Best Midwest Food Towns
#4 Bloomington: Come just to eat
Bloomington, Indiana, hides at the end of the kind of highway where you might get stuck behind a tractor. Though not our smallest winner (that's Traverse City), Bloomington's population (184,000) belies a homey feel; you can park for free and walk to just about every good restaurant.
And there are plenty of them. Indiana University students congregate at laid-back spots such as wrap shop Laughing Planet (laughingplanetcafe.com). Another college town staple, ethnic food, gets a funky twist with Fourth Street's Restaurant Row, a string of houses-turned-restaurants.
More surprising, however, is the depth of Bloomington's adult dining scene, which relies heavily on local products. At eateries such as Farmbloomington, Restaurant Tallent and Scholars Inn (see next slide), you'll find an array of intriguing dishes from saffron walleye to a pomegranate-kissed filet mignon.
People here say that even after their kids graduate, parents keep coming back to eat out. After a bowl of spicy black bean soup at Uptown Cafe (the-uptown.com), we sort of understand the impulse.
Pictured: Little Tibet (anyetsangs.com) is one of three Tibetan restaurants in Bloomington.