If you’re reading this and thinking, “who the heck cares about the healthy options in a small town in Indiana?,” I can’t blame you! I never thought I would write recommendations for my little hometown but I have received a shocking number of requests for restaurant and workout recommendations in South Bend, so here they are! Whether you’re a South Bend native or just visiting for a Notre Dame football game, I hope these recommendations come in handy.
This guide has five categories: restaurants, coffee shops, groceries, workouts, and other. I describe my top recommendations and list some honorable mentions in each category. The asterisks after each name indicates the price: most asterisks means it is more expensive (though this is South Bend we’re talking about so all the prices are pretty ridiculously low).
Take a look and let me know what you think! If there is anything I forgot, I would love to know 🙂
Just about everyone knows how much I adore Uptown Kitchen. My love affair with this modern American brunch spot started with blueberry and banana pancakes way back in the day and continued when I went paleo with that.paleo.hash. Yes, they made my order a special one weekend called that.paleo.hash. I died.
The menu has tons of healthy options and almost anything can be made GF (including pancakes and waffles). The staff is super accommodating of any special requests or allergies – no one will roll their eyes at your mile-long order here. My order every time: Jonathan’s Healthy Hash, sub sweet potatoes for potatoes, add avocado, eggs over easy, no toast. Try it and thank me later.
Open for breakfast/brunch/lunch 7 days a week. Located about 10 minutes away from campus, next door to OrangeTheory Fitness.
This local Lebanese restaurant is one of South Bend’s best kept secrets. The food is made from scratch with high-quality ingredients so those with allergies or dietary restrictions can feel free to indulge in the dips and salad dressings. I love the baba ganoush with veggies instead of pita, shish taouk with house salad, and, of course, their infamous garlic paste. You will smell like garlic for days afterwards but I promise it’s worth it.
Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Walking distance from campus!
Aladdin’s is another great Lebanese restaurant with a very similar menu located a bit further from campus. I have always been partial to Elia’s but Aladdin’s has some delicious features like chicken & veggie soup (ya’ll know I love soup) and fresh pressed vegetable juices.
My favorite downtown co-op has an adorable cafe that I love to visit for lunch. The options are pretty limited and mostly vegan, but their house kale salad is to DIE for and they always have fun things like cashew hummus and GF/DF desserts. Plus, you can feel good knowing that anything you eat was grown and/or made locally. Full of good vibes.
Grocery store and cafe open 7 days a week. Less than 5 minutes from campus.
This farm-to-table restaurant is a great choice for a date or dinner out with friends because it’s reasonably priced and anyone could find something to order on the menu! I’m always a little bummed that the restaurant doesn’t have more healthy and/or GF options and that they use canola oil, but the vast majority of their ingredients come from local farms and the food is delicious. Many menu items change seasonally but their burger without a bun is always a good choice.
Open for lunch and dinner. Located about 15 minutes from campus.
This is by far and away one of the most interesting restaurants in South Bend. The menu incorporates exotic meats and the food is almost always cleverly displayed, which makes the dining experience fun. The ingredients are extremely high quality and the chef is incredible. I have only been twice but I would LOVE to go back (hint hint mom and dad).
Open for dinner. Located less than 10 minutes from campus.
South Bend’s finest local steakhouse. This restaurant prioritizes high-quality, local ingredients and the simple food preparation is exquisite. The kitchen uses extra-virgin olive oil and the waiters can list the ingredients of every sauce and salad dressing off the tops of their heads (very impressive, I know) so don’t be afraid to trust them with your dietary restrictions. Most dishes are naturally gluten free so go nuts! I would HIGHLY recommend the ribeye steak if it’s on the menu.
Open for dinner. Located downtown, less than 10 minutes from campus.
Lasalle Kitchen & Tavern is the steakhouse’s gastropub which has a huge drink menu, food at a more affordable price, and live music many nights.
Another fine dining option in downtown South Bend that has an almost entirely GF menu. This is another kitchen that prioritizes local, high-quality ingredients but their dishes have a fresh feeling and often have an interesting twist. I always feel like I ate extremely well, both in terms of quantity and quality, when I leave here.
Open for lunch (which is super affordable) and dinner. Located downtown, about 5 minutes from campus.
Render Kitchen & Bar***: creative small plates with lots of GF/DF options!
Crooked Ewe**: bar & restaurant with a super interesting menu and great atmosphere. Lots of GF & vegan options.
Cambodian Thai**: great Thai food with tons of GF/DF options.
Simply Pressed Juice*: fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and acai bowls.
Mango Cafe*: 100% GF Venezuelan food right by campus.
Super down-to-earth atmosphere and outstanding coffee (they use Zen Cafe beans). They offer dairy-free milk options and will also make any sandwich on their menu into a salad (but they can’t prevent cross contamination for those with celiac). Great place to post up and work for the morning.
Open pretty much all day, every day. Located less than 5 minutes from campus, right by the river.
It took me a while to find this cafe as it is located in an unmarked, somewhat dilapidated building – but don’t let that scare you off! This place serves Zen Cafe coffee in an environment that makes you feel like you’re cool even if you’re not. Another great spot to post up to get some work done.
Open 7 days a week with slightly limited hours on Sunday. Located about 10 minutes from campus.
The South Bend Farmers’ Market is AWESOME! It’s open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays year-round (plus Fridays in the summer) and it always boasts an impressive array of locally grown produce and locally made goods. You won’t find trendy vegan treats or anything like that, but you will find amazing prices on organic produce, well-raised meats, and flowers. My weekend is not complete without a visit to the Farmers’ Market!
Open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays (summer only), and Saturdays from 7 am to 3 pm. Located on the river about 10 minutes from campus.
As I mentioned above, the Purple Porch is my favorite downtown co-op. It has a very small grocery store but the selection is extremely impressive: locally grown, organic produce; kombucha on top; bulk bins; healthy treats and snacks. The prices can be a little steep but you know you are paying for quality and ethical practices. Highly recommend supporting this wonderful place!
This is, not surprisingly, where I do the majority of my shopping because it is a one-stop shop for me. I also love to treat myself to the salad/hot foods bar. Don’t think I need to say much more about it but thank God South Bend got a Whole Foods.
Open every day. Located less than 10 minutes from campus.
Fresh Thyme: sort of like the midwest version of Sprouts but not as good (in my opinion). Has good options from popular brands and random great deals on meats.
Martin’s Supermarket: local grocery chain that has convenient locations. It is actually more expensive than Whole Foods if you’re looking for healthy foods but conveniently located very close to campus.
Meijer: can have good deals on organic produce.
Nutrition Works: tiny health foods store with supplements, produce, sprouted nuts, a juice and smoothie bar, and more.
Kristy Newlands and Susan Helms are my two favorite Pilates instructors in South Bend. They both teach once a week at ICE Athletic Center and offer private lessons (for a VERY reasonable price) out of their homes. Send me a message if you are interested in private classes and I can put you in touch with them.
A local studio that offers Pilates and yoga classes as well as massage and acupuncture. I do not have a favorite class but I will drop in occasionally. Prices are reasonable and they often have deals running. Sign up for classes using the MindBody app. Memberships are available and reasonable if you use it enough.
This boutique fitness chain opened its doors in South Bend about a year ago and has been super popular ever since! The HIIT-style classes are HARD and will definitely make you sweat. Single classes are pricey but memberships are pretty reasonable and they offer discounts for ND students.
Crossfit 574: I don’t personally Crossfit but my friend Chelssie owns this gym and it is only about 5-10 minutes from campus.
PureBarre: this chain has a new location right on the edge of campus.
B Present: a local barre studio that is very popular with students.
I consider Sean Harrison (also called Me Irish Hands) to be the best and most reasonably priced masseuse in South Bend. You can contact me for his contact info.
Therapeutic Indulgence downtown offers massage, reflexology, and more holistic care services.
Physician’s HolisticHealth Alliance (PHA) offers holistic care, particularly for expectant mothers. They also offer wellness classes and cleanses that are very popular. I work with Dr. Susan Hart-Cavallo (a certified GAPS practitioner) but she is no longer accepting patients.
My rheumatologist is Dr. Natali Balog at the South Bend Clinic. She is a very traditional doctor but she knows her stuff and cares deeply about her patients.
I have not found a gastroenterologist that I would recommend in the area.
There are a number of functional medicine practices in the area as well, including Integrative Health & Wellness.