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Jul 6, 2010 04:40 AM

Indiana University Area(Bloomington)

I am visiting this weekend with my daughter to check out the school and we are looking for suggestions of locally owned, and interesting spots to eat. We do have a car so driving is not a problem, but would prefer not to drive to far. I do not know this area at all and any help would be appreciated.

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  1. Definitely have breakfast at the Uptown Cafe (on Kirkwood, just off the square). Brunch at Farm (also on Kirkwood near the square). Dinner at Tallent (on Walnut, just off the square), or Finch's (on Kirkwood about 1 block from campus). For a casual lunch, try the Laughing Planet (located in an old Victorian building on Kirkwood, a couple of blocks from the square) -- great burritos. All of these restaurants (with the exception of the Uptown) make a point of using as much local, seasonal produce and meats as possible.

    Starting 1 block west of campus, 4th Street is the place to go for all sorts of ethnic food.

    Laughing Planet Cafe
    322 E Kirkwood Ave Ste 105, Bloomington, IN 47408

    4th Street Cafe
    831 S 4th St, Dekalb, IL 60115

    3 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Definitely good advice. From another point of view, Tallent is IMHO the best restaurant in Bloomington-one of the better places in the state. The Farm's food can rival anyone's but frankly, I had so many service issues I quit going. That's been a while and I've heard its better so I will be heading back. The Uptown breakfast is fantastic and the place is an institution. I'm a big fan of their meatloaf sandwich and chicken liver pate. The Village Deli is another solid choice for breakfast (and other meals). If you want a steak go to Janko's. Sweet Grass is a new place serving southern or low country influenced foods. All of these are locally owned.

      4th St. has a ton of options.....

      1. re: HoosierFoodie

        I think Farm has too many tables, but I must admit that I haven't had too many issues with their service recently. That said, I disagree that the food can rival anyone's: I think it's hit-or-miss. I've eaten some of my favorite dishes at Farm, but I've had a couple bombs, too.

        Tallent on the other hand is almost 100% consistent and, to my mind, without any peers in the category of best Bloomington restaurant. And I'd say that holds true across the board for food, service, and ambiance. Tallent is the Wayne Gretzky of Bloomington restaurants: comparisons to it are pointless.

        1. re: EmotionalFoodie

          We had lunch at Farm on a recent trip, and I have to say they didn't really impress.
          The soup special was a vegetable soup, which was decent enough but was a bit overwhelmed by a spicy element. My wife had a daily salad, which was fine.
          I then had the Bison Burger, which had an interesting chili rub, but I felt it was a bit overcooked (I told the waiter I'd take the chef's advice on cooking it-I tend toward rare in my burgers) and my wife had the mac and cheese-it was pretty tasty, but again I felt the jalepenos were a bit heavy-handed, and overwhelmed the dish. We finished with coffee, which was fine.
          There were a few service problems, nothing major-a forgotten glass of wine, no spoons provided with the coffee...and I can't say I care for the space.

          Our dinner was at Tallent, which was terrific as always. I've added a small comment to Cookiefields excellent report of 08/06/10.

    2. I agree with all the above, and would strongly advise Restaurant Tallent. We travel from Brooklyn to visit family in Indiana and I always try to get over to Bloomington to eat there.
      The space is great, the service professional and friendly and the food terrrific. They also have a reasonable wine list and very tasty desserts.

      Bloomington is a very walkable city if you are staying in one of the downtown hotels or B&B's. If you have a chance, check out the farmers' market on Saturday morning-it's one of the best around.

      note-I was looking at a few of your other posts, and see that you like Crop in Cleveland-I recently had the pleasure of dining there-I think you'll like Tallent-same vibe.

      Restaurant Tallent
      208 N. Walnut Street, Bloomington, IN 47404

      2 Replies
      1. re: David W

        If you make it to the market, be sure to treat yourself to a tamale from Feast!

        1. re: David W

          Thanks for all the input, that's what I love about this site, that no matter what part of the country there is someone that is knowledgable about their home town. This specific trip is for my wife and daughter so I was trying to find the right vibe for them. My daughter is 16 but she has been raised with good food and wine since day one and has a pretty good palate and appreciation.
          I am always happy to recommend places that we are familiar with in our home town or places that we have enjoyed. Crop is one of our favorites as the chef/owner Steve gets it and understands food. In all the times we have been there which is at least 25 times we have never had a bad meal, and have never felt taken advantage of. The employee's are very tuned into working there and it shows with every plate by the kitchen and dining room staff

          1. re: pikawicca

            My wife just got back late last night and had a whirl wind tour of being in Bloomington 24 hours. They had a late lunch at Laughing Planet when they arrrived Saturday afternoon and enjoyed the food very much. We are all very fond of Mexican foods so it was a comfortable setting. Dinner Saturday night was at Tallent, and they liked that alot. Service was very accomodating from letting my wife taste a few wines by the glass before she decided on which one was best to match up to the foods. Her comment about the food was the entrees were better than the appetizers, which I find somewhat surprising as the appetizers sounded amazing to me, but again I was not there to eat the meal. All in all it was a great choice, close by, fairly priced, good service, good food and a place they would return to without any question. Breakfast was at Runcible Spoon which the local shop owners and others talked about and they thought that was also very good, but I don't know much about that meal. The one comment I heard over and over again by both my daughter and wife was how friendly everyone was in town and they liked the feel of Kirkwood and 4th street. Many thanks for the recomondations for a first time visitor.

            Runcible Spoon Cafe & Restaurant
            412 E 6th St, Bloomington, IN 47408

            Laughing Planet Cafe
            322 E Kirkwood Ave Ste 105, Bloomington, IN 47408

            1. re: rf24230

              I'm glad that Hoosier Hospitality greeted your wife and daughter and that they had some good meals. Hope your daughter chooses IU -- this is really a great place to live, go to school, and visit.