Bloomington restaurants: out with the old, in with the new


Courtesy of @sazontaqueria on Facebook

Celie Kreilkamp, Staff Writer

This year has been an eventful one for restaurant businesses in Bloomington. We saw the closings of two beloved local restaurants, as well as the opening of the new Mexican restaurant Sazon, and a new pizzeria. 

Downtown brasserie The Roost, formerly called Finch’s, announced on March 7 that they would be closing permanently. Known around town as a great place to get upscale American food and drinks, the Kirkwood location now houses local pizzeria Lennie’s, which moved there from its campus location. 

Another closing Bloomington saw this summer was the fairly new Oona. Chef Erika Yochum split off from her and her sister’s successful restaurant, Feast, but said the small new business could not get enough support to continue. However, Feast Market and Cellar is still going strong on W. Patterson Drive. 

There have been a few new openings to add to the food scene in Bloomington recently. Notably, the Mexican restaurant Sazón opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant on July 3 after finding success at the Farmer’s Market. They have awesome vegetarian options with authentic toppings and delicious chilaquiles and enchiladas. Optimist recommends the roasted cauliflower (or portobello) tacos and hibiscus tea, as well as the made-to-order guacamole and chips. 

A new pizzeria on Washington Street downtown has also been drawing some attention. Da Vinci, which opened this summer, boasts classical Italian cuisine. Sophomore Leah Rego “really loved the pizza, even though [she] got it a day old.” 

In the past couple of years, we’ve had some new additions to the culinary scene in Bloomington. How have they fared here? A few South students offer opinions.

Feta Kitchen, which opened September of 2018, has seen a lot of success with its Mediterranean buffet bowls (think Chipotle-style with a choice of base, protein, sauce, toppings, and dressing). Sophomore Helena Cano said she “really loves the variety of options available,” and especially recommends the falafel.

Two Sticks Bakery arrived in downtown Bloomington in July 2018, and offers organic, fresh-baked pastries and cakes. Though the price isn’t as low as some places around town, Two Sticks is committed to using healthy, local ingredients and often sells out by the end of the day. 

“My mom gets all our cakes from there, and the gluten-free ones are super yummy,” said sophomore Max Clawson about Two Sticks’ catering. “They also have a really good chocolate chip cookie and their scones are top notch.” 

Joella’s Hot Chicken, a Midwestern fried chicken restaurant, opened January of last year in Bloomington. Inside is a warm, comforting atmosphere with all your classic chicken options, as well as six signature sauces (ranging from the mild ‘Southern’ to the intense ‘Fire-In Da-Hole’). 

Student Eva Stuart went, although she is vegetarian and got Joella’s vegan chicken sandwich. She described it as “flavorless, dry, and disappointing,” though she appreciated the effort to cater to vegetarians. Their regular chicken sandwiches, however, are delicious. Maybe Joella’s still needs to work on their non-meat options. 

Bloomington’s culinary scene is a huge part of what makes our town so great, and we’ll really miss a few of those great establishments. However, the new kids on the block show a lot of promise. Check them out for yourself and see if you find something new you like.