eating indie in indy

diners

Clermont Skillet and Grill 9045 Crawfordsville Road

This is pretty new. It is in a spot that was home to a couple of other eateries; if sign remnants are an indication. Basically it is a diner. Diner is culinary slang for stuff yourself at a resonable price. One of the draws to this type of joint is that breakfast is available all day and how many times have we wanted breakfast for lunch. Well Pat was that way today.

I was taken by their lunch specials; especially their sloppy Joe sandwich with chips for $6.95. The unique thing about these was they all came with choice of soup or salad. Their soup was loaded potato soup. Creamy potato soup with cheese and bacon sounded great for a chilly day.

It was a very good soup. Not elegant but basic. Hot and comforting, like soup I had as a kid. Expecting a normal size omelet for Pat and sandwich for me we opted for a half order of biscuits and gravy to share.

The biscuit and gravy was pretty good. Very creamy and loaded with sausage. When my sandwich arrived I was rather surprised with the size.

I had expected a standard size bun but I received a huge bun loaded with meat and sauce. I am a big fan of Sloppy Joe and this was one of the better ones I have encountered. It wasn’t as wet as I prefer but definitely worth doing again. We got a lot of food and spent less than 25 bucks, tax included. Also that included the price of coffee and tea. So we had an excellent lunch with super service for a reasonable price. Check it out if you are in the area.


Biscuits 1035 Broad Ripple Ave.

I try to meet my friend Joey for at lunch at least once a year. If it is a great year I also get together with her whole family for brunch. Well this year we were actually able to meet for lunch. Of course we could meet more often if it weren’t for that pesky job of hers. Any way we met at Biscuits in Broad Ripple. It has a huge menu featuring both Mexican and American foods. We both opted for ala carte from their Mexican menu.

We each ordered 2 Al Pastor tacos. They were excellent tacos. Full of meat and flavor with small cubes of pineapple tossed in. They were 3 bucks each and I could eat these all day. I also got a side of their mole but the tacos didn’t really need any embellishment.

The mole may have been a bit sweet but it did have a nice depth and a touch of heat on the back end. Turned out to be a good accompaniment to my tamales.

We also wanted to try their tamales. Two for me and one for her. All they had left were chicken and they were very different to what I am used to. I don’t think I have ever had a tamale that did not come with the filling dressed in a chile sauce. These had naked pulled chicken and were covered with queso. I like cheese sauce but I would prefer a chile in with the meat. These were a bit bland.

I did not like these nearly as much as the tacos. I think Joey though the same since she ate one or 2 bites and left it. She ate both her tacos and remarked how good they were.

Pat and I reviewed this joint some time ago and tried the Americn menu and liked it so now I know the Mexican menu is done equally as well. As in most cases it isn’t always about the food often it is about the company, Thanks for meeting me for lunch Joey. I just wish it could be more often. You do too much young lady. Take the time for some afternoon tacos and cerveza.


Peppy Grill 1004 Virginia Avenue.

Peppy Grill has been around this town since right after World War two. By 1960 there were 10 locations around town. Now the one in Fountain Square is the only one left. When it closed in November 2018 a lot of people doubted that it would ever reopen. Well it did reopen with a new interior and kitchen and fancy red rolled and tucked booths as well.

We started the meal off with some breaded mushrooms for about 4 bucks. They were the standard pre breaded shrums you will find at most bars or diners. Good but not great.

Pat was so intent on reminiscing about times gone by he didn’t even talk about his food. Well as you can see it was a cheese burger. A single one served with chips. He seemed to enjoy it. It appears it was started on a flat top and then transfer to a grill for some marks. It was cheap. Less than 5 bucks.

For some reason I ordered a Pollock sandwich for $7.25. Pollock is an “okay” fish it just doesn’t captured my imagination. But fried fish on a rainy day seemed like a good idea.

You could tell right off that it wasn’t breaded in house. It came in breaded and frozen so all you had to do is drop it in a fryer. Their tenderloin is the same way. Pre breaded cooked right from the freezer.Good but not great.

Maybe this hew Peppy will grow into something close to the old one. In house soups and stews and pies but until that time there is always breakfast foods.


Joe’s Shelby Street Diner 3623 Shelby Street

Once again a joint that won’t wow you or astound you with their clever or avant garde menu but a joint that will feed you and not hurt your wallet. They rely on several IQF items but the breakfast and burgers are made to order. They offer tenderloins two ways. The Hubcap and the Baby Moon. Both are pre-made and frozen. Pat ordered a Baby Moon.

I decided that I needed a burger, a patty melt to be exact. What I got was a nicely prepared sandwich with actual carmelized onion. Properly cooked onion brings so much to food it is a shame when not done well.

All of their sandwiches come with chips but of course you can sub fries or rings for an up charge. I opted for some onion rings for $2.75 additional. They were ordinary IQF rings but were still a pretty good companion to my Patty melt.

Well as I said earlier if you are looking for a joint that puches the envelop of culinary achievement this ain’t it. However if you want a breakfast at anytime or a good inexpensive lunch this is it. Both of our sandwiches were under 8 bucks. Now that is diner pricing.


Sero’s Family Restaurant 11720 E. Washington Street

This place is like several around town. Family owned and operated with huge menus offering large portions and breakfast served all day. It may be tempting to slip in a phrase like “cookie cutter” but that would hardly be accurate. You may find an identical menu at some other joint but the preparation is far from identical. That is probably why I order liver and onions so often. I always expect that I will be pleasantly surprised.

Yep I did it again. Liver and onions with potato choice and one other side for $9.99. I like my onions well carmelized and the meat medium rare. I understand that a thin slice of liver is hard to get medium rare but it can be cooked to medium rather easily. Well obviously the onions missed the mark and the liver was over cooked. It was also over breaded. I contend a light coating of flour is sufficient but here they seem to have used an actual breading. So the result was that you mainly tasted the coating, with a slight flavor of liver. I would make it at home but the store where I used to buy my liver does not handle it anymore. They used to sell fresh slices that were one half inch thick and cooked up a delightful mid-rare.

For my second side I opted for green beans. They were really pretty good. They were canned but had bits of onion and tomato in them. Pretty tasty.

Pat’s diet plate was $10.99, so we actually got quite a bit of food for our money. Don’t let my liver experience dissuade you from trying this place out. I am reasonably certain you will find something you will enjoy. I just don’t recommend the liver and onions.


Baby’s Diner 2147 N. Talbot Street.

In 2016 after a 15 year run the Talbot Street Night Club closed. Well now the site is home to Baby’s. A colorful little joint that is a lot of fun. Since the old Talbot had regular drag shows the owners of Baby’s wanted to celebrate its past by using color and sparkle. When I first read that in a local column I did not know what to expect. It could have easily come across as more parody than homage. But they did it right.

They also have a very nice outdoor seating area with infra heaters in the ceiling. A reminder that Summer may be over but we will still have several days left before sub zero temps.

That rustic brick building is Shoo Fly Public House.

One thing I don’t understand is why they call themselves a Diner. They have a small menu featuring smashed burgers and broasted chicken with a few side dishes. They also have a selection of Milk Shakes, some spiked with alcohol. I would like to show the menu but I seem to have mislaid the link. It is out there somewhere because I saw it. I found it. http://babysindy.com/

Pretty straight forward presentation. Chicken in a basket.

They offer their chicken as a whole bird for $24, half chicken for $12 and 2 piece white or dark for $7. I was more in a beef mood so I ordered their House Strut burger. That would be a double smashed burger with bacon, gouda and mango chutney as well as a special sauce priced at $12.

I enjoyed my burger very much, it had a lot going on. The creamy cheese and smoky bacon brought one taste to the party the spicy sweetness of the chutney another and the whole thing was unified by the hamburger lace of the smash burger. Very good burger. But it may have gone one sauce too far. The special sauce got kind of lost in all the tastes.

It is really good to see the Old North Side being rejuvenated. It is pretty close to me so I will be coming back. I want to try some chicken and a spiked milk shake.


Mrs. Curls Ice Cream & More 259 S. Meridian St. Greenwood Indiana

This little place has been around since 1962. It is like a drive in without car hops. It offers your standard drive in food but it is a notch or two above the usual. The building is close to the street so there is only room for a few tables in front, but on the side under some trees is a sizable out door dining room. You order at the front and they bring the food out to you.

Fran was with us this time and she ordered a coney cheese dog combo. Their combos come with a soft drink and choice of 3 different fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks or tots. She ordered a coney cheese dog combo with mozz sticks.

As for me I ordered with gusto. A BBQ andwich combo with tots. AND a coney dog. In my defense I did not expect such a large BBQ san.

Or such a good portion of tater tots

Their BBQ sandwich was really quite good and being more than an 8 ounce portion quite the bargain at less than $7 for the whole combo. I have paid more for less elsewhere. As for the tots they seemed exceptionally tasty today.

I thoroughly enjoyed the coney dog. The sauce had a slight chile kick to it, which makes me think it also serves as the chili for the chili dog once some beans have been added. If you look closely you can see a bit of char on the dog as if it had taken a plunge in a deep fryer. A nice touch.

The back of the building

I have never been here either. My loss. Like Pat I would like to go back for a foot long and malted. We should be making plans on that soon since they close for the season on October 31. I think this should be a destination for folks. Joints like this are disappearing; and for the people who live in the area I hope you take advantage of this little out door cafe.

http://www.mrscurl.com/menu/default.html


Kazablanka Grill & Bar 5801 Rockville Road.

Before I get into our review this week I would like to announce that today; the 14th of August is our 8th Anniversary. Yay.

I am not sure how Pat decided on this particular place. The only thing I can figure is that he saw it in his travels and thought it sounded interesting. Well it was definitely interesting. Some may say it was fascinating. It has a great lay out and could probably seat over 150 people. The bar has plenty of seating and located on one end so the other dining area can be used for family dining. It also has a big deck. Of course the deck could used some work. The whole joint could use an overall but it is clean. They offer a $6.99 lunch buffet, but we decided on ordering from the menu.

The menu is quite large and they offer several specials. The prices are excellent as well. After much deliberation Pat decided on Lasagne, which came with a side salad. Our wonderful server/ bartender went to the buffet and made it for him.

This was a huge salad. It would pass for two at most joints.

It took me nearly as long to order and I was just looking at sandwiches. The sandwiches come with no sides and are all $7.49 and most sides are $1.50. So that is just a bit cheaper that other joints. I decided on a new addition. A hand breaded cod sandwich. I also got a side of coleslaw and our server brought it out with Pat’s salad.

The slaw was homemade and pretty good. I don’t think Grandmas should be worried but it was better than most. I must admit I was not prepared for my sandwich.

I have never seen such a poorly presented sandwich. Four ounces of fish on 8 ounces of bread. The cold set consisted of one small piece of iceberg, one tomato slice and a few scraps of onion. Oh yes and a big solo of mediocre tartar sauce. I was more bemused than angry. Who could ever say that this plate was something they would admit to creating. It is all well and good to control portions. I further understand how two ounce cod loin portions seem attractive to control cost but couldn’t you find a smaller hoagie bun. If you insist on a 4 oz cod sandwich why not a round bun? Of course this is just a rhetorical question because who ever is in charge of your kitchen either doesn’t know any better or doesn’t care. Also it is doubtful they will even read this. I just chuckled and cut half of the bun in half and used that to make my sandwich. It made a nice size sandwich that way. However after all that the fish itself was pretty bland. The tomato tasted fresh though.

So Pat was the big winner. He got a double side salad and enough Lasagne to take home for a second meal for $10.49. I got a average at best sandwich, some assembly required, for $7.49. I also met a very charming lady who served us our food and drinks and made me a very nice Margarita for $5. In a Mason Jar.

My Margarita after I had drank half.

Well I don’t have much to add. I can’t recommend the cod sandwich but the Lasagne is pretty good. If that cod portion had been 6 ounces or more and fit the bun like other places I would not have said a word. Except that it would probably still be bland


Zaharikos 329 Washington Street Columbus Indiana

This is definitely an historic site. It has been a functioning ice cream parlor since 1900 and it definitely has that old time air about it. From the carved fretwork to the hardwood cabinetry and the marble soda syrup dispenser.

The space is airy with high ceilings and filled with natural light. From the shiny hardwood floors to the pressed tin ceiling you can’t help but feel the history of the place.

Well as charming as the space is we were there to have lunch. Fran; Pat’s wife went with us and she is a Sloppy Joe junkie like me. On their menu is a Gom sandwich, which is their version of a Sloppy Joe. You can get it with or without cheese, they come grilled on white bread. That is what we ordered.

It was really a very nice sandwich. If you like Sloppy Joes then I think you would like this. It is tighter than most Joes and the flavor is mild compared to some but it definitely has that tangy sweetness common to “loose meat” sandwiches. Since this is above all an ice cream parlor that makes its own ice cream some form of frozen confection was required. Fran decided on a Root Beer Soda.

Fran’s Root Beer Soda
Pat’s Chocolate Malted, prior to the fall.

Boy when that glass hit that hard wood floor it went every where. As quickly as they got on the clean up you can tell they had been there before. They even replaced his Malt. For Free. Very nice gesture.

Since I had water with my lunch I was ready for some Ice Cream. I ordered a 2 scoop Sundae with hot fudge. My O My it was delicious.

I ordered a Mint Chocolate Chip and a Raspberry Chocolate Chip. The Mint was very good but the Raspberry was incredible. A true raspberry taste in an ice cream. If anything would make me drive for an hour that might be it. They put the hot fudge sauce in the bottom of the dish and built the sundae on top. They also supplied a small boat with more for the top.

As formidable as the task was I was still able to clean the bowl.

I sincerely hope people have an opportunity to visit. They have a small museum of antique soda fountains in the dining room adjacent to the one we ate in. I took several pictures but they were really of poor quality. The rooms may have had a lot of sunlight but it was too diffused for my camera to get some good shots. I am including a link to their website. Listen to their sample of mechanical music. That played in the dining area. Continuously. This “modern” ear thought less would be better. Thankfully as more people came in the normal conversation took the edge off.

http://www.zaharakos.com/

So we had a splendid time in Columbus. We had plans on dropping by Zwanzigz for a beer but we were all too full to even consider it. Imagine that. Too full for a beer.


The Most Delicious Pancake House 5010 S. East Street


How is that for a name for a restaurant? No faux humility for them. Pat told me about this place and how could I pass up a joint called most delicious.

I don’t think Pat’s BT was cut and pounded in house, I believe it was brought in already breaded. It appeared to be a solid piece of meat and the consumer liked it so it probably doesn’t matter.

I decided that I needed a burger and I opted for a Most Delicious burger. That would be their standard half pounder with ham and bacon. Oddly enough I don’t believe it had any cheese. It came with a usual cold set and a spicy mayo. It was sloppy but good.

I especially liked the bacon. It was thick and crisp and just greasy enough to bring an added layer of flavor to the sandwich. What I didn’t get was the ham. It was nicely done; thinly sliced with a slight char but I don’t get the connection. It reminded me of a time , long ago, when stuffed burgers were in vogue. I had good success with various combinations so I offered one stuffed with chopped ham and Swiss cheese. “We put the ham in hamburger”. Boy that went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

I think I ordered it for the bacon. I wonder how it would be with an egg on top. Regardless the burger was pretty good the way it was.

This place doesn’t have any media presence yet so there is no menu to show. Just be assured they probably will have something you want to eat and it will be nicely prepared at a reasonable price. I think our sandwiches were under $10 each.

This fancy chandelier is in the center of the dining room. I don’t think the new tenants brought it in so it came from Shoney’s or Lucky 8 buffet. In either event it certainly adds a bit of Bling to the joint.


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?


Ruth’s Cafe 3443 E. 86 th Street

We had a very pleasant breakfast today. The restaurant is open from 7 AM to 3 PM and serves breakfast all day as well as lunch. We took advantage of that by ordering some of both.

Among their specials for the day were two different Quiche. One had no onion so that is what Pat ordered. I know it had artichoke in it and cheese as well as other stuff; but I don’t recall the other stuff. I also have no idea what it cost. It was Pat’s turn to buy and I neglected to ask.

This is the half order of B&G Pat got for $6.

This is the Quiche Pat ordered, price not known. They give an option of salad or fruit. As you can see he opted for the greenery. A very nice looking salad with lots of Spring mix.

I was intrigued by their hash. It is made with smoked brisket. You can order it as a side for $4.75 or as a Not so Old School breakfast for $8.50; which is what I ordered. They have several bread choices for toasting as well as muffin and all come with house made berry jelly. What berries? Haven’t a clue but it was pretty good.

This was a very respectable hash. Big chunks of beef and potatoes cooked just right. Tender yet with enough texture to give your teeth something to do. The only minor flaw was my eggs were not quite over easy; more over medium. They worked out though. All I wanted was some yolk to mix in.

Since they make their own scratch biscuits I got one for an extra $1.75. It was very light and fluffy. One of the better biscuits I have had around town. In addition to the jelly they also make their own sausage. We thought it was quite good. Lightly spiced and tasty which made for an excellent taste. However there is just something about Ollie’s that makes their B&G; in my opinion; the best in town.

They also have an interesting lunch menu; which you can reach here:

http://www.ruthscafeindy.com/menu/4589349372

When I get time I am going back to try lunch; hopefully soon. On a “side note” Zomato classifies this joint as a diner. Of course like with a lot of things Zomato does that is debatable.

Ruth's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The 4 Seasons 1935 N. Shadeland Ave.

These must be the Four Seasons greeting you as you enter.

This is a small diner that offers decent food in large portions at a most reasonable price. Nothing fancy or elaborate.

I resisted all the breakfast specials, and the chipped beef and gravy and decided on more typical luncheon fare. Liver and onions for $7.49. It is served with a choice of soup or coleslaw. This joint always has 2 soups; everyday. Today’s offerings were Lentil and Cream of Potato. I chose Potato soup

It was a big bowl but it was pretty bland. Salt, pepper and crackers helped but it could have used some work in the back of the house. The liver;however; was more than decent.

It was a big piece and although too thin to cook mid-rare it did come out a solid medium. With the exception of a couple of “veiny” parts I could cut it with my fork. The onion had a nice color and carmelization which is always welcome. The mashed potatoes and gravy were okay, nothing to rave about.

I agree with Pat’s assessment. Not necessarily a destination but a viable option for dining. I would like to try the chipped beef and gravy; not too many joints offer that around here. As big as the menu is I am sure you can find something to interest you.

Four Seasons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


J.J’S Fish Chicken & Gyros. 203 E. 30th Street

Last week Pat left on a trip west so I was on my own. I got busy so I wasn’t able to go anywhere. As it turned out Pat’s trip was interrupted and he wanted to have lunch. We arranged to meet at a place that doesn’t open until noon. I had a earlier commitment so we planned on meeting at 1:30. Alas the joint wasn’t even open. It was supposed to be; it just wasn’t. I decided on J.J’s. I had eaten there before and found the food to be uninspired but good.

The last couple of years Indianapolis has seen several Fish and Chicken fry joints open. Most are national chains. The leader of these chain stores appears to be Jordan’s. J.J’s has a very similar menu. It is a very small place. It is primarily a take away place, they can only seat 4 people.

They offer several lunch specials for $5.99. All come with fries and a drink. That was my first exposure to J.J’s. I was in the area and starving so I stopped and ordered his wing and catfish combo. I received 3 medium size chicken wings with a filet, fries and a drink. $5.99.

I think Pat was dubious of my pick. They sell Italian Beef sandwiches; and I know Pat likes those.

Sometimes I am a sucker for fried fish; especially Ocean Perch. So I got the Perch and fries special.

I really enjoyed it. The fish was nicely done. Too many places think that fish has to be fried hard to be done. They do a very good job with their fish. Both flaky and tender. This place isn’t too far from me so I can see myself getting some carry out dinners here. The prices are more than reasonable.

Also don’t worry about the area. I am sure some folks still see it as the old Dodge City, but remember that Goose the Market is a few blocks South on Delaware. This area is in the midst of “gentrification”. For better or worse the hood is changing.
JJ Fish Chicken & Gyros 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