#118: Madison Oyster Bar




Located right in between two previously featured establishments, Fiddler's Hearth and Saigon Market, Madison Oyster Bar is probably my favorite downtown watering hole.  The beautiful wood bar, the warm colors of the decor and lighting, the big screen TV, and pool table all combine to make a very comfortable, yet classic atmosphere.  It definitely doesn't have the feel of other sports or college bars in the area, yet it lacks the pretension of comparable bars, making it a perfect place for a drink after work, a few pitchers during a football game, or anything in between.

Another element of this bar is worth noting.  While you can sit on the first and second levels any night of the week, the third (and arguably best) level is only open on weekend nights.  On the third floor, you'll find 2 more pool tables, lots of seating, a separate bar, and even a couple vintage "Madison Oyster Bar" signs.  I'd say this is what differentiates a Friday night at Oyster Bar from a Wednesday happy hour.  Between the first, second, and third floors, you can find the ambiance you want for any day of the week.

Location: 129 N. Main Street, South Bend
Hours: Mon - Sat 11 am to 3 am, Sun 6 pm to 12 am
Phone: 574-288-3776
Tip #1: Go thirsty.  They have some of the better drink specials downtown.  Monday night specials include: $4.75 pitchers of Bud Light, Amberbock, and Killians, and $2.50 Washington Apple shots.
Tip #2: Go hungry.  You can find their full menu here.  Yes...true to their name, they do offer oysters, but I'd recommend the crab stuffed baked potato, the crabby cakes, or almost anything on the finger food side of the menu.  Someday, I hope to try out the "Madison Oyster," a sandwich with three plump, fried oysters, tartar and lettuce on a Kaiser roll, but until that day I'll stick with the french onion soup or portobello mushrooms.
Tip #3: Did I mention hookah?  It's one of the only places in South Bend to offer hookah, featuring all sorts of flavors from green apple to pina colada to vanilla.
Cost: NO COVER...ever

#117: Bendix Restaurant Family Dining

I have a soft spot for diners, and this is one of my new favorites. We've mentioned similar restaurants before such as the Sunrise Cafe and The Kitchenette, and I'm making it my personal mission to spend my Saturday mornings ordering omelettes and french toast at these and other as-yet-undiscovered locations (suggestions are welcome!).

Located on Miami near the river, the restaurant is family-owned (as highlighted by the name) and serves a wide variety of breakfast/brunch items as well as lunch sandwiches and speciality items. One of the more unique features of Bendix is its Mexican menu which provides a welcome change of pace from traditional breakfast fare.  During my visit, I was impressed with the friendly, prompt service, inexpensive menu items, and bottomless cups of coffee on a lazy Saturday morning.

Location: 1529 Miami Street (go here for a map)

Hours: Unsure. They're definitely open for breakfast through mid-afternoon, but if anyone knows the specific hours, we'd love to hear from you!

For more information call 574-232-7688

#116: Go on a Blind Date, South Bend-style

It's difficult enough to decide on the place to go for a first date, but a blind date presents a different set of challenges.  So, at the request of one of our readers, here are some of our suggestions of things to do that may do the trick:

  • Sample an array of chocolates and candy at the South Bend Chocolate Company.  Why here? Browse the shelves of the specialty candy in the right-hand room and reminisce about Halloween as kid and discover new types of sweets from around the world.  More importantly, "Meet me outside at the gorilla" clears up any confusion about that crucial place of first encounter.
  • Go to a how-to event at Junk Evolution or another clinic around town. Why? You walk away with something tangible, whether it's a re-purposed chandelier or rainwater collector.  If your date's good, then it's a great memento of your first date.  And if your date is kinda lame, at least it wasn't a complete waste of time.  Plus, there's always the chance you could encounter someone else who catches your eye a bit better.
  • Grab a bite at Bonnie Doon. Why here? It's classic and low-key, and there is a lot of junk on the walls that can keep the conversation going.  This is also a great save if your attention tends to wander.  Don't miss the jukebox, either.  Music is a quick determinant of whether your new relationship will take off...or never get off the ground.
  • Attend a local sporting event, like the South Bend Roller Derby, who are having their first public exhibition bout tonight, appropriately named "It's A-Bout Time".  The rationale: sitting in 'suicide seating' can turn your blind date butterflies into full-out fear of being blinded.  You can also use cheering to fill awkward silences, just don't forget about your potty mouth.
  • Grab a drink at Madison Oyster Bar.  The most important feature for a blind date bar meeting?  The back door next to the bathrooms, in case you need a fast exit.  The bonus is the good variety of music and the friendly bartenders who aren't afraid to share a bad joke or two.
  • Eat at a hibachi grillSoho is an elegant place that offers this dining experience, but skip the sushi room and head for the teppanyaki room.  Why?  You don't have to stare each other in the face, you don't really have to talk much, as the cook provides the entertainment, and you don't have to worry about weird dietary restrictions when you can watch your meal be prepared.  And there are guaranteed to be sparks.

#115: Theatre Design Exposition at Bethel College

Most of us are familiar with theater exclusively as audience members so consider this your chance to go backstage. Behind the big red curtain, a theater production often involves a small army of dedicated and trained specialists, from set and costume designers to dramaturges and directors, who construct the world of the play.  However, they are often invisible "actors" (so to speak) which is why this exposition at Bethel College is so exciting.

From now until February 12, the Weaver Art Gallery at the College will be displaying student work in all areas of the stage. Student set design, costume design, lighting design, and even research work in theater studies will be available to view in the Gallery. Hopefully many of you have previously attended a local theater performance (maybe even one we've featured on this blog). If you haven't or maybe just before you go to another production, stop in at the Exposition and I can almost guarantee that your experience of and appreciation for the art form will be transformed.

Where: Weaver Art Gallery, Bethel College, 1001 Bethel Circle
When: 9am-5pm, Mon-Sat
Admission: FREE

#114: Notre Dame Downtown Crossroads Gallery

During the last two decades, Notre Dame has made a significant effort to be a true partner of South Bend, and perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing result of this growing partnership is the Crossroads Gallery at the Notre Dame Downtown office on Michigan Street.  Since 2003, downtown-dwellers have had a reason to stop into the satellite office of Notre Dame Public Affairs and view an artistic space operated by Notre Dame's Institue for Latino Studies.


The gallery walls feature an ever-changing exhibit of painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography, while also offering a space for community meetings, press events, and more.  For example, ND Student Government uses the gallery for their "Community Summit," a meeting of student and local leaders each year, and DTSB and the City have used it for their the Festival of Banners press conferences.  This space is therefore continually transformed by the art work on the walls as well as the community within them.

Location: 217 South Michigan Street South Bend  (also shares an entrance with DTSB's main offices)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cost: FREE

Recent exhibitions:
  • Fabricating the Real: Artists from L.A., featuring sculptures by artists Michael Amescua and Maria Elena Castro.
  • Paradise: Selected Pieces, showcasing the artwork of Scherezade Garcia.
  • EVOKE 2 PROVOKE, featuring Rodriguez Calero’s unique style in painting known as ACROLLAGE.
  • Graffiti Art Project (GAP), a summer-long endeavor that sought to provide South Bend kids ages 10-17 with a creative outlet and the opportunity to express their unique talents and perspectives.
  • Visiones paralelas: Images of the Mexican Revolution in Chicano and Mexican Art,  artwork drawn from the Gilberto C├írdenas Latino Art Collection 
  • Materia Prima: Recent Paintings and Prints by Ramiro Rodriguez

#113: Elia's Mediterranean Restaurant

I feel the need to preface this post by saying that I had not even heard of falafel until I got to college. Actually, several years into college. That being said, I cannot recommend this restaurant enough, and, although I'm an admitted neophyte, this place is, without question, the best Mediterranean food around (please enlighten me if I'm wrong or if I'm inadvertently leaving some worthy restaurant out!).


Elia's serves a wide variety of that Mediterranean-style cuisine including the aforementioned falafel, gyros, shish kabobs, and much more. If you like hummus, my friend swears by their recipe as well as the baba ghannouge (an eggplant puree similar to hummus; don't worry I had to ask too).  They are open for both lunch and dinner, and the service is unfailingly friendly.

I can't write about Elia's without mentioning their great move and re-design combo of the past year. Elia's has been open since 2000; initially in a location on 933 close to Roseland. Since May of this past year, however, they have been located on South Bend Avenue. I had been once to their previous location and just recently visited their new address for the first time. While the quality of the food has remained unfailingly high, I was incredibly impressed by the decor and ambiance of the South Bend Ave. location and give the restaurant high marks for initiating such a big change.

Location:  2128 South Bend Avenue
Hours:  Lunch  11:00am-2:00pm     Dinner  4:00pm-9:00pm
Visit their website here to browse through the menu.

Tip:  In case you're as inexperienced as I was:
Falafel: (noun) 1. A spicy mixture of ground vegetables such as chick-peas or fava beans shaped into balls and fried. (Ed. note- It's great.)

#112: Access Sportswear

Finding the "perfect" gift is hard.  Personalization is the clever way around the conundrum of "what can I get without seeming like I just grabbed something at the store?" If you choose this method, I highly recommend using Access Sportswear, a locally owned business.
They are famous in the area for their "I <3 South Bend" shirts and sport team's apparel, but the staff is friendly and creative, willing to work with whatever you have in mind.  Screen printing, embroidery, iron-ons, and more....

Example of their excellence: my friend owned a scarf she bought abroad, and after I had commented how much I liked it, she decided to try to replicate it, with the assistance of Access Sportswear.  They gladly took the challenge to recreate it, and the end product is wonderful reproduction and creation in of itself.
Can you guess which one is the original model?
Where: 530 E. LaSalle
When: Weekdays, 10:00am-6:00pm; Saturday, 10:00am-4:00pm
Tip:  They're very efficient--I stopped in on a Wednesday evening and requested my order for the following week.  It was ready the evening of the next day.  Wow.  They do recommend allotting two weeks for an order because their speed will vary by the season.  Wondering about the cost?  Letters cost 45 cents each; large numbers cost $1. 

#111: 'Earth Friendly Eating' at the St. Joe Library

It struck me, as I was about to write this, that this week we have already published one post having to do with the St. Joe County Public Library. Well apparently they're so great, we're going to go for two. All joking aside, tomorrow's event "Earth Friendly Eating", now in its fourth year, promises to be an event that the community should not miss.

It might be hard, in the middle of the South Bend winter (we love it, we really do!), to imagine planting, growing and harvesting food, but that's just what this event is asking us to do. Several keynote speakers will address the importance of community gardening and the sustainable food movement so that community members and neighborhoods can be prepared for the long-awaited but inevitable Spring. After the keynote speakers, those in attendance will be able to join breakout sessions to create their own food action plan for their family or community. Other community groups, already active in South Bend's sustainability movement, will also be on hand.

It's a unique opportunity not only because of its important subject but because of its proactivity. We might not be able to grow things now (it is 6 degrees outside as I write this), but we will soon, so show your commitment to both South Bend and the environment by coming out tomorrow.

Where: St. Joe Public Library, Humphrey's Multimedia Room
When: 11:00am, tomorrow

For more information visit their website here.

#110: Concerts

If you want to see a concert, go to Chicago...or Indy...or Grand Rapids...or Blue Chip Casino... right?   South Bend doesn't have decent venues or attract decent performers, right?

WRONG.

For post no. 110, here are ten (+2) shows happening over the next ten days.  Variety of genres, variety of venues.  Take your pick and experience the warm and fuzzies only live music can give you.

Thursday:  Bryan Barr, Kelly's Pub, 7pm: The man, the myth, the legend.  Request your show tunes here (...but do they have gospel hour?)
Friday: Alligator Blackbird, Club Fever, 8pm: It's a CD release party as well as benefit concert for the Center for the Homeless.  What more could you ask for?! Oh, Half Pint Jones and Andyman Hopkins are also playing.  $8, $10 at door.
Saturday: Trigger, J.K. Rodeo Bar, 9pm: Country and southern rock. Come for the music, stay for the mechanical bull.  Also playing Friday night.
Don't like country? Check out Destrukters (and more punk bands) at the Anchor Inn, 7pm.
Sunday: Bailey Williams CD Release Party, The Midway Tavern, 8pm:  A fifteen-year old folk rocker performs at the former hangout of Al Capone.  Also featured is the reunion of "Soul Purpose" and a jam session afterwards.  $10 (includes a copy of Williams' CD).
Monday: Irish Music Jam, Fiddler's Hearth, 8:30pm:  You can always depend on Fiddler's to have live music. Kim Hoffmann of WSND's The Celtic Hour leads the group.
Tuesday: Children's Choir of Michiana (Rehearsal), First United Methodist Church, 6pm: Awwww.
Wednesday: Snoop Dogg, Club Fever, 8pm: Fo shizzle. Tickets are sold out, but if you brave the student crowds tonight at 10pm, there are 100 tickets on hand to sell to students. $45. (Kinda expensive? check the cost of his shows in other places.)
Thursday: La Orquesta Soave, Club Landing, 10pm: Celebrate the three year anniversary of the infamous salsa night. Free dance lessons at 10 and a few drinks, and you'll be tearing up the dancefloor with your merengue before you know it. $10.
(365-degree alternative option? The "Mozart Marathon" at Notre Dame from noon-four.  Free cookies and coffee in O'Shaugnessy Hall to celebrate the maestro's birthday.)
Friday: Bill Boris Group, Trio's Jazz Club, 9pm: Keyboards, trumpet, drums and bass make a smooth synthesis of "straight ahead jazz, funk and R&B".
Saturday: The Avett Brothers, Morris Performing Arts Center, 8pm: I'm ended the concert list at this event, because in my mind, it's the pinnacle.  They're one of my favorites band with lots of energy and great live shows.  It's hard to pigeonhole them into a genre, but it's somewhere between bluegrass, punk and pop. $25.

#109: LangLab

It's been called everything from a concert venue to a cultural club to an idea incubator.  LangLab is your friendly neighborhood abandoned-factory hub-o-culture.   Yes, this "space" is a former factory, and yes, they have periodic events featuring music, dance, art, environmental living, and oh so much more.  So no, it's not easily understood in our rigid square terms, man.  I'll let these pictures do the talking.... 
 The view from the parking lot.


 Shoots of the "artist-in-residence" apartment on the second level

 Use of this room: TBD

the LangLab "stage" from the Caught dance performance featured previously on our blog


Location: 1302 High Street, South Bend
Hours: Varying...very varying...depends completely upon their events schedule.
Tip: Like them on Facebook - otherwise there's not a very good way to stay in the know with their events - unless you infiltrate the LangLab "inner circle".....and if you do, report back and leak us stories about their "going-on's"!

#108: "Life in Michiana" Photography Exhibit at the St. Joe Public Library

If you enjoy our literary snapshots of local life here on the blog, then I'm fairly positive that you'll love this exhibit of actual snapshots of Michiana life.  On the second floor of the St. Joe Public Library, you can find the "Life in Michiana" Photography Exhibit, featuring approximately 260 photos taken by high school students, life long residents, and everyone in between.  Notably, students from Clay High School, St. Joseph High School, and Mishawaka High School contributed photographs to the exhibit, offering a youthful lens through which to view our community.

While we missed the opening reception earlier this month, you still have until January 29th to stop by the library and view these local works of art.

Location: St. Joe Public Library, Main Branch, 304 S. Main Street, Second Floor
Hours: Exhibit open during normal library hours
Mon through Thu 10 am to 8 pm, Fri & Sat 10 am to 6 pm, Sun 10 am to 5 pm
Tip: Keep an eye out for stars and ribbons on a handful of photographs.  Those are the award-wining works of art.

Personal analysis: I love it when libraries, book shops, or other establishments focused on the written word supplement history, literature, and all of their books with the images that help us understand those ideas through a new medium and from a new perspective.  It's like the public library has turned itself into a picture-book of local life.

#107: Martin Luther King Day Celebration Concert

Maybe you've already celebrated Martin Luther King Day at the Century Century breakfast, the lunchtime march downtown, or the prayer service under the Dome at the Dame.  If you didn't get a day off work or if you've 'celebrated' by sleeping in and running errands, there's still an opportunity for you to commemorate one of our greatest civil rights leaders.

Tonight, there is a celebration concert at IUSB that brings together the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, the SB Symphonic Choir,  and the SB Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as the IUSB Chorale and Gospel Choir.  Maestro Tsung Yeh always commands an energetic performance, and I have no doubt that all these bands will pay just tribute to Dr. King.  Appropriately, all the music that will be played is by African-American composers.

A wonderful thing about this concert is that it's free!  All the performers are volunteering their time in honor of King.  You do need a ticket -- call the SB Symphony office at 574.232.6343 -- but just head to IUSB's North Side Hall Auditorium where you will be able to pick it up.  (If you don't have a ticket, but are willing to chance it, I'm sure there will be people around with extras to share...)

Where: North Side Hall Auditorium, IUSB, 1700 Mishawaka Ave.
When: 7:00pm tonight
Cost: Free!

(Pstt...can't make it tonight?  There's another concert, "Lift Every Voice", occuring next month.  On February 26, this show will feature the South Bend Symphonic Choir and the Ebony Chorale from Florida, performing pieces by black composer Adolphus Hailstork, who will be there.  Reserve tickets ($3, adults/free for students and children) at 574-520-4203.)

#106: The Coffee Spot Cafe

Who here has heard of a coffee-shop in a car-care center before? Anyone? Well now you have. Tom's Car Care Center on Bendix also sports the small Coffee Spot Cafe (ingenious right?) which I visited with a friend yesterday. There are other coffee-shops closer to downtown South Bend, but I loved the out-of-the-way feel of the Cafe.

I also loved (and was honestly surprised by) the extensiveness of their menu. The Cafe features a wide variety of the to-be-expected coffee drinks for what I consider very reasonable prices. In addition, they have a large selection of deli sandwiches, soups, salads, breakfast items, and even Bonnie Doon ice-cream. My friend and I spent several hours here and it's sure to enter our, and hopefully your, regular rotation of great coffee-shops in the area.

To read their menu (and even order online!) visit their website here.

Contact Info: 3201 Sugar Maple Business Court, 574-288-0398

Hours: Mon-Fri, 6am-6pm, Sat, 7am-4pm    

Tip: Sit in the couch. Just trust us.

#105: Hunter Ice Festival

Long, cold winters are an inescapable reality while living in South Bend.  The snow isn't going anywhere any time soon, so we might as well take advantage of what the cold weather can offer: All-day ice-skating, an ice-carving competition, 25 tons of ice, a life-size ice carousel, ice-cream booths, and an ice bar.

Our neighboring Michiana city of Niles, Michigan is hosting the 7th annual itineration of the Hunter Ice Festival which features the highlights mentioned above as well as many more ice-themed activities and a few a little outside of the theme (case in point: a chili cook-off). Today is the 2nd day of the festival, which continues until tomorrow throughout downtown Niles. The Festival celebrates the locally-owned Hunter Brothers Ice and Ice Cream Company.  It was founded in Niles in 1898 and plays an important role in the history of the area, even though it is now defunct.

The events and activities of the Festival are really almost too numerous to list, but check out the schedule of events here.   I don't know of any better way to choose to enjoy the South Bend-area winter.

Read about the history of the Hunter Brothers Ice and Ice Cream Company here.

#104: Dainty Maid Bake Shop

I've previously written about how much I love Cambodian Thai, and so it was with some measure of guilt that I recently realized that I had never visited its immediate next-door neighbor, the Dainty Maid Bake Shop. In light of this realization, I stopped in a couple of days ago and found, as I should have expected, an incredibly vast array of all kinds of baked goods. I stood for several minutes in front of the glass cases filled with cookies, cakes, and other pastries, unable to make a decision. After finally settling on a snickerdoodle (out of sheer desperation); the only real decision I made was that I would have to come back.


The inside of the shop is pretty small but they do have several small tables by the window which I imagine would be a great place to catch-up with a friend on some wintry South Bend afternoon. In addition to the baked goods on display, Dainty Maid is also pretty well-known in the community for the speciality cakes including wedding cakes.

Where: 231 South Michigan Street
When: 6am-4pm, Mon-Sat

For more information about Dainty Maid, visit their website here.

Fun Fact #1: The Dainty Maid Bake Shop has been in existence since 1928.

Fun Fact #2: While I was there they were offering a pretty great sale on tea cookies. After purchasing a dozen of the small cookies for around $5, you could purchase a 2nd dozen for only 25 cents!

#103: Dollar Tacos at El Paraiso

Thanks to films such as Super-Size Me and Fast Food Nation, we all know that "fast food" is bad.  Bad for our health, often bad for our farms and farmworkers, the environment and small town communities.  However, in the decision to get fast food, guilt is no match for hunger, convenience, and cost.  What's the solution to our need for good, cheap, filling food served fast from familiar faces?

South Bend's answer is El Paraiso.  This grocery store, owned by Jalisco-native Rafael Martinez, stocks an array of Hispanic goods and cooking needs, but off on the left side, there is a small kitchen/taqueria.  On Wednesdays and Sundays, they serve dollar tacos (corn or flour, red or green salsa), filled with your choice of meat (or not) and cilantro and onions.  Upgrade to the taco paraiso, a delicious mash of tomatoes, avocado, and goodness.  Be forewarned: you will probably make this a weekly tradition.
Did I mention their warm and accommodating service?
They let us order takeout even though it was a minute or two past closing--muchas gracias!
Just like at any fast food restaurant, you order your food at the counter, and you can either sit at a brightly-painted table or take it to go.  If only there was a drive-through.

When: Until 8pm.  (The grocery store stays open until 9:00 pm)
Where: 425 S. Main Street, convenient to both downtown and the Hispanic community on Western
Tip:  Try the horchata--not just so you can sing along to the Vampire Weekend song knowing what you're talking about--but it's a welcome complement to the spicy salsas offered.

#102: The "Race to Nowhere" screening at the Stanley Clark School

The "Race to Nowhere" is a documentary film highlighting the "achievement culture" in America. It was made independently by a parent who began to realize the stress that today's educational environment was having on her 12-year-old. The resulting film has been screening in small venues, like this one in South Bend, across the country. It has been compared to the hit documentary "Waiting for Superman" which profiles the dramatic achievement gap in American schools. This film is slightly different, but it too critically examines the purpose of education today.

In the introduction to the film on the Stanley Clark School's website, it states that the film "is a call to mobilize families, educators, and policy-makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing, and leading citizens." I am, myself, still in school and so the information for this event particularly interested me. Yet, after reading more about it, I realized that this film, as they state, could be useful, not for just students themselves, but for anyone in the South Bend community who is interested in education. And wouldn't that be all of us?

Where: The Stanley Clark School (Raclin Activities Center), 3123 Miami Street
When: 6:30pm, today

To pre-order the $10 tickets, go here.
For profile of the film featured in the New York Times, click here.

#101: The 100 Center in Mishawaka

In honor of our 100th post (well, actually our 101st due to the unforeseen blizzard), we want to give some much deserved attention to three local businesses located at the 100 Center in Mishawaka.  (100th post on 100 Center....We weren't featured on the front page of the South Bend Tribune today because of our wildly creative puns....)


1. 
Giannetto's Pizza
This underground pizzeria is a definite hidden treasure of Michiana.  You usually can't find deep dish pizza like this outside of Chicago, so I was overjoyed to find this place a few months ago.  And yes, literally underground...you have to go down a flight and a half of stairs to enter this cavernous restaurant.  Despite a lengthy conversation I had with the friendly owner this summer, I cannot seem to remember what this place used to be - but it has the look and feel of a wine cellar...or a beautifully refurbished subway line.  To say the least, it's a very cool location with wonderful food.  Only downside: good deep dish takes a while - prepare for a serious wait. 

Location: 100 N. Center Street, Mishawaka
Hours: Opens at 5 pm Tue - Sat, Closed Sun & Mon
Contact: (574) 254-9177
Tip: Err on the side of over-indulgence.  If the menu recommends "this pizza will serve 3 to 5 people," assume it will only serve 3.


2. 
Truman's
This bar is one of the hubs of Michiana's gay community, aaaand one heck of a place to go dancing.  They have drag shows every Friday and Saturday nights, which actually resulted in one of my favorite memories of 2010.  All I can say is: this place is so much fun!  The drinks are the right price, the company is fun and friendly, and the huge pink glittery wigs are to-die-for.
 
Location: 100 N. Center Street, Mishawaka
Hours: Wed-Thu 8 pm - 3 am; Fri - Sat 10 pm - 3 am; also open Sun 
Contact: (574) 259-2282 
Tip: CLEARLY don't miss the drag show on Friday or Saturday.

3. 
Riverside Tavern
I would say that this is the least well-known of the three 100 Center establishments featured today, and honestly, I don't know why.  I've only been to this bar a couple of times, but I think it's a very unique and interesting bar.  It has a great set up - complete with a few pool tables, an elevated seating section, neat wooden booths, a wrap-around bar right by the entrance, and fair priced drinks.  I think it has real potential.  True, there seems to be a small group of regulars who frequent the place... and not too many others.  But I think if a few groups of friends decided to put this on their weekend repertoire, the Riverside Tavern could turn into a very fun place to spend a Friday night.
Location: 100 N. Center Street 
Hours: Mon - Sat 11 am - 3 am, Sun 12 pm - 12 am  (which makes me think they serve food as well.  anyone familiar with the fare at Riverside??  more investigation necessary)
Contact: (574) 259-1185
Tip: Karaoke on Tuesday nights

#100: Enjoy the snow

For those who have responsibilities that make transportation a necessity, our best wishes are with you, and please be safe.

Healthworks may have been open or not.
If you are lucky enough to have some free time (and some hot cocoa or tea waiting inside) go out and enjoy the huge snowfall. Channel your inner child and build a snowman, or just take a walk around the neighborhood to marvel at the largest one day snowfall that South Bend has ever seen. Pay it forward by shoveling off a neighbor's sidewalk or car; give the man standing in the doorway some money to buy himself a hot meal.

If you're feeling a little cooped after even after your explorations outside, these are a few restaurants/bars that are open today--and this list is nowhere near comprehensive, just a few places that had their lights on when I was walking around--

Pedro's
The View
Saigon Market
Madison Oyster Bar

the view of The View
To those looking for coffee downtown, good luck--Main Street, Chicory Cafe, even the South Bend Chocolate Company are all closed today.

#99: Circa Arts Gallery

I'm excited for today, and I think you should be too. It's First Friday's in South Bend and as such there is a ton of stuff happening. My personal itinerary for tonight includes the Friends of the St. Joe County Library booksale from 4-8, the "special tastings" at Fiddler's Hearth, a stop at Barnaby's for $6.50 pitchers, Marigold's for their "Gifts of Green" houseplant feature, and Junk Evolution where "The Bergamot" (which we have featured earlier) will be playing all evening. More information about these and all of the other First Friday events can be found here. Be forewarned, it's an exhausting, albeit very fun, list.

However, after visiting Junk Evolution, I'm also going to pop-in to their next-door neighbor, the Circa Arts Gallery. Circa Arts is just one in a number of great South Bend art galleries (we've previously mentioned ArtPost and there are many to come), and it has been open since 2000 featuring, in their words, "local artists and items in the Arts and Crafts style." They focus strongly on antiques and currently display the work of 17 local artists. Tonight, they are adding an 18th artist, Kevin Gross, and his work with "Fractal Shapes." During the First Friday hours (from 5-9), Circa Arts will be highlighting his work described as "a form of computer generated art containing complex, repetitive, mathematically-based shapes and patterns that resemble those found in nature." That description was enough to entice me to stop by tonight, and I think you should too.

Check out the basement for deals!
For more information about Circa Arts visit their website here.

#98: Discover Midwest Artists at the Midwest Museum of American Art

Once upon a time, in 1907, a man named T. C. Steele moved to Brown County, Indiana.  He built a home, and a studio, on the old abandoned Bracken Hill Farm, a place a little ways outside the town of Nashville.  While he kept teaching classes at IU Bloomington, he retreated to his abode and refuge, a place he named "The House of Singing Winds".  His paintings captured the landscape...and the attention of other artists and collectors.  Today, his works is some of the most esteemed and highly valued, but more lasting is the community of artists that sprung up in the surrounding area.  Even now, artists from all media continue to keep residence here, forming a enclave of creativity in the heart of Indiana.
Pergola in Early Spring, 1918
Photograph of the Pergola, 2005
Find that interesting?  Well, that's my synopsis-without-seeing the 27-minute film, "The Artists of Brown County", that's showing tomorrow at the Midwest Museum of American Art for their weekly Noon Time Talk on Thursdays.  Not that interested?  The film is sure to be easy on the eyes, especially because the trees are bare and the permacloud has settled in South Bend.  And hey, if you learn something from it, what's the harm!

Take a little roadtrip to Elkhart and have a lunch break a little out of the ordinary.  If you can afford to linger, spend time in the gorgeous Museum, which has a collection of American Expressionism, Impressionism, Regionalism, and lots of other -isms.  From Warhol to Native American art, you'll find something there that makes you proud to be an American.

When: The film shows at noon (no surprise there!) and the museum is open from 10:00am - 4:00pm, Tuesday - Friday; 1:00 - 4:00 pm, Saturday - Sunday
Where: 249 South Main Street, Elkhart
Website: http://midwestmuseum.us/
Cost: $4.00 Adults, $3.00 Senior Citizens, $2.00 College Students
Tip:  AAA and Mobile Guide members get discounts.  AND there's free admission on Sundays.  Even if you're an adamant European art snob, at least you can say the price is right round here.

Can't make it this Thursday?  Here's a list of the other January events!

#97: Saigon Market

The last week or so, I've been dying to attempt a somewhat daring recipe for me: Thai Green Curry Chicken.  I'm lucky to live just a couple blocks away from Saigon Market, which makes cooking intricate Asian dishes infinitely easier.  Rather than a long-winded description of this unique yet classic tiny Asian grocery store, here's the recipe (plus the locations and hours).  Pick up everything you'll need at Saigon Market and enjoy your own green curry.


Location: 208 West Colfax Ave
Hours: hmmm, not positive, but it's definitely open until 9:00 pm every night except Sunday (when it closes a bit earlier)
Tip: Friday is "meat day" when they get a huge shipment of fresh meats and seafood



Thai Green Curry Chicken
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:  (any of which you can't find yourself, definitely ask the owner/his wife/his kids - they're all incredibly nice and helpful)

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs. (about 0.7 kg) boneless chicken thigh or breast, cut into chunks
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • a generous handful of fresh basil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise several times, then cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying
  • GREEN CURRY PASTE:
  • 4 small green Thai chilies, OR substitute 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup shallot OR purple onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thinly OR 3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste
  • 1 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice

Preparation:

  1. Prepare the chicken and chop the bell pepper and zucchini.
  2. Place all the "green curry paste" ingredients together in a food processor. Blitz to a paste. If necessary, add a few Tbsp. of the coconut milk to help blend ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the lime leaves by tearing the leaf away from either side of the stem. Discard the central stem. Then, using scissors, cut leaves into thin strips. Set aside.
  4. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl around, then add the green curry paste.
  5. Stir-fry briefly to release the fragrance (30 seconds to 1 minute), then add 3/4 of the coconut milk, reserving 2-3 Tbsp. per serving portion for later.
  6. Add the chicken, stirring to incorporate. When the curry sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium or medium-low, until you get a nice simmer.
  7. Cover and allow to simmer 3-5 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally.
  8. Add the red bell pepper and zucchini, plus the strips of lime leaf, stirring well to incorporate. Simmer another 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables are softened but still firm and colorful.
  9. Do a taste-test for salt, adding 1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce if not salty enough. If you'd prefer a sweeter curry, add a little more sugar. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. Note that this curry should be a balance of salty, spicy, sweet and sour, plus bitter (the bitter is found in the fresh basil garnish).
  10. Serve this curry in bowls with rice served separately, allowing guests to add their own. Top each portion with fresh basil, then drizzle over 2-3 Tbsp. coconut milk, and ENJOY!

#96: Metro Run and Walk

With the start of a new year, two truths are often brought to light: 1) I ate a LOT over the holidays, and 2) I should make this year better than the last.  Together, these personal epiphanies produce the motivation to make the New Year's resolution to exercise [more].

Well, check in with such a goal-setter several months/weeks/days later, and you'll encounter a red face and several excuses more often than a chiseled six-pack and a heart rate to rival Lance Armstrong's.  If only there was a place for the exercise-minded, where just by going there, your motivation is renewed and you encounter a community supportive of all athletic abilities.

My friends in fitness: trek over to Metro Run and Walk on Grape Road.

They stock workout apparel, shoes, and gear.  Good shoes are essential--I cannot stress this enough--to keep a fitness regime.  You will avoid much pain and injury if you invest in a pair of shoes that match your body type, and the salesmen at this store are happy to assist you in finding the right kind, often done through a quick and free gait analysis (a.k.a. a jaunt around the store).  While the price may seem high for some casual kicks, think of the money you'll save on Advil and doctor's visits.  Besides, when you're a runner or walker, the only truly necessary gear is a good pair of shoes.  (The store does offer tons of merchandise, but you don't need that Gu pack belt...at least not right away.)

What's more, beyond the gear is the community that you'll find there.  Training teams, running groups, race organizing committees, it's all there.  Pick up a flyer for an upcoming charity race, and register to motivate you to live up your exercise goals.  Join the Michiana Runners Association, which is sponsored by Metro Run & Walk,  for only $10 to receive a discount on shoes and races.  Get some shoes, get outside while there's still no snow on the ground, and get going.

Where: 3522 N. Grape Road in Mishawaka
When: M-F, 10:00am-7:00pm; Sat, 10:00am-6:00pm; Sun, 12:00-5:00pm
Website: http://michianarunning.com/index.html
Check out here for our running list of places to exercise.

#95: The Snite Museum of Art


The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame runs a little more to the obvious end of our “obvious to obscure” scale here at 365 South Bend, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning. Particularly because, even though it might be obvious to many, some people might still have not made it over. Including me. Well, including me until about three weeks ago. I had an open Tuesday afternoon and spontaneously decided to take a 45-minute quiet walk through the Snite Galleries.



I spent most of my time on the second floor which features the European collection, the Modern collection, and (at the time I went) several highlights from their American collection.  All of those aforementioned collections were enjoyable (and I still can't believe I hadn't been before), but I’m featuring the Snite today for their collection of Goya etchings currently on display in the first floor Paper Gallery until January 9. The Snite always has great featured exhibitions (I’m particularly excited for the upcoming “19th Century Landscape Photography), and the Goya etchings are definitely not an exception.  Beyond the featured exhibits, the Snite boasts more than 24,000 works of art, and is, without question, a South Bend experience not to be missed. So take your own quiet afternoon in the New Year and check it out.

Go here to learn more about the Snite.


TIP: The Snite (like most museums) is closed on Mondays.