Lined with ethnically diverse restaurants, Fourth Street has become the unofficial United Nations headquarters of Bloomington restaurants.
However, during the 1980s, Fourth Street was not the collection of successful ethnic restaurants that it is today. Instead, the street was merely a residential area. Since then, houses have been renovated to serve as the restaurants Fourth Street is now known for.
Anatolia Restaurant — Turkish
After entering through a purple storefront wrapped in vines and passing under an archway decorated by beaded curtains, diners at Anatolia Restaurant are greeted by a wide array of Turkish dishes.
From kebaps to musakka and stuffed eggplant to baked dolma, Anatolia boasts a menu complete with lamb, chicken, beef, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
However, the restaurant, named after one of the great crossroads of ancient civilization, is best-known for its red lentil soup, always served with complimentary bread.
Popular dish: kebaps
Tip: Can’t decide on what to order? Try Anatolia’s lunch buffet on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Also be sure to share some hot Turkish tea in the restaurant’s cushion room.
Anyetsang’s Little Tibet — Tibetan
From the outside, Anyetsang’s Little Tibet restaurant looks more like a simple Tibetan house than a restaurant, but past the rainbow garland stretching across the porch, the restaurant is adorned with paintings of waterfalls and Himalayan villages.
Anyetsang’s characteristic Tibetan cuisine, along with the occasional Thai and Indian dishes, are served on colorful, ornate plates.
The menu includes Tibetan specialties, including kham amdo thugpa, a vegetarian stew, and temo sha tsel, stir-fried vegetables and rice. Customers can add their choice of chicken, shrimp, beef or tofu if desired.
Popular dish: Momos (Tibetan dumplings)
Tip: Diners can choose spice levels from one to five. If you’re unsure about your spice tolerance, start low. You can always ask for added spice later.
Siam House — Thai
Siam House greets its customers with a duo of smiling elephant statues and pastel-colored puffed rice crackers to snack on while waiting for food.
A newly-remodeled bar sits in the corner with wine bottles lining the wall behind it. Beside the bar are tables with menus that include a variety of Thai curry dishes at various spice levels and other traditional dishes like tom yum soup and pad Thai.
Each curry dish comes with a heart-shaped pile of rice atop a blue-trimmed plate. Along with their food, diners can order Thai iced coffee or tea complete with a straw wrapper folded into the shape of a rose and perched at the tip of the straw.
Popular dish: Pad Thai, tom yum soup, Thai curries
Tip: Portion sizes are pretty large, so there should be plenty to take home or share.
Burma Garden Restaurant — Burmese
Once named Mandalay, Burma Garden specializes in traditional Burmese cuisine while incorporating styles from Indian and Chinese cuisine that may require similar cooking methods.
Its menu includes Burmese specialties such as pork curry with mango pickle, paratha with yellow pea and nga chout tamin-- a fried rice dish.
Many entrees are served alongside a plate of beansprouts, cilantro, onions and lime for customers to add to their liking. But before the entrees, diners can choose from a variety of appetizers served in little boats with sauce sectioned off at the bow.
Popular dish: tea leaf salad, catfish with lemongrass, fish curry with tamarind sauce
Tip: Don’t show up on Monday. They’ll be closed. Please learn from my mistakes.
Korea Restaurant — Korean
When entering Korea Restaurant, conversations mingle with K-Pop playing through the speakers. A TV mounted onto the wall by the tables plays Korean music videos.
Korea Restaurant offers a large variety of meat-heavy dishes like bibimbap and heamul dolsot served in sizzling stoneware. But it also offers many vegetarian dishes, including vegetable japchae or sweet potato noodles.
Each table also receives a collection of small bowls filled with complimentary sides to share in typical Korean dining style.
Popular dish: Dolsot bibimbap
Tip: If you know your K-Pop, some servers may take song requests. Also, you can get free refills on side dishes.
Best Taste — Chinese
Nestled in the corner, the red letters of the “Best Taste” sign glow above windows showcasing intricate red cutouts. Inside, diners are handed bamboo chopsticks in red paper sleeves.
The restaurant specializes in Chinese cuisine but features a collection of Korean, Vietnamese and Thai-inspired dishes as well. These three cuisines form their extensive menu, which includes more than 150 items, including dumplings, wontons, Mongolian beef, orange chicken, and more authentic Chinese dishes.
Popular dish: Grandmother fried pork, Szechuan-style twice-cooked pork
Tip: There are also coupons for takeout on their website, and customers get a free spring roll with every takeout order.
My Thai Cafe Plus — Thai
At My Thai Cafe Plus, customers can share a tall glass of Thai iced tea while sitting outside on the restaurant’s front porch. Diners can also head inside to sit at dark wooden tables where they would be served rice, curry and noodle dishes characteristic of Thai cuisine.
Many dishes include heart-shaped mounds of rice sitting in a sea of Thai curry. Noodle and fried rice dishes tend to be topped with cilantro and garnished with red cabbage and carrots carved into a flower.
As they leave, customers can cleanse their palates with a bowl of mints sitting next to a wooden elephant on the counter.
Popular dish: Pad Thai and drunken man fried rice
Tip: My Thai has three locations in Bloomington, all with slightly different hours. Its new location is at 420 E 4th St.
Taste of India — Indian
Red curtains contrast with cream-colored walls and a scattering of traditional artwork displayed throughout Taste of India. The restaurant alo offers a canopied outdoor patio and a floor seating area on top of an ornate rug.
After choosing a seating option, diners can peruse a menu featuring Northern Indian cuisine, as well as some Southern staples. While the menu includes a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, it also offers meat dishes that are always certified halal.
Along with their meals of naan, tandoori, biryani and dosa, among others, diners can sip mango lassi or chai.
Popular dish: Butter chicken
Tip: Coupons can be found online, and IU students receive a 5-percent discount.
B-Town Gyros — Mediterranean
A fridge full of Cokes and a line of Cheetos bags contrast with olives, samosas and baklava displayed by the cash register of B-Town Gyros. Figurines of giraffes and rhinos are flanked by henna ink, as well as Anubis and Nefertiti statuettes encased in pyramids.
B-Town Gyros is an eclectic mash-up of cultures, including Middle Eastern, South Asian and East Asian influences.
However, at its core, the restaurant and international convenience store offers gyros, falafel, chicken shawarma and other Mediterranean-inspired menu items.
Popular dish: Gyros and falafel
Tip: Stay tuned for its all-new menu after Spring Break.
Do: Asian Fusion Cuisine — Korean and Japanese
A row of green-tinted Korean soju bottles sidle up alongside the wooden “Do” sign inside. Behind them, wood-paneled walls sit adjacent to exposed brick and a ceiling lined in bamboo.
The Asian fusion restaurant offers customers a distinct mix of Korean and Japanese cuisine. Their extensive menu includes stoneware bowls of sizzling meat dishes, baskets of Korean fried chicken and bowls of ramen. For dinner, customers are served miso soup and corn salad along with their meals.
Customers can also enjoy a cup of warm sake in the restaurant’s lounge, which is open until 3 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Popular dish: The Nagasaki — a seafood and vegetable dish
Tip: Bento boxes offered for lunch can give you a little taste of everything.