Last updated on December 1, 2022 by Wandering our World
Whether you are in town for business or pleasure, there’s no reason not to sample some nightlife in this busy and vibrant river town.
Thanks in part to its proximity to the University of Notre Dame, you’ll find an abundance of bars in South Bend, IN. This is a working-class river town, right in the middle of the “rust belt”, and you’ll find many down-to-earth, fun places here – as we’ll show you below.
If you are visiting the area, take some time to explore the Studebaker Museum. Or, check out Instagram-worthy locales like the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. You’ll find parks, river walks, shopping and dining.
There is a walkable downtown district full of shops, eateries, bars, and more. And be sure to check out the interactive South Bend River Lights show!
After you explore, it’s time to find a casual place to chill, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy a couple of cocktails. You’ll find no shortage of watering holes in the city and many of them fall under the category of neighborhood bar or sports bar.
So here’s a roundup of the best bars in South Bend, IN to relax, have fun, and enjoy the vibe. We’ve split them up into three categories so you can find the best for you: Best sports bars, best live music bars, and bars that are a little different.
Let’s get going!
- The Five Best Sports Bars In South Bend
- The Four Bars In South Bend For Live Music
- Five Unique Bars in South Bend
- Our Final Thoughts
The Five Best Sports Bars In South Bend, Indiana: Food, Sports & Fun!
Sometimes you want to order some wings or fries, belly up to the bar or a nice cozy booth, and watch the game on a wall-mounted giant HDTV.
Plus, watching the big game at a sports bar means you and your friends don’t have to worry about spilling your beer on the couch and you won’t run out of snacks or have to go to the store for more beverages. It’s a win-win situation!
So here are four great locations to watch the game based on ambience, service, and food and drink quality:
1. Taphouse On The Edge
Great food: check. Amazing service: check. Lots of beers on tap: check. The list could go on, but why not just stop by and try it yourself? Customers enjoy the beer selection, people, and the food in particular at this bar.
Taphouse On The Edge is a comfy, casual, neighborhood bar that’s perfect for watching the game, having a meal, and catching up with friends.
As Taphouse sits beside Notre Dame campus this place attracts the student crowd and subsequently has very student-friendly prices – which is always a bonus! It’s not just beer and sports though – this bar often holds karaoke nights, trivia evenings, and food challenges too.
Caveat: They are closed on Sundays and close at 11:00 pm the rest of the week. They are definitely more of a family establishment than a party place, but if you are looking for a casual sports bar with friendly service, quality food, and 23 beers on tap, this is your place.
Address: 1803 S Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46637
2. Linebacker Lounge
Okay, it just doesn’t get much more “sports bar” than naming your place the Linebacker Lounge! And one of the selling points to the Linebacker Lounge is its proximity to the Notre Dame Stadium.
While it’s a popular place to stop on the way to the stadium or on the way back, it’s also ideal if you want to pull up a stool or slide into a booth and watch the game on one of their televisions.
Linebacker Lounge offers a solid menu of bar fare including burgers, appetizer platters (fried pickles!), wings, fries, and more. Customers love the fast, friendly service and the chill atmosphere too.
Address: 1631 S Bend Ave, South Bend, IN 46617
3. CJ’s Pub
What makes a great sports bar? It’s not just about the screen, it’s about the feeling of camaraderie and a welcoming vibe. CJ’s Pub has all of that and more. Patrons come back again and again because they love the service and the welcoming vibe.
Another factor? The food. While some people are okay with so-so fries and a bowl full of peanuts, others are after more than lackluster bar fare. And if good food is a priority for you, then CJ’s is your bar, as they take their food seriously.
In fact this place has a reputation for having the best burgers in South Bend, IN! You’ll just have to try them for yourself to find out if that’s true or not.
Check their hours as they are closed on Sundays and have some limited hours other days. The good news is they are open till 3:00 AM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays – great for late night food and drinks!
Address: CJ’s Pub, 236 S Michigan St, South Bend, IN 46601
4. Galley Sports Pub
The Galley Sports Pub is a pub for people who enjoy beer. Why do we say that? Well they boast 50 beers on tap – impressive!
It’s important to note that they don’t even serve hard liquor here, so this is not the place for cocktails. That might be a deal breaker, but if you are a beer connoisseur and love a good pub then this is your place.
You can relax and watch the game while you eat and enjoy local craft brews, or you can enjoy a game of pool, darts or even arcade sports games. Customers love the service, beer selection, and Tuesday Trivia Nights!
Address: 917 W McKinley Ave, Mishawaka, IN 46545
5. O’Rourke’s Public House
Whether you are here to watch the game, or have a drink and a bite before or after, O’Rourke’s Public House offers some of the best wings you’ll find anywhere, excellent drinks, and a cozy Irish Pub atmosphere that will bring you back time and time again.
Locals rave about the Irish food and the cozy decor here, as well as the excellent beer selection. O’Rourke’s is definitely one of the best sports bars in South Bend, IN.
Address: 1044 E Angela Blvd #103, South Bend, IN 46617
The Four Best Bars In South Bend For Live Music: An Atmosphere To Remember
If listening to live music is your thing, the following bars in South Bend, IN, are well worth checking out.
Live music has a special kind of energy. Whether it’s a tiny bar with one guy playing an all-acoustic set, or a full stage and a five-piece band, live music makes any night feel like a special occasion.
We’ve rounded up a few places in the South Bend area where live music is part of the experience. It’s always a good idea to check their website or call to find out what they have scheduled when you’re planning to visit:
1. The Garage Arcade Bar
Okay, hear me out: A garage, but with free-play video games, live music, and a bar. The Garage Arcade Bar is everything you wanted in a garage “back in the day” but your parents wouldn’t let you have it.
They even have Galaga – yep that classic 80s arcade game.
In fact you’ll not only find 40+ arcade games for your enjoyment, you’ll also find a unique venue to hear live music while you sip one of their amazing and creative cocktails. If you want a recommendation, try the “Skywalkers Blue Milk” or the “Smoke Show.”
Visit their website to find out about upcoming shows and events. Their hours are on their site and you can make reservations for large parties and events.
Address: 503 E Colfax Ave South Bend, IN 46617
2. The Five Star Dive Bar
This is a spacious venue with a nice stage, bar, ample seating and standing room. It’s got a full bar and serves up food as well. It’s just one of those places where you walk in and you know it’s going to be a fun night.
It’s also got an edge over smaller venues that don’t have enough seating or don’t offer a full bar and food. That food is very good too btw, as is the service. You’ll also notice some arcade games and a spacious patio area here, so there’s plenty of fun to be had.
They have live music every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They also have comedy shows every Friday, followed by live music.
Have a look at their website for up-to-date hours and information as well as upcoming line-ups.
Address: 526 S Main St, Elkhart, IN 46516
3. Cheers Music Venue And Karaoke
Cheers Music Venue And Karaoke offers a full bar and a menu with pizza and burgers, among other favorites.
The venue has changed hands a few times and been around for awhile – but if anything that just shows you that it’s a popular spot.
Just don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you, as inside you’ll find a comfortable and friendly place to eat, drink, and sing your heart out with some karaoke, or enjoy a live band or two onstage.
Address: 103 S Dixie Way, South Bend, IN 46637
4. Midway Tavern
If you love live blues music, you’ll love Midway Tavern!
An old speakeasy rumored to have been frequented by Al Capone himself, the Midway Tavern is full of history and character.
You’ll find live blues acts and strong drinks in a cozy space perfect for hanging out on the weekends.
Address: 810 W 4th St, Mishawaka, IN 46544
Five Unique Bars in South Bend, Indiana: Bars With Something A Little Different
There are a ton of good places to go get a drink, eat some food, or watch the big game while playing some pool.
We’ve already covered some local favorites both old and new. But some places stand out for one reason or another. Some offer a unique experience, while others offer exceptional drinks or service.
So let’s dive in and look at what we believe are the most unique bars in South Bend, IN!
Sometimes you want to go someplace that’s drenched in ambiance with a certain kind of vibe. You aren’t looking for the standard dive bar or sports bar, you want something different. Well, Spirited fits that bill.
Spirited has a hip, loungy vibe with unique cocktails and a comfortable setting. It’s a great date night spot or perfect for changing things up.
This place is particularly popular for the drinks and the decor, and customers love the bartender and his mad mix skills. For a drinks recommendation, try the Berried Alive or the Sage Before Beauty.
Address: 105 E Jefferson Blvd #100, South Bend, IN 46601
2. The Hideaway At The Lasalle
Considered a “hidden gem” downtown, this speakeasy type bar is loved for its atmosphere and well crafted cocktails. It’s a smaller place and patrons enjoy the quieter atmosphere that lends itself to conversation.
This makes it ideal for those nights where you truly want to catch up with your friends or get to know someone without having to shout.
Address: 237 N Michigan St, South Bend, IN 46601
3. The Exchange Whiskey Bar
If you fancy yourself as a whiskey connoisseur or just love a good whiskey, then The Exchange Whiskey Bar is for you. Do they have a good selection of whiskey? It depends on whether you think 450 different brands is a “good” selection!
You’ll also be able to order all your favorite cocktails and enjoy the loungy, cozy atmosphere. It’s one of those dimly-lit, cushy type places with a higher-end feel but that’s not pretentious.
When it’s busy service may be a little slow, so don’t go when you’re in a hurry. The whiskey selection alone is compelling though, but the atmosphere is a winner too.
Address: 112 W Jefferson Blvd, South Bend, IN 46601
4. Jesus Latin Grill & Tequila Bar
If you are looking for a spot that offers delicious food, a friendly atmosphere with fantastic service, and where the tequila flows freely, then Jesus Latin Grill & Tequila Bar is going to be one of the best bars in South Bend, IN for you.
The menu is amazing, filled with fresh, delicious Latin cuisine that will have you coming back for more. You’ll also find creative cocktails such as the Orange Creamsicle Margarita, and of course mezcal alongside craft brews.
This isn’t just a place to order chips, salsa, and tacos though. They are a Latin grill and you can experience cuisine from all over South America.
This is a fun restaurant for getting together after work with friends, celebrating a birthday, or just trying delicious new menu items and enjoying a cocktail.
Address: 122 N Hill St, Mishawaka, IN 46544
The Best Bars In South Bend, Indiana: Our Final Thoughts
That’s it for our bars in South Bend, IN, roundup. These are just a handful, of course. And you’ll find the city to be chock full of neighborhood bars and pubs, not to mention restaurants that serve cocktails and beer.
Many of the above-mentioned bars are found in the historic downtown district, making it easier to hop from one bar to the next if you wish.
Outside of the downtown area, things are a bit more spread out, so it’s a good idea to have a designated driver or take a cab or rideshare to get from one place to the next.