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Where to dine in South Bend

Analise Lipari | Tuesday, February 17, 2009

To all you juniors whose parents will be visiting campus this weekend, take heart: There are dining options for you and your guests beyond solely North and South. While football weekend brunches are frenzied and fun, it’s worthwhile to show Mom and Dad more of South Bend than Angela and Edison, especially when you’re looking for places to eat.

The range of restaurants in the South Bend – Mishawaka area is impressive, and different dining establishments will vary in terms of price. Some are definitely student wallet-friendly, such as Fiddler’s Hearth on North Main Street. Others, like Tippecanoe on West Washington Street, are more likely to necessitate Mom or Dad’s wallet instead. If you find yourselves hunting for other dining options, let Scene be your guide to a few local restaurants that you and your parents can enjoy.

Fiddler’s Hearth (127 N. Main, South Bend)

Fiddler’s is, first and foremost, one of the best Irish pubs in town. The décor of the place alone lends it a homey, old country feel, with Guinness advertisements and images of hometown people and places on the walls. On the subject of Guinness and all its friends, the bar and drink menu include an impressive number of Irish, English and Scottish ales and brews. The pub also offers a full soft drink menu for patrons who aren’t quite of legal age.

While dining may not seem like your first priority when heading out to a pub, rest assured that the menu at Fiddler’s does not disappoint. Options run from standard American pub fare like hamburgers, to more traditional Irish dishes, including the Molly Malone stew and the menu’s various types of boxty, a.k.a. Ireland’s pseudo-equivalent to savory crepes that deserve praise in their own right. If you’re in the mood to be adventurous, get Mom or Dad to order a plate of curry fries or a Ploughman’s Lunch – the smell of the cheeses alone is worth its low price.

One tip: Arrive earlier in the day when possible, as live music on most weekends will often invite a larger crowd on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Emporium (121 S. Niles Avenue, South Bend)

While arguably the best time to check out the Emporium, situated along the St. Joe River, is during warmer weather, when al fresco dining won’t give you and your parents frostbite, the restaurant is still a viable option for you to check out this weekend. The Emporium’s historic setting was actually a tavern more than a century ago, and the building itself was eventually restored and refinished to its current condition.

Much of the dinner menu at the Emporium is divided between seafood options and grilled steak entrees. Seafood choices include shrimp tempura, sautéed walleye and tilapia Oscar, served with the traditional preparation of Alaskan king crab, asparagus and a béarnaise sauce. Prices generally range from $10 to $20 for the menu’s main entrees. Other options include pasta dishes, combination plates and a lower-priced “Casual Side” menu with such items as salads, pitas and kabobs.

A note to students: watch Scene for an upcoming review of the Emporium.

Tippecanoe Place Restaurant (620 E. Washington Street, South Bend)

If you land a reservation at Tippecanoe, you and your parents will really be in for a treat. The building itself is a beautiful old mansion built by none other than Clem Studebaker himself in 1889, and the menu is equally high-end and traditional.

The dining options at Tippecanoe range in price from $18 to $24 per entrée, with the Lobster tail depending on market prices. Highlights on the menu include charbroiled lamb chops, served with curried bell peppers and onions; their “House Specialty,” the prime rib of beef, with the Classic, Traditional and Studebaker cuts made available; roasted Indiana duckling, served with a sauce of raspberries and dried cherries; and charbroiled Ahi tuna, topped with a basil pesto.

Some other highlights include:

Trios Restaurant and Jazz Club (129 N Michigan St, South Bend)

Open for both lunch and dinner, Trio’s offers a sophisticated atmosphere for those looking to experience a different kind of night out. Highlights from the dinner menu include chicken Saltimbocca, blackened beef tenderloin medallions, and St. Louis-style barbecue pork ribs.

Also, this weekend’s scheduled jazz performances at Trio’s include the Billy Nicks Quartet, a traditional jazz organ combo scheduled for Friday, and the Chris Greene Quartet, a jazz combo headlining on Saturday.

Note: the Trio’s Web site can take reservations for dinner.

Macri’s Italian Bakery & Restaurant and Carmela’s Restaurant (214 N. Niles Ave, South Bend)

Recently reviewed in The Observer, Macri’s offers its customers a fun, casual dining experience. Options include traditional savory Italian items, deli sandwiches, salads, and a variety of baked goods and Italian pastries. First time and returning visitors should try the Italian Grinder and Sicilian Turkey sandwiches, two of the menu’s most popular items.

Carmela’s is a somewhat more upscale bistro attached to Macri’s, featuring its own menu of traditional and new Italian classics.

Note: Making a reservation at Carmela’s is recommended, but there’s no need to call ahead to Macri’s itself.

Lula’s Café (1631 Edison Rd, South Bend)

Also recently reviewed in The Observer, Lula’s is a fun, funky coffeehouse-style dining experience. Students looking to grab a quick, casual bite to eat with Mom and Dad would do well to bring the folks to Lula’s, which is within easy walking distance of the Notre Dame campus. Highlights from the menu include their hummus, served with warm pita and blue corn chips; the menu’s varied soups and sandwiches; and the new Lagniappe menu, with several wrap and salad options.