The Burgers of Indiana
Today's post is a few years in the making. Regular readers know I love checking out the old school Midwest spots and many of the time this means burgers. People on the east and west coasts can claim all they want but if they try and say the burgers are better well you know they haven't explored the Mighty Midwest when it comes to that. No matter which state we're talking about, there's some great burger spots nearby. Today we explore five from Indiana. All of them worth a stop if passing through.
This legendary 24 hour (Sat. & Sun.) slider shack has long been on my list and I finally got to cross it off a couple years back. While down in Louisville we went over to Cincinnati for the day thus the chance to stop in for some came. Unfortunately the part of the Ohio River Scenic Byway from Louisville to Madison was pretty boring but the entire drive is something I'd love to take one day as there's certainly no shortage of both Rustbelt cities and historic towns along it. Madison was really pretty but I only got to shoot thru as this was a detour that was already taking longer than anticipated.
Hinkle's is a major part of the town as it's fed a few generations and counting. As the name suggests they serve sandwich classics like grilled cheese and tenderloins and also offer breakfast but it's all about the hamburgers which are served in slider form. I got a seat right at the end of the counter right where the action was taking place so I got to watch the grillman and his partner churn out one after another as orders for them can come by the dozens. It obviously wasn't their first week on the job.
Men at Work
The patties come pre-smashed and lose quite a bit of their size as they cook down. Standard toppings are grilled onions and pickles. Result? Fantastic. As good as I remember Powers Hamburgers over in Fort Wayne to be. Since I was en route to the Queen City I held my order to two which I ended up regretting the rest of the ride there. These have been on my want list ever since that last bite.
Next spot takes a look into old Elkhart. To a time when RV's were all the talk amongst middle aged white men and a young Shawn Kemp was throwing down windmills at Concord High School.
Crimaldi's has been around these parts since 1980 though from it's looks it seems much older. That's
because there was a differently named bar in the same spot before Mike Crimaldi took over. On my visit this past Spring there were a few regulars and not much else going on. But the beer was cheap and they're said to make a damn good burger so we decided to stay.
a peek inside
The house-named burger is said to be best in the area so I wanted to give it a try. It's a 1/3 pound patty of fresh grilled locally butchered beef that's topped with griddled ham as well as Italian spices mixed with American cheese on a well toasted bun. An interesting set of toppings that I thought worked well. Certainly better than I remember Heinnie's Backbarn (featured in Hamburger America) to be. Worth a stop if passing thru and aren't vegan and or gluten free.
The Crimaldi Burger
Next stop up takes us to Madison County. This place which now goes by Leroy's has been serving burgers since the 1920's. That according to the menu I read while waiting for my order.
The name has changed over time but the way the burgers are prepared remains the same. Smashed balls of beef with onions smashed into them and a couple slices of cheese for max cheesiness.
a peek inside
These burgers were a tad bit dry from the smashing but the overall product was still better than 90% of burgers out there. You could really taste the flavors from the grill which has had years of seasoning put into it. You cant open a new spot and mimic these flavors. They take years to achieve.
Cheeseburger with Grilled Onions
This being Middle Indiana there's also pie. In this case they had some slices of the official state pie of the Hoosier People. Sugar Creme Pie is "a typical dessert of the western European countries of Northern France and Belgium, the Canadian province of Quebec, and Midwestern United States states such as Indiana." I haven't had many pieces of sugar pie but did enjoy this homemade piece after my burger.
Sugar Creme Pie
Next stop up is a place doing the classic style of burger that I love so much. I dont have an exact date on how long this place has been around but the menu says 70+ years in business. I believe it.
Located not far from Lafayette, everything about the Sandwich Shop is old school. As soon as you walk in you feel like you've done some time traveling. On my visit on a weekend day the place was packed with families enjoying what must be one of their favorite meals in town. I say that because this is a small town and these burgers are fantastic.
a peek inside
The old school attitude from here translates to the food and also the prices. A double cheeseburger will set you back just $3.50 and an order of fries is a dollar and change. The latter of which are excellent fresh cut specimens. The burger itself is a classic example of a double cheeseburger. It's everything that made people fall in love with this style of burger. Thin patties supplied fresh from the local butcher that taste like real beef. All in all this is a fantastic little spot worth checking out if in the area and you share a love for burgers.
The Lemon Drop
I'd heard of this classic 50's style burger spot straight from the source. Despite it's very popular lemon shake and also the bowl of hard lemon candy at the cash register the place is named after the original owner who's last name was Lemon. He opened the place in 1954 and sold it to the current owner in 1972. Upon entering you get a big whiff of onion and the looks of a place where not much has changed. As you can see on the outside of the building they advertise Toasted Cheeseburgers, OnionBurgers, and of course Tenderloins too. My reason for wanting to try the place has always been for the OnionBurger which would end up being worth the wait.
OnionBurger with Everything
The Hell? What's so onion-y about that you ask? Well not the raw onions that come included when you get everything on one. It might take you until after your first bite to realize that these arent made in the same way Onion Burgers out in Oklahoma are made. Here the onion comes inside the beef. Big deal right, diced onion in beef, lots of people do that. Not quite. This is a thing of beauty.
The inside of the hamburger patty
At the Lemon Drop they take a thinly sliced fully intact onion and mold the ground beef around it. The burger than gets a nice crisp cooking on the flattop while the onion steams away inside. It really is a fantastic old school burger and maybe even good enough to make it into my all time Top 10 in that category. However they might be better served on toast with nothing but cheese.
Onion Burger on Toast
I thought this one was a bit better because it was all about the beef mixed with onion and cheese and when squeezed in-between some toast this is sure to be a good thing. It was better than any grilled cheese I've ever had and comparable to the long gone gyro melt from CND Gyros as far as onion power goes. Seeing as how Anderson is only about 40 minutes Northeast of Indy I will try to get back here when the chance to do so comes again.
Hinkle's Sandwich Shop
204 W Main St
Madison, IN 47250
Crimaldi's Restaurant & Lounge
117 W Jackson Blvd
Elkhart, IN 46516
1537 S A St
Elwood, IN 46036
112 E Main St
Delphi, IN 46923
1701 Mounds Rd
Anderson, IN 46016