eating indie in indy

diners

Hoagies and Hops 4155 Boulevard Place

Eight years ago Flat 12 Brewery opened. Like most breweries the food option consisted of the occasional food truck. Then three years ago Hoagies and Hops set up shop in their tasting room. We reviewed it for the Indy Bacon week about a year ago and they put out an impressive sandwich. Now Flat 12 is going their own way on food and Hoagies and Hops has moved to another spot and hooked up with Chilly Water Brewing.

It is a very nice spot. Each business has its own area separated by a wall; with an opening and 2 separate entrances. That I am sure was to placate our curious alcoholic beverage laws.

The husband and wife team that started the eatery are purists; they import the bread from South Jersey and use House sliced Delmonico rib eye for their cheese steaks. Their Hoagies and cheese steaks come in 3 sizes; 7,9 and 18 inches. As for their cornerstone cheese steak you order it with or without onions and Provolone or Cheese whiz. I got a 7 inch cheese steak or Shorty with onions and cheese whiz for $7.99. Wow. It was a very nice sandwich. Flavorful and loaded with steak. The bread was the perfect complement to the meat and cheese.

On my second trip I wanted to try one of their cold hoagies. They use Dietz and Watson cold cuts. That is considered the Godfather of luncheon meats. I ordered the Hog Island. It offered Salami, Ham, Prosciutto, Capicola and Provolone. I enjoyed the freshness and crispness of the fillings and great texture of the bread.

Both of the sandwiches I tried were top-notch. Since this joint is so close to me I will definitely be a regular. FYI on Wednesday Chilly Water features $4 pints and $7 Growler fills. In addition Hoagies and Hops discounts their half Cheese steaks by 2 bucks. Now how can a beer drinking bargain seeking carnivore resist that.


Continental Grill Family Restaurant 3815 W. Washington Street

https://www.continentalgrill.net/

For some reason we don’t venture to the west side very often. I discovered this place by “surfing the web.” It started out as a Waffle House and opened in 1970. It changed identities recently and appears to be doing very well.

The menu is huge and they have different specials every day, breakfast and lunch and dinner. It would seem as though some of their lunch specials are menu items at a reduced price. However they did offer a Swiss Steak Manhattan which really intrigued me. They also offered an 8 ounce rib eye with toast and 2 sides for $9.99. That I couldn’t resist.

They aren’t much on presentation; as you can see. It didn’t matter. The steak was a perfect medium rare and delicious. They had an extensive list of sides but I decided on butter beans and potato pancakes.

Butter beans are not seen on too many menus. I enjoy them; and here they even serve them with a fresh buttery taste spread.

The pancakes were probably not made in-house but were pretty tasty. They were made with mashed potatoes and had a nice crisp to them.

So if you are hungry but not sure what you want than this joint may be just the place for you. Lots to choose from with big portions and good prices.

 

 

 


Mom’s Country Kitchen 1313 N. Sherman Drive.

Up until recently this was the Sawmill Saloon. The kind of joint you went to for an uninspired but decent meal or more than a few cheap beers. Now it is a diner, one that serves lunch, dinner and breakfast all day.

Pat and I just thought we were hungry. Pat had their basic breakfast. Two eggs with sausage or bacon, toast and potatoes. He got a pound of potatoes, 4 slices of bacon and what looked like more than 2 scrambled eggs for $7.50. He also decided he needed a half order of biscuits and gravy for $2.99

This is all the food Pat ordered for breakfast.

After all this it is no wonder Pat forgot that we ate here when it was the Sawmill Saloon.

https://kosherhamandcheese.com/2014/07/22/sawmill-saloon-1313-n-sherman-drive/

I had their works platter. Two sausage, 2 biscuits, 2 eggs and potatoes and gravy for $7.99. The amount of food was nearly embarrassing. Not only did we each get a mound of potatoes but they were nicely prepared. A bit under seasoned but still nicely done. The sausage patties were super sized and delicious with a bit of spice. The gravy was pretty good but the biscuits were average.

I don’t think this place is still a destination but if you are hungry for a well prepared breakfast and you are even close by I don’t think you can go wrong with stopping in. I wouldn’t mind trying their lunch just to see how they handle that. They also proudly proclaim steak and eggs for $9.99 all day, every day. Normally I would avoid steaks in a diner but I saw a sign inside announcing that they refuse to cook any steak well done. Now that intrigues me. I just may have to go back for steak and eggs.


Friend’s Diner 989 US 31 Whiteland Indiana

I know I am always complaining about the dearth of meat and threes around here. Well we found one. Shame you have to drive to Whiteland to visit. Actually it is a meat and three for dinner and a meat and two for lunch. In either event it is definitely a place to consider. Drive and all.

I am not sure how long they have been open. Pat came across it more by accident than intent. They do not have much of an electronic presence so don’t look for a menu. However I believe they have a new menu so that may change.

All of their dinners are mostly $9.99 and come with 3 side dishes. The luncheon plates are $6.99 and $7.99 with a choice of 2 sides. They offer a nice variety of sides even including asparagus.

I agree with Pat about the trout. It is not the usual fish you find on a restaurant menu around here. I was impressed with Pat’s plate. The broccoli appeared to be fresh and I tasted Pat’s fish and I found it to be outstanding.

I opted for a more traditional comfort meal. Chicken and dumplings with mashed and coleslaw. The chicken and dumplings were good. They just weren’t made the way I prefer. I like my dumplings to be fluffy pillows. These were rolled and cut. They were good dumplings just not what my mouth was “set for”. It is like biscuits. Rolled and cut or dropped. Both good it is just what you may prefer.

Regardless of the style of dumpling this was an excellent lunch, and for $6.99 I don’t think you could find a better bargain. This joint is farther from me than Pat but I can see myself driving just to try their breakfast. If a place can do a lunch like this I am always curious about their breakfast service. Especially the biscuits and gravy.

This is one of the biscuits we received for lunch. It is of the dropped variety. It was pretty darn good. Now I want a couple of those smothered with sausage gravy; maybe with a side of crisp bacon. Well that will be for another day.


MCL Cafeteria & Bakery Arlington 6060 E. 10th Street

MCL has been around since 1950. It started in Indianapolis and now has several locations in Indiana, Ohio and even Illinois. They pride themselves on scratch made comfort food and homemade pies.

The menus vary slightly from place to place but they all have a Blue Plate special and a Mayfield’s Value Plate. That is reduced portion of protein with 2 small sides and bread for $6.99. It used to be called the Jack Benny Plate. That is what we ordered. Fried chicken for Pat and Roast beef for me.

I honestly don’t recall Pat ever suggesting this joint but then he also thinks a lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy with a huge roll is healthy eating. If I did give him some push back I probably had a reason at the time. Maybe I thought they had enough public exposure that they didn’t need our little bit of recognition. They are just as well-known now but we are running low on joints to go to, that is why I thought of MCL for this weeks lunch. So feel free to offer suggestions we are always looking. We don’t do dinner and nothing too “fancy” please as it may scare Pat off.

This was a great little plate of food. The meat was tender the taters were creamy and the beans were soft, the way I like them. I got a couple of Parkerhouse style rolls but no butter.

Pat and I both opted for a third side. For me it was spinach.

I enjoy spinach as much as any green. Our bus person Heather brought me some vinegar for the spinach and some horse-radish for the beef so the service at this cafeteria is as good as what you would expect from a full service restaurant. Better than some.

This is my pecan pie. Thick and sweet with a very good crust. On Thursday they offer a slice of pie for 99 cents. How is that for motivation to visit? I am sure most who read this are familiar with the MCL Brand. They are still doing what they have done for 68 years. Putting out splendid meals and great pies. Pleasant folks to have a meal with.

 

 


Gina’s Grill 7055 E. 16th Street

This place opened in October and is in a Moose Lodge. That is why the banner has to pass as the facade. I found out about it by searching the internet for any new joints in the Irvington area. I don’t consider this as part of Irvington but obviously Google does. The reason I even mention this is that if you want to find new places to eat sometimes you have to search them out. This little grill definitely makes the search worthwhile.

As you know the purpose of this blog is to cheer lead for the independent restaurant. This restaurant is owned and operated by Gina and her husband and it is housed in a Moose Lodge. Now what is more Mom and Pop than that.

Their menu is pretty standard with the exception of one rather creative side dish.

https://www.ginasgrill.com/

They offer a bit of home cooking, which I like , so I had a tough time deciding what to eat. I opted for a Pollock sandwich. Beer battered white fish seemed like a good idea for a cold December day. Also I spent an extra buck fifty for their creative side dish. Fried onion pearls.

Honestly I was a bit nonplussed when I saw two pieces on a round bun. I had expected one piece on a long roll. My confusion was unwarranted. It was a solid 6 ounces of fish and it was very nicely done. The produce was fresh and overall it was a very good sandwich and those crazy onion pearls were excellent. Very clever idea.

I intend on coming back at least to try cake or cobbler. That is the cool thing about independent joints The menus may be nearly identical but the execution can be very different. Example: Onion Rings. The Mug in Irvington and Greenfield puts mustard in their batter for the rings. Not a fan. Gina’s makes their’s Flamin’ Hot. Have to try those.

One more observation. They have a huge smoker out back that could hold a bunch of pig. Now that is one more thing to get excited about. BBQ. Even without a smoker though this is a joint worth looking into.

 

 


The Coney Islands of Indianapolis Part 1

I am reasonably sure that most folks have heard of a Coney dog or as it was called years ago a Coney Island. That is a hot dog topped with a meat and tomato sauce. If not then surely you are familiar with the Chili dog. The difference is the type of meat sauce. The Chili has a more pronounced Southwest flair to it. I have always thought the Coney Island dog came from New York. Actually I have discovered that the name may be from New York but the sandwich hails from Detroit. At the turn of the century Greek and Armenian immigrants started selling hot dogs smothered with a meat sauce. Possibly in an effort to “Americanize” it they named it Coney Island. Since that was the reputed home of the hot dog they thought it apt.

The reason I got interested in their history is a new carry out joint opened in Indy selling authentic Detroit Coney Dogs. The owner gets the sauce from Detroit so it should be authentic. After I realized that I had to get to Chucks Coneys I thought why not make it a multi part review. I know of several joints that sell coneys and chili dogs. Knowing that I could eat more than one in a day I decided to go ahead. Due to the logistics Chucks would be my last stop for day one. Naturally it wasn’t open. Their web site listed Saturday hours they just weren’t open. So let’s begin with Big Dan’s.

Big Dan’s used to be called Mr. Dan’s; and before that it was Gay Dan’s. As the sign says it has been around since 1950. I think in the 80’s it fell on hard times and now only the one at 5925 Mass. Avenue remains. I read where in the past 50 years 16 Mr. Dan’s have opened and closed. It is an authentic Hoosier experience.

They use an all beef dog. Initially it was Nathans now it is Eisenberg dogs; the Chicago dog. The dog is excellent. A great snap with a bit of spice and wonderful texture. I really couldn’t tell much about the coney sauce the amount was small and it couldn’t compete with the cheese and onion. I think to properly judge I have to go back and try just the dog and sauce. My version with onion, cheese and mustard was $4.68.

They have some replica ads from the Gay Dan days.

Garcia’s Hot dogs.  5102 E 16th Street

Garcia’s is a hot dog-cart doing business at the corner of 16th and Emerson Ave. I have seen it on several occasions but never had an opportunity to stop. I am glad I finally did. He has an amazing set up that allows him to griddle his dogs to order. He also has bacon wrapped dogs.

He greets every customer with a smile, a handshake and a hearty Welcome My Friend. The man understands Hospitality.

He splits his dogs length wise and cooks them on his griddle; giving them a bit of char. He puts them in a steamed bun, adds cheese then a bunch of chili. The onion finish gives it a nice crunch. His chili has a definite Southwest flavor. Loaded with cumin. Reminiscent of tamales. More than likely from a can but fits the dog well. It was very messy to eat in your car, it could stand a knife and fork.

Next time I am in the area I am trying a bacon dog with some of his homemade relish. His chili cheese dog was $3.50. I gave him $5 because that was definitely a 5 buck dog.

Coming soon Part 2 of Coney Dogs on Indianapolis.

 


Christina’s Pancake House ( formerly Sister’s Place ) 215 Terrace Ave.

I am starting off my lunch review with a picture of the best part of my lunch. Pie

A delicious slice of Lemon Meringue pie for $3.50. They buy the pies from Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago. The same outfit that the previous owner use. It was an excellent piece of pie. I can’t say the same for the rest of my lunch. My meat loaf dinner was $9.45 and came with soup or salad, roll and VOD as well as a plate of meat loaf and “lumpy mashed potatoes” all smother with gravy. One of the soup options was Chicken Gumbo. Well it was not what I expected.

I think you could call this many things but Gumbo isn’t one of them. I have never seen a Gumbo that didn’t have the Trinity in it. Nor have I ever had a Gumbo with macaroni added to it. Overall it had the flavor of a Campbell’s Soup. Would not do it again.

The roll was interesting. It had a slight Ciabatta chew to it which I thought was nice and they use real butter which is always good. As for the veggie. Why bother. It was straight from a bag of frozen vegetables and no attempt was made to even make them even interesting.

Now we come to the center of the plate. The meat loaf. It wasn’t bad just not really good. I would guess that it wasn’t made in-house. I based that on the compaction and the fine grind of the meat. If I am wrong then they can redeem it by using seasoning in a more bold fashion. Since they refer to their potatoes as lumpy I would guess they are made here from real potatoes. They are pretty lumpy and pretty good. The gravy was more than likely from a mix but had a decent flavor to it. I think if you want a more “scratch made ” experience you should try breakfast, which they sell all day. It is a really large menu so you could probably find something you like.


Dave & Betty’s Diner 4801 Southeastern Ave.

Diner   noun

1.

a person who dines.

2.

a railroad dining car.

3.

a restaurant built like such a car.

4.

a small, informal, and usually inexpensive restaurant
This little joint fits definition # 4. Although there are a couple of examples of # 3 in this area. One is on east 38th street, it is barely recognizable as to its original intent as it was converted to a Subway some time back. The best example is the Oasis Diner in Plainfield Indiana.
Dave & Betty’s doesn’t look at all like this but their intent is the same as every other diner in the country. Serve good food at good prices.

Pat’s Humongous Burger.

This is the half order of biscuits and gravy that we split as an appetizer. The gravy was better than most but not as good as Ollie’s. The biscuit was very nice indeed, and it only cost $3.60.

For my meal I could not resist their Beef Manhattan. For all you non Midwestern folks that is a roast beef sandwich cut on a bias with a pile of mashed potatoes in between the 2 halves. Then the entire thing is covered in brown gravy. There version was $ 6.60.

The taters were Potato Pearls and the gravy was probably from a mix but the beef was real and the portion was generous and it was hot. I thought it was delicious. It reminded me of my first Manhattan as a kid at the old Troy Restaurant in Downtown Indy. It is hard to resist hot beef and gravy. Of course had I been more observant I would have noticed that there special was meat loaf and I have a “thing” for meatloaf.

As big a lunch as it was I decided I had some room left for pie. In this case it was Banana Dream. A real pie crust filled with banana pudding and topped with whipped cream. It was pretty good. I probably could have eaten a whole pie.

This diner doesn’t have much of an electronic presence so I scanned their menu but only the lunch part turned out.

Dave & Bettys Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Uptown Cafe 6404 Rucker Road

This place is a sister restaurant to one in Noblesville so it is tough to find any info about the menu. The only site that has a menu has the Indianapolis address but a website for a joint with the same name in Butte Montana! Those silly folks at Google.

I had planned on scanning the menu and posted it with the review but of course I forgot to bring my wand with me. I am adding a link to their place in Noblesville. It may not be identical but it should be similar.

https://www.facebook.com/SunriseCafeatUptown/menu/

They make several things in-house so we had to try a couple just to “sample”.

The first was a cinnamon roll.

It was a beauty and tasted pretty good. It was a bit tough, as though it had been microwaved to reheat.

We also got a half order of biscuits and gravy to share. The biscuit was a bit doughy but the gravy was pretty good. I second Pat’s thoughts about Ollies.

They also offer a series of Breakfast Bowls. That is simply a bowl with stuff in it and eggs on top. You can also get more stuff on top of the eggs if you so desire. I opted for a corned beef hash bowl.

They do their hash in a clever way. They offer a Reuben sandwich so they keep shaved corned beef on hand. They take that meat,chopped and add it to their shredded hash browns. Hash; with no onions. This particular bowl had onions in it, also Swiss Cheese. Actually I believe it was a processed cheese, white American cheese. In either event it was one heck of a breakfast. I really enjoyed their corned beef hash. The meat was tender and the potatoes were crisp. Make sure you have an appetite because it is a Big bowl of food.

Pat is still watching his carbs so he didn’t eat his jam so I did. It was sweet and had a strong strawberry presence. It also has a great deal of pectin in it. Which is neither good nor bad. Just an observation. It would be good smeared on some toast with a cup of coffee. Overall I think this little joint is going to do well. It is close enough to me that I will be back. When it gets warmer. As for prices both of our breakfasts were under $9. You may get it a bit cheaper at one of those breakfast chains but why would you want to go there?