#209: Watch "MICHIANA MIX: Profile on Young Adults in Michiana" on WNIT tonight

If you don't live under a rock, you might have noticed that recently, South Bend has attracted a bit of national media attention... and some of us think it's been pretty uncreative, unfair, misguided, and frankly, wrought with ulterior motives.  There's absolutely no need to brush aside our serious challenges as a city, but it's important to characterize our strengths and weaknesses accurately.  And tonight, a live television discussion will attempt to do just that.

Often cited as one of the bend's shortcomings, a strong population of young adults is a crucial indicator of a city's health, vibrancy, and future.  Tonight on WNIT Channel 34, you'll have a chance to hear from about 50 young people who not only live in the area, but are making impressive efforts to improve our home and make it a place where more young professionals will come to live and work.

Personally, I'm of the frame of mind that criticism can be made constructive and no one can make you feel inferior without your consent (a little love to E. Roosevelt for that nugget-o-wisdom).  Hopefully, we'll see a productive and constructive conversation tonight.

Be a part of it, and tune in at 8 pm for a LIVE broadcast of MICHIANA MIX: Profile on Young Adults in Michiana on WNIT Channel 34.  Submit your questions for Michana's young professionals here.

(And after the show, it's the after party.  And after the party, it's the hotel lobby.  Okay, maybe [or hopefully] this won't be like an R.Kelly song... but like any well-organized event for young adults, there's rumored to be an afterparty somewhere downtown, which will almost definitely be quite the thing to do in South Bend tonight.)

#208: Eat. Drink. DTSB.

You've probably seen notifications on Facebook about this, a few tweets on Twitter, and maybe even those old fashion paper posters hung up around town... but it's finally here!  Downtown South Bend's Restaurant Week! 

While I might prefer some encouragement to go to the gym, the incredible deals offered at 16 of South Bend's best restaurants are quite the incentives to dine out in DTSB and put your summer diet on the back burner until the end of Restaurant Week.  Last night, I went to LaSalle Grill with some friends to check out their 3 course meal for only $25.  Tell me where or when else you can get a portabella stuffed mushroom, grilled single cut filet, and creme brulee for $25.  Other participating restaurants are also offering 3 course deals for $25, 2 dinners for $25, and even lunch deals.  All of the menus and tasty deals, can be found HERE.

This downtown-wide feeding frenzy isn't just easy on your wallet.  It's also quite the gastronomic adventure.  You'll find some of South Bend's most well respected restaurants on this list, featuring many of their classic dishes along side rarely offered specials.

Visit any of these restaurants between now and July 9th to indulge in South Bend's finest and most frugal dining:
The Vine
Sunny Italy Cafe
Fiddler's Hearth
LaSalle Grill
Tippecanoe Place
Buffalo Wild Wings
Backstage Grill
Carmela's at Macri's
South Bend Chocolate Cafe
Siam Thai
East Bank Emporium

#207: Unity Garden Luau

Sooo you might have noticed that we warned you about all of these events happening last weekend - we really really built it up - the energy was palpable!  And then... we didn't post anything for almost a week.

Well... if that tells you anything, it should betray the fact that we became a little too busy with all of those events to update the blog.  Our bad.

It hurts me a little to say that this infrequency will not be immediately remedied.  I will be out of town until early next week, and my fellow 365-blogger will be out of town from now until August.  Please continue to check in and send us post ideas!  We'll try to keep you informed of great things going on this Michiana summer!

Just to hold you over until we return....

This Saturday, Unity Gardens is hosting a luau at LaSalle Square from 11 am to 2 pm.  It sounds like one of those environmentally-friendly, family-friendly, and friend-friendly events.  Tickets are $10 for either a grilled burger or portabello mushroom burger meal.  All proceeds support The Unity Gardens.  You can find tickets at Junk Evolution on the corner of Hill and Colfax.  If you know of other ticket-selling locations, please let us know about it in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend!

#206: World Refugee Day

Continuing with the weekend festivities... add World Refugee Day to your Saturday agenda!  The St. Joseph County chapter of the American Red Cross is hosting this downtown event, highlighting the plight of refugees around the world and in our own backyard.  It sounds like this event will festively add a little flair to downtown South Bend with some live music, a variety of food, and a lively celebration of culture from every corner of the globe.  Find more information on World Refugee Day and even learn how to participate by sharing your favorite food here on the Red Cross website.

Where: Downtown South Bend, between Wayne and Jefferson Street at 217 S. Michigan Street
When: Saturday June 18th, 11 am to 2 pm
Cost: This event is free and open to the public

Click here to listen to Executive Director John Pinter speaking about World Refugee Day on NPR.

#205: Leeper Park Art Fair

Well, in the past week, we've featured two fests, and a festival, and we're about to highlight a few festivals in upcoming post, so it's only fair we blog about a fair.  (No pun intended.)
The Leeper Park Art Fair is taking place this weekend, and it's only one of the longest running festivals in the area, now going on its 44th year.  It's sponsored by the St. Joe Valley Watercolor Society, but by no means is the art on display (and for sale!) limited to this medium -- you can find photography, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, ....the list goes on.

There will be more than 120 artists' booths in this shady spot by the river.  Each artist had to apply for a space to promote their work, and there is prize money for winning pieces, so this fair also functions as a curated art show of sorts.  The convenient location off Michigan (and park setting) make it a very accessible "day at the gallery" for children, dogs, or anyone whose attention to art is generally short.  If you enjoyed ArtBeat or Arts Cafe, this is not an event to miss.

Give yourself sufficient time to wind your way through all the offerings and be your own jury, picking out your favorite pieces.  If you plan on attending Saturday's EcoFest, it's a wonderful way to extend your day outdoors.

Saturday, June 18, 10 am - 6pm
Sunday, June 19, 10 am - 5pm
Where: Seriously? Leeper Park.  900 N. Michigan Ave., next to the river, across from the Northshore Triangle.
Cost: Free to browse!  Refreshments and art vary in price.

#204: EcoFest at Howard Park

Another guest post! And this one is from a longtime friend and perhaps the original 365 South Bend fan.  She's been around since our amateur days when we only talked incessantly about our adventures, instead of actually writing about them.  Since this Saturday and Sunday are busting-at-the-seams with events, we're starting the weekend a little bit early with a preview post on EcoFest.  Comment on this post or write on our Facebook wall with more events going on this weekend!

I work here in South Bend at a place bustling with activity, and it's easy to get bogged down by the constant barrage of events and fairs happening in Michiana, especially in the summertime. But I wanted to post to alert readers to Ecofest, an event slated for Saturday, June 18, from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM in Howard Park.

"Not another green event," you say. (I can hear you groaning. No, really.) But Downtown South Bend isn't throwing another informational fair to give the same old reduce-reuse-recycle speech. To embrace a more holistic understanding of global stewardship, the city is trying to spread the message that "green" isn't all about paper and plastic but about living better. Whether that means shopping at the Farmer's Market, where you can learn the difference between a cucumber and a pickle from the farmer who grows them (They're not the same vegetable! I asked!); or riding a bicycle to work because you're tired of road construction; or listening to music in the park instead of watching television, "green" is a pretty sweet idea.

So come on over to Howard Park, see how high the river has risen, enjoy some live music, climb a rock wall, watch a professional bicycle race, and check out all the exhibits with tips and ideas for living greener. We'll try to surprise you, I promise.

Here are the details again:

Where: Howard Park, South Bend
When: Saturday June 18, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Tip: Come ready to shop and score some great swag.  Local organizations and businesses bring great items available for sale... or even for free.

#203: St. Andrew's Greek Festival

Just a few minute south of the Michigan border and a 15 minute drive north of downtown South Bend, you can find a little corner of Greece this weekend.  St. Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church is celebrating their Mediterranean roots this Saturday and Sunday with a festival fit for the Gods of Mount Olympus.  You'll find carnival games and a climbing wall for the kids, traditional Greek dancing for the adventurous or musically-inclined, and then there's the food.... oh dear god, the food...

From spanakopita to souvlaki, baklava to kataife, and gyros to huge chunks of feta cheese, you will not leave St. Andrew's Greek Festival hungry.  This summer fest features all of the classic Grecian dishes.  Last night, we stopped by the fest for dinner, and between the two of us, we had a modest meal of spanakopita, Greek salad, gyros, a few pastries, and a couple beers.  Suffices to say that we both left very happy and very full.

Where: 52455 Ironwood Road, South Bend
When: Saturday, 12 pm to 11 pm and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm
Cost:  General admission for the festival is $3 after 4 pm on Saturday and $2 after 2 pm on Sunday.  Children under 12 are free.
Tip: Gyros are only 5 tickets ($5) and the best deal on the menu by far. Of course, don't miss the pastries.  Do yourself a favor and take a break from your swim-suit-season diet.  This food is to die for.
Parking: Free - located to the north and west of the church

Missing out on the food at this event would be foolish, but failing to experience to energy and hospitality of South Bend's Greek community would be a serious mistake.  Not unlike having Polish sausage and noodles on Dyngus Day or corn beef and hash on St. Patrick's Day, enjoying a gyros and Keo under the blue and white tent at St. Andrew's is not just about food - it's about community, family, heritage, the good life, and yes, a good meal.  Like the banner on the back of the stage encourages "Experience the Greek life. Join the fun!"

#202: South Bend Blues and Ribs Fest

Only one letter differentiates "fest" and "feast", but I think the South Bend Blues and Ribs Fest will bring these two words together even further.  Among the many festivals this summer, this one in particular is a feast, both for your ears and your tastebuds.

In its inaugural year, the South Bend Parks & Recreation Department has booked some premier blues artists.  The Elwood Splinter's Blues Band, Michael Burkes, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, and Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers will be performing.  Their musical styles represent a range of sounds, drawing from either coast, with a hefty dose of Chicago jazz style thrown in.  A unique aspect of music festivals is the variety of music offered, and if you don't listen to blues much (yes, I'm guilty as charged!), you will likely hear something that you dig.  This lively but laidback musical style might just become part of the summer soundtrack.

In regard to food, variety is again a feature.  Area vendors and restaurants, including Lincolnway Cafe, Hillybilly Deluxe, and Fisher's Tips and Chips, will be selling ribs and other barbeque offerings.  And for those who may not be rib fans, Fiddler's Hearth, Bruno's Pizza, Island Snow, and a beer tent will be offering other forms of nourishment.

Whether it's Rod Piazza's virtuoso harmonica playing or Lincolnway Cafe's smokey ribs that draws you to the riverfront, bring your lawn chair out to the river to celebrate the summer. 

When: Sat., June 11, from 2pm - 10pm.  "Doors" open at noon.
Where: Howard Park
Cost: $16 beforehand, $21 at the door.

Click here for the line-up and to purchase tickets.

Tip: Don't have the bones to buy a tickets?  Set up your feast across the river at the office complex for a DIY festival experience.  But proceed do raise money for building baseball fields at Miracle Park, a proposed complex at Blackthorn for special needs children and adults.

Photos from Saturday:
Big crowds at Howard Park

Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers
View of the stage from the ribs line

The wait: over an hour.... and the ribs: worth it

The aftermath (we were too starved to get any before pictures)

#201: Shortcakes on the Blacktop

If you haven't already, you have 3 more hours to head over to St. James Cathedral in downtown South Bend on Lafayette Boulevard and grab some deeeeelicious summer strawberry shortcakes.  These homemade desserts are available to dine-in or carry-out, and the sweetest part is that all proceeds will benefit St. Margaret's House, Habitat for Humanity, and Bridges Out of Poverty.

In the interest of time, we'll keep it short(cake) and sweet.

When:11:00 am to 5:30 pm
Where: the blacktop of St. James Cathedral, 117 North Lafayette Blvd
Cost: $5 for fresh strawberries, homemade shortcake, ice cream, and whipped cream

So get off the computer, and go enjoy some philanthropically delicious delights in this (unexpected) sunny weather!

#200: Palladio Conference and Exhibit at the Snite Museum

Between school being out and the high temperatures, the mere thought of mental exertion might seem like too much effort.  Fight the summer laze and rally to the (air-conditioned) Snite Museum for its new exhibit of Andrea Palladio's drawings.  His classical architecture style is reflected in the White House, Monticello, and yes, even the domed courthouse here in South Bend.   The traveling exhibit at South Bend features 31 of his original drawings as well as antique books and exquisitely detailed models.  It's a wonderful introduction to how the Greek and Roman architectural styles were revived in the 16th century and eventually became the hallmark style for democratic government buildings.
Palladio's villa at Vicenza, Italy
To complement this special exhibit, which runs through July 31, the Notre Dame School of Architecture is coordinating a three-day conference, "From Vernacular to Classical: The Perpetual Modernity of Palladio".  (Say what?!  They'll be discussing Palladio's influence and where it appears today.)  Come to this event to meet some of the top classical architects of today.  Also occurring, Stone Mason Travis Kline, ND ’03, will build a Palladian jack-arch using Bybee Limestone throughout the conference.

And just like the movies in the infamous Disney Vault, Palladio's drawings are only on a short global tour before they return to London, where they'll be stored for another 20+ years.  It's a coup for South Bend to attract such a noteworthy collection and world-renowned visitors, so shake off the dog day laze to take advantage.

Where: Snite Museum of Art
Call: (574) 631-5466
When: Open Tu-Sun, check here for hours and parking information
Cost: The Snite Museum and Palladio exhibit is free, but conference fees do apply if you wish to participate in the sessions and dinners.

#199: ShoLo Focus Business at the Oliver Inn

If you're a South Bend resident and you haven't splurged on a stay-cation, you likely have not had much reason to explore the local accommodations.  And so, like myself, you may have wandered past The Oliver Inn, curiously gazing at its impeccably preserved Queen Anne's exterior, wondering what might lie inside this century-old Victorian bed-and-breakfast.
Magnificent in the winter... 
...and in the spring. 
Well, fellow window-gazers, tonight's our chance.  ShoLo -- a dynamic group of small business owners and customers who support and promote "buying local" -- is sponsoring a Focus Business event at The Oliver Inn.  Not only will there be the chance to talk to some of the engaging and energetic ShoLo crowd, but also innkeepers Thomas and Alice Erlandson are opening up some rooms at the inn to show attendees...and serving wine and light refreshments in the garden.

An event like this encapsulates South Bend's finest characteristics: warm hospitality, an open welcome to all interested, a significant history rooted in an industrial past (the house's original owner, James Oliver, manufactured Oliver plows), and a current generation who respects the past while seeking out new ways to develop and foster the local community.

Where: The Oliver Inn, 630 W. Washington St.
When: 5:00-7:00 pm tonight, June 7th
No cost, open house style.

To learn more about the history, awards, and amenities of The Oliver Inn, visit their website here.

For more information about ShoLo, whether you're a business looking to join, or a resident looking to purchase a value card that gets you discounts at member businesses, their website has all the information you need.

#198: McKinley Pub

With temperatures creeping up into the 90s for the next couple days, I think we'll all need a nice cold beer.  At McKinley Pub, shockingly located on McKinley Avenue, you'll find just that... plus, some decor to remind you of colder days.  

I apologize for the dark photos, but the Christmas lights hung around this bar didn't provide the ideal lighting for photographing.  Yes, that's right, folks...Christmas decor.  All year long.  When I first heard about this place, I expected gaudy, overwhelming, giant plastic Rudolphs, but the yuletide-thing McKinley Pub has going on is a bit more understated than one might anticipate... even subtle.  A few evergreen wreaths, some colored strings of lights, and a couple Santa's hanging on the walls (maybe in the bathrooms, if I remember correctly). 

Location: 2930 McKinley Avenue, South Bend
Hours: 3 pm to 3 am Sun - Fri and 12 pm to 3 am Sat
Tip: They have a great old CD jukebox, and I'm almost positive that you'll find Mariah Carey's "All I  Want For Christmas Is You" on there, but probably not as much Bing Crosby as most Christmas music fans would prefer.

So as South Bend begins to swelter, head over to the winter wonderland of McKinley Pub and cool down with a cold beer as memories of Christmas flood your mind and cool your spirit.

#197: Let's Spoon Frozen Yogurt

A few months ago, I spent a week in Los Angeles, home of the South Beach diet/raw food movement/food truck craze, and one place that my friend insisted I must try (in addition to In-N-Out Burger) was Pinkberry.  As someone who write her college admission essay about "Ice Cream & Its Important Role in My Life",  I was highly skeptical of this whole yogurt fad.  However, my visit to Pinkberry challenged my misgivings.  The tart yogurt, topped with my eclectic selection -- strawberries, mochi balls, and chocolate chips -- was not too filling for a post-dinner snack, but satisfying enough to end the night on a sweet note.  I was hooked, and as soon as I returned home, I was wishing that South Bend would somehow snag a Pinkberry (and In-N-Out).
 Needless to say, I was happy to hear that Let's Spoon Frozen Yogurt was setting up shop at the busy 23-Angela intersection.  One hot and sunny afternoon, some friends and I stopped in for a mid-day, post-sunburn snack, and again, this yogurt fad won me over again.  Let's Spoon, as opposed to Pinkberry, is self-serve, charging $0.45 an ounce for whatever crazy combination you're craving that day.  Thin Mint non-fat yogurt swirled with cake batter low-fat yogurt, with sprinkles and kiwi?  You got it.  A dollop of tart yogurt with brownie bites and crushed Andes mints?  Why not.  They even have the mochi balls that I thought were so exotic and Californian.
The ability to fully customize your order sets this place apart from other ice cream/frozen treat shops, and the blackboard in the back encourages customers to share the combo they put together.  When you need a cool treat for these dog days of summer, it's the perfect stop for picky eaters, for the lactose-intolerant, for small and big stomachs alike.

Where: 1635 Edison Road
When: Sun-Th, 11am-9pm; F-Sat, 11am-10pm
Call: (574) 243-5847
On its Facebook page (accessed here), Let's Spoon owner asks for yogurt flavor suggestions and announce the newest flavors.

A Reflection on Sunburst

We are lucky enough to feature a poetic reflection on yesterday's Sunburst races and festivities, written by none other than the winner of the 10K race!  Congrats, Craig!!  Perhaps his post will serve as motivation for those of us (...myself included) who didn't take part in the races this year.  Also - a BIG congrats to my fellow 365-blogger who ran the half marathon (and finished well below her targeted time).  Way to go, TJ!!

The Sunburst races have a reputation in South Bend for ushering in the intense heat of summer and corralling the ambitions of thousands who wish to test their strength against the heat; runners travel from places as foreign as California to run in one of the handful of races that the Sunburst offers, though most come from states and cities only a short drive from Michiana. This year, the 28th running of the Sunburst, stylishly played its traditional role -- and that's a good thing.

As the sun crested the College Football Hall of Fame and smacked the top of the tallest building in town, the Holiday Inn, music pumped from an impromptu stage set up on a sidewalk at the crossway of Michigan and Washington, a carnival out of place among coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques. Invisible, the heat crept up on the scene like a curious horse stalking a stableman who toils away in a tack room. Its strength intensified as more runners jogged, ambled and strode to the starting line and huddled in a gigantic school like fish in a river -- they paced anxiously, swayed from one leg to the other, and jumped around, letting time pass ever so slowly until the sharp *ping* of the starting gun signaled the start of the 5K race. It was only 7:15 a.m., but the conditions already resembled those of a late July afternoon. The romantics who signed up for the marathon got a head start to try to best the ineluctable pace of the sun's rise to the center of the sky. At this time, Ryan Greutman, the lead runner and eventual champion, had not yet passed the halfway mark, one hour and twenty-two minutes left to run until he crossed the finish line in Notre Dame Stadium. Any thoughts of him, or the hundreds of other marathoners trudging away somewhere along the course, slipped from the atmosphere as the runners heard, "Ready! Set!" and then fired a blank bullet into the early June air. The 5k had begun.

Typically the race with the most participants, the 5k saw over 4,000 runners toe its course. They rushed by onlookers, family members and those waiting to race the half marathon or the 10k. Ten minutes after all of the 5k runners had cleared from the bustling city center, the half marathoners took off. From Michigan Ave., they strode south until they intersected and turned right onto Western Ave. for a brief stretch before they turned right again onto Lafayette St. and began to weave their way through the course on riverside paths and sleepy neighborhood drives. Undulating hills dot the course -- a few of which rise steep and sharp, shocks to already tired bodies -- to create an overall challenging experience.

Back at the start line, a thinner pool of participants stirred in place before the 10k kicked off with another shot from the starting gun. At the front of the line, I wondered when last year's champion would join me in the 5-minute mile group. With only one minute to pass until the start of the race, I realized that he would not show up, that I was the de facto favorite to win the race, a precarious situation that often riles up anxiety from my core that tenses my muscles, dilates my pupils and weighs on the cadence of my breathing. From the crack of the gun, I ran alone, only twenty seconds separating second place from me for most of the race, until the gap grew in the final two miles of the race. After three miles, the heat bore down on us, whipping and snarling and sapping strength from our muscles. Despite how tired I felt, I smiled as I passed supporters that lined up outside their homes or worked at water stops. Some were especially creative. "No more hills the rest of the way!" one man cheerfully shouted at me as I climbed the steepest hill on the course, and I shot him a chuckle through a smile in return. Passing by casual participants -- those who walked and jogged in intervals or ran to support a cause, like Team In Training -- I heard "great job" and "keep pushing" sung to me. On the Irish green turf of the stadium, exhausted high-fives and sweaty hugs linked finishers like they were playing a big game of Red Rover. We had endured, all of us. And in straining our bodies for miles running under a leaden blanket of heat, we remembered why we had signed up for the race, why we had started running in the first place -- fellowship.

When we look back on the 2011 Sunburst races, many will recall heavy heat and high participation. I will remember the theme song to Rocky blasting from a home stereo, a handshake from a runner in a royal purple shirt and congratulations from fans sitting in the stands of the stadium. Most of all, I will remember running; running with thousands of people, not in front, not behind, all at once.

#196: The Sunburst

Need a reason to spend some time outside this weekend?  Head downtown, and you'll find the monthly bustle of activity for First Fridays.  Make sure you check out the big white tents around town -- one for the Meet Me on the Island event (look for a post in July highlighting this show series), the other for the Sunburst Races. 

"The Sunburst" is not one particular race; rather, it's a total of six events that range from a family fun walk tonight to a full marathon.  It has the largest draw of all area races, and the timing always matches up with the Notre Dame Alumni Reunion weekend.  For a sense of scale, event organizers are rallying to get 10,000 participants. 

The course starts downtown at the College Football Hall of Fame, which is a hub of activity tonight.  Pre-registered runners can pick up their packets; those still contemplating can be bold and register for any race up until 8:00 pm.  There is an expo with various running-related vendors, and four-time winner of both the NYC and Boston Marathon Bill Rodgers is speaking at 4:30 pm. 

Even if the majority of your runs are to the store for cigarettes, booze, or ice cream, you can still participate in the palpable race-day excitement.  Because the courses criss-cross much of South Bend and many streets around town are closed in the morning, take a lazy morning and come outside to cheer the runners.  (If you're still in your bathrobe, no worries -- trust me, that'll be the last thing on runners' minds.)  All events--except tonight's family fun walk, which traverses downtown and the East Race-- finish in the Notre Dame football stadium...aka the perfect venue for finishers and spectators alike.  Nothing compares to the feeling of running out of that revered tunnel.
Last year's race, at the famous finish line.
And while the official theme for tonight is "Race to Downtown", it appears that DTSB is embracing all forms of transportation: this month's celebration features a classic car show and BMX stunt show on either end of Michigan.

Read more about tonight's various First Friday events here, and the Sunburst website--www.sunburstraces.org--offers course maps and answers a multitude of frequently asked questions about the event.

#195: Thai Kitchen Khun Daeng

Sometimes it feels like local restaurants within a specific genre can starts to look the same.  Each greasy spoon diner, every dive bar, and all of the generic Italian fine dining spots start to feel, taste, and even smell just like each other.  Maybe in my case, I'll call it the Michiana-rut.

When you begin to miss the characteristic nuances of each locale and you fail to appreciate what makes that family-owned business different from all the others, it takes a special place to shake you out of such a rut.  This Mishawaka Thai eatery did just that for me.  The dining experience at Thai Kitchen Khun Daeng was a real shot in the arm of my Michiana foodie exploration.  Of course, the food was unique and delicious - yet the colorful character and refreshingly novel ambiance within the deceptively drab exterior of Khun Daeng is what sets this place apart from the other local Thai joints.

Housed in what probably used to be a house, the unexpected architecture of this restaurant creates a comfortable and even cozy atmosphere, while the vibrant, yet eclectic decor adds an exotic feel.  All in all, unusually quaint and a Thai translation of kitschy chic.

Location: 302 East Russ Avenue, Mishawaka
Tip: With almost all Thai restaurants, be weary of their spicy rating.  You get a choice of 1 through 5, and I would recommend staying at or below 3 unless you consider yourself fireproof.
Highlight: As a big fan of sarcastic banter, I just loved the the side serving of sass that our waitress gave us.  Suffices to say, she was hysterical.

My meal at Khun Daeng also reminded me that we're very lucky diners in this area when it comes to Thai food.  At this point, I'm aware of 4 or 5 family-owned Thai places, and each one offers an incredibly different experience.  From white table cloth and chic decor to plastic utensils and peeling wallpaper, it's an understatement to say that Michiana offers a wide range of Thai dinning options - varying version of great food and distinctive character.  While this is only our second review of a local Thai restaurant, keep an eye out for upcoming posts on our other favorite southeast-Asian eateries.  In the comments, tell us about Thai places that we just have to try.