If you’re looking for true Central Illinois flavor, nightshop in Bloomington is your place. They source their bread from Central Illinois Bakehouse, eggs from Grani’s Acres in Fairbury, sausage and dairy from Kilgus Farmstead, bacon from Bloomington Meats, and produce from a variety of local farms.

nightshop, opened in early 2018, offers a comprehensive vegan/vegetarian menu with brunch, lunch, and dinner options. There are meat options on the menu, for the Ron Swansons in your group. As a vegetarian, nightshop’s menu gets plant-focused eating right. Most of their options start as veggie-friendly with the addition of meat as a slight upcharge. 

My husband and I stopped in on a Saturday morning after wandering the nearby farmers' market. The restaurant is located in Downtown Bloomington, just a few blocks north of the McLean County Historical Museum. As Bloomington-Normal natives, we’ve watched our friends and colleagues post tasty Instagram-worthy photos on their social media pages from nightshop so we knew we needed to make the trip.

We grabbed a table (seating is open), and started perusing the menu. Breakfast is offered on weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. I ordered their brunch special, fried green tomato benedict ($9), boasting a buffalo hollandaise sauce sprinkled with scallions covering poached eggs and two slices of fried green tomatoes sitting on top of a homemade buttermilk biscuit. The meal came with a side of hash browns and either toast or a fresh fruit cup. I went all in on the carbs and ordered wheat toast.

My husband ordered the breakfast hand pies ($9). The hand pies were filled with scrambled eggs, spinach, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and onion, with hash browns and a fresh fruit cup on the side (which came garnished with edible flowers). We skipped the typical brunch alcohol fare (mimosas and bloody marys) and went straight to the draft beer list. Whoever orders their draft beer knows what they’re doing, in my unprofessional opinion. There was a mix of light, dark, hoppy, sweet, seasonal, local, and foreign options. We each ordered a pint ($6) to help us wash down our breakfast.

From the moment our plates were laid in front of us, we knew we were in for a special meal. Everything look so good — we decided to split the meals — so nobody would feel left out of the experience. The eggs benedict was fantastic. The eggs were perfectly poached, the runny yolk as you cut into the meal paired well with the spice of the rich hollandaise sauce. The fried green tomatoes added a welcome crunch to the meal and the buttermilk biscuit was tender and moist.

The hand pies were memorable. My husband described them as “the best homemade hot pocket I’ve ever eaten.” The pie itself was a nice golden brown, flaky, and buttery. The scrambled eggs oozed with cheddar cheese and there was a nice balance of the veggies. You get two triangle side pieces. The pies alone are enough to fill someone up for hours. The baked items were so yummy, we wandered over to the baked good area – filled with apple and pumpkin-themed treats – but realized we couldn’t find any more room in our stomachs.

Our sides of hash browns were crispy on the outside, but soft as you start to dive in. They were simply seasoned and well-portioned for the amount of food we ordered. The fruit cup included pineapple, strawberries, grapes, and melon, and the Central Illinois Bakehouse toast was great. We left nightshop full and looking forward to our next visit to try out their lunch/dinner menu.

Before I finished writing this review, my husband decided we needed to go back again to try their vegan queso (he is a carnivore with a passion for queso). So, we made another trip for the dip. We popped in a week later for two more pints of Oktoberfests ($6 each) and to try their vegan queso ($7 with homemade chips) and garden salsa ($6 with homemade chips). He did not leave disappointed. The vegan queso is cashew-based, and it would have fooled anyone who did not know it was vegan. It had a creamy texture with a slight smoky flavor. The salsa was definitely fresh and packed with flavor from the mix of jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes. The homemade chips were crispy, lightly sprinkled with coarse salt, and a perfect vehicle to get queso and salsa from their respective bowls to our watering mouths.

Between breakfast, lunch, and dinner they have a variety of options including breakfast sandwiches, waffles, French toast, scrambles, baked goods, teas and coffee, salads, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, and more.

Obviously we had a positive food experience, but we also have had nothing but wonderful interactions with their staff. The wait and bartending staff were fun, helpful, and add to the cool, relaxed atmosphere of nightshop.

The space has an eclectic and modern look to it. It’s family-friendly restaurant by day, concert venue by night. There is a combination of low top and high top seating, with multi-colored lighting, music posters, a full bar (with 22 draft beers), and a baked goods area.

nightshop
517 N Main St
Bloomington
M-Th 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
F 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sa 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Su 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Photos by Jordan Goebig