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Monday, December 6, 2021

Bloomington's Coziest Cuisine

Categories: Wine & Culinary

Winter is officially here, and with it comes cozy cuisine inspired by the season's warmth (or lack thereof) and holiday-infused flavors at our local eateries. If you're looking for Bloomington's best season specials and where to find them, you've come to the right place. This is by no means an exhaustive list of every winter-themed dish, drink, and dessert in B-Town, but it'll set you off in the right direction on our snow-lined streets.



A latte from Hopscotch Coffee
Photo by Hopscotch Coffee

Resist the urge to join the Starbucks drive-thru line for a Peppermint Mocha in one of those infamous red cups — instead, check out Soma Coffeehouse & Juice Bar and opt for a Chocolate Candycane, their take on the classic holiday drink. Not feeling minty? Try their Cozy Cabin Latte instead, a drink infused with warming spices and maple, which they say tastes like winter by the fireplace. Looking for other options? Head to Hopscotch Coffee for a sweet & spiced Gingerbread Latte, or make a trip to Crumble Coffee & Bakery for an Eggnog Latte.

Those who prefer tea over coffee should try a Cinnamon Orange Spice Tea Latte from Soma or a Chocolate Cherry Tea from Cup & Kettle Tea Co. Consider yourself a matcha aficionado? The Grinch, a matcha latte with white chocolate and raspberry, is a must at Crumble. Head to any one of these locations to check out their full menus — each coffee shop and teahouse offers an assortment of seasonal specials each year, some of which are new creations and some are favorites that make an appearance each winter!


Santa cookies from Rainbow Bakery
Photo by Rainbow Bakery

What's winter without a delicious baked treat? Bloomington's bakeries, coffeehouses, and cafes all carry an incredibly tasty assortment of seasonal goodies that Santa himself would approve. Try a Ginger Molasses Sandwich Cookie or Sweet Potato, Zucchini & Goat Cheese Hand Pie from Two Sticks Bakery, or a Santa-shaped Sugar Cookie or Sugarplum Donut from Rainbow Bakery. You really can't go wrong anywhere you go — like we mentioned above, every bakery and cafe in town offers a variety of special winter treats that go well beyond what we can list here! 

Some people will tell you, you can't enjoy ice cream during the colder months, but we believe ice cream season is every season. Several local ice creameries agree, offering an assortment of delectable winter-flavored scoops for ice cream fanatics to enjoy as the trees shed their leaves and Jack Frost sets a chill in the air. Head over to Brilliant Coffee Co. for Eggnog gelato, or try a scoop of Candy Cane or Black Raspberry Truffle ice cream from Jiffy Treet. Before you order, ask what their other seasonal flavors are — they usually offer quite a few!


A cup of soup from Southern Stone
Photo by Southern Stone

The cozy cuisine doesn't stop at coffee and sweets in Bloomington. If you're looking for something on the savory side, you can't go wrong with Cajun Meatloaf, Seafood Gumbo, or Pot Roast from Uptown Cafe. Taste of India is another fantastic spot to warm up with cozy flavors — their authentic curry, tikka masala, and vindaloo dishes are some of the best international plates in town.

Looking for restaurants that offer seasonally-inspired menus? Look no further than Cardinal Spirits and Feast Market & Cellar. Both restaurants' charcuterie boards are a must — trust us. Cardinal Spirits' grilled cheese and tomato soup is an old classic, and each plate on Feast's menu is a quirky seasonal delight. Big Woods Bloomington also debuts a few specials every month, this winter's including a Holiday Feast Burger, Cranberry Brown Sugar Meatballs, and more. 

Winter is also peak soup season, and most restaurants in Bloomington offer an assortment of soups, stews, and chili. Janko's Little Zagreb serves a delicious Cream of Mushroom, and Southern Stone offers soup flights in which you can try three of their wildly tasty rotating soups (which include but aren't limited to Roasted Tomato, Asparagus, Mushroom, and Potato Poblano varieties). If you like to try the chili at every establishment you visit, Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream offers an out-of-this-world cup or bowl, and Lennie's Voo Doo Chili is quite famous as well. 


Two people cheers-ing cocktails at Cardinal Spirits
Photo by Cardinal Spirits

We've covered all of the food bases, but now we need to shine a light on the incredible cozy cocktails, wines, and beers produced by local brewers, vintners, and distillers. Cardinal Spirits, Bloomington's only distillery, rolls out a few holiday-themed cocktails each year, this year's being their Spiked Eggnog, Cider House Yules, and Miss Mint cocktails. Made with craft-distilled liquors, their cocktails are just as beautiful as they are delicious — who doesn't love an Instagram foodie moment while traveling?

You'll find a wide variety of winter-flavored beers at Bloomington's five breweries. Switchyard Brewing Co. offers a Chocolate Cherry Stout and Winter Wheat, in addition to a few other seasonal releases. Metal Works Brewing Company offers a Dr. Hops Pumpkin ale, and Lennie's brings back the Java Porter during the winter months. Don't miss Upland Brewing Co.'s line of Teddy Bear Kisses brews, featuring Bourbon Barrel, Orange Zest, and Toasted Coconut flavors. The Tap makes their coffee-flavored Midnight Fuel Stout available to the masses each winter as well. There's a huge variety of seasonal beers to try in B-Town, so add winter beer crawl to your to-do list! 

Several restaurants roll out seasonally-themed cocktails as well — be sure to browse menus online before you choose where to feast on winter flavors during your stay in Bloomington.

While we aren't able to list every single cozy winter dish in B-Town, we can point you toward our Restaurant listings tool if you'd like to discover more seasonal specials and browse regular menus. There are many, many, many winter flavors waiting to dazzle your taste buds during your stay in Bloomington!

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is the Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington. She's also a proud Indiana University alumna, Millennial cat lady, and Formula 1 enthusiast.