Are you sick of dining center food, microwaveable meals, or that same ground beef you finally defrosted and have been reheating all week? Trust me, I understand your pain. If you are anything like me, the microwave has become your most feasible dinner preparer. In addition to busy schedules and restraints on money, I have absolutely no cooking skills. Recently, I decided that a great idea is to splurge on a well-prepared, professionally-cooked meal every once in a while. Especially as college students on a budget, and diets with too many ramen noodles, I believe we are in the position to best appreciate a nice meal. I don’t think I’m alone when I say going to a nice dinner sounds just heavenly.
Therefore, with the help of Tim Keith, a local Bloomington resident who is in the restaurant business, I compiled a list of six new restaurants to try. While each location most likely requires a car, a friend with a car or dedication to walking long distances, each are well worth the time and effort.
Located in downtown Bloomington, Lucca restaurant opened in 1936 as the first pizza place in downstate Illinois outside of Chicago limits. It is a great place and a great dinner atmosphere. With old dark wood, and a bar downstairs, it is a very relaxed setting, complete with tasty thin-crust pizza, and plenty of drink options for those over the age of 21.
2. The Caboose
Driving up to the location in Bloomington, the restaurant looks more like an old blue shack that is close to being abandoned. However, what The Caboose lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in tasty food. A smokehouse that specializes in barbecue pulled pork and ribs, the meals are hearty and big enough to even save for the next night’s dinner. The Caboose has an older feel to it, and a great homestyle taste.
3. Mandarin Kitchen
Located by Von Maur in College Hills mall, Keith swears it is “the best chinese in town by far.” The menu isn’t terribly expensive, and is much closer than some of the other options.
Lancaster’s is next, and, Keith said it has “unusual, but great food.” Looking up the menu they specialize in seafood and fresh fish. Located in Bloomington, the restaurant has a very seaside feel to it, with the inside decorated in blues and whites with large windows letting in plenty of light. Check out their shrimp, or possibly splurge on some salmon.
While a bit more on the expensive side, Baxters is one of the best date-night locations in town. It is fancy food with a dark candle-light evening atmosphere. Known for a great gumbo dish, Baxters may be a great date option other than the very tasty but more common choice of Biaggis. You could even get smart and suggest it as an option when your parents come to visit.
6. Thai Palace
As a huge fan of Thai food, and especially Pad Thai, this is definitely on the top of my restaurant to-do list. I have not had the pleasure to try it yet, but Keith tells me to get the shrimp Pad Thai on my first visit.