A hidden gem located just off of Kirkwood on Grant, The Laughing Planet Cafe is one of Bloomington’s most eclectic eateries. From the fun, relaxed employees to the bold art done by local artist Joel Washington covering the brightly colored walls, there is no doubt Laughing Planet has one of the most chilled atmospheres on campus. The quiet, brightly decorated and lit rooms make Laughing Planet a perfect study spot, hangout or meeting place for students, faculty and locals.
During the warmer months, Laughing Planet’s patio is packed with Hoosiers enjoying the sun. Grey picnic tables are illuminated by strings of twinkle lights at night, and swamped with warm sunshine during the day. Sit outside and enjoy your burrito and take advantage of one of Bloomington’s great outdoor eating areas.
While a quiet spot on Bloomington’s bustling campus might be reason enough to head to Laughing Planet, their food is another major draw. Started in 1995 by cyclist Richard Satnick, Laughing Planet’s goal is simple: to produce fresh, great quality food quickly and in a convenient package, and current owner, Robert Costello, continues this mission today. This idea of speed and convenience makes the Laughing Planet the perfect place for busy students to come grab a bite to eat in between classes.
Laughing Planet specializes in California-style burritos packed with organic and locally-produced ingredients. “Express burritos” are available Monday through Friday from 11am-2pm to guarantee that you get great food fast.
Some of their most popular menu items are the Barbecue Chicken Quesadillas, House-made Veggie Burgers, Mixed green salads and hearty soups like Hungarian Mushroom and Vegan Chili, but their most popular burrito is the Cuban Burrito. Packed with organic brown rice, salsa fresca, plantains, sweet potatoes, barbecue sauce, black beans and your choice of pork, chicken, tofu, seitan or beef. It’s the perfect burrito for both carnivores and vegetarians.
All burritos can be made sans tortilla as a “naked” burrito, or wrapped in your choice of flour, whole wheat or gluten-free tortillas and served with mild, medium, hot or tropical fruit salsa. “Naked” burritos are similar to Chipotle’s burritos bowls so of course we had to try one out.
We got the the Backyard BBQ burrito “naked.” Organic brown rice is topped with salsa fresca, sweet corn, kale, Fischer Farms pulled pork, sweet & tangy jicama slaw, BBQ sauce, dijon mustard and pinto beans to make up one of Laughing Planet’s most flavorful dishes.
Laughing Planet’s burritos are generously sized, but you have the option of making your burritos a “mondo” burrito, and getting an additional 10oz for only a $1.45 more. The mondo is comparable to Chipotle’s burritos in size and taste, but at a fraction of the cost. Gimme, gimme.
Need to get your 5-a-day in? The Highway to Kale salad features tons of veggies and is packed with flavor even though it is one of Laughing Planet’s lighter options. Lacinato kale is piled high with shredded carrots, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and queso fresco. Top it all off with their famous lemon parsley vinaigrette for a flavorful finish.
Although the Laughing Planet is known for being a healthier restaurant option, they still have that one dish that is absolutely smothered in cheese. Phew. The Nacho Mama features corn chips with black beans, nacho cheese and salsa fresca. So when you find yourself at Laughing Planet and can’t choose a single dish from their extensive menu, remember: you can never go wrong with a lot of nacho cheese.
Although The Laughing Planet Cafe has always been somewhat hidden from hungry Hoosiers, their popularity is growing more and more every day. So much so, they have recently begun catering events such as faculty meetings, Greek events and more. For all of my senior readers out there, The Laughing Planet would be the perfect addition to any graduation party in May.
All I have to say in conclusion is that if Laughing Planet was a real planet with a reliable water source, I would want to move there if Earth ever became uninhabitable.
Location: 322 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408
Hours of Operation: Everyday 11am-9pm