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Best of Bloomington dining


Best Pizza:

Mother Bear’s

1428 E. Third St.

Mother Bear’s bests the competition for a fifth year

 What once started out as a way to sell pizza at Bear’s Place has turned into an award-winning pizzeria.

Mother Bear’s Pizza is Bloomington’s best for the fifth consecutive year. Restaurant owner Ray McConn said the award is special because of the type of award it is.

“We’re elected, not selected,” he said.

Mother Bear’s has also been recognized by People Magazine and Pizza Today, according to the restaurant’s web site. This year will be its 37th in service.

“Our specialty pizzas are phenomenally successful,” McConn said.

The pizzas also continue to be made from scratch. There are 15 specialty pizzas on the restaurant’s menu. If customers don’t want to go for the specialty pizzas, there is also an option that allows them to make a customized pizza by picking different ingredients. Prices vary from $3.80 to $20.85, according to the restaurant’s menu.

The restaurant also sells more than just pizzas. McConn said other restaurant favorites are the wings and the salads. The menu also includes pasta, hot subs, cheese bread and brownies.

“This is a full-time job,” he said. “I’m very satisfied with our success at this point of time.”

- Elvia Malagon

Best Place for a Date: Bucceto’s

115 East State Road 46 Bypass

Bucceto’s leaves couples smiling, coming back

Seniors Katherine Rampley and David Gould are Bucceto’s Smiling Teeth regulars.

Without even thinking about it, they go there for dates about once every two weeks.

“It’s never planned, we’re just like, ‘We should go get food,’ and Bucceto’s is always an option,” Gould said.

On this particular Saturday afternoon, Gould ordered a Sweet Lil’ Razorback pizza and Rampley had a salad.

“It’s cheaper than a lot of places you would go on a date,” Gould said.

General Manager Kieran Cooper said he thinks one of the main reasons people come to Bucceto’s for dates is specifically for that reason: the cost.

“It’s not like your cheap date, but you can go out and enjoy yourself,” Cooper said. “But you still have room in the budget for other things.”

Cooper also said the atmosphere is one of the reasons customers keep coming back.

To get the true Bucceto’s date experience, Cooper suggests ordering the spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer because “it is one of the best around.” For the main course, he suggests ordering one of the pasta dishes, such as the diavolo and alfredo plates. If you are 21 or older, you can also split a bottle of wine with your significant other. And to top it off with dessert, you can order a Carnegie Deli cheesecake.

But you don’t need to come to Bucceto’s to taste its delectable dishes. The restaurant also does carry-out.

“So if you want to be cozy at home, you can also do that,” Cooper said.

-Alyssa Goldman

Best Bar:

Nick’s English Hut

Locals take a seat at Nick’s for a shot of history

It’s been a part of Kirkwood for more than 80 years, but Nick’s English Hut never fails to stand out. Since its inception, Nick’s has been the reliable neighborhood bar where you can get a burger and a beer and be surrounded by IU history.

“It’s kind of an IU tradition,” Nick’s manager Pete Mikolaitis said. “It’s like a rite of passage.”

The food draws many Nick’s followers. From the burgers and fries to fresh fish and salads and the most famous dish, the stromboli, Nick’s offers a menu that exceeds normal bar food. Unlike its Kirkwood neighbors, you can go to Nick’s for dinner, not just a drink.

“They cater to everybody,” said regular Paul Spade, a professor in the Department of Philosophy.

The bar also has an upstairs area devoted to larger groups that might want to play “Sink the Biz” — Nick’s famous drinking game — listen to music and get a little rowdy.

“With it being such a big bar, you can kind of pick and choose what kind of atmosphere you want,” Mikolaitis said.

The upstairs walls are covered in signatures from famous visitors. After President Barack Obama came to the women’s race of the 2008 Little 500, he stopped by Nick’s.

“If people come from out of town, they’re told to go to Nick’s,” Mikolaitis said.

After students graduate, it is Nick’s they typically return to. Despite remodeling and expanding in the past few years, it still remains basically the same.

“Coming to Nick’s, you don’t want to see too much change,” Mikolaitis said.

- Zina Kumok

Best Late-Night Munchies:

Pizza X

1791 E. 10th St.

Pizza X is a late-night institution. Check out the Big X Bargain: a large one-topping pizza, breadsticks and two drinks for $12.95. Also, be on the lookout for Pizza X’s annual Free Breadstix Day.

Best Burger:

Opie Taylor’s

110 N. Walnut St.

Located in Bloomington’s downtown square, Opie Taylor’s has some of the best burgers in town.

Best Ethnic Restaurant:

Siam House

430 E. Fourth St.

Consistently named the best Thai restaurant in Bloomington, Siam House is a local favorite for its atmosphere and variety of dishes. It’s hard to pick a crowd favorite, but try the Pad Thai or one of the curry dishes. Better yet, go for the lunch buffet Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Best Restaurant: Bucceto’s Smiling Teeth

115 East State Road 46 Bypass

If you’re feeling a little adventurous with your pizza, check out Bucceto’s Smiling Teeth’s wide range of pie toppings. From meatballs and mushrooms to clams and capers, Bucceto’s has something to suit the craziest tastebuds. Check out the weekday lunch special: a large slice of pizza, a salad, and a drink for $6.50.

Best Spot for Coffee: Starbucks

110 S. Indiana Ave. or inside the Indiana Memorial Union

With two convenient locations, Starbucks is the ideal spot to grab a cup of coffee and tackle some long-overdue reading. The best part: The IMU location accepts Campus Access. Load up your card with cash (you don’t need to use it to do laundry, right?) and you’ll be caffeinated all day.

Copyright © 2014 Indiana Daily Student