It’s worth the drive to get the full Radius experience

Lauren Molenda, Editor

Downtown Valparaiso is full of unique restaurants, cafes, and small shops, bringing life and variety into the busy college city. One of the most popular spots, and definitely one of my favorites, is the innovative, energetic burger bar, Radius.

Back in 2016 NWI native and Merrillville High School graduate, Chef Chris Pavlou, implemented his drive to provide remarkable food, drinks, entertainment, and service to the public through the opening of Radius, located in the heart of downtown Valpo. Best known for their tasty and distinctive burgers, such as the Elvis Peanut Butter Pretzel Burger and the Redenbacher, Radius took the title of Northwest Indiana’s Restaurant of the Year in both 2019 and 2020.

This past week, I took a trip to Radius with my brother, Noah, to gain an inside look of the full Radius experience, and was extremely impressed with the phenomenal quality of food, service, and atmosphere. 

Location & Design

While Radius may be a smaller restaurant in terms of space, it brings a massive influence to the city of Valpo. From the moment you enter the door, the restaurant provides an appealing and fun vibe to customers. The modern furniture along with the relaxed lighting and fun wall decorations bring a comfortable, but exciting energy into the space. It reminds me of a studio apartment in some big city, and ties in perfectly with the unique restaurant theme.

Quality of Service

Every time I have visited Radius, the staff have always displayed the greatest hospitality and truly show that they enjoy what they do. Our server, Tia, took great care of us and greatly contributed to the strong and enjoyable experience we had. She was super personable and took the time and effort to continuously check in on us, but also worked swiftly and efficiently to get our food out to us as quickly as possible. 

The hostess and bus boy were also extremely helpful and energetic, and played a great role in the smooth running of the restaurant and wonderful customer service.

Quality of Food

The menu is full of tastefully designed appetizers and entrees, making every customer bound to find something they’ll enjoy. To start off, we ordered the Crispy Garlic Cheese Curds, served with the in-house marinara sauce. Almost immediately after ordering, our appetizer was dropped off at the table, and was plated in a visually-appealing and tasteful way. While cheese curds may seem like a simple, basic starter, this dish went way beyond our expectations. The garlic seasoning was the perfect touch that added authenticity to this appetizer, and needless to say we finished the entire bowl in minutes.

For our entrees, Noah ordered the Chicago Style Italian Beef with fries and I went with one of my all time favorite dishes, the Radius Burger, with a small side salad. Much like the appetizer, our meals were brought out quickly and looked delicious. 

The menu describes the Italian Beef as a “garlic toasted French roll with a choice of hot giardiniera or sweet marinated peppers and a cup of au jus.” Noah added cheese to his sandwich as well, and, having it for the first time,  was pleasantly surprised with the dish. Although it was a little messy to eat after pouring literally the entire side of au jus over the sandwich, he said it was full of flavor and made for a great meal. 

Another one of my favorite parts of the Radius menu is the fries. Sure, fries are a basic side dish offered at nearly any and every sit-down restaurant or fast food location you can find, but to me, none of them beat the ones at Radius. They are cooked in the most perfect way that makes them just the right amount of crunchy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. I definitely snuck a few off of Noah’s plate, and recommend them to complement any of their dishes.

The signature Radius Burger is made up of a thick burger patty, applewood smoked bacon, garlic aioli, lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized red onions, and a huge oven-baked parmesan and cheddar cheese crisp all held together on a buttered asiago peppered bun and topped with an onion ring. One of my favorite things about this burger and all of the burgers on the menu is their unique combination of toppings and sauces that make for flavorful and extravagant entrees. Everything about this burger was incredible, from the aesthetically pleasing presentation to the incredible taste and well thought-out union of the ingredients. I order this meal every time I visit, and it never fails to meet expectations, and even surpass them in ways customers could never expect. Overall, the Radius Burger is hands-down one of my favorite entrees I’ve ever had from any restaurant. I also got the salad with ranch dressing, which also seems like a basic side dish, but is still so good that it stand out from any salad from other restaurants. I am definitely a ranch person (if you know, you know) and I swear I could put the dressing from Radius on literally anything and it would be delicious. Overall, my whole meal was a 10/10 and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a unique and tasty dish.

Pricing & Portions

In everything we ate, the portions were full and large, and definitely worth every penny. Our appetizer was priced at $10.00, and each meal was only $15.00. I have paid more at burger spots like Red Robin for food that is incomparable to the high quality and tastefulness of the food at Radius. Plus, I’d much rather support a local, family-owned business over a chain restaurant anyway. Overall, everything was extremely reasonably priced for the generous amount and strong value of the food and services.

Final Review

Everything about the Radius experience, from the location, design and the level of hospitality to the quality of food, portions and pricing was spot-on. The restaurant truly makes a significant impact on Valparaiso and Northwest Indiana as a whole, bringing savory dishes and a welcoming and upbeat atmosphere to the heart of the city. I would recommend Radius to any and everyone, and rank them a 5/5, bringing them to the top of my favorite eateries in the Region.