Upon my bittersweet return to IUB after break, my best friend and decided to take advantage of the slow (people) traffic in Bloomington. (And the residence hall food courts were closed and we were hungry, so a new restaurant was definitely in order.) I was in the mood for a burrito and after the expected Chipotle vs. Qdoba back-and-forth, he suggested that we try Laughing Planet Café. He claimed that the burritos there were insanely fresh (and organic.) I indifferently agreed with a “first time for everything attitude” and we proceeded to the Laughing Planet Cafe on the corner of Kirkwood and S. Grant.
We walked into the restaurant, which looked like a rainbow explosion at first glance. The bright orange-yellow walls were heavily decorated with abstract paintings and bright graphics from local artists. My eye was then drawn to the colorful chalkboard at the register, the MENU. I forgot I wanted a burrito. Fresh fruits and steamed veggies, all natural meats and cheeses… a little much for a first-timer. I proceeded to hand it over to my best friend to make a decision for me. One of the waiters suggested a Cuban Burrito and said “plantain” in the same sentence. We were both sold. We placed our orders seated ourselves in the back room facing an entire wall full of local artwork. I felt the atmosphere of the restaurant was really comfortable and laid back (I could tell it was built with the contemporary art-lover in mind). A little Frank Ocean playing on the radio made me feel like I was at a friend’s house for lunch. I did notice a table topper titled something like “Burrito-Eating Etiquette” and felt a tiny bit intimidated by the possibility of dropping hot beans and rice in my lap. The advice was taken though. We got our burritos pretty quickly, and I made sure to mind my burrito manners as I unwrapped the steamy Cuban magic. With a dab of fruit salsa, I took a small (dainty) bite…flavor explosion. I asked my best friend what else was in it, “brown rice, black beans, grilled chicken, plantain, salsa fresca, and a little barbeque sauce.” It was the perfect combination of savory, sweet and spicy love in a flour tortilla. The salsa fresca (a fruit salsa- I tasted oranges, pears, and chilies) was a sweet, chunky salsa with a little heat. Combined with the homemade barbecue, the two sauces helped everything blend together really nicely with the chicken. On top of that, there was a whole plantain in the burrito! I was more than pleased and surprised how flavorful an organic burrito could actually be… Between rice, beans, and plantain, I was getting a little lethargic and was slowing down faster than I wanted to. I was convinced that I couldn’t finish it and wrapped up the remainder of my burrito (about half, it was pretty big) and called it a meal. For the amazing price of $6.25 plus a drink, I was happy to pay less than 12 dollars for lunch (and dinner later.) Overall, I was really pleased with the dining experience as a whole. I had a great burrito that was made fresh, full of flavor and HEALTHY! The restaurant itself is very open and inviting and I didn’t break my bank on lunch. Score 1 for college student. I would definitely recommend the Laughing Planet Café for anyone looking for great organic food (salads, burgers, burritos, salads, quesadillas) on a budget and that’s relatively close to campus. (A bus ride to the Sample Gates and MAYBE a 4 block walk.) I would give the Laughing Planet 4 out of 5 stars, definitely a great alternative to a Chipotle/ Qdoba burrito.