As a self-proclaimed foodie and nostalgic second-semester senior, this blog post has been a long time coming. While some of my recommendations are well-known Bloomington establishments, I hope they nonetheless inspire you to venture out to explore Bloomington and all the amazing food and adventures it has to offer -- before these 4 short years pass you by!
Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal, so I’m more than happy to start this list right here.
The Inkwell is a cute little coffee shop, but it’s menu stops far from lattes and cold brew. You can pop in and grab one of their pastries (think homemade scones and pop-tarts) to go, or stay and study awhile with avocado toast (topped with an egg!), a breakfast sandwich, or even waffles to keep you full and motivated. Warning: it fills up fast on the weekends!
Feast Market & Cellar
Some of you veterans might be familiar with Feast Bakery & Cafe that closed almost two years ago (sad face), home of hands-down the best (and fanciest) breakfast in Bloomington. But have no fear: their other restaurant, Feast Market & Cellar, lives on with weekend brunch. It’s a bit of a trek and a bit on the pricier side, so definitely note this as a place to visit when parents are in town (or if you’re just looking to get away from the hustle of downtown Bloomington and treat yourself -- a cause I’ll always support).
Pro tip: Feast Bakery & Cafe revives its delicious pastries at the Bloomington Farmers’ Market, another must-see Bloomington establishment, whether indoors or outdoors.
Next the new Chocolate Moose, Bedrak Cafe houses a juice bar and plenty of healthy breakfast choices to go with it! And whenever I go, it tends to not be nearly as busy as the famous Village Deli or Runcible Spoon -- a win-win.
Going to keep my lunch list brief, but my dinner recs are also great for lunch!
This place definitely appeals to all vegetarian and vegan TWNers! Laughing Planet has an endlessly delicious list of burritos, bowls, quesadillas, and salads, all customizable and made fresh-to-order. My favorites: the Backyard BBQ bowl or the Pestato bowl (potatoes + pesto = heaven).
Darn Good Soup
The name speaks for itself, but I’m such a soup lover, so I have to plug it here. It’s such a great and simple concept that just works amazingly. You can check out its website for its daily menu.
I was so excited and grateful when a cute little Italian restaurant opened in Bloomington, as was my mother. Osteria Rago is tucked away behind Kirkwood, but it’s absolutely worth hunting down; they serve fresh pasta made in-house in perfect portions. If you love Italian cuisine as much as me, you need to check it out!
I saved my all-time favorite Bloomington restaurant for the end. Big Woods is certainly a popular favorite judging by the constant long wait times, but I beg you to wait it out. Big Woods has something for everyone (appetizers, burgers, wood-fired pizzas, tacos, grain bowls, etc), and I’ve never taken someone there that wasn’t blown away by how amazing the food was. Case in point: I brought my dad there for the first time over 2 years ago, and he has YET to stop talking about how amazing his brisket burger was.
If you’re going to take me up on this offer, please do me a favor and order the Pulled Pork Nachos. Or invite me. Or both.
Curating this list has been something I’ve been dreaming of doing, and I’m so happy to share it with TWNers. Never forget to soak up everything Bloomington has to offer. And again, if you ever need a friend to check out these places with, you know where to find me!
Please let me know if I’ve missed any other hidden gems -- this list certainly should not stop here.
Alex is the VP of Finance at TWN! She's been involved with TWN since her sophomore year and has worked on both the Kelley Women's Day and Finance Committees. Outside of TWN, she plays on the Women's Club Soccer team and is in a sorority. Alex also is returning to Protiviti in Chicago this coming summer to work there full time.