Try not to let it get around, but over the last decade or so, Valparaiso, Indiana has quietly become a world-class restaurant destination. Local foodies have never had it better as a vibrant restaurant scene has sprouted up, both downtown and farther afield, with offerings from around the globe to suit any occasion.
If the lower cost of living and taxes have got you thinking of buying in Northwest Indiana, the Valparaiso restaurant scene will be the icing on the cake. You’ll find the best of fine dining, greasy spoons, and cozy cafes. There are chefs who have achieved regional acclaim and restaurants who don’t even have their own websites. It’s part of what makes Valpo, as the locals call it, an under-the-radar gourmand playground. What’s more? If you don’t like the restaurants Valpo has to offer, Schererville, a town with a comparably impressive restaurant scene, is just a stone’s throw away.
We don’t have space to tell you about every great Valparaiso restaurant, but we can feature a few of the best to show you the breadth and depth of the Valpo foodie scene. Learn more with Steiner Homes.
American Dining: Stacks
Newcomers sometimes have trouble finding Stacks, but once they try the food they never forget how to get back. Imagine a classy bar decorated with stacks of books along the walls—that’s Stacks. In warmer weather, their outdoor patio—in the alley between their building and their neighbors—may momentarily convince you you’re in a European cafe. With high-class comfort food offerings, though, Stacks will remind you you’re here, right in the heart of America.
Radius is for sandwich lovers. They serve massive burgers that’d stuff a small army, but locals enjoy a more traditional prime Angus beef burger with steak fries. Their Chicago-style Italian Beef sandwich or their Louisiana Po’ Boy are both worth a shot, too. Radius is also a great place for innovative cocktails and Valpo’s local music scene.
Brunch: Le Peep
Le Peep is a beloved breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot in Valpo. It’s a great place to bring the family for fluffy buttermilk pancakes or their Spinnaker omelet stuffed with bacon, mushrooms, and spinach. You won’t be able to resist their Gooey Buns covered in brown sugar, cinnamon, and “Mom’s Sassy Apples.”
You’ve got to love a good cafe, and Valpo has several. Whether you’re a coffee or tea person, these cafes are wonderful places to meet friends and pass an afternoon.
Blackbird Café is a Valparaiso original. Though it’s the oldest cafe in town, its decor is decidedly modern while still cozy. Locals recommend their Highlander Grog and Blackbird Blend coffees.
Suzie’s Cafe, Bake Shop, and Catering offers you small-town charm with big-time flavors. It’s a perfect place for breakfast or when you need a special occasion cake. Go with friends so you can split their homemade cinnamon bread or their giant cinnamon rolls.
Uptown Café caters to people who don’t just want stellar coffee, but people who like to know they’re doing good with their dollars, too. Uptown is a socially responsible, community-focused coffee shop. That means you’ll find Fair Trade and certified organic coffees and teas, featured local artists, and plenty of outlets if you’re the type that likes to work remotely.
Chinese: China House
For many locals, China House is the best place for Chinese food. With ample portions at great prices and a quirky restaurant ambiance, China House is not exactly flashy or fancy. However, it has been a favorite lunch spot for over 30 years. Consider ordering the Kung Pao Chicken or Shrimp Fried Rice.
Sage is about more than just pasta. It’s a “chic casual” dining concept, meaning the food is chic but the vibe is casual. Sage excels at taking familiar Italian favorites and giving them the gourmet treatment. Beer lovers will appreciate their Old World Beers menu with selections from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Italy.
If you’re looking for unagi or some tuna maki (grilled eel or tuna rolled in spicy mayo), look no further than Chef Daniel Young Hui Wang’s Furin Japanese Restaurant in downtown Valpo. In addition to sushi and other classic Japanese offerings, Furin has modern favorites like steak, ramen, and bulgogi (Korean-style beef and pork).
Mexican: Ricochet Tacos
Forget what you know about tacos! Ricochet, located in downtown Valparaiso, specializes in unique, gourmet taco creations. Look forward to their fried chicken, bacon, and jalapeno ranch taco and their pastrami and poppy seed honey mustard taco—they’re both delicious. Husband and wife co-founders Cory and Blair Muro named it Ricochet because they have a tendency to bounce from one great restaurant idea to another, but you might think it an appropriate name for the way your eyes can’t stop skipping from one dish to another as the servers bring the plates by.
Pizza: Tomato Bar Pizza Bakery
Tomato Bar goes the extra mile when it comes to outstanding pizza. All pies are hand-tossed in an open kitchen so you can see the magic happening. Expect a large beer menu and creative pizzas like the Good Ole’ Boy with pineapple and jalapeno or the Heavy Soul with chicken, cheddar, and smoked bacon. They even have gluten-free and vegan offerings so all your friends and family can find something they’ll love.
Seafood: Blue Point Oysters and Sushi
Headed by Valpo’s own Chef Eddy, Blue Point is the place for Northwest Indiana’s largest fresh oyster selection. They source their seafood fresh from the coasts on a daily basis, and they have regular shipments from Hawaii and Greece! Non-seafood lovers won’t feel left out: Blue Point has plenty of delicious chicken, steak, and lamb dishes from which to choose.
Spanish: Restaurante Don Quijote
Carlos Rivero has been serving up authentic Spanish cuisine since 1985. Restaurante Don Quijote is known for its tapas, or small plates, that are meant to be shared. That’s Chef Carlos’s passion, after all: Bringing people together around food.
Steakhouse: Pikk’s Tavern
Pikk’s Tavern is a literal tavern. The downtown Valpo restaurant has a 1940s Chicago tavern theme with a menu that “transfuses” American, Italian, and Mexican cuisines. They boast their ribeye, filet mignon, and New York steak can go head to head with anybody’s up in the Windy City.
Beer: Four Fathers Brewing
Okay, so this isn’t a restaurant. In fact, they don’t have any food other than popcorn. However, they are one of three breweries in Valpo alone, not to mention the rest of the state, and we thought it worth featuring another local producer. Four Fathers is family run with a commitment to making a positive impact in their community. Expect to see a couple of surprising styles (sour IPA?), live music, and dogs.
Have a Favorite Valpo Restaurant? Let Us Know!
Whether you’re looking for a great place to buy or you’re taking a day trip, Valparaiso offers plenty for all ages to enjoy. As locals, we at Steiner Homes encourage you to visit any (or all) of these fine restaurants. Then, let us know whether you agree with our recommendations. We’re always trying to find the best places to eat!
(Didn’t see the best Valpo restaurant on the list? Contact us to tell us your favorite spot!)