritos to enchiladas to fajitas, La Charreada has your Mexican food cravings covered. An affordable, extensive menu and margaritas as big as your head make La Charreada a favorite choice among Hoosiers.
Best Drunchies & Best Street Eats: The Big Cheeze
Whether you’ve encountered The Big Cheeze at 2 am on Kirkwood, at Food Truck Friday or somewhere between, you’ll never be able to look at a regular grilled cheese sandwich in quite the same way. Do yourselves a favor and order the 3-Peat with provolone, Monterey jack and smoked gouda or go for the always-popular Mac Daddy.
Best Beer Bar: The Tap
With 50 beers on tap every day, an onsite brewery with another 20 beers and over 400 bottle beers to choose from, The Tap holds the key to every beer-lover’s heart. Whether you’re looking for something new or want to stick with a reliable favorite, they know beer. An added bonus? Live music, trivia nights and TVs for game day make The Tap the place to spend time hanging out with friends and enjoying a brew or two.
Best Frozen Treats: The Chocolate Moose
In their own words, The Chocolate Moose “takes our ice cream seriously.” That’s something every IU student can support. All of the homemade ice cream is made on-site, and you can buy pints or gallons to take home. They also offer yogurt, vegan ice cream, and a variety of ways to get creative with your choices. Which just means I’ll have to go back until I’ve tried them all.
Best Indian Food: Taste of India
Although predominantly northern Indian cuisine, Taste of India offers Bloomington’s only southern Indian options. Within walking distance from campus and with student discounts, Taste of India is perfect for the IU student looking to get off campus for a little while. Do yourself a favor and order the garlic naan.
College students value coffee more than just about anything else, and Soma offers quality coffee. Their staff is incredibly knowledgeable about coffee characteristics like aroma, brightness, and flavor. Still learning what kind of coffee you like? Ask them and check out their website for the lowdown so you can order your coffee like a pro.
Best Outdoor Atmosphere: Upland Brewing Co.
Upland’s whimsical string lights and rustic wood compose a dreamy, inviting environment. With heat lamps and a new outdoor fireplace, the patio season can last from early spring to late. Grab some friends and a beer and enjoy the gorgeous Bloomington weather.
Best Chinese Food: Lucky Express
Lucky Express may not look like much, but don’t let the appearance fool you. Lucky Express focuses on providing authentic Chinese food, and they excel at it. Try the eggplant in garlic sauce or sesame chicken for flavor you won’t soon forget.
Best Middle Eastern Food: Anatolia
A cute, inviting restaurant, Anatolia welcomes guest with a warm interior and colorful, aromatic dishes. If you’ve never had pide or baklava, make this the next place on your to-try list.