Travel Like a Local: South Bend, Indiana

The Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, Ind. Photo courtesy of Joey Lax-Salinas.

Kristopher Robinson, BA’09, grew up on the border of Indiana and Michigan in South Bend. And while it’s considered University of Notre Dame territory, he chose to attend IU South Bend, where he earned a degree in psychology.

Kristopher Robinson, left, at an IU Alumni Association event in South Bend. Courtesy photo.

Robinson currently works at Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center as house manager, but he’s still very much a Titan at heart.

In 2017, he joined the IU Alumni Association’s South Bend Region chapter as a board member before becoming secretary, a position he still holds today.

“I love representing IU and sharing everything that is possible with an IU degree and all the things that IU does for the local community,” Robinson said. “It’s a feather in my cap that I wear proudly!”

In the following Q&A, the South Bend native shares all his favorite local haunts, including an IU alum-owned distillery.

Food and Drinks

What are some of your favorite restaurants in South Bend?
Kristopher Robinson: Ciao’s Catering and Cakes—an Italian restaurant with traditional recipes and the best desserts. I frequently order the pheasant tortellini, and for dessert, the fruit tart.

Cambodian Thai is a family-run Thai restaurant that never disappoints. I usually get the drunken noodles and chive dumplings. Be careful! Thai spicy is a lot spicier than people are used to.

The Lauber is a really nice restaurant with American fare. This is the one place where I am guilty of always getting the same thing—the Show Stopper pizza. It’s topped with sweet tomato jam, three types of cheese, arugula, and truffle oil.

For brunch, I recommend Tippecanoe Place. It’s located inside the Studebaker Mansion.

J.C. Lauber & Co. was a sheet metal company in the 1890s. Courtesy photo.

Where do you like to grab a drink in town?
: Downtown, I recommend Spirited, The Exchange, or Madison Oyster Bar.

Just outside of downtown, I recommend Hammer & Quill, The View Tavern, and The Indiana Whiskey Company, which is co-owned by Matthew Logsdon, MD’22.

Where do the IU South Bend students and alumni hang out?
: Nick’s Patio is a 24-hour diner that serves breakfast all day.

Fiddler’s Hearth is an Irish pub that offers traditional Irish fare, a Sunday brunch, and live music on the weekends.

Linebacker Lounge is a bar that is popular with the college crowd, especially Notre Dame students.

Barnaby’s is just one of the many pizza places we have in the area. The pizza has a cornmeal crust and is cut tavern-style.

Sightseeing and Entertainment

What are a few things people must see or do in South Bend?
: Since we are the birthplace of the Studebaker, I recommend visiting The History Museum, which owns the Studebaker National Museum and the Oliver Mansion. While at the museum, make sure to ask about the Frank Lloyd Wright house that is down the street.

In the summer, you can kayak and go white water rafting on the East Race Waterway. In 2004, the Olympic kayaking time trials were held here.

Along the Jefferson Street Bridge, you can find the South Bend River Lights—an art installation that turns on half an hour before sunset. The best spots for viewing are Seitz Park, Colfax Bridge, Island Park, and Pier Park.

Four Winds Field. Courtesy photo. 

The South Bend Civic Theatre hosts wonderful performances put on by the community. The Morris Performing Arts Center, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022, has been named by artists, as one of the top 10 places in the country to perform.

We are also the home of the South Bend Cubs—the minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Four Winds Field is a great place to catch a ballgame.

Down the street from IU South Bend, is a farmers market that’s always hopping on Saturdays. There you will find produce, craft goods, and a great restaurant called the Farmers Market Café.

This story is part of our travel series, Travel Like a Local, which features IU alumni living in major cities all around the world.

Written By
Samantha Stutsman
Samantha Stutsman, BAJ'14, is a Bloomington, Ind., native and a senior content specialist at the IU Alumni Association.