Regional food specialties
- Hoosier Drive-In's
Happy Holidays. Today's tribute to America is a look into our Drive-In culture. For whatever reason the State of Indiana still has handfuls of these old school spots where most of the town meets up. I'll admit that I'm a sucker for the old school, small town Drive-In and will most always stop for a quick bite when there's one within reach. Having grown up in the city these are something I rarely experienced in my youth. So I've made up for it when on the road. Here's five spots I pulled over for.
The Milky Way
This place has been around these parts since 1950. Like so many other drive-in's across the state it's a symbol of summer. Also like many of the others in that this place is popular for both savory and sweet. People come for lunch, dinner and or dessert.
Part of the Menu
I particularly love the drive-in's with signature snacks. Or at the very least things you don't see on menus everywhere. Here they have a trio of popular items that people miss when they leave these parts. I made sure to sample all three.
Meatloaf Sandwich with Coney Sauce
The Meatloaf Sandwich was damn good. It was nicely cooked topped with melted cheese and their house Coney sauce on a cheap hamburger bun. Listed under the menu as "Special" A perfect snack for a trip to the drive-in. Also extremely popular here are the Milky Way tacos. You just know I was intrigued. These are exactly what I would expect to find in the middle of small town Indiana. Doubt they've been on the menu since 1950 but guessing the late 70's maybe early 80's was when these debuted. They fill a cheap flour tortilla with their house coney sauce and top it with the common gringo toppings. Not gonna lie, I also liked these in a guilty pleasure sort of way, and ordered a second. Dessert wise they make half ice cream / half slushie drinks that are popular and I enjoyed a grape one which is said to be most ordered menu item. I'd go back if the opportunity was there.
Last year I did a feature on a couple of odd regional Indiana eats which you can read about HERE. One of them was the Spanish Dog. This style of hot dog is found all over these parts and it's due to the fact the area use to be flooded with B&K Drive-In restaurants which featured their signature Spanish Dog which is basically a coney with a more tomato-y sauce. Eventually other places started serving them such as this old school still fully functional drive-in.
Menu (click pics to enhance)
As you can see the Spanish Dog is the second thing listed. It's probably the most popular menu item since people in these parts seem to love them. I don't care for them either way. I can take it or leave it. This one had sauce that seemed to be better with more in-depth flavor than the others but the boring skinless hot dog was over-steamed and not pleasing from a texture standpoint.
Jimmie's Dairy Bar
One day last summer while cruising thru Indiana we noticed a place packed with cars. It was a Drive-In specializing in both ice cream and barbecue so I decided to stop. Jimmie's has been a favorite of people from around the Indianapolis area since the 50's. Known for two things. 1) Tangerine Ice Cream. This I can vouch for, it was excellent on a warm summer day. 2) Barbecue Sandwiches. These I can not endorse. The barbecue part comes from the fact it's baked pork meat drenched in sweet bbq sauce. This thing never saw smoke and thus it saw the garbage can before it was finished. I wasn't expecting much but this was a letdown. Stick to the ice cream.
New Castle, IN
Another spot I passed by while on the road en route elsewhere. An old gas station turned hot dog stand can always grab my attention. The name pushes hot dogs but the reviews lean heavily towards the ice cream and the fact it's a great place to stop with the kids. I don't know about great but they do have a bunch of coin operated rides and play areas for the little ones to expel some energy. Unfortunately the hot dog was also for the kids. Boring wiener and all.
While most of Indiana's drive-in's are old school the next stop is all about the new. Located in a pretty little town but drier than an informants dead body buried in the dessert. Nonetheless we weren't there to drink but rather indulge in one of Indiana's most beloved eats. Located about 30 minutes east of Indy, The Mug is a new-school drive-in using local ingredients, the slogan is "From Farm to Curb.
Menu (click pics to enhance)
Their Breaded Pork Tenderloin is made with locally raised Berkshire Pork obtained from their neighbors at Tyner Pond Farm. They also have hamburgers, hot dogs, and the other stuff but you gotta go BPT on the first visit in. This oversized beauty was as perfectly fried and juicy as any other I can remember. Just eating little nibbles broken off was a treat in of itself. When it comes to Indiana the only things bigger than Breaded Pork Tenderloins are 1a) The Bible and 1b) High School Basketball. This is the Jesus / Larry Bird of BPT's.One of if not the best I've ever had. That good.
Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
750 Washington Ave
Frankfort, IN 46041
417 S Huntington St
Syracuse, IN 46567
Jimmie's Dairy Bar
7065 S State Rd 67
Pendleton, IN 46064
533 N Memorial Dr
New Castle, IN 47362
117 Apple St
Greenfield, IN 46140