Bloomington Indiana Trip Report – Vegetarian
Note: Website hours were not always correct, so call ahead. For example, some of the restaurants were closed or had abbreviated hours during Spring Break.
1) Farm Bloomington: low-key restaurant, nice decor, not many vegetarian choices but the food I ate was lovely. Enjoyed a spicy butternut squash curry and a mix plate of vegetable chips (plantain, okra, and something else) with a delicious ztatziki-like mint dipping sauce. Everything was great except for the okra which was too crunchy. The order was for two 'small plates’ (which I am guessing is a midwest term for appetizers?), the servings were generous and there was plenty of food to take home.
Staff was extremely helpful. The menu appears to change weekly so you may want to call ahead and see what they have scheduled. Closed on Monday.
2) Laughing Planet: located a couple blocks west of Farm Bloomington, off Kirkwood on Grant (address says Kirkwood) and above the Soma coffeehouse. Relaxed café atmosphere serving healthy burritos and salads. First visit, I had brown rice, spinach, black beans, green chilis and salsa. The staff completely messed up my order (nice but ditzy server) but the burrito was good so I did not mind. Also tried the Cuban burrito with plantains and fruit salsa. Very filling burritos. Soma’s Coffeehouse, located downstairs, had fresh juices, smoothies, caffeinated drinks, etc…
3) Palace of India – nice staff, pretty mediocre, bland food.
4) Mama Bear’s Pizza: pretty standard good/greasy pizza. Crust has a lot of fat in it – you can see the staining on the cardboard box. The single size is pretty small, they call it a 6” pizza but it looked more like a scant 5”; fine for a light super but not enough for most people.
Staff was friendly (is anyone in Indiana not friendly?) but if I lived in Bloomington, I would not return to this restaurant.
5) BloomingFoods grocery stores: good selection of organic produce, small deli area and nice staff. There are multiple locations in Bloomington – one near downtown on 6th St.
6) Scholar’s Bakeshop: after all of the glowing reviews, this was surprising let-down. The coffee cake was stale and without much flavor. The sourdough bread was fine but not really any better than store bought sourdough. As usual, the counter staff was a friendly bunch.
Most of the good restaurants are located on Kirkwood or one block south on 4th St., so it makes it easy to walk around and see view the options. Bloomington is a great little town and I look forward to returning and trying more of the offerings.
I always find it funny that a restaurant named "Farm" serves so few vegetables - their menu, especially the entrees, are very meat-heavy. You are lucky the service was good - it can be downright awful at times. Regulars just accepted that Farm had great food, terrible waitstaff, but I think they are trying to get a better reputation for service now. Breakfast is where they really shine.
I agree with all your other observations: Laughing Planet has great burritos and ditzy staff, Scholar's is over-rated, ALL the Indian food in town is bland, and everyone is friendly. I will not comment on Mother Bear's, it is a Bloomington tradition!
Next time you're here try Finch's, they usually have or will make vegetarian options and Jeff Finch is an amazing chef.
The Farm has well deserved reputation for bad service. I have heard that it has really improved. Finch's is very good. Restaurant Tallent may be the best restaurant in the state.
Mother Bears is a Bloomington tradition and "is what it is". I haven't been to Laughing Planet enough to have an opinion. For breakfast Village Deli is good. Scholars is definitely hit & miss.
I would agree the Indian food is mediocre.
My husband and I hit Mama Bears EVERY time we're in Bloomington (usually about once a year). We usually order the mushrooms, wings, and a couple of small pizzas and share. It's one of our favorite places in Bloomington. If you find yourself in Btown again, consider stopping by the Irish Lion. Highly recommended. We ate twice there during our 2 day stay.