eating indie in indy

diners

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


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


A2Z Cafe 4705 East 96th Street

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This little joint changed hands about 2 years ago. Before the change it was an Italian eatery. The current owners, Gina and her husband were frequent diners and friends with the old owner. Cut to the chase and they ended up as the new owners. New owners with no restaurant experience. We got all of this from our discussion with Gina;one of the new owners. She is a delightful lady with both charm and talent. An artist by trade;  and an I.U grad she and her husband are the guiding lights of a cozy little joint with a fun and slightly quirky menu.

It was a rainy morning and we felt we needed a sweet fix so. we started with an order of fried biscuits with apple butter for $4.

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These were delightful little bites. Bits of fried dough covered with sugar. In an act of lily gilding they serve them up with apple butter. Add a cup of coffee and you have a really tasty start to your day.

They serve breakfast and lunch most of the day. In addition to the traditional cafe items they offer some fun dishes. Such as the Tater Tot Scramble. That is two eggs scrambled with ham, bacon, sausage and tots then covered with sausage gravy and then topped with cheddar cheese. It comes with toast for $8.50.

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This is not haute cuisine. It is a a fun and filling dish featuring all of the basic food groups you would expect for breakfast. From a strict culinary standpoint it has too much stuff in it,but that’s okay. The eggs were very soft and the gravy was very creamy. Actually I was impressed with the overall execution of the dish. The only reason I wouldn’t order it again is because all of the other fun stuff I would like to try.

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For a couple of rookies Gina and her husband are doing a really good job. I am including a link to their menu because I think it is a fun one.

http://a2zcafe.com/menu.html

 

 

A2Z Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Paragon Family Restaurant 118 S. Girls School Road

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This is a big restaurant with a big menu. It is very similar to other joints around Indy. Breakfast served all day, big portions, home-made soups and a bunch of pies and cakes. Usually when we hit places like this we invariably opt for breakfast. Today was an exception. We both decided on lunch dishes. Pat ordered an Italian beef sandwich with a side of coleslaw, for $8.50.

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Pat always says that he provides the “esoterica” for the Blog and I am supposed to handle the technical. Well he did today for sure. He just didn’t mention what he ate.

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He seemed to enjoy it. As a general rule he isn’t too shy about voicing his displeasure.

As for me I had a hankering for a melt. I enjoy the substantial bite you get from a patty enclosed in 2 pieces of toast. They offer 8 different melts and I decided on a Patty Melt. That is a hamburger patty on rye bread toast with grilled onions and cheese. The one they offer was a very good one. They use a coarse ground beef which made it a superior sandwich. Also it was on special for $6.99, and it came with fries and choice of soup or salad. They offered 3 different soups today and I decided on  beef and cabbage. They brought out my soup and Pat’s slaw first with rolls and butter.

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The presentation of my soup may have been sloppy but the taste was fantastic. Savory and beefy. I would definitely order it again.

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The sandwich was good but I didn’t finish it because of the big display case of pies and cakes. Pat and I decided to get dessert. Pat got a eclair for $2.75.

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I tried a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie.

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So we had a very good lunch for a reasonable price. It is a place that is worth checking out for any meal. A bunch of dishes to choose from and easy on the wallet.

Paragon Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Mel’s Drive In 3045 Mars Hill Drive.

How many folks remember drive ins? I am sure you know what I am talking about. You drive up and park and the server comes out; takes your food order and then delivers it to you on trays that clip to your car windows. If you don’t recall first hand I am sure you have heard tales from your parents or Grandparents.

I am not sure how long Mel’s has been serving food to the folks in Mars Hill,but I would guess more than 50 years. It isn’t easy to get to but it is worth the effort. It is about 50 yards from a busy highway and a railroad track. I am not sure how busy the track is but a train came by while we were there.

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As you can see it is pretty close. Mel’s is the building in the foreground.

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A couple of old-fashioned drive ins in town have house made root beer as their hook. Mels’ doesn’t. All it offers is its food and great pricing.

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They have no indoor dining. You eat in your car or on some picnic tables out back. That may turn some people off but Pat and I loved it. You may not be able to see the prices all that well on my picture but both Zomato and Yelp have shots of the 2014 menu. The new menu is about a half buck more per item. Pat ordered a single hamburger, a small order of mushrooms and cheese bites as well as a hot dog and vanilla malt.

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I opted for a breaded tenderloin. I don’t know if it was just the special for that day or if it’s the normal pricing but the girl asked me if a wanted a second tenderloin sandwich for $1.10. One for $2.75 two for $3.85. At first I said no. I quickly realized I had made a faux pas and changed my order. I figured that Pat and I could share the ‘shrums and cheese bites so I finished my order with a coney dog and a Chocolate Malted.

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I only ate one of the tenderloin. It was a pre-breaded item not hand breaded in-house. So it wasn’t representative of scratch cooking but it was representative of a damn fine sandwich. For $2.75 each and $3.85 for two make that an excellent sandwich.

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The coney dog was very good as well. A dirty water dog on a common place bun and smothered with a pretty good coney sauce. Pat asked me if I thought it was house made. I don’t know but I doubt it. Why should they. I would guess they bought it ready-made and spiced it up with chile powder and cumin. I don’t think this joint ever felt the necessity to scratch build food items. Their mission is to feed people,what they want to eat. And I gotta’ feeling folks like the food a lot.

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Oh and the Chocolate Malted was pretty good too. I mean Chocolate is the best of all Malts.

Mel's Drive-In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Jimmy’s Diner 3301 Shelby Street

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About 2 years ago this place was doing business as Ma and Pa’s Diner. It was just sold and re-opened as Jimmy’s on August first. Pat goes by it regularly and told me about it last week. We decided to try it out with our buddy Jimmy, who has lunched with us a couple of times.

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I didn’t make a copy of their menu and I honestly can’t remember too much of it. They serve breakfast all day and the menu starts out with JJ’s Special. Two bacon, 2 sausage, 2 eggs and potatoes. With a half order of biscuits and gravy and choice of pancakes,waffles or French toast for $9.75. That I remember. That and a double cheese burger and fries sell for $5.75 and on Fridays they have all you can eat Flounder for $14.

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Pat couldn’t wait to try the B&G.

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The biscuits and gravy were pretty good. A decent tasting gravy ( that could have used more sausage) over a ready-made biscuit. The pancakes were of the usual mix variety. Tasty but nothing to get overly excited about. The hardest thing for me to review are breakfast foods. Most biscuits are pre-made and the pancakes come from a mix. There are a few exceptions but this holds true for most joints. For breakfast the execution is everything. People are as finicky of their eggs as they are of their steaks. Most folks will let it slide over a med rare steak ending up more medium but don’t dare break the yolk on their over easy eggs. For my breakfast the preparation was flawless. The eggs were beautiful and the bacon had the proper crisp. As for the sausage I commented to the owner how I liked it and he told me that when he opened up he was using a fresh sausage but folks complained. They didn’t like the pinkness of the meat;so he went back to the pre-cooked patties the previous owner used.

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As you can see the potatoes are crisp and brown. The other potato option was a home fry. If they are as crisp as these that would be the way to go.

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Don’t expect anything fancy or pretentious here just expect some good cooking.

Jimmy's Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Keystone Deli 2344 E. 53rd. Street

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I don’t get this joints name. It is right off Keystone Ave. It does offer s few “deli” style sandwiches with its flat top burgers and fries and such but that is a small percentage of its menu. I first discovered the place some years back as a meat plus 2. The have a large steam table loaded up with a good variety of home style eats and put out a nice little lunch for 7 bucks. Today we had to have breakfast because of prior commitments. What we discovered was a great little diner that serves large portions of nicely prepared breakfast foods for a very reasonable price.

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Pat’s plate was $7.95 and came with a choice of toast or 2 biscuits. Now who would opt for toast when they could have 2 fluffy scratch made biscuits? Not Pat. Or me,for that matter.

Now my breakfast was $7.45 and it consisted of biscuits and gravy, and a choice of apples or grits.

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They also give you 2 eggs,your choice, bacon or sausage and potatoes.

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Now that is a breakfast. You know the most important meal of the day. The biscuits were moist and fluffy and the gravy was excellent. This place may have it over Olly’s gravy, as far as taste. The Deli’s gravy has little specks of red pepper in it. However as for the amount of sausage I think Olly wins. The bacon was outstanding as well. Just crisp enough. I agree with Pat about the taters. They could have been a lot crisper and they could have used some seasoning. The grits were what you would expect. Nice and thick and just a tad lumpy. Just waiting for a pat of butter and some hot sauce.

They also have pancakes and waffles. As a matter of fact you can order a pancake to go with your breakfast for an extra buck. So if you are into “home cooked” breakfast food and aren’t too concerned about ambiance then this is a place for you. However if you need a Brunch like atmosphere and a Mimosa then this ain’t for you.

Keystone Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Edwards Drive In 2126 S. Sherman Drive.

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I think without realizing it Pat and I have been pursuing long operating establishments. A couple of weeks ago the Kitley Inn,established in 1946 and now Edwards an original Dog and Suds from 1957. Whereas Kitley looks as though it hasn’t changed much since ’46 Edwards definitely has had a face lift or two.

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These replicas are on the side of the building and probably 3/4 size of the original rides. On the inside you will find a very swank and refined space with no vibe you may expect from an old-time diner.

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The interior may be too refined and contemporary for that 50’s look but they offer non stop music from that era. If you are an old guy it will make you smile. They still offer curb service too. You order at the front counter,given a ticket and they call your number when ready. Everyone was very friendly and most helpful with my too many questions. The biggest reason I wanted to come here is I was certain that,with the exception of the root beer little of the food was done from scratch. I have no idea where or how I got that impression I just did. Well I was wrong. This place actually has cooks. My apologies to Edwards Drive In.

Wednesday they offer a $1.99 BBQ slider. For a 3 buck and change up charge you can add onion rings and a medium drink. In my case that would be a Root Beer.

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Well the sandwich was so-so. Not a bad bite for 2 bucks but nothing to really make you shake,rattle or roll. Now the rings were a different story. They were crisp and flavorful and abundant. Often onion rings are a touch soggy from excessive batter. Not these. Sometimes they are just too greasy. Not these. I hesitate to call them the best I have had because I am sure I used that line before. I just have to say that these are an excellent product and they were masterfully prepared. As for the Root Beer it was as delicious as you would expect or if you are old enough as you remember from years ago.

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Pat told me that we had been here before. I couldn’t remember. He also said that his breaded tenderloin last time was very greasy. This time his food was on point. I still say I have not been here with him.

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I think this could be a very nice joint to visit when it is warm. Onion rings and a Root Beer. If they use the same ring batter for the mushrooms then marry that with a coney dog and Root Beer and call me satisfied.
Edwards Drive-in Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato