A salad of crisp mixed lettuces tossed with golden and red beets, all locally grown. A diner so small it has room only for a counter and a few tables. A Celtic public house where fish and chips are served wrapped in newspaper. Sunday brunch in a mansion. South Bend and neighboring Mishawaka don’t lack for dining options. With more than 400 restaurants in the area, you have plenty to choose from whether you’re looking a simple, casual diner or a more upscale fine dining establishment. Here are several South Bend restaurants that we tried during our three-day visit to the area.
The menu changes regularly at Café Navarre. In fact, the salad that I had on my recent visit is no longer on the menu, at least not with the same ingredients. The restaurant’s expanding farm-to-table options means that dishes change often to incorporate the freshest, local in-season produce. It’s no wonder that Midwest Living magazine placed Café Navarre on their list of “Best New Midwest Attractions, Restaurants and Hotels.” From ambiance to food to service, everything was top-notch on our recent visit.
Opened just a couple of years ago, the restaurant is located in a completely renovated, centuries old downtown South Bend building that once housed a bank whose claim to historical fame is that John Dillinger robbed it. Restored to its original grandeur, the setting complements the elegance of the restaurant.
My husband, Skip, and I met Lindsey Talboom, Communications & Public Relations Coordinator for Visit South Bend Mishawaka, at Café Navarre for lunch. Skip took Lindsey’s recommendation of the French Onion Gratinee. He agreed it was one of the best onion soups he has ever had. As I watched both Lindsey and Skip break through the layer of gooey gruyere, I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t ordered the soup, too.
However, my salad was delicious, with fresh greens, fruit, nuts and a light vinaigrette dressing. I opted for an added small steak, which was done to medium-rare perfection. Lunch was served with an assortment of warm breads and butter.
Service in the restaurant couldn’t have been better. Besides providing great table service, when our waiter found out this was my first visit to the restaurant and that I’m not from the area, he took the time to explain the history of the building and talk about other attractions in South Bend.
With its delicious food, great service and elegant ambiance, I recommend Café Navarre if you visit South Bend. The restaurant is located at 101 N Michigan Street and specializes in French, Italian and Spanish cuisines. Check the web site for hours or to make reservations.
Disclosure: Our visit to South Bend was hosted by Visit South Bend Mishawaka, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own. Our accommodations were at the Double Tree by Hilton South Bend.
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