Revisiting the Bloomington, Indiana Food Scene

Culinary

Trying as much variety as I can

After visiting Bloomington for the first time back in May of 2021, I knew back then that I would return to feast on even more restaurants. I can safely say that this city has one of the best collections of international cuisines in such a compact space. It’s time to update my review and let you know the places to try (and avoid) for your next visit!

During my last visit, I experienced a good variety of cuisines but not NEARLY to the level of this trip. The focus this round was to try as large of a variety as possible and even going so far as to experience many cuisines for the first time. This trip was also a full five days, so I had a lot more time to explore. This was also the first official “Company Retreat” of NJ Productions - with the entire team coming along!

I’ll be blogging later this month about my favorite three areas in Bloomington that I photographed while here (in between feasts), including the absolutely stunning Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center.

Read about my three favorite spots to photograph in Bloomington

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the places I tried and my overall review of them!

Bloomington Bagel Co

Bloomington Bagel Co

taco rating
I can’t speak highly enough of this restaurant. It was one of my favorites from my last trip and we went there two more times for breakfast this time! Their bagel sandwiches are still a must, but this time I enjoyed trying their scones! They honestly were not what I expected for a scone, they were more like gigantic muffin tops. That being said, the muffin tops were delicious!
Cafe Bali

Cafe Bali

taco rating
This was our first NEW restaurant on this trip. We loved the atmosphere, and everything was delicious! A lot of the international restaurants in town failed to bring the heat, but not here!

Choose your spice level, and they will not disappoint! I love their heart-shaped rice. We had bubble tea, edamame, shumai, beef rendang (very spicy!), curry rice, and the Ayam Goreng Bali (deep fried chicken).

I would gladly go back to try even more of their wide selection of dishes.
Avers Pizza

Avers Pizza

taco rating
I was told to try "Cream & Crimson", which has an alfredo sauce base with a layer of red potatoes and topped with bacon, cheddar, and gorgonzola. It was extremely rich and delicious, especially if you DO like gorgonzola (of which I am unfortunately not a big fan)! They have a bunch of unique pies and their extra cheesy breadsticks are a great addition.
Blooming Thai

Blooming Thai

taco rating
This is a MUST STOP in Bloomington. After all three of us spent five days in town literally JUST to try all of the different international foods, all three of us agreed this was one of the best. Two in fact said it was THE BEST of the entire trip.

Beautiful atmosphere. We shared the amazing appetizer platter, enjoyed bubble teas, and then tried their fried rice special, wonton noodle soup, and crispy pork belly.

They were indescribably fantastic and perfectly done. The pork belly had an insane broth that made me think of the pork belly as secondary in importance, it was THAT good. The wonton noodle soup is a unique spin on wonton soup with so many additional ingredients. A rare case where it would be hard for me to revisit and NOT just get the SAME dish again.
World Foods Market

World Foods Market

Ok, taking a break from restaurants as this is just an international grocery store. We have a weak spot for trying fun non-alcoholic drinks and this place hit the spot with dozens of fridge sections full of fun and unique drinks!
Do Asian Fusion

Do Asian Fusion

taco rating
This is a place we visited during our last trip, but we only tried some appetizers at the time. With how delicious they were, and hearing they also served Korean Fried Chicken, we KNEW we had to go back.

We had been told they had one of the BEST Korean Fried Chickens. They were correct. My goodness these were great! Super crispy chicken thighs (a nice fatty and juicy piece of meat), with a very rich and thick sauce that was both sweet and earthy in all the best ways. But I am sorry we keep meeting this way (just for appetizers). I vow to come back here next time and try a proper entrée!
Korea Restaurant

Korea Restaurant

taco rating
So, we actually went here after Do Asian Fusion as they ALSO had Korean Fried Chicken and we wanted to compare. I feel bad that we only came to try a couple of appetizers. We tried the Korean Fried Chicken (of course) and also the Spring Rolls. The spring rolls were fantastic!

I do wish the fried chicken sauce wasn't as sweet or thin but it was very good. The owner was EXTREMELY nice and insisted on bringing us five of their side items normally serviced with entrees, as she felt we needed to have that full experience. Kimchi, tofu, slaws, potatoes, a little of everything and it was great to try. I would 100% come back with an empty stomach to properly eat their entrees!
Taste Of India

Taste Of India

taco rating
We had their lunch buffet and it was good, but I wasn’t too impressed. The Naan was a bit burnt and none of the entrees were spicy (at all really). Felt a bit softened for the American palette. Very surprised to not even see the popular Tikka Masala as an option. I WILL say that their Tandoori Chicken was flavorful and delicious.
Turkuaz Cafe

Turkuaz Cafe

taco rating
We had this to-go, but after seeing the beautiful atmosphere inside I would love to come back to dine in. We tried a few of their pides (Turkish pizzas), which were pretty delicious! Their baklava was the best we have had in a while. The sour cherry drink was very unique and everything came with a few sides (a soup, slaw, and vegetable medley). We did try their yogurt drink, which all of us decided to try and were NOT fans of (a very sour but also salty and thick drink). An acquired taste, perhaps, that we have not at all acquired.
Baked

Baked

taco rating
These cookies are NO joke. After five days in Bloomington trying different desserts, this one stands on top! Open until 2am with delivery and completely customizable and fresh baked cookies. You can't beat it. We tried a mega-chocolate build, a snickerdoodle, and a peanut butter. All were delicious and gooey on the inside, hot and fresh.
Homey Hot Pot

Homey Hot Pot

taco rating
We had lunch here and the service was impeccable. They were extremely helpful, teaching us the process (two of us had not had hot pot before), even going so far as to mix their recommended sauce combo for us. We probably ordered too many things (maybe 20 or so) and left VERY full. It is a fantastic and unique experience that forces you to eat slower and enjoy the process.

They had a wonderful watermelon drink special as well that tasted like just pure fresh watermelon blended and strained perfectly, very refreshing.
Books Bourbon And Bacon

Books Bourbon And Bacon

taco rating
We ran into this food truck at Switchyard Park, where they have food truck Fridays!

I feel bad leaving only 2 stars, but I was just SO excited to finally try a Korean Corn Dog and was pretty disappointed. I picked the option with a hot dog filled with cheese, but it had nearly no cheese. The batter was extremely thick, dry, and crumbly. The beignets were equally problematic; they just tasted like a piece of chewy wheat bread with powdered sugar.

The food truck scene here was fun, of course! We enjoyed some amazing Brazilian popsicles as well and saw a parrot companion on a bicycle!
Pinoy Garden Cafe

Pinoy Garden Cafe

taco rating
Located Saturday at the Community Farmers Market, this was ONE OF THE BEST dishes of the entire trip for me and additionally one of the BEST TACOS I have ever had (and I've had my share). They were extremely friendly as well as they explained their menu.

The taco is on a fluffy tortilla toasted up on the grill with the juiciest flavorful pork adobo. It is then topped with a refreshing salsa and a couple of sauces. It is a small taco that packs a punch, and I would eat a dozen of them next time if I could get away with it (or just try even more dishes on their menu).

I also tried their Halo Halo dessert, which was very light in flavor and refreshing in the heat.
Pie First Bakery

Pie First Bakery

taco rating
Also located at the Community Farmers Market, we tried a couple of their beautiful tarts and they were delicious! Nothing extraordinary but a bright note in the morning.
Hobnob Corner

Hobnob Corner

taco rating
Ok, so this one is about 45 minutes away in Nashville, Indiana. However, we were told by someone else who had been to Bloomington like us for food that THIS WAS their FAVORITE thing they ate (even though it wasn’t in Bloomington).

So, obviously we had to try it! To be clear, this review is exclusively for this one item: Their Cheese Danish.

We agreed wholeheartedly that this Cheese Danish is absolutely amazing in all regards. It is moist and creamy but also the dough is more like croissant dough, very flaky and buttery.

Final Thoughts

It is worth noting I still hold in high regard several places from my 2021 visit that I did not revisit this time. If only to make this post the most accurate, I would want to emphasize that you should absolutely consider visiting Mother Bear's Pizza West (fantastic Detroit-style pizza), Lotus Garden (for great dim sum), Square Donuts (just good unique donuts), and Social Cantina (elevated and fancy-delicious tacos).

Overall, I highly recommend taking a trip (or two, or three!) out to Bloomington, Indiana to experience this amazing food scene.

About the Author

Nicholas Klein

Founder and visual artist, specializing in all aspects of a businesses presence from imagery and video to graphics and web. A graduate of IPFW with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Concentration Photography as well as an Associates Degree in Business. His personal photography works are focused on landscape, travel, and aerial photography.

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