Off-Campus Dining

Normal, IL
Tuition (in-state)
$20,016 ($12,726)
Admission Difficulty
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3 College Junior

Off-Campus Dining: There are a lot of restaurants

5 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Dining: We have so many food options! That is one of the perks to ISU campus life. Everywhere is open super late through the week and weekends!

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: I really like the restaurants around campus! Especially uptown!

4 College Junior

Off-Campus Dining: There is good variety, and many different shops.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: Most of the restaurants are chain restaurants such as Noodles, Potbelly, Chipotle, Meatheads and McDonalds but there are also a few smaller places that are native to Normal such as Avanti's and Mary Ann's Diner. Most of these places are affordable for college students but the only places open late are the diner and McDonalds. The best place to eat is by far Mary Ann's because they have a large variety and are affordable.

1 person found this useful Report

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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 145th
    Best Off-Campus Dining Cost
  • 888th
    Best Off-Campus Dining Variety

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Elizabeth Nelligan
Lake Zurich, IL
View all previous student authors

There are a lot of restaurant options for students when they do not want to eat on campus. The only downside is that much of Bloomington-Normal is full of chain restaurants, from Chili’s to T.G.I. Friday's to Hooters. Most of these restaurants can be found on Veterans Parkway, the main highway that links Bloomington and Normal. Getting to Veterans Parkway will require a bus trip or cab ride for students living on campus without a car, but many think it’s worth it, especially after eating only dorm food for months. Even though there are mostly chains, some restaurants are individually owned and run by Bloomington-Normal residents. These restaurants can be found in Downtown Bloomington or Uptown Normal. There are a few restaurants in Uptown Normal that are within walking distance from campus, and generally, more students are seen walking around when the weather is nice out.

Some restaurants offer discounted dining with a valid student ID. Always be sure to ask if a restaurant has any other specials, such as half-price appetizers after a certain hour. There are various grocery stores around the Bloomington-Normal area that should fit students' needs. Grocery shopping is the best option for students who want to save a little money and eat healthier. Unfortunately, there is not a grocery store close to campus, so students without a car will need to use public transportation to carry their groceries.

Facts & Statistics

24-Hour Dining
  • Denny's
  • Steak 'n Shake
Best Asian
Great Wall
Best Breakfast
  • Wild Berries Restaurant
  • Zorbas
Best Coffee
Fusion Brew
Best Dessert
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Emack and Bolio's
Best Healthy
Best Late-Night
  • D.P. Dough
  • Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches
  • Steak 'n Shake
Best Mexican
  • La Bamba Mexican Restaurant
  • Los Potrillos
Best Pizza
  • Fazoli's
  • Tobin's Pizza
Best Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar
Best Place to Take a Date
  • Alexander's Steakhouse
  • Medici in Normal
  • Olive Garden
Best Place to Take Your Parents
  • Avanti's Italian Restaurant
  • Medici in Normal
  • Olive Garden
  • Pub II
Other Places to Check Out
  • Applebee's Neighborhood Grill
  • Baskin Robbins
  • Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano
  • Burger King
  • Chipotle
  • Cofeehouse & Deli
  • Coffee Hound
  • Dairy Queen
  • Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works
  • Domino's Pizza
  • Famous Dave's
  • Fiesta Ranchera Mexican Restaurant
  • Flat Top Grill
  • Garden of Paradise
  • Garlic Press Market Café
  • Green Garden Restaurant
  • Gumby's Pizza & Wings
  • IHOP
  • Kobe Japanese Steak House
  • Logan's Roadhouse
  • Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon
  • Mandarin Garden House
  • McAllister Deli
  • Meatheads Burgers & Fries
  • Ming's Restaurant
  • Moe's Southwest Grill
  • Na Na Thai
  • Noodles & Company
  • Orient Gourmet
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Panera Bread
  • Pizza Hut
  • Prime Time Pizza
  • Red Lobster
  • The Rock Restaurant
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Schooner's
  • Skewers Steakhouse
  • Starbucks
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Uncle Tom's Pancake House
Did You Know?
The first Steak 'n Shake was founded in Bloomington-Normal.

Grocery StoresWhat's This?

The Fresh Market
200 N. Greenbriar Dr., Normal
(309) 888-4192
Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
901 S. Cottage Ave., Normal
(309) 454-6089
Daily 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
1502 N. Main St., Bloomington
(309) 828-5640
Daily 6 a.m.-12 a.m.
1900 E. College Ave., Normal
(309) 888-0810
Daily 24 hours
Naturally Yours Grocery
1503 E. College Ave., Normal
(309) 452-3456
Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
1750 Bradford Lane, Normal
(309) 451-7100
Daily 6 a.m.-12 a.m.
Wal-Mart Supercenter
300 Greenbriar Dr., Bloomington
(309) 451-1100
Daily 24 hours

Restaurant ListingsWhat's This?

Alexander's Steakhouse
Food: American
1503 E. College Ave., Normal
(309) 454-7300
Price: $10-$25
Cool Features: The steaks are cooked in front of you on a giant grill!
Food: American
502 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington
(309) 663-2134
Price: $8-$15
Avanti's Italian Restaurant
Food: Italian
407 S. Main St., Normal
(309) 452-4436
Price: $5-$10
Cool Features: Cheap bread and a classic Italian dinner.
Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar
Food: American
3220 E. Empire St., Bloomington
(309) 661-8027
Price: $5-$15
Cool Features: Frequent winner of "Best Wings" around the nation.
Carlos O'Kelly's Mexican Café
Food: Mexican
2105 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington
(309) 662-9747
Price: $5-$10
Chili's Grill & Bar
Food: American
2107 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington
(309) 663-8060
Price: $8-$15
Cool Features: With "Chili's To Go," students are able to order ahead and pick their orders up.
Cold Stone Creamery
Food: Ice cream
301 S. Veterans Parkway, Normal
(309) 888-2606
Price: $3-$8
Food: Healthy
138 E. Beaufort St., Normal
(309) 452-1900
Price: $10-$20
D.P. Dough
Food: Calzones
121 E. Beaufort St., Normal
(309) 888-ZONE
Price: $5-$8
Food: Breakfast, American
1615 N. Main St., Normal
(309) 452-7446
Price: $8-$15
Emack & Bolio's
Food: Ice cream
107 E. Beaufort St., Normal
(309) 454-9375
Price: $5-$10
Cool Features: Only located in four states
Food: Italian, fast food
215 Greenbriar Rd., Normal
(309) 452-7700
Price: $5-$10
Cool Features: Free breadsticks
Fusion Brew
Food: Espresso, tea
712 Kingsley St., Suite 900, Normal
(309) 454-9300
Price: $5-$10
Great Wall
Food: Chinese
1520 E. College Ave., Normal
(309) 454-7218
Price: $5-$8
Food: American
409 N. Hershey Rd., Bloomington
(309) 663-4668
Price: $10-$15
Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches
Food: American
207 W. North St., Normal
(309) 452-8200
Price: $3-$8
Cool Features: Choose from 18 different types of subs.
La Bamba Mexican Restaurant
Food: Mexican
129 E. Beaufort St., Normal
(309) 452-2243
Price: $5-$10
Cool Features: Open after the bars close.
Los Potrillos
Food: Mexican
201 Landmark Dr., Normal
(309) 862-0824
Price: $10-$20
Mandarin Garden House Chinese
Food: Chinese
106 Mall Dr., Normal
(309) 454-1118
Price: $5-$10
Medici in Normal
Food: Casual dining
120 North St., Normal
(309) 452-6334
Price: $10-$15
Cool Features: Their bread comes from their own bakery, and they sell the bread, as well.
Olive Garden
Food: Italian
1701 E. Empire St., Bloomington
(309) 663-7375
Price: $10-$20
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Food: American
609 S. Main St., Normal
(309) 862-4850
Price: $3-$8
Pub II
Food: American
102 N. Linden St., Normal
(309) 452-0699
Price: $10-$20
Steak 'n Shake
Food: Fast food
614 W. Raab Road, Normal
(309) 451-3721
Price: $3-$8
Swingers Grille
Food: American
1304 Cross Creek Dr., Normal
(309) 829-5777
Price: $10-$25
Cool Features: Golf range attached, live jazz music on the weekends, OTB on the top floor
T.G.I. Friday's
Food: American
9 Brickyard Drive, Bloomington
(309) 662-2231
Price: $8-$15
Tobin's Pizza
Food: Greek
1513 N. Main St., Bloomington
(309) 828-0410
Price: $5-$10
Cool Features: Voted No. 1 pizza in McLean County.
Wild Berries Restaurant
Food: Breakfast
115 S. Veterans Parkway, Normal
(309) 452-1000
Price: $5-$10
Windy City Wieners
Food: American
106 E. Beaufort St.
(309) 452-2900
Price: $5-$10
Cool Features: Located in Uptown Normal, so it's convenient if you want fast Chicago-style hot dogs.
Food: Greek
603 Dale St., Normal
(309) 452-1449
Price: $3-$8
Cool Features: Very cheap for the amount of food.

Student Polls

Rate the off-campus restaurants on the following topics    Based on 121 responses

Very poor
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Healthy/organic options
  • Late-night options
  • Quality
  • Student discounts
  • Variety/number of options
  • Vegetarian/vegan options

How would you rate the diversity of off-campus dining options?    Based on 143 responses

  • 4% An endless repetition of the same few places.
  • 20% Mostly just chain restaurants and fast food.
  • 54% Enough variety to keep things interesting.
  • 22% A nice variety of local spots and ethnic cuisine.
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