eating indie in indy

The Working Man’s Friend Tavern 234 N. Belmont

After going to more contemporary joints the last couple of weeks I thought we needed a change. We needed to go back to our roots. So we decided to visit a local legend. The Working Man’s Friend. Pat and I have both been here several times but this is the first time we visited together. Sometimes we forget that the older joints have as much to offer a community as the newer more trendy spots. This place opened in 1918 as a lunch counter built by an immigrant from Macedonia named Louie Stamatkin. We met the third generation owner; Becky, and she has as clear a business perspective as her ancestor. She showed us a copy of the history of the joint, the short version;but I didn’t bring my scanner so I had to rely on the phone camera.

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I apologize for the poor copy. I was unable to find an alternate source so this is all I am able to give.

The place offers several tables and a 60 foot long bar. A bar that was the longest in Indianapolis when it was built in 1952. Since their menu is limited they rely on 2 signs to tell the clientele. A small one on a side wall.

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And a more extensive sigh behind the bar.

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As a bar they do offer the basic liquors and bottled beer. As for their drafts they only offer Bud and Bud Light. Of course they do sell a 32 ounce frosted goblet for about 5 bucks.

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As for the “ambiance” it was as old-time as you would expect. No exposed ducts or art work. Just the usual beer distributor give a ways behind the bar.

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Pat and I both opted for burgers. They do have a fish sandwich,but Pat forgot that,or didn’t notice so he ordered a double with fries.

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About their burgers. They are simply ground beef, nothing proprietary,just plain cow. They seem to be put up in 4 ounce patties and then smashed on a hot griddle. The seasoning is minimal;if at all. The appeal is the beefy crispness of the burger. The bun is a generic store bun but the overall flavor makes this an exceptional bite. They use shredded lettuce;which I do like, even though I opted for just onion and pickle. For the double they give a middle bun;like a Big Mac. But you can get it without.

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My single was crispy and tasty. There is always a danger that a smashed burger can be dry. But if they are done with the proper amount of attention and brought out in time that is not an issue. Pat opted for fries but I decided on onion rings. These are beer battered and fried and are delicious.

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I was very impressed with the rings. I know they are the bane of Pat’s existence but if you aren’t allergic a good battered onion ring is a wonder. So if you want to wander into an Old School lunch room then by all means try this one. They are open from 11 to 5 and only take cash.

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9 responses

  1. jay

    I really enjoy your guys’ posts. Keep on keeping on.

    July 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    • Thanks. Appreciate it.

      July 10, 2015 at 12:54 pm

  2. I’d try the burgers and fries and onion rings with a big old light beer in a heartbreat, Benson. Yummy. Really reasonable prices, too.

    July 9, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    • Oh I think you would like it. It is as comfortable as an old sweater.

      July 10, 2015 at 5:49 am

  3. LOL @ the last bit of your note! ๐Ÿ˜€
    I am so interested in onion rings…my in-laws turned us onto this place waaaay out on the Pike, and I’ve eaten there three times now, and just last time saw the enormous onion rings that can be ordered. I was all :O OMG IT’S LIKE A VOLCANO MADE OF ONION RINGS! I like onion rings, but I’m kinda picky, lol — I’m sensing you can guess that.
    Can’t say I’ll go to this place, but the onion rings look great!

    July 9, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    • By Pike do you mean Pendleton Pike? Onion rings are as common in bars as shot glasses,but most joints use one of dozens of pre made IQF rings.That’s why I never order them when I am out. Not saying they are bad just saying that hand battered are better. These may well be the best I have tried.

      July 10, 2015 at 6:01 am

  4. Only cash, only Bud, but the onion rings are good. Well, then. And hey, you do a LITTLE work, right?

    July 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    • That’s right. I do a LITTLE work. Yeah I know the options are limited. Heck the menu could fit on a post card but the joint is full every day at lunch.For me the appeal is the burgers. Flat and crisp. Reminds me of Art’s Drugs in Brightwood. Glad you see you back.

      July 15, 2015 at 6:18 am

      • ๐Ÿ™‚

        July 15, 2015 at 11:39 am

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