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Not all of us have the ability to make it back to Chicago for a steak dinner after a home game for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, particularly after those pesky night games. Many people are in town for the weekend, or they are looking to partake in eating some local grub. South Bend actually has a lot to offer in regard to restaurants and great places to eat. There are many hidden gems.
As a local 574-er now (don’t call me a townie, though, I’m a transplant), I have been privvy to the copious options that South Bend and the surrounding area has to offer for post-game meals. We have excellent options here, and I want to present them to all of you Irish fans and home game-goers.
Now, here it is, the definitive and totally scientific ranking of the Top 10 places to eat a post-game meal in South Bend and the local area. Please note that these are also fantastic places to eat any day of the week, not just after games. Also, there are no places on this list in Eddy Street Commons, right across from campus. These places are more like sports bars, and would be fun after the game, but they will most definitely be packed with people.
The Top 10
10. Salsa’s Mexican Grill
Salsa’s is one of the best Mexican restaurants in the area, IMO. It has fantastic food, great drinks, table-side guac, and is pretty spacious. This is in Mishawaka a bit off the normal path, but it is probably about 10 minutes from campus. This might not be the vibe after a game, but if you want to sit down to enjoy some quality food, go to Salsa’s.
9. Villa Macri
This Italian restaurant is located in the very bougie Granger, IN. It is probably 15-20 minutes away from campus, but it is worth it. It could be a bit less crowded on the weekends of home games if you time it right. They have excellent Italian food, but it is a bit fancier. A great place to relax with family/friends and have some cocktails and Italian food.
8. Wing’s Etc.
I literally just ate this for dinner. They have pretty damn good chicken wings. But, don’t sleep on the “Etc.” part at this restaurant. If you want to go to a place like BDubs or your favorite wings place, this is probably the Indiana equivalent, but better. The wings are good, and you can find great burgers, sandwiches, and other goodies. This is more a casual, sports bar environment. There are multiple locations in the area, so there are a few close to campus. This would be higher on the list for their food, but these could be absolutely flooded with people even if they aren’t close to campus. They could be busy, so you might have to wait a bit for a table. But, if you do wait, you won’t be disappointed. Great for take out food as well.
7. JW Chen’s
This place is absolutely fantastic. It is a small sit-in Chinese restauarant with awesome food. Jean Chen, the owner, will come around to your tables to take your order. She is this sweet woman that makes you feel right at home. It is right off campus on State Road 23, right in that plaza about 3 blocks east from the football practice field. This would also be higher on the list of my favorite South Bend restaurants, but for this list it sits in the bottom half because it is close to campus, so people could flock to it right after the final whistle. Also, it is very small inside and not conducive for large groups of people. There are no TVs either, so if you wanted to continue to watch the day’s games, you cannot there. However, the food is bomb, and you could always take out there too.
6. Crooked Ewe Brewery
This place is actually my favorite place in South Bend. It is a few miles directly south of campus, and it sits on the St. Joseph River. They have one of the best selections of beer for any local brewery. Their food is damn good, but they do try to make it sound and look a bit too hipster. There is an outside porch area to take in the views of the St. Joe River. Again, no TVs here either. If you go, though, there is ample space. You will enjoy your time here if you ever go to this establishment.
5. Rocky River Tap and Table
Rocky River is a bit more upscale, but this place is amazing. It is also in Granger, so a little far away from campus. However, they have an expansive and awesome beer list. They are all about their food and beers being local and having local, fresh ingredients. Therefore, the beers offered are mostly local, and their food includes some excellent and fresher dishes. It is a bit father from campus, but they have some places to sit down and enjoy a meal and/or watch some games. If you get food there, I recommend the chicken pot pie. It’s fire.
So, I know this obviously isn’t local, as it is a pretty popular chain. However, I will always go to bat for this food. This Italian food they serve is excellent. I love eating their food. The Carrabba’s in the area is in Mishawaka, just across the street from Salsa’s. Again, especially if you get there maybe over an hour or so after the game ends, you shouldn’t have much of an issue getting a place to sit down and eat. Obviously it is tougher to watch a game here, but it is a fantastic establishment. Good drinks and carbed up foods after a day of a tailgating and taking in the game.
SO many great things to say about Fiddler’s Hearth. It sits right in the heart of Downtown South Bend. It is close to campus, and very accessible right on Main Street. It is an Irish pub that looks exactly like how an Irish pub should. Authentic food. Great Irish beer selections. Live Irish music on Friday and Saturday nights. It is always seat yourself, and it is a bar but you can always bring families in any time they are open. It is an awesome place to sit and enjoy some good food, a cool atmosphere, and great company. Especially after an Irish win, it is cool to keep the spirit alive here at Fiddler’s.
Rocco’s is a South Bend/Notre Dame institution. Family-owned and always well-known by the whole community. Rocco’s, to me, has the best pizza in town. Just go there. The only reason that this place is not #1 is because it is SO close to campus (right down Notre Dame Ave.) and seemingly EVERYONE goes there on football weekends. It is the classic place to bring parents if you’re a college student. It gets insanely busy, so it is tough to get in there easily. However, it is phenomenal pizza. Again, take out is an option.
In Memoriam choice #1: K’s
I can’t even find a picture because it has been unfortunately closed for so long now. When I was growing up and going to games, we would almost always go to K’s after games. It, to me, was the quintessential post-game restaurant. It had everything - pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches. It had those old checkered, cloth table cloths and multiple TVs. It was just off campus on 23 right down the street from JW Chen’s. It was the greatest place, and it was so sad when it closed. If you had ever been, especially in the 2000s, then you know how great that place was.
In Memoriam choice #2: Main Street Pub
This pub/tavern, also just on State Road 23 very close to campus, was a place with solid food. It was your classic “backyard grill” that most people would have had in their suburban areas. It was just comfortable and a good place to relax with good, but not the best food. I had a great appreciation for it. Always left satisfied with both food and libations. Unfortunately, it became a new Coach’s location a couple years ago, but now that is even getting changed. Sigh.
Finally. The #1 post game place in South Bend. There are two locations - one in downtown South Bend on Jefferson, and one in Mishawaka on Grape and Edison. Both are pretty much equidistant from campus. If Rocco’s is the #1 pizza, Barnaby’s is 1a. It is up for strong consideration to be the best pizza in town. It is just incredible. Plus, as you see above, they have a cool, old-school pizza parlor vibe. Good alcohol options as well. It’s a simple place, but it has bomb pizza and a relaxing vibe. You would definitely enjoy your time if you chose to eat your post game meal at Barnaby’s.
There You Have It
A plethora of options for when you come to South Bend for games. Enjoy the great eats and drinks.
Do you have other options that I missed? Do you want to laud my list as Gospel? Please comment and let me know.