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Visiting Fan’s Guide: Where to Eat

This is not the chef you'll see at any of these Muncie eateries

What’s that you say? You are undertaking the mythic journey of following your team to an away game against the Ball State Cardinals? Then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Do we have the pageantry of the Auburns and Alabamas? No. Do we have the coeds of the USCs and Arizona States? Unfortunately, no. Do we have the cultural explosion of a road game at Miami? Definitely not. You also don’t have excellent odds of ending up in a bathtub full of ice in a seedy motel missing a kidney. Life is all about trade offs.

So you’re venturing to Muncie and like any fan visiting a place for the first time, you head to the interwebs in search of a place to stay, some places to eat, what to expect, and what to do. And that, ladies and gents, is where your faithful team here at OTP comes into play. We’ve done the research and Lord knows drank and ate our way through Muncie so you don’t have to. Consider it a thank you gift in advance for the W your team gave us.

On today’s edition of the Visiting Fan’s Guide? Where to stuff your face after BSU lights up the scoreboard and sends you home broken, bitter, and defeated.

If Stuffing Your Face is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right
See… here’s the thing about Muncie. Depending on where you come from it could either be tremendous disappointment or a few snazzy local spots mixed with old dependability. They used to say Ball State has “Everything You Need” and when it comes to eateries around campus, perhaps that slogan only applies a little. It’s also a curious mix of places that have great food as well as great drink, but for those few that do both well, this will focus only on the food. The sudsy beverages reserved for those of legal age or in possession of a fabulous Hawaii McLovin ID will be dealt with next week. Ready yourself for that one, sport.

Ultimately your food experience in Muncie will oscillate greatly depending where it is you’re coming from. Heading to Muncie from an area with lots of local eateries, tons of independent local flavor, or an atmosphere where the rib shacks, seafood places, or steakhouses are plentiful may leave you a bit underwhelmed. However, if you’re journeying from Lynchburg, VA (where I have in fact lived) and your choices range from The Cavalier for burgers to Yellow Submarine for some sandwiches, you may find Muncie to be indeed “Everything You Need”

Disclaimer: Chains Not Welcome Here
If you are one of those fans who like the dependable things that an Applebees or a TGI Friday’s provides, that’s awesome for you. However, I would rather spend a week as Courtney Love’s maxi pad than settle my hind quarters into a booth that is exactly the same as I could anywhere else in America. That isn’t living the dream when you travel, and you’ll have no opportunity to interact with the very people that will drunkenly tell you how bad your team sucks. And really… what sort of road trip doesn’t culminate with some good-natured hops-fueled smack talk.

There are a few exceptions to this sort of unwelcome chainness we maintain here at OTP. Occasionally you’ll find a chain that’s very regional or state-wide, which is a bit different. For example, if I was going to a Rutgers game you can bet your sweet ass that I’d be stopping at White Castle. You can also bet your sweet ass that any ass that consumes those sliders will stop being sweet approximately two hours later. You have been warned, New Jersey. To that regard, there is a Steak N Shake in Muncie. If you’ve never had it, get it. You’ll be glad you did.

So… Where Do You Eat?
The nice thing about Muncie eateries is that you don’t have so many to choose from that a fight ensues with your traveling partners about what to hit and when. Staying for a couple of nights? Great… hit ‘em all. It’s possible. We broke things up as best we could, focusing on locale which may help you plan what you are eating and when in case your travels take you to one of these areas. Campustown, Hoteltown, and Downtown. Downtown refers to the area that’s furthest away from campus and the stadium, but more along the lines of Muncie proper. Hoteltown is the area right around the budget hotels that we spoke about earlier this week. Campustown is the area right around campus. “The Village” as alums and students call it. There. Now that you’re educated, let’s begin.

Downtown Options
If you’re looking for places that are distinctly not college feeling, downtown is where you want to head. It’s not that you won’t see college kids or other fans there, it’s just sort of a different feeling as you venture further and further away from the hotels and the campus. This area would be a good place to have your Friday night meal, assuming you’re staying a couple days. These are also the places that I would say are best suited to taking a wife or girlfriend and prepaying some goodwill for the drunken fool you’ll make of yourself tailgating or after the game concludes.

  • Vera Mae’s Bistro
    • Type of Food: Pretty much everything you would expect from an upscale midwestern type place. The Italian is certainly worth a try.
    • The Skinny: From the site… “Located in the revitalized historic district of downtown Muncie Indiana, Vera Mae’s offers upscale fusion cuisine borrowing from the rich traditions of Europe, Asia and the new world. Our goal is to offer the highest quality and freshest fare available presented with impeccable service with attention to detail. Warm and inviting, the atmosphere reflects the love of the historic features inherent to the space and is filled with art work predominantly from local artisans. Our banquet facility, private dining area and seasonal outside seating allows for a wide range of accommodations.”
    • Address: 209 S. Walnut St.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Remember a few moments ago when we were talking about banking goodwill for some Saturday fun or making your lady feel special so perhaps she can give you some post game sexy time? This would be like a 5 year CD with amazing rates. And yes, we just combined financial planning, dirty thoughts, and food. We’re that good.
  • The White River Landing
    • Type of Food: Known for their seafood, which you wouldn’t think would be notable considering Muncie isn’t close to any body of water except the White River. And you don’t want to eat anything that comes from there… trust me.
    • The Skinny: Casual, good food, cold beer.
    • Address: 117 W. Charles St.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Want to go some place Muncie? Don’t want to spend a ton of cash? Still want some decent grub? Then this isn’t a bad option for you.

Hoteltown Options
This is certainly the widest swath of places in Muncie. Some within walking distance of where most of you will be staying, others a short drive away. You’ll also find most of the chains in this general vicinity like Applebees, Texas Roadhouse, Chilis and Outback. Thankfully, there are enough places not named those things that you should have plenty to choose from.

  • Bella Avanti
    • Type of Food: Italian
    • The Skinny: Decent food, decent price.
    • Address: 3201 W. Bethel
    • Website: None.
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Location is everything when it comes to the restaurant business, and this is the nicest place that’s close to the stadium, the hotels, and is within walking distance from both. Throw in good Italian food and you can’t go wrong.
  • Puerto Vallarta
    • Type of Food: Mexican. Muy bueno!
    • The Skinny: Well kept secret and sort of out of the way.
    • Address: Multiple Muncie locations.
    • Website: None
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Giant portions and gianter margaritas. Be prepared to leave fat, drunk, and happy, which contrary to Dean Wormer really isn’t a bad way to go through life at all.
  • Mancino’s
    • Type of Food: Pizza and Grinders
    • The Skinny: From the owners- “Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders will remind you of an informal neighborhood restaurant. The lines can be long at the counter, but that’s only because Muncie knows where to find great pizza. Place your order as you enter, fill your own drinks, seat yourself where you like and then your pizza or grinder arrives, fresh and delicious.”
    • Address: 4116 W. Bethel
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: If you’re in the mood for a good grinder and don’t have time to wait for delivery or can’t drive somewhere, this is the best you can get. It’s a Muncie tradition and most everyone that has spent any portion of time around this city will have had Mancino’s at least a few times.
  • Pizza King
    • Type of Food: Uh… if you have to ask with a name like that, don’t bother.
    • The Skinny: Pizza to the edge, as they say. Flat, squared pieces, shredded toppings. A little different if you’ve never had it, known awesomeness if you have.
    • Address: 1421 W. Bethel
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Hands down the reigning champion of pizza in Muncie. Opened in 1958, it’s legitimately an Indiana tradition.

Campustown Options
Venturing down to The Village to see what those crazy college kids do? Then you’ve found the right place. Be prepared, though, as parking is limited, and the lines could very well be long. This is one of those areas where alums and students alike flock to simply because of the atmosphere and the memories that most were able to make. Whether you eat down here or not, it’s definitely something to at least check out.

  • Scotty’s Brewhouse
    • Type of Food: Burgers, wraps, entrees, and appetizers that will melt your face off… in that good way.
    • The Skinny: A Muncie tradition since 1996. Established by a BSU alum and the place of some epic nights for the creators of this blog.
    • Address: 1700 W. University Ave.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: In an effort of full disclosure, Scotty’s Brewhouse may be my favorite restaurant. Despite the fact that I live in Washington, DC and have nearly every available cuisine at my beck and call. Scotty’s is one of those places where you just feel at home when you walk through the door. Great food, great people, a great environment, and a great experience await you there. It is the one place I recommend to everyone heading to one of Scotty’s cities. Part sports bar, part great food, part great beer makes for quite the enjoyable night.
  • Greek’s Pizzeria
    • Type of Food: Pizza
    • The Skinny: Another Muncie tradition and something that most alums will make a stop for at some point during their trip back to campus.
    • Address: 1600 W. University Ave.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Greek’s made more than a few of our treks home during our undergrad career bearable thanks to their walk up pizza stand that served by the slice. After a long night of beers and rabble rousing studying at the library, Greek’s hit the spot.
  • The Locker Room
    • Type of Food: Bar food, plain and simple, but better bar food than you would expect.
    • The Skinny: More of a drink place than a food place, and it will be mentioned in the “nightlife” section, but it is a decent place to stop in for lunch or dinner.
    • Address: 1813 W. University Ave.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Save your Locker Room visit for the nightlife, but it’s good to keep in mind should you find yourself out of other options.

So What to Do?
It ultimately depends on how long you’re in Muncie for, what time the game is, where you’re staying, and what you like. However, let’s play a little game where we create the hardest to please specifics and see where OTP shakes out. If we can please someone with those circumstances, odds are you will be as well. Say you’re coming to Muncie for a football game, you’re getting in to town early Saturday morning for a noon kickoff. There’s a party of 4, all of you like different things, none of you is committal about anything in particular you like. There’s of course other games on in the evening that you’d like to watch and your lady needs a good glass of wine and you a cold beer. Your friends just want to eat. Sound like any road trip you’ve ever been on?

The bottom line, and it’s a sizable one in my opinion, is that Scotty’s Brewhouse is the only place to to. Around for more than one night? Then try out some others. But ultimately, if your time in Muncie is limited, this is the only option. Get yourself some dill chips (with both ranch and horseradish) and a Blue Moon and simply forget about the thumping your team either received or is preparing to receive. Around Muncie you may pay more, but you won’t get more. Scotty’s is a Ball State tradition and one that is not to be missed.

Another Ball State tradition not to be missed? Enjoying a frosty cold beverage or 5. Coming up tomorrow on the Visiting Fan’s Guide? The Nightlife and Entertainment of Muncie, IN!

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3 Responses

  1. Nice work Alan, I’ll add my thoughts.

    No Carter’s mention? Even though it’s not technically a restaurant, Hot Dog Man deserves a shout out. I’ll hold out hope that he shows up in tomorrow’s boozing edition, because, well I don’t think I ever ate a Carter’s dog sober.

    Pizza King sucks, go with Greek’s.

    I worked in the kitchen at White River Landing back in the summer of 2004. I wouldn’t say they’re known for seafood (nothing in Muncie is or should be), but they do standard American food pretty well. The Chicken Ranch pizza is awesome, and integral in my Brady Hoke induced weight gain plan. Stay away from anything with taco meat in it though; it’s low grade dog food.

    Maybe some breakfast options should be inlcuded? Sunshine Cafe and Eva’s Pancake House are both legit and near the stadium, the Blue Bottle downtown is good as an alternative to starbucks.

    And if you want to experience real Muncie, hit up one of the Chinese buffets, either Red Sun or King Buffet. Honestly, they’re not bad and are clutch when trying to recover from a tailgate through last call hangover. Thai Smile across from the stadium is OK too, but sadly not all you can eat.

  2. BK…

    Pizza King sucking? BLASPHEMY!!! :)

    And Carter’s and the breakfast stuff is going to be covered after we do the nightlife and bars. Sort of hand in hand, along with Bamba’s, despite the new location.

    I have never been to one of the Chinese buffets in Muncie, I know… shocking. Perhaps Edge can voice his opinion.

  3. Since it’s about ten seconds west of the tailgating lots by car, Mancino’s is a good choice, but expect it to be packed after a game. If you want to rub elbows with the BSU players and their families, though, it’s the place to go…

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