Gateway Story: The Eclectic Food District of South Calhoun

For over 200 years, South Calhoun Street has served as a bridge between Downtown Fort Wayne and the city’s southside. Of course, over two centuries, the street has undergone many changes, but one thing has always remained: its spirit. Calhoun has long been a place for social gathering. So it’s no wonder that it’s been a dependable destination for dining. 


Nowadays, when you visit Calhoun Street, you’ll notice an eclectic mix of restaurants, running the gamut from fine dining, to mom-and-pops, and everything in between. The food scene on Calhoun is full of Fort Wayne staples, and is notably flavored by the immigrant communities that live in surrounding neighborhoods. 


Calhoun Street boasts fare that’s perfect for special occasions, quick bites, or for your next local food crawl! 

Feeling hungry? Check out the many gastro-gems on Calhoun: 


The Oyster Bar establishment has been a staple on Calhoun for almost as long as Calhoun Street has been around, dating back to the 1800s. Originally a saloon, the Oyster Bar went through plenty of changes in ownership, names and specialities (including serving as a “speakeasy” during prohibition era). It wasn’t until the 1970s that it officially became “The Oyster Bar.” Ever since, it’s been a go-to for oysters, seafood, and cocktails. The Oyster Bar is known for serving up fine food and drinks in its signature, cozy atmosphere, adorned with nautical and nostalgic relics from the past. 


Saigon Restaurant, another South Calhoun staple, has been serving Vietnamese fare since 1990. At Saigon, you’ll find Vietnamese favorites like pho, bahn mi sandwiches, and bun (a Vietnamese vermicelli noodle salad)—with some fusion peppered into the mix, like ramen, Chinese- and Thai-style stir-fries, and American diner breakfast. Delicious food aside, Saigon is also known for its homey feel. When you’re there, you’ll feel like family, being treated to a special home cooked meal. 


Mahnin, another favorite on the Calhoun stretch, is a beloved spot for Thai and Burmese food. Their space may be small, but their flavors are mighty. Known for their traditional soups, curries, and noodles, you can’t go wrong at Mahnin. Like your food spicy? Order it ‘medium,’ ‘hot’ or—for the extra brave—’Thai hot.’ If hot food isn’t your jam, ask for mild or no spice, and the cooks will be happy to accommodate.


La Margarita is a revered mom-and-pop on Calhoun, serving up no-frills, all-flavor Mexican comfort food. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, tostadas—they have all the favorites! And as you might guess from the name, they serve some killer margaritas. Don’t pass on their famous Cadillac Margarita with their fresh, house-made margarita mix! 


West Coast Grill is doing Asian fusion at its finest! They make everything from fried rice and yakisoba, to pho and bubble milk tea, to tom-yum and kung pao—and they make everything extraordinarily well. Not only is their food well-made, it’s affordable and quick, making it the perfect stop when you’re on a budget or in a hurry, but you don’t want to sacrifice quality.


Alberto’s Mexican Grill is another gem on Calhoun, serving all your Mexican favorites, like tacos, burritos, and tortas. Folks rave about their chips and salsa (they offer three types, but you’ll have to ask for anything besides the mild). Bonus: they’re open until midnight on the weekends, and they have a full bar. So, if you’re looking for some late-night eats, ditch the drive-thrus and stop by Alberto’s instead! 


Tall Rabbit Cafe + Community is new(ish) on the Calhoun food scene, but it’s been making serious waves. It’s part coffee shop, part nonprofit extension of Blue Jacket—an organization that helps adults get into the workforce. At Tall Rabbit, you can enjoy espresso and all your favorite coffee drinks (made with locally roasted beans from Utopian Coffee), baked goods, and a greater sense of community. They also offer private work spaces, if you’re looking for a place to study or plan your next business venture.

Proof Kitchen & Libations is the latest newcomer to Calhoun, although the building itself has been on Calhoun since 1915—originally the John H. Welch & Sons hardware store. In more recent years, the establishment has gone from Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, & Spirits (better known as CS3) to Welch’s Ale House, to its latest venture, Proof. The new owners are preparing to launch the new concept this month, which will focus on elevated cocktails, upscale eats and local ingredients, all served in the same casual, down-to-earth environment that the building is known for.

Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native and freelance writer. Having lived in Downtown Fort Wayne throughout her twenties, she loves watching her stomping grounds grow. With her love of storytelling and community in tow, she’s eager to tell Downtown Fort Wayne’s story piece-by-piece—exploring the people, spaces, and organizations that make it thrive.