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So many options and so little time. Some of the CIBER team have put together a list of recommendations on food and fun to help you decide. Of course, if you don’t want to take our advice, you can read the Bloomington Visitors Guide or seek the advice of strangers on Yelp or Urban Spoon.
Esan Thai—for the best Pad Thai in town! http://www.esanthairestaurant.com/
Stroll through the IU Fine Art Museum for a lovely way to spend an hour. Make sure to get a cup of coffee from the gift shop/café! http://www.iub.edu/~iuam/iuam_home.php
Looking for a really nice dinner hit Finch’s—they have the best mussels in town. The duck is also highly recommended. http://www.finchsbrasserie.com/
If you are looking for a restaurant that has bed pans on the wall and serves a great bison burger (and I think the best well drinks in town) go to FARM. http://www.farm-bloomington.com/
Looking for basketball and typical college environment—Kilroy’s on Kirkwood. http://www.kilroyskirkwood.com/
Want pub fare and good live music—Player’s Pub it is! http://www.theplayerspub.com/
You’re lucky enough to be in town for the opening of the 2013 Farmers’ Market on Saturday, April 6th by City Hall. Locally grown produce, annual and perennial plants, and a variety of prepared foods are available. Purchase your food directly from farmers and ask them questions about their products. Local entertainment adds to the shopping as well as socializing experience. http://bloomington.in.gov/farmersmarket
Portlandia fans will recognize hints of Season 2’s "Dream of 1890s" at The Rail, Bloomington’s handcrafted cocktail bar. A bartender in suspenders will pour you an artisanal cocktail while you relax in a turn-of-the-century train station building on Bloomington’s near north side. http://youtu.be/mPKe9OfWs-M and http://www.therailcocktail.com.
Less upscale hipsters will also find themselves at home at House Bar, literally down the hill from The Rail. Grab a $5 pitcher of PBR on tap and join a game of Apples to Apples. http://idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=75014
If you’re still in town Sunday afternoon, head to The Atlas Bar for brunch. Bloomington’s Soups On serves a wide menu of breakfast fare while behind the bar Phil mixes up the best bloody mary in town. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Atlas-Bar/128569760541189?fref=ts
Chomp, Bloomington’s newest burger joint, serves only locally sourced organic meats. Don’t forget to check out the long list of fry seasoning options. http://www.chompbloomington.com
If meat is not your thing, The Owlery on the square is an all vegetarian restaurant with an extensive vegan menu as well. http://www.theowleryrestaurant.com/
You can also sample wines from our local winery without making the 30 minute drive north thanks to Oliver Winery’s new tasting room on the square. Settle back with an Oliver red and snack on cheese, olives, and crackers. http://www.oliverwinery.com/downtown
Or run next door for Bloomington’s largest craft beer selection at The Tap, a craft beer bar. http://www.thetapbeerbar.com/
Movie buffs should not miss a chance to catch a film at the IU Cinema where the best of new technology and a vintage film experience are combined for an entirely unique experience. http://www.cinema.indiana.edu
If you want to get out and move your body, there’s always the B-Line Trail winding its way through town and beyond. http://bloomington.in.gov/b-line
Or head out to the Crestmont Disc Golf Course for 18 holes and a peek at a local community garden. http://bdgc.org/courses/crestmont/
Nick's English Hut has been considered one of the top sports bars in the country. According to Bloom Magazine, “this 80 year-old establishment is a must stop for anyone passing through the college town of Bloomington, Indiana.” Here is a video of Senator Barak Obama at Nick's in 2008. http://youtu.be/qBI8IcrV6sk
Max’s Place http://www.maxsplace.info/ is a very informal local restaurant that serves good beer and good pizza. However, I would NOT recommend it to anyone who is looking forward to a quiet dinner. The music in general is pretty loud.
The Uptown Cafe http://the-uptown.com/ is located on the Square. If you enjoy Cajun Creole style dishes this is probably the best place in Bloomington.
If you are looking for a quiet time in a nice historical house over good food and wine, you will probably enjoy the Scholar’s Inn. The downside—it can be a bit pricey. Check the menu here: http://www.scholarsinn.com/dinner.html
The Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub http://www.irishlion.com/ is located in a historic 1882 vintage tavern—also one of the most traditional places in Bloomington.
FARM—we have only eaten here for breakfast once but the breakfast pizza was yummy and the ambiance is fun. http://www.farm-bloomington.com/
Finch’s—I really like the Rabbit Cacciatore http://www.finchsbrasserie.com/
Falafels—for a yummy gyro this is the place. http://falafelsonline.com/
Lennie’s—everything I have had has been good but I have gotten the spinach salad multiple times because it really hits the spot for both the healthy and the yummy aspect. http://bbcbloomington.com/
Blu Boy Chocolate—every chocolate I have tried is so delicious and they offer a number of unusual flavors. We take all our out-of-town guests here and they always go back when they come visit again. http://www.bluboychocolate.com/
Bub’s Burgers—my favorite is the elk burger. http://www.bubsburgersandicecream.com/bloomington/about/
Bloomington Bagel—according to my husband these are the first bagels he has found since living in New York that are a true New York style bagel. http://bbcbagel.com/
Hartzell’s Ice Cream—this is my favorite place for a treat. They offer some fun experimental flavors (every time we go there is a different selection) with fresh, local ingredients and made by the owner himself. http://www.hartzellsic.com/
Landlocked Music—we love to find excellent deals on vinyl and there is a large variety of genres and the staff is very knowledgeable in all genres. http://landlockedmusic.com/
Vintage Phoenix Comic Books—we go in about once a month to pick up the latest version of our favorite comics. They are a quiet but diverse little comic book store with great staff. http://www.vintagephoenixcomics.com/
Goods for Cooks—I have picked up some fun kitchen gadgets but I am pretty sure it’s just my excuse to get some of the caramels they sell at the front counter. We also enjoy the section across the hall with all the foods, spices, etc. http://goodsforcooks.com/
IU’s Lilly Library is home to rare books such as the New Testament of the Gutenberg Bible, the four Shakespeare folios, and Audubon's Birds of America, famous individual manuscripts such as George Washington's letter accepting the presidency of the United States, Robert Burns's "Auld Lang Syne", and J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/info.shtml
On the other end of the spectrum and for the less shy is the Kinsey Institute Gallery. http://www.indiana.edu/~kinsey/services/gallery.html
If you’d like to stretch your legs and explore some of the 18,000+ acres of the IU Bloomington campus, check out the walking tour options. http://graduate.indiana.edu/tours.php
If you are looking for fast and cheap eats, Buffa Louie’s is a favorite for wings. http://www.buffalouies.com/ Or try DATS on Grant for Cajun. http://www.datsongrant.com/. The Village Deli is a favorite for breakfast, especially if you like pancakes. http://www.villagedeli.biz/. Runcible Spoon is the only coffee roaster in Bloomington with great food, and no visit is complete without a trip to check out the bathroom. http://runciblespoonrestaurant.com/