eating indie in indy

taverns and stuff

Barringer’s Tavern 2535 S. Meridian Street

Yep this joint has been around for a long time. We were here some years back, before we started the blog. I remember it well because our bartender was telling us about the pink 38 that her father bought her for her 21st Birthday. Don’t remember what I ate but I remember her.

They offered a second special that day for $6.95. A bowl of chili and a grilled cheese sandwich. I was tempted but opted for fish and chips for $8,25

Actually I was impressed with both the quality of the product and the execution of the dish. I was also impressed with their portion control. Some joints think tossing more fries on a plate increases the value of the dish when all it does is increase costs. Barringer’s served about 6 ounces of cod loin that was perfectly battered and fried along with a reasonable amount of waffle fries. The fries were excellent as well. I don’t think I have had waffle fries as good as these, They were thick and meaty hunks of potato that I would love to eat again.

I was fed well for 8 bucks. My only criticism is the tarter sauce was so so and there was a disconnect between the ordering and the kitchen. Pat’s special was an immediate so it took minimal time to put out. My lunch required some time to prepare and Pat’s food came out first by several minutes. I think the newness of the POS system was the problem. Still doesn’t detract from the good food and the good value of my lunch, They offer craft beer on draft as well as the more pedestrian domestics. Their special was Busch Light drafts for $1.50. That may not be a really good brew but it was cold and it was beer. So they may no longer offer turtle soup or pigs feet but Barringer’s is back in business.


Next Door Eatery 4573 N. College Ave.


This place opened less than 2 years ago by Kimbal Musk the brother of Elon Musk of Tesla fame. It was the curiosity that prompted me to eat here. Musk owns a restaurant group that started in Colorado in 2004. Another brand is Hedge Row. He opened one of those on Mass Ave. prior to the opening of Next Door.

The building used to be a Double Eight grocery. A local chain that closed a few years back. It was started in the 50’s as Seven Eleven. Long before that convenience store chain started. A few years back our local chain changed its name. As a homage to a by gone era Musk incorporated a sign into their interior design.

Several Indianapolis restaurants are currently running a Devour promotion. That is when participating restaurants serve a special meal or discounted normal menu items. Next Door was offering 3 courses for $16.95. That was my original plan but I changed my mind at the last minute. I thought a 3 course lunch was too much and I was drawn to their Pineapple Express burger. That would be a Black Angus burger from local Fisher Farms on a toasted bum with fresh grilled pineapple, bacon, swiss cheese and Siracha honey.

All of their burgers and sandwiches come with chips and a “simple salad”.

I really enjoyed my burger. The bun was nicely toasted and they cooked it medium rare as I requested. That combo of sweet pineapple and smoky bacon was really excellent. The burgers are one third pound. With this particular sandwich any thing bigger would be too much.

Although this joint is not Downtown their prices are. A basic burger is $10.95. They also offer a burger that is half ground beef and half crimini mushrooms for $11.95. My Pineapple Express was $13.95. Expensive but tolerable. My Sun King beer was $6.75 and wasn’t even a pint. Across the street Scarlet Lane opened a tap room so if you feel like a couple of beers that is the place to go. I would like to follow up and try their Next Door 50/50. That is their crimini and beef mix burger. All in all I enjoyed the joint. It is attractive and has a great out door space and they cook a very good burger.

https://www.nextdooreatery.com/location/indianapolis/#food


Fat Cat Bar 3015 Lafayette Road.

When we can’t come to a quick agreement on destination we know we can always agree on the ever popular, hardly controversial “dive bar”. Pat, because the food is simple and me because the beer is cheap. This place has been a bar for as long as I can recall. For years it was Bud’s Lounge. Bud’s closed a couple of years ago and Fat Cat moved in. Fat Cat was originally down the street at 38th Street so they have some experience in the bar business.

Their menu is pretty common with a bunch of frozen apps and a few basic sandwiches and pizza. We ordered a side of mushrooms to start our meal off for $5. They were pretty good. Like most things frozen apps are not all the same. Some ARE better than others. These were better than average.

half eaten appetizer

Of course a picture should be taken before you start eating. Makes for a more professional effect.

I was leaning toward their fried catfish dinner but our great bartender told me it goes from $8 to $6.75 on Fridays. Unfortunately they stopped selling them with hush puppies. Their customers weren’t eating them. There is just no accounting for some folks tastes. So I went for the pig in the form of a grilled tenderloin.

This was an exceptional piece of meat. This was no light weight “fritter” this was an 8 oz. slice of pork loin that was pounded out and cooked really well on a flat top. Tender and moist with good flavor and just the right amount of chew.

So we really enjoyed this little place. It had good food, exceptional service and Domestic bottles were a buck and a half. So for 2 sandwiches, one order of mushrooms and three beers our tab was $25; with tax. That is a value. I will be back on a Friday and try their catfish special; even without puppies.


Jail Bird 4022 Shelby Street

This is a mural on the inside wall of the bar
This on the outside wall of the bar

When you see the inside mural the first thing you notice is the little jail bird in the center. He seems to glow or have a light surrounding him. Don’t worry you have not been over served nor is it an epiphany. It is just painted with a window behind it. That is the bottom picture. The one on the outside wall. I thought it was pretty clever. Clever is a good word if you just wanted one word to describe this joint.

As I understand it this place was opened by the same fellow that opened Thunderbird, which is just a few miles North, also on Shelby. Thunderbird is a more sophisticated joint. More sophisticated in that both food and cocktail menus are more complex. One thing they have in common is. I believe what ever you order it will be expertly prepared and tasty.

You can see the kitchen from our position at the bar so I was able to see the cook take ball of ground meat, place it on the flat top and smash it down. Sort of like the Culver’s commercial. So, yeah they are “old school” burgers.

They don’t prepare their sides in house. The fries, etc come in frozen. Which is fine with me. Half the time frozen fries and rings are as good or better than “house made”. That holds true for mozzarella sticks as well. Their sandwiches are served ala carte. I ordered a meat loaf sandwich with a side of mozzarella sticks.

This was one great sandwich. Their meat loaf is simple and good. Nothing fancy. A nice thick slice heated on the flat top, topped with an onion ring and a chipotle ketchup. All put together on a lovely toasted Brioche bun. The mozz sticks were as good as they ever were and they serve them with a very nice house made marinara sauce,

So Pat and I both really like this spot. If you go for lunch hopefully Morgan will be there to be your server. I can not say enough nice things about her. Pleasant and efficient and she does make a very good Whiskey Sour. Thanks again Morgan.

Here is a link to their menu

https://www.jailbirdindy.com/


Lena’s Sugar Shack 5560 S. Brookville Road

This place is a rare item. A neighborhood bar. Not a Gastropub. A Bar. This whole stretch of road had more when I was young. That was when the International Harvester plant and later Navistar was open across the street. Now the building is gone.

They offer basic bar food at a very reasonable price. They also have specials featuring Domestic bottles for $2 and $2.50. Their half pound burger is only $5.99 with chips. That was what I decided on.

One other thing that is unique with this joint is they have a griddle, fryer and cold table right behind the bar. So all the cooking is done in sight. I bet it is a lot of fun when it is busy. As for my burger it was pretty tasty. Nicely toasted bun with a medium burger built the way I wanted it. Instead of chips I opted for some onion petals. I have never had these before and I really liked them.

The Sugar Shack isn’t too close to me but I intend to go back. Breakfast in a bar is great and their porch is just made for a little day drinking.


Whiskey Business 5220 Southport Road.

Well another tavern. From what I was told by the bartender we had last week this is a joint that scratch makes 90 % of their food. They have 2 locations. This one and one up north on Pendleton Pike.

http://www.whiskeybiz.com/

This spot is clean and nicely done up and offers 25 lunch specials every day for $7.95. They are the same every day so the kitchen doesn’t have to do something new every day. Also for the most part they are regular menu items at a reduced price.

Pat gave me a piece of his tenderloin and it was well seasoned and the meat had a great texture; but it had that unmistakable after taste of old oil in the deep fryer. That is a shame.

When I order I try to get something that I wouldn’t do at home. Because of the time it takes or the mess it would make. In this case it would have been the battered and fried cod sandwich. However I mis-heard Pat and I thought that was what he ordered so I went for the Sloppy Joe with fries.

I have a fondness for Sloppy Joe sandwiches. I know they are hardly a challenging dish but I do enjoy them. What I got yesterday was very good. I can’t say that it did or did not come from a can because I have never knowingly had that canned sauce. I make it from scratch, that is just how I am wired. The only bad thing I can say about my lunch was the fries. They had that same after taste as Pat’s tenderloin.

I am with Pat. I would like to try their $9 steak special but it is too far for me to drive. Overall it was a good lunch but it could have been better.


Monkey Business 5055 S Dearborn Street

Pat picked this place. He learned of it from his cousin, who is a regular. That is one of the interesting things about taverns. Their regulars usually visit more often than a regular at a dinner house. When you go to a dinner house you go to eat. Same can be said for a lunch place. When you visit a tavern you can eat or drink. Taverns also have a bunch more appetizers than a  restaurant. So the occasions to go to a tavern are more numerous. Pat mentioned that this joint was previously named Harry C’s. I have never heard of that place either.

We started out with some fried pepper jack cheese cubes. For some reason I neglected to take a picture. These little things were very good. Lightly breaded and cooked perfectly. I was really surprised that they weren’t hand-made in the kitchen. I have had these before and they weren’t nearly as good.

Pat didn’t write about what he had for lunch. I guess he was still thinking of his prime rib dinner. He had a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato for $6. I guess he liked it. I mean it is really hard to mess up a grilled cheese sandwich.

They offer a fish and chips platter with a choice of walleye or catfish for $7.50. Either fish will get you fries, coleslaw and tarter sauce. I opted for walleye, because it is a good white fish and you don’t see it around too often.

I liked it. It was a good portion of fish and it had  very tasty breading, Also the coleslaw was house-made and the amount of fries they give you is reasonable. Some places think it is necessary to serve up more french fries than 1 human can eat. I would like to see them offer an extra piece of fish for an up-charge. I could have handled another piece of walleye. On Fridays they offer an all you can eat fish and chips for 12.95. I think that is the price.

I like this little place. Good food and great prices. For the bonus their special that day was $2 Domestic bottles. They offer several draft beers and a  Craft brew cost $5. If I lived closer I would try that Prime Rib dinner myself


Kruger’s Tavern 323 N. Delaware St.

Well this is another import from Cincinnati, courtesy of the Thunder Dome Restaurant Group. This is the group that controls Eagle and Bakersfield which expanded to Indy recently. Bakersfield in 2013 and The Eagle in 2015. I know this joint barely qualifies as an independent but it is owned by 3 people 2 of which are brothers. They are just hugely successful and are expanding their brand.

https://www.kruegerstavern.com/locations/

This place grinds their own meat for the hamburgers and the basic burger is $9.99. They use 2 patties per burger and cook them on a flat top so I was a bit surprise the meat didn’t have crisper edges.

They also make their own sausages. That is what I opted for.

It was their Italian. Sicilian style sausage, polenta cake, braised fennel and olives, Parmigiano Reggiano

This was an outstanding dish. The sausage had a bit of heat from the Calabrian chiles as did the broth the fennel and olives were braised in. This was almost a perfect meal for me. It featured 2 of my favorite non meat items. Fennel and olives. Add in the pig and “corn bread” and I was as happy as a camel on hump day. They offer 2 other styles of sausage all are $12.

I want to come back and try the other two but it will have to be when it is warmer. When I go downtown I use the bus. I don’t even like driving through our downtown. Parking is always an issue when you go downtown to eat. Same with Krueger’s. All I can say is it is worth the trip.


Mayfair Taproom 2032 E 10th Street.

For many years this section of 10th street was home to several bars. Small one room bars of varying sophistication and reputation. One of the oldest was the Mayfair Tavern. It was characterized by the upside down sign. It had a very interesting history. This article from NUVO does a good job articulating that history and explaining the origins of the New Mayfair Taproom.

https://www.nuvo.net/beerbuzz/beer-buzz-mayfair-taproom-coming-soon/article_21e19fb0-9e88-11e8-b5aa-3b40a1930233.html

I would add charming to that description. I know the word charming and tavern don’t always go together but those lace curtains in the window just seem so damn charming. The building is old and the restoration/remodel was extensive and very well done.

The menu is quite small but it suits the space. To some degree it follows the BRBP in that it has a few Vegan options. I was intrigued by the Shepherds Pie. In was unique in two ways, The mashed potatoes were on the bottom and on top was arugula and HP sauce.

I must admit that my first impression when presented with my lunch was that it was the wrong dish. I had expected a few stems as garnish but I got a whole salad. I enjoyed my pie very much I just am not sure what the arugula brought to it. The potatoes were delicious and the seasoned ground lamb was on point as well. I like arugula. It is in the same family as mustard greens and its slight peppery flavor is always welcome to me. That taste did indeed bring another layer to the dish as did the HP sauce. I also enjoyed the crispness of the raw green. I have to go back and eat it again. I just can’t decide if the greens are best suited on top or as a side minimally dressed. Of course it is not my call and I am over analyzing. That is what I do. I just can’t help it. This is a great new place and I think the old owners of Mayfair Tavern would approve. They do not have a website but you can view their menu on their Facebook.

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

 


The Free Spirit 6155 E. 86 th Street

Well one more bar.Or tavern. In other words a joint that sells alcoholic beverage with food; as opposed to a joint that sells food with alcoholic beverages. I have no problem with bars or taverns. However a few weeks back someone asked me if ; as a chef ; I found some places or some food beneath me. I had never thought of that before. I just go to different places that sell food, with Pat, we eat then tell folks what we think. I don’t consider any particular food type  boring or “bad” I can consider the preparation of it sub par or as Pat would say “street level”. That being said lets talk about The Free Spirit.

This joint has been at this location nearly 4 years. I believe the former owner had it on Shadeland Ave. They have excellent food and beverage specials and the prices are more than fair. The majority of their sandwiches are under $8. They also sell pizza and breakfast all day.

Pat wanted to show the char grill on his burger because when we went to the Burger Study they aggressively char grilled his burger and he thought it barely edible. And that is a fancy upscale joint that charges $11 and up for their burgers and this burger was $5.49.

I decided on a Cocky burger. That would be a burger with cheddar, bacon. BBQ sauce and an onion ring for $7.49.

This was a delicious burger. I ordered it mid rare and that was exactly how it was served. Every element of the sandwich was on point. From the toasted Brioche style bun to the crisp bacon and the battered french fries. I have paid more for a lesser sandwich.

I think this place will do well. They have great food, excellent service and enough room for a crowd. I can’t think of anything missing. It is a fun place to hang out at.