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J.E.Light Cafe 1901 E. 86th Street

This is a first for us. The J.E.Light Cafe is a student run cafe associated with North Central High School. We have reviewed Courses; the equivalent outlet for Ivy Tech; but I wasn’t aware Indianapolis High Schools had such programs. North Central isn’t the only one but it was the one with the most up to date media ensuring us they were indeed serving Thursday.

The menu was small yet quite eclectic, with an International flair. From Korean soup to Vietnamese sandwiches and All American cheeseburgers. The prices; as you can imagine are more than reasonable. The entrees were $6.95; soup was $1.50 per cup and desserts were $3 and $1.50.

We both started off with a cup of soup.

The soup was very well done. Chunks of smoked brisket in a rich chile infused broth. An excellent remedy for a rainy day. Prior to the service of the soup we were given a basket of house made chips.

Quite a few “professional” joints make their own chips. I don’t think any place does them better, and most don’t do them as well.

As I mentioned earlier their menu had a distinct International spin. As tempting as the choices were I decided on a lighter offering. Sushi. I was more than a little surprised by that option. Sushi requires a few years to become proficient. However I think that if young cooks are taught the basics of rolling and forming and the ever important knife work then those skills will be beneficial in all cooking. So a tip of the hat to the JEL Cafe staff.

Their Sushi plate was composed of spicy tuna roll, inside out roll, salmon and tuna Nigiri and seasoned edaname. Plus the ever popular wasabi and soy as well as pickled ginger.

Once again I was impressed with the dish. Actually sushi is difficult to critique for me. Most rolls are consistent in the ingredients used. The only difference is the portion of the ingredients. I found this offering most enjoyable. Last but not least I opted for a dish of their Chocolate Gelato.

Another hit. Well made and richly chocolate. A steal at $1.50. It is a shame that their “season” is nearly over. Next week is their last service. Cinco de Mayo. I just might have to go back.

I think North Central has a program they can be proud of. Now is an exciting time to be part of the culinary scene in Indy.

 

Jimbo’s BBQ 9211 Crawfordsville Road

This joint is located in an old house right on US 136. They have limited seating and parking in the rear. Just in case you aren’t sure where you are this is on the side of the house.

It is small place that is as neat as a pin. All of the food they offer is listed on 2 chalkboards on the wall.

As soon as you park and step outside your car you can smell it. When you walk through the front door you can smell it. A carnivore’s dream. Smoked meat. Pat and I both enjoy BBQ and have eaten at several but I don’t recall that many joints that offer chili; and none that offer Brunswick stew. The stew tempted me but I was there to try the BBQ so I ordered their brisket special with one side and drink for $8.99.

The bun was pretty generic but the brisket was far from being run of the mill. It had a nice smoke ring and an excellent smoke flavor. It was also very tender and lean. The sandwiches come undressed but they offer 4 different sauces at the table. Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and Carolina. The first three are tomato based with varying degrees of sweetness. The Carolina a vinegar based. I liked a combo of Carolina and KC. While the meat was exceptional the mac and cheese was ho-hum. Macaroni with canned cheese sauce. Very cheesy just not what I look for in a Mac and cheese.

Pat is right there are several joints that do a good job with pulled pork. It is just a matter of how good that determines where to go. That and location. Clermont is pretty far for the both of us so I can’t see me hanging out there. However I can see myself going back for the stew. That is not something you see every day.

George’s Mexican Taco 801 Broad Ripple Avenue

Well as a rule we do not eat Mexican that often. Pat is not a big fan of Mexican food because of those pesky onions. I enjoy most Mexican foods. Even the average ones. This is a small joint with a small menu. The sort of joint where you go to a counter; order and they bring the food to you.

Their menu is posted at the front next to the order counter. As I said it isn’t very big. Tacos, burritos and quesadillas. They also make their own chorizo, which intrigued me as I make chorizo as well. The burros sell for $8.50 with choice of meat. All come with the meat beans, cheese and rice all together in a tortilla. So I ordered a steak burrito.

The burrito was pretty good and very filling. I still can’t get used to the idea of  beans and rice tucked into a burrito. I didn’t eat the tortilla but I did eat all the filling. It went really well with a nice tomatillo sauce.

I also purchased a singled out chorizo taco for $2.99. They give an option of corn or flour torts. Naturally I got the corn. I thought it pretty authentic and tasty.

They sell their tacos for $2.99 ea or 3 for $8.50. The usual suspects for protein choice and of course the obligatory Jarrito beverage selections. I think it was a decent little joint for lunch. Do I think it could be a destination? No, not for me; but if you are already there I think it would be a good choice.
George's Mexican Tacos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Robby’s Pub 1345 West Southport Road

Pat suggested this place because he and Fran ate breakfast there on Saturday and he was quite impressed with his omelet. The menu is comprised of  typical tavern fare with daily specials thrown in to liven things up. It is a large joint with a huge bar. It is definitely built for crowds and the employees are super friendly. As soon as we set down our bar tender introduced herself. She also introduced us to the other server and the owner. Very friendly people. As we were talking to the owner I asked her about their fried chicken liver appetizer. I love chicken livers but I recently learned there is an IQF product that some joints use. I am not ready for those. She assured me that they were indeed done in-house. So as I was scanning the menu for something to add with them the owner told me she had put an order of livers for me. How nice.

They were delicious. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with a nice seasoned breading. A great snack later on with a bit of Dijon mustard.

Pat’s special came with a side salad. I was pleased to learn that with a sandwich you get a choice of several side options and salad was one. Without a upcharge

I really had no idea what I wanted to eat. I decided on a blackened chicken sandwich. The chicken is grilled or breaded. They blacken it by adding a Cajun seasoning to it and grilling it. Not traditional but it can be tasty if done well;and this was done well.

It was a huge single lobe breast that was probably 8 ounces. It had a nice spicy exterior and a moist interior. Something I like to have with a chicken breast yet seldom get in most preparations. I was only able to eat half of it.

Also this joint is noted for the beer specials. Wednesday was $1 Coors bottles. I am not a huge fan of the Silver Bullet but  it was really cold and only a buck, and it hit the spot. Both the Bullet and baked spaghetti special happen only on Wednesday. The special was $6.95. My chicken sandwich was $7.25, and happens everyday.

I want to thank both Liz, our server and Jerry, Robby’s owner for their graciousness. They both made our day.

Robby's Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mayberry Cafe 78 West Danville In.

This is going to be a fun post. Not only does this joint have good food it also has some great photo ops. Even for a bad photographer.

This is parked out front. I couldn’t get the whole car into the pic. I backed up all the way to the wall to get this shot.

This is the view we got when we parked. That is right. We parked right behind Sheriff Taylor’s squad car.

The town of Danville is the home for this Cafe. The cafe is an homage’ to Andy Taylor and the popular TV series featuring Sheriff Taylor and all of his friends and family. In addition to all the kitsch and pictures they also offer an amazing menu of good food.

To start we had to try the mushrooms. They served them in a metal cone, more apt for pomme’ frites;. I thought it was pretty cool for mushrooms.

The mushrooms were pretty good. Not exceptional but good. Worth the 6 buck charge. This place offers beef in many ways, all of which are slow roasted brisket.

I was torn. They offer a very nice salad bar for $7.50. They also offer variations with soup or baked potatoes with the salad bar. I was tempted but their house burger is a combo of  sirloin and brisket ground fresh daily and grilled to order. That was my call. I asked for it rare. I was told they could do that. The burger came out more medium.

In defense of the kitchen Indiana has rules regarding the temperature of ground meat products. If I remember properly all ground meat patties should reach a temp of 165 degrees. So I can see a kitchen dude just agreeing with the server and then cooking the burger to what they consider “legal temp”. Some joints will cook me a med- rare burger with no problem. Some won’t. So it is probably a crap shot. What I can say is this was a very good burger. Had it been cooked to rare or medium rare it would have been fantastic.

So I must say I was quite impressed with the food. I also thought that the decor was wonderful. It is a combo of country kitsch and old-time TV memory.

As an end to our lunch we shared a strawberry shortcake. It was very good. Two thick slices of pound cake smothered in strawberries and covered with whipped cream. Three bucks.

So I think this is a wonderful place to visit. Not only do you have an opportunity to hang in a Mayberry joint you also have a chance to have some excellent food.

Mayberry Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Bethel Ordinary 8838 Southeastern Ave. Wanamaker Ind.

Some time back Pat and I made a small tour of Wanamaker eating at Extraordinary Pizza and Wheatley’s. We had heard of The Ordinary but never got around to going there. Last week our server at Rebar  made a pitch for us to give it a try. He is a night-time cook there and told us they offered more than pizza.

I am not sure how old the building is but the floor looks ancient. The dining area is a comfortable size and the menu is of a reasonable length featuring all the foods you would expect of a Hoosier tavern.

Pat decided on an individual pizza for $6.50 with 2 bread sticks.

The bread sticks are fashioned from their pizza dough and are first-rate. They come with a generic canned nacho cheese sauce for dipping.

The first thing I noticed on the menu is the prices. They are very reasonable. All of their sandwiches come with waffle fries and one other side. I wanted a burger. Their basic burger is a half pound Angus for $7.95. I decided on the Texas BBQ Burger for $8.95. It comes with bacon, cheddar cheese, an onion ring and of course BBQ sauce.

It was a pretty good burger cooked on a griddle. I did order it mid-rare but it came out more medium. I think I may start ordering my burgers rare. Never the less it was a good bite. The bacon was freshly fried and the bun was nicely toasted. I would order one of their burgers again.

My other side dish was homemade potato salad.

It was a very good potato salad. Small pieces of potato that were almost of a mashed consistency. Not what I am accustomed to but still nice.

I like Wanamaker. In some ways that stretch of Southeastern Ave reminds me of a short stretch of Route 66 that is the main drag for Moriarty New Mexico. A whole bunch of restaurants and bars in a short piece of road. The Ordinary has some pretty good food with excellent prices and it is close to Indianapolis so I think it is worth a visit.

New Bethel Ordinary Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rebar 20 N. Delaware

Yep; it is a bar. But to be more accurate it is a Rebar. Now what is a Rebar? Well in this case I would say it is a joint that has a wall of serve yourself beer. The concept is great. You get a plastic card. You place it on a sensor and the pour yourself as much beer as you like. You are charged by the ounce and they offer 20 different rotating taps. You can get  2 ounces for a taste or a 12 ounce glass to enjoy with your meal. To me it is a winner for everyone concerned. For the consumer you do not need to worry about an over worked bartender, and for the house the bartender is free to do other things. Plus the place gets paid for the tastes that folks expect to get. I should have taken a picture.

But we were here for the food. From what we sampled I would say that these guys have probably the best “bar” food around. The kitchen staff is composed of young people who went to the Chef’s Academy here in town. So they have a crew of knowledgable and creative folks that are in this business by choice. Which does make a difference.

They make the majority of the food from scratch. The exceptions are the buns, fries and cheese curds. The batter on the curds is reminiscent of what you would find on a corn dog. They were pretty good but there is better out there. It is a shame they don’t have the room to batter their own. I think they would probably hit it out of the park.

The dipping sauce they served with them was a dill Ranch dressing. Too close to tartar sauce for me but it was a decent condiment. They have set lunch specials. Pat opted for the house burger for $8.

Now isn’t that a splendid hunk of meat. Pat gave me a bite and it was as tasty as it looked. I decided on a pair of sliders for $7. You get your choice of an Angus blend burger, house smoked and pulled pork or a spicy sloppy Joe. I ordered the BBQ and the Sloppy Joe. Again I was impressed. I know pulled pork and sloppy Joes are hardly haute cuisine but some preparations are better than others . Even with the simplest of dishes.

Pat and I are in agreement about the chips. They served a whole bunch of them but they were fried too crisp for us.

This place is in a perfect location for me. It is a short block away from the new Transit Center. Since I do not drive downtown, and since it has a patio on a very busy street I can see myself sitting there having lunch and a couple of Adult beverages. Speaking of  beverages they have a Adult milk shakes featuring Graeter’s Ice Cream with various liquors.

https://www.rebarindy.com/

They are changing their menu soon so I am sure I will be back there at least once more when that happens. Actually I will probably be back with some regularity. It is a fun joint to visit.

 

Rebar Indy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thunderbird 1127 Shelby Street

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The sign is a bit misleading. The Thunderbird opened as a night club in 1950, and “rocked” it old school until 1972. I was never there. I went to old-time “divey” bars and for late night entertainment there was Broad Ripple.

I think this new incarnation opened 2 years ago as a dinner house. They just recently decided to give lunch a go. Here is a link to their website.

http://thunderbirdindy.com/

I suggested this place a couple of weeks ago. I think Pat agreed just to humor me. As he has said many times he is a simple man with simple tastes. Also he has a well know aversion to onion.

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I don’t agree with Pat’s assessment that this place is a bistro. Their food is pretty much comfort foods with a Southern focus and a chef driven spin. Are their prices high? Yep;on some items. A 9 buck grilled cheese is high. On the other hand at $3 my biscuit sliders were quit reasonable. Especially when you realize a McDonald’s bacon, egg and cheese biscuit costs more.

One thing Pat commented on was how oily the chips were. Tasty but oily. Evidently they flash them in the fryer for a bit and then sprinkle them with old bay seasoning.

They have okra fries on their menu. I like fried okra. Finding it around here is difficult. The few places that offer it give you this frozen stuff in a bag . Here they buy it fresh, cut it and fry it to order.

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You get a nice sized bowl for $5. They offer a spicy mayo based dipping sauce I wasn’t really a fan of. I did enjoy the okra though. It is pickled before it is breaded and fried. Which adds a whole new layer of flavor and it also adds a bit of acid to the mix. Now for the biscuit sliders.

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They offer two options. Braised pork belly and fried chicken. I got one of each. The belly was melt in your mouth tender. They topped it with an onion jam, which was pretty sweet. It fit well with the fatty pork but after a few bites it became almost cloying. The next time I get it I will 86 the jam.

You can get your chicken biscuit mild or hot. I chose hot and it had a pleasant burn. The chicken biscuit comes topped with their slaw and house pickles. The slaw was vinegar based and played off the spicy crunch of the chicken nicely. My taste for slaw leans more towards the creamy style but this variety did its job well. I think a side of the slaw might be too “dry” when eaten by itself. The biscuits themselves were nice. Flaky yet substantial enough to hold up to fried chicken. The pickles were unique to my taste buds. They are of the refrigerator variety. You slice ’em; pickle ’em and stick them in the fridge. I enjoyed them.

This place is well-appointed with lots of wood and custom light fixtures. The whole joint has a dimly lit ambiance. Suitable for an evening of cocktails and snacks. I think that would be the best way to enjoy this space. With some friends and a few cocktails and eats. They offer craft draft as well as wine but I think they take their mixed drinks very serious. The bartender has several bottles of syrups that they use to flavor some of their liquors. The bartender is also serious about Bourbon. He likes to keep Bonded bottles around. Nothing says commitment like a few bottles of 100 Proof bottled in bond liquor.

Thunderbird Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charlie Brown’s Pancake and Steak House 1038 Main St Speedway In.

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No. Not that Charlie Brown. This Charlie Brown

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Sorry. I couldn’t resist. This Charlie Brown has only been around since 1975, serving breakfast and lunch to 1000’s of folks in this west side community of Speedway. Pat and I have had this on our list for so long we had damn near forgot about it. Today we remembered and thought it was time.

Some folks call it a diner. Some folks call it a truck stop;without all the trucks. Out of all the reviews I read no one really had anything bad to say about the food. Except for one guy, and he was down on the whole Speedway thing.

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Pat allowed me a bite of his cakes and they were quite good, nice and fluffy. I too fell in line with breakfast. A sausage omelet with raisin toast instead of pancakes.

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I thought it was great. Three eggs loaded with a large portion of sausage and cheese. I can’t say anything bad about my meal or this joint. I believe my plate was less than $7 and Pat’s was about $5. They also have some excellent breakfast specials they serve before 11 AM. They offer regular lunch items as well as country fried steaks smothered with sausage gravy. That is for a serious appetite. Also they have a “fritter” as well as a breaded tenderloin. I would guess that would be closer to something we got at the drive in when we were kids. So folks who have been here know. New folks in the area should probably find out. It is a nice little joint.

 

Charlie Brown's Pancake and Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fort Ben Pub 5645 N. Post Road

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We have been asked before why we go to so many bars or taverns. Some folks don’t consider such places as “legitimate restaurants”. Well considering the crowd these joints feed at lunch time I would say that is a minority opinion.

We have been to all the bars we lunch at before; for a beer or cocktail. The ones that  offer something unique or special we add to our list. This week we couldn’t really decide on what we wanted to eat. I recalled Fort Ben’s Wednesday Special. A 6 ounce bacon wrapped filet with fries, toast and a salad for $9.25. Now that is a special Special.

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Pat ordered his medium and mine was medium rare. For all practical purposes they were the same temperature. The beef was very tender and had a very nice char quality to it. It was a record for speed that is for sure. I believe it was because the steak was par cooked prior to the order, and the fries were probably fried earlier and stored under a heat lamp. All perfectly reasonable and legitimate “tricks” done to expedite the lunch service. Also you could eat it in record time since you didn’t need to cool anything down. The meat was still tasty and I would do it again were I in the area. However Murphy’s @Flynn’s use to have a similar steak special for $9.99;and the steaks didn’t start cooking until you ordered. They might have raised the price a buck since Pat and I were there. Check their website.

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This particular place has a full repertoire of daily specials; both lunch and dinner. The specials may make this particular spot your destination. So don’t be too quick to overlook lowly bars or taverns for a bite to eat. Remember some of the best scratch type cooking can often be found at these bars.
Fort Ben Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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