Downtown Dining Blooms With International Flavor

By Pamela Coyle on April 27, 2011 at 11:43 pm EST


Bloomington knows good eats – and drinks. This college city fares well with a near bottomless variety of diverse restaurants, well-stocked markets and local wines.

Downtown is a dining hotbed. One anchor of more than 80 years is Nick’s English Hut, a hugely popular Indiana University hangout on East Kirkwood Avenue with burgers, stromboli, pizza, subs and $6 lunch specials.

International fare is easy to find. Ali Oli Fusion Restaurant has a menu inspired by Latin America and Asia. The focus is Cajun/Creole at The Uptown Café; Greek is the word at Trojan Horse; Shanti Authentic Indian Cuisine and Esan Thai Restaurant speak for themselves.

Roots on the Square is all-veggie, all the time. FARM Bloomington uses local and regional ingredients. Fine-dining treats include Restaurant Tallent, and Truffles Fine Cuisine.

Watching your wallet? Check out Laughing Planet Café, a funky joint with California-style burritos and artist-crafted tables, and Cereal Barn & Peanut Butter Café, with 30 different cereals and oatmeal with 20 different toppings, also grinds its own varieties of peanut butter.

Cooks have more than chains for choices. The farmers’ market at Showers Plaza is open Saturday mornings April through November, and Tuesday afternoons from June through September. Bloomingfoods Market and Deli on Third Street is a local co-op with three locations; the original market off Kirkwood still makes sushi each day for all three spots. At Bloomington Bagel Company, the goods are made from scratch.

Wineries and brew pubs abound, too. Lennie’s & The Bloomington Brewing Co. on East 10th has an extensive wine list and handcrafted ales from next door. There’s also Upland Brewery on 11th Street and Scotty’s Brewhouse on North Walnut. A historic mansion on North College houses Scholars Inn Gourmet Café & Wine Bar; Tutto Béne Wine Café & More is on South Rogers Street.

Butler Winery has two locations for sampling wine from Indiana grapes. The vineyard itself is northeast of the city; another tasting room is on College Avenue in an old home. Another vineyard, Oliver Winery, founded in 1972 by an IU law professor, has the distinction of being the state’s oldest and largest winery.

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