Friday, February 13, 2015

Three Kokomo Favorites

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- Local Old School Eats

Time for another quick trip thru one of America's once booming industrial towns. We covered Iowa with Sioux City, did Flint Michigan and ran thru Galesburg Illinois already so today it's time to head to Hoosierland. Kokomo had a natural gas boom in the late 1800's which attracted a heavy amount of industries. It's officially known as "the city of firsts" for a bunch of random things that were first made there, many of them food related. It was also an integral part of the auto-industry around the same time Detroit started to boom. Like most industrial driven towns it's seen better days although with events like the largest gathering of Ku Klux Klan members at the time (1923), there's lots not to be proud of when looking back at the city's past. Nonetheless I was passing thru and decided to seek out a few local favorites, without blending in.

The Handle Bar

From the outside this looks like a shady neighborhood spot, theres abandoned buildings and torn up sidewalks on the block. The not being able to see inside thing never really screams come on in but I did anyway. Upon entering the tobacco smoke hit me the face harder than the first time I tried to smoke a cigar. Bunch of yocals at the bar so I decided to take a booth.

a former town favorite returns to a local dive

The reason for my stopping here was to try a Lord Jon Taco which was a former local chain no longer in business. The same tacos they used to make there are now available here at the Handle Bar. What gives these a local cult following is the puffy fried tortilla shells used to make them, the rest of the taco is pretty generic as far as the ground beef filling and typical gringo supreme toppings. They're not San Antonio style puffy tacos but they're unique enough and made for a tasty cheap eat with a few cold brews.

Lord Jon Taco Supreme

Ray's Drive-In

I googled "kokomo tenderloin" to see if there was a good spot in town to try one. Two kept coming up one and of them was closed so Ray's Drive In it was. While there were mentions of Ray's there wasn't much on it, just that they served tenderloins. I tried finding some info on them again here and still cant seem to find anything as far as their history. As I pulled in I noticed a sign that caught my eye and that can be seen in the picture below.

Home of the largest Tenderloin in Indiana

Really? Well now I have no other choice. They also have a "normal" sized offering that can be ordered but you only live once has long been one of my motto's. So I told the lady behind the glass on the inside to put me down for one King Tenderloin. I shat you not when she handed me the bag I almost dropped it because I wasn't expecting to have to put any grip on holding the thing, it was heavy. It was also surprisingly thick and not beat down to the consistency of a front door carpet. It came heavily breaded with a crunchy exterior and some pretty juicy meat on the inside. I was surprised as it was more than a gimmick, it was actually pretty good. That said it's impossible to eat as a sandwich so I thought it would of been much better off topped with mashed spuds and gravy with a knife and fork by its side.

The King Tenderloin

Martino's Italian Villa

This place has been in these parts since 1962 and with it being just a stones throw from Ray's their neon sign caught my eye. That was followed by the smells catching my nose which made for me having to stop in for a pizza to take home on the road. I saw it as a really good sign that the parking lot was getting packed with people coming for dinner and the "Our Crust is a Must" slogan on the sign really made me want to try them. I placed a to-go order in the old school takeout room where they make the pizzas to eat. I didn't get a snap of the ovens from another era but dug them and thought the pizza was pretty good too. I'm a fan of loose meat sausage and enjoyed their spicy blend but I've had better crusts.

Small Sausage with Green Pepper Pizza

Note: The favorite of favorites in town is a bake from Louie's Coney Island which I already doc'd HERE. See ya next time.

Handle Bar
1252 N Main St
Kokomo, IN 46901
(765) 457-9889

Ray's Drive In
1900 N Courtland Ave
Kokomo, IN 46901
(765) 452-3625

Martino's Italian Villa
1929 N Washington St
Kokomo, IN 46901
(765) 457-6621

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