It’s that time of year again, when the countdown until you’re back at Notre Dame becomes a daily text into your GroupMe. There is so much to look forward to like reuniting with your best friends, syllabus week shenanigans, and football season. Even though I am extremely excited for all of those things, I can honestly say my heart skips a beat when I think about walking into my favorite South Bend restaurants and ordering my favorite meals. So here is my menu for my first week back at ND:

1. Horny Goat Burger from Evil Czech Brewery

Photo courtesy of Evil Czech Brewery

Evil Czech is a fan favorite of many ND students because they make so many things well (and have a killer selection of beer on tap). They really knock it out of the park with this hamburger though, loaded up with carefully chosen, mouthwatering toppings. The spicy chipotle mayo plus the fried goat cheese makes for a burger you won’t soon forget. Looking for an appetizer to get beforehand? Spinach dip every single time.

2. Garlic bread at Barnaby’s

GIF courtesy of

Now I know garlic bread would not typically be classified as a meal, but if you’ve seen me at Barnaby’s you would understand what I mean. My roommate’s family takes us there almost every game weekend, and every game weekend I have to explain that I am fine with whatever type of pizza they order because I probably won’t eat any. Although it can be embarrassing, I treat that plate of garlic bread for the table like it is my own. Don’t forget to ask for hot marinara dipping sauce.

3. Filet mignon at Cafe Navarre

Photo courtesy of Cafe Navarre on Facebook

Usually students save Cafe Navarre for when parents (and their wallets) come to town due to its higher price tag, but an exception will have to be made. The filet here is to die for, cooked just to your specifications and perfectly flavored with a thin red wine gravy. Get the mashed potatoes or asparagus as a side.

4. Hurricane Roll at Soho

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Sushi and sake are the perfect combination for a night out with friends. The fun atmosphere where they cook your food in front of you at Soho keeps you entertained, but the Hurricane roll is what keeps you coming back. The crab and avocado roll with a daring twist of spicy tuna on top is perfect to push California roll lovers out of their comfort zone but still interest more experienced sushi eaters.  Looking for a second roll to go with? Try the Godzilla or Volcano roll.

5. Nutella Banana French Toast at Uptown Kitchen

Photo by Danielle Pasalich

There is no better way to recharge (and get your life back in order) on a Sunday morning than this unreal dish from Uptown. French toast by itself is clearly a dish created by the gods, but add Nutella and bananas and you’ve got a euphoric experience. While this is a personal favorite combination, the french toast options here are endless. Other french toast combos to try: chocolate and strawberry or blueberry and cream cheese.

6. Build Your Own at Blaze Pizza

Photo by Anvita Reddy

While Blaze is a national fast-casual chain, there are none nearby my home town. Everyone is of course entitled to their own personal preferences when it comes to their ideal pizza, but I cannot support anyone who does not like spicy red sauce. Along with the sauce, I like to load up with shredded and fresh mozzarella, green & red peppers, spinach, onion, pepperoni, and finally Italian meatballs. That 3 minute wait while it’s in the oven feels more like an eternity.

7. Albóndigas at Tapastrie

Photo courtesy of Tapastrie on Facebook

I have not yet been to the newly established restaurant downtown, but the amazing reviews I have heard from friends have me eager to try it out. Everything on the menu sounds appealing and unique but the albóndigas have gotten rave reviews across the board. These lamb meatballs are served in a romesco sauce typical of Spanish dishes and are perfect to share. Other highlighted dishes are the chorizo wrapped dates as well as the whole bronzino entree. I am counting down the days until I will stop counting calories eaten and dollars spent because this food is just too good.

*Disclaimer: Salsa’s spicy guacamole would have 100% made the list but they are already booked for the first week of school. Looks like that will have to be an outing for Week 2.