Food in Southwest Michigan: A Primer

    Now that the school year is underway, those of you that are new to campus have probably decided that it would be nice to find a study spot off campus. I figured it would be helpful to give a brief overview of various places in the area that provide a combination of either hot drinks, food, study environment or all of the above.

Let’s begin with proximity. If transportation is a struggle, Cafe 31 (connected to the illustrious Apple Valley) has a quiet demeanor. The only setback is that you will most likely see all of the people in Berrien Springs at once.  

If studying in solitary is not a pressing issue, and you venture across town for brunch, Nikki’s Cafe provides some great morning coffee and filling breakfast and lunch options. This is a great way to get some sustenance and socialize before barricading yourself in the dorm for the rest of the day.

If you want to take a little time for yourself and need some bagels to go with your coffee, there is a Panera Bread in St. Joseph (Niles Avenue) which has a lovely fireplace to set a cozy little mood for you and your study tears. This will require you to have access to a vehicle, or find a caring soul that does.

Entering into St. Joseph area there are a wide range of cafe aesthetics to choose from.

If you enjoy large windows and the occasional live music, The South Bend Chocolate Cafe is an engaging place to go. A great place to study if you are looking to be in public but still get something productive done. They also have cake, really big pieces of cake.

Literally around the corner, there is Tosi’s Cafe. Though space is limited, it has food, pastries, amazing minestrone, and is very cozy. It is also a nice place to seclude yourself for awhile with a warm drink.

Just over the bridge into the Benton Harbor Art District, there are a couple cafes that have that Instagram worthy aesthetic that everyone hopes for while caffeinating or relaxing. Both are located on Water Street.  First, there is the Phoenix Rising. This location is signified by their lit neon sign. They have a very casual feel with plenty of spaced-out seating that ranges from high seats, full tables to comfy lounge chairs. The coffee ranges from standard house coffee with free refills to those cute lattes that have little leaf designs that makes our hearts sing.

A short walk down the street takes you to the Mason Jar Cafe, which does not have a particularly helpful study environment, but the food and coffee are fantastic. Because it is quite popular, there is often a considerable wait, during that time you can mill around and check out the many galleries they rent out to local artists. There are books, jewelry, paintings and other works of art available for purchase. Because this cafe is primarily food-oriented, there are a couple things I recommend getting, such as the stuffed french toast and lavender honey iced latte.

Now go forth and enjoy. Treat yourself, take yourself on a date. Take someone else on a date, take your roommate, take that one person you always ask for notes from. Go find your spot.


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