Our Favorite Spots to Eat in Bloomington

We’ve ranked the top restaurants in the city for great food.

You’re taking a trip to B-town, and you want to find out where to eat in Bloomington when you get there. The good news is that finding fantastic Bloomington restaurants is easy, regardless of your dining preferences.

Whether you want to enjoy a local craft beer while people-watching close to Indiana University, or you’re looking to try some Mediterranean food, you’ll find a restaurant on this list that has what you’re looking for.

While you’re enjoying some great food in Bloomington, there are lots of ways to work off your calories. You can take a hike on some of the town’s hills or forests, or if the weather permits, take a boat ride on one of Bloomington’s lakes.

group of friends having a great time drinking wine at a restaurant in Bloomington

People from across the country and world come to Bloomington to enjoy the landscape, work, or study at the university. Indiana University has quite a history, being one of the oldest and largest state universities in America, founded in 1820.

Please continue reading to see my list of the 17 best restaurants in Bloomington, IN.

Best Restaurants in Bloomington

  1. Janko’s Little Zagreb
  2. Mother Bear’s Pizza
  3. My Thai Cafe
  4. Uptown Café
  5. Big Woods
  6. Bloomington Bagel Co.
  7. Farm Bloomington
  8. Lennie’s & Bloomington Brewing Co.
  9. Nick’s English Hut
  10. Runcible Spoon Cafe and Restaurant
  11. The Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub
  12. The Owlery Restaurant
  13. Upland Brewing Company Brew Pub
  14. Pizza X
  15. Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream
  16. Samira’s Restaurant
  17. Malibu Grill

Janko’s Little Zagreb

223 W 6th Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 332-0694
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Famous for its spicy meatballs, Janko’s Little Zagreb first opened in 1973. The restaurant has won numerous awards, including the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2009-2018, Herald Readers Choice Winner 2018, and OpenTable Winner for Diner’s Choice 2012-2018.

The restaurant is a short drive from the FAR Centre for the Contemporary Arts, located at West 6th Street and North Morton Street.

Whether you want a USDA choice steak or prefer seafood dishes, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Janko’s. In addition to the excellent food, they offer over 100 bottles by the bottle. If you don’t want an entire bottle, they have more than a dozen house wines that you can order from the glass.

Mother Bear’s Pizza

2980 W Whitehall Crossing Blvd, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 287-7366
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This pizza restaurant has two locations, serving the student community attending Ivy Tech Community College and attending Indiana University. Staff and students of Indiana University have voted Mother Bear’s Pizza the best pizza in Bloomington for ten years straight.

The food at Mother Bear’s is a hit with students, residents, and tourists alike. In 1982, People Magazine named Mother Bear’s Pizza one of America’s top nine pizzas. USA Today named Mother Bear’s Best Pizza in Indiana.

Whether you’re looking for The Divine Swine or want a vegan or vegetarian option, Mother Bear’s got you covered, and that includes those with gluten intolerance.

My Thai Café & Sushi Bar

3316 W 3rd St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 333-2234
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Located at North Curry Pike and West 3rd Street, My Thai Café and Sushi Bar offers authentic Thai cuisine. After a shopping trip to either Whitehall Plaza or Whitehall Crossing Shopping Center, you can grab lunch or dinner.

Whether you’re in the mood for a Green Curry or Beef Broccoli, you can find what you’re looking for and at your preferred spice level. If you’ve never tried their Pad kee mow, we highly recommend it!

My Thai Café offers vegetarian and vegan options, and you can dine on their patio if the weather permits.

Uptown Café

102 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 339-0900
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The Uptown Café has been a landmark in Bloomington since 1976 and is at East Kirkwood Avenue and South Walnut Street. Whether you want to dine for breakfast, lunch, dinner or weekend brunch, Uptown Café has you covered.

The restaurant has a reputation for serving hearty breakfasts and having an insightful staff. The love of Cajun flavors inspires the cuisine, and you’ll find selections on the menu that acknowledge regional and European dishes as well.

Big Woods

116 N Grant St, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 335-1821
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Big Woods is a fantastic homey spot in the heart of Bloomington. Just two blocks from the historic entrance to Indiana University, Big Woods accommodates everyone in every season. The restaurant has indoor bar seating and dining room, outdoor deck tables, and a seasonal beer garden and garden bar. You can enjoy local live music and a great crowd. 

The menu includes an extensive list of craft beers and ciders and highlights local breweries and distilling companies. Try an IPA or a cider by the local Quaff ON! Brewing Co, or sip a cocktail mixed with liquor from Brown County’s Hard Truth Distilling Co. The food menu features classic bar bites like wings, their locally famous Brew Burger, and a massive Bavarian Pretzel.

Bloomington Bagel Co.

238 N Morton St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 349-4653
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Voted “Bloomington’s Best Bagel,” Bloomington Bagel Co. has four locations throughout the city. The most iconic one is downtown near the university campus, but all of them make a perfect bagel and other breakfast treats. The founder, Sue Aquila, is a pillar in the community, and also helps organize triathlons and runs a blog for women who want to get active. 

The bagels are “locally owned and boiled” and you can taste the difference. Aquila learned how to make bagels at a kosher bakery in New York City, and brought the tricks of the trade back to Bloomington. Don’t leave without trying the Cinnamon Raisin or the Everyseed boiled bagel.

Farm Bloomington

108 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 323-0002
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What do you get when you blend a spunky personality, great farm-fresh food, and a secret downstairs nightclub? Farm Bloomington! Located in the center of Bloomington’s food and entertainment district, Farm Bloomington cooks up American classics in a cozy, eclectic setting. They have a full bar and that nightclub we mentioned, so it’s a great spot for all hours of the day.

We recommend going for brunch and ordering from their Farm Brunch menu, which includes an incredible biscuit basket and Classic BTown Breakfast with two Rhodes Farm eggs, peppered bacon, roasted tomatoes, and Farmhouse Fries.

Lennie’s & Bloomington Brewing Co.

514 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 323-2112
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Lennie’s is a Bloomington staple right across from the IU campus. You’ll rub shoulders with students, professors, and locals doing date night. The atmosphere is cozy and clubby, and connects to Bloomington Brewing Company. The pints are super fresh and the beer menu is extensive. 

People come to Lennie’s for the beer and the pizza, and we highly recommend trying both. But if that’s not your thing, you can choose from a great menu of appetizers, mains, sandwiches, strombolis, and decadent desserts.

Nick’s English Hut

423 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 332-4040
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Nick’s English Hut is a Bloomington classic that’s been around since 1927. Sprawling across two levels and an outdoor patio in Bloomington’s entertainment district, Nick’s draws a bustling after-work and weekend crowd. When football season comes around, the place is packed.

The interior is a quirky blend of English pub and American sports bar, with every inch of wall covered in framed photos and newspaper clippings of the restaurant through the years. We recommend trying the build your own pizza or a stromboli. Come for a pint and some strombolis and you’ll have new friends before you leave.

Runcible Spoon Café & Restaurant

412 E 6th St, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 334-3997
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Jeff Danielson started the Runcible Spoon in 1976 as a coffee roastery. Eventually, he expanded the offerings by adding breakfast and lunch. In 2001 Matthew O’Neill and Regan O’Neill bought the restaurant, and Chef O’Neill expanded the menu again, adding dinner.

If pancakes as big as your face sounds like something you’d be interested in, it’s just one of the items on the menu. The Runcible Spoon Café and Restaurant’s specialties include corned beef that’s roasted in-house, hollandaise made from scratch, and in-house desserts. If you’re hungry, you might be up to tackle one of their 16-ounce rib-eye steaks.

The Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub

212 W Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 336-9076
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When you see the outside of The Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub, you feel like you’re entering a time warp into the 1800s. The restaurant is a historic, restored 1882 tavern situated half a block west of the Square in the center of downtown Bloomington has been operating since 1982.

On the menu, you’ll find traditional Irish pub food with your choice of steaks, lamb, and Dublin pub stews.

If you enjoy a good scotch or whiskey, you’ll want to check out The Irish Lion’s vast collection of single malt scotches as well as Irish and American Whiskies.

The Owlery Restaurant

118 W 6th St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 333-7344
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If you’re looking for an authentic vegetarian restaurant instead of one that has some options, then you’ll want to check out The Owlery. In March 2011, the restaurant opened in downtown Bloomington, at West 6th Street and North College Avenue.

The Owlery specializes in vegan comfort food and serves craft beer made locally and around the country. If you want to indulge your sweet tooth, they’ve got baked goods for you to enjoy.

You don’t want to miss Sunday Brunch, where things like vegan benedict and red velvet pancakes are on the menu.

Upland Brewing Company

350 W 11th St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 364-2337
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The Upland Brewing Company has several locations, but this one is the original spot at West 11th Street and Ashlynn Park Drive. You can get lunch, dinner and after-hours bites at this restaurant that serves brewpub food.

The menus are seasonal because the chef locally sources the ingredients. The kitchen prepares food from scratch recipes and approaches the food the same way the company’s craft beer is.

If you want to try the company’s beer, they have a tasting room where you can check out their unique twists on traditional recipes and some that are creations from the imagination of the brewmaster.

Pizza X

1791 E 10th St, Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 339-7737
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Pizza X – known as the Pizza Express – is no big chain pizza and they want you to know that. The pizza joint was found by the same guy who started Lennie’s and the goal was the same – create a thriving local spot using only local ingredients and labor. The simple counter-serve restaurant has expanded to include six locations, but we recommend the one on IU’s campus.

You can build your own pizza or order from their speciality and featured menus. We recommend the Italian Stallion for big meat lovers or the Chicken Pizzadilla for a Tex-Mex spin on a pizza pie.

Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream

480 N Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 331-2827
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Matt and Rachel Frey established Bub’s Burgers’ first location in May 2003 in Carmel, Indiana. The Bloomington location at North Morton Street and West 8th Street opened in August 2010. The restaurant won Best New Restaurant 2010 by Indiana Daily Student Newspaper, and that was just the beginning of their award collection.

When you dine at Bub’s Burgers, you get real, hand-dipped milkshakes, house-made pies, and dressings that use quality ingredients.

If the selection is already overwhelming, hold onto your hats because Bub’s offers grilled Mahi Mahi, Chicken sandwiches, Bub dogs, and Elk burgers aside from beef burgers.

You may have to visit more than once to sample everything you want to at Bub’s Burgers.

Samira’s Restaurant

100 W 6th St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 331-3761
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Located on West 6th Street and North Walnut Street, Samira’s Restaurant is a block away from the Monroe County History Center.

If you’re in the mood for delicious shawarma and kebabs, then you’ll want to check out Samira’s. They offer Afghan recipes in a setting that feels authentic. If you plan to check out this restaurant, you should know that their hours are 11 am to 2 pm, and they reopen at 5 pm and close at 9 pm. They are closed on Sundays.

Samira’s restaurant offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, and their meat is Halal.

Malibu Grill

106 N Walnut St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Phone: (812) 332-4334
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Enjoy great American steaks, seafood, and pasta in this unassuming but top-notch bistro. Malibu Grill is right in the “main drag” of downtown Bloomington and provides a cozy, casual, but stylish vibe. It’s been voted Bloomington’s Best Restaurant several years in a row and offers local-favorite specials like Wine Night.

We love the hand-cut steaks here, seared to perfection. They have a wide selection of different cuts and styles. If you want something a little lighter, their pasta is some of the best in the city, and they also, of course, have pizza. Their wine menu is more expansive than many in town, and they also have great beer and cocktails.  

Final Thoughts

We’ve shared the best restaurants in Bloomington, IN, for you to check out. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local or a tourist; the places to eat in Bloomington are top-notch, and if you haven’t tried one of these yet, you may want to add it to your bucket list.

Did we miss a restaurant on this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!

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Written by Rocco Smith

Rocco is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Editing, Writing, and Media. With seven years’ experience in the restaurant industry as a cook, server, bartender, and more, he is deeply passionate about intertwining his fondness for food with his love of language.