Monday, October 26, 2015

Indianapolis Eats

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- More from Indianapolis

I've already covered more ground in Indy than most any other site and or publication out there. You can check up on past reports HERE and also HERE and HERE. Today I have five more spots to add to my Indianapolis dining guide. If you've never been then you probably don't know. Get familiar.


Located in the Fletcher Place Neighborhood 

Perhaps the hottest restaurant in the Midwest, at the very least in Indy, is this boozy brunch spot that was recently named one of the 10 best new restaurants in the Country by Bon Appetit. Normally I tend to stay away from most brunch spots but the recognition along with the menu got me to stop in.

a peek inside

Milktooth is a daytime only operation and they open early for both coffee and pastries. Neither of which I tried on my two separate visits as I'm not a big morning sweets guy and I do not drink coffee. Instead I went straight to the food. The menu consists of a few sections. One is 'Classic Stock' which includes their takes on a bunch of breakfast classics. Another section is titled 'Of the Moment' which lists that days specials. Then theres the 'sides and sweets' section which is just what it reads.

Top: Potato and Yuca Latke - acorn squash jam, local sour cream, scallions Bottom: Himalayan Red Rice Grits - add egg, bacon, and scallions

The cooking style here is very hipster and I mean that in the best way possible. Open air kitchen with guys in beards doing the cooking and having a good time while doing so. Some of the concoctions they come up with are spectacular. Take the potato pancake pictured up above. By adding on a few fancy toppings they made this the best potato pancake I ever came across. Never had Himalayan Red Rice Grits so I'm not sure if they're a real thing or an outstanding creation. So full of flavor.

House Cured Trout with Homemade Cream Cheese on a House English Muffin

My two main courses at Milktooth have both been winners. On my first trip this past summer I wanted something semi light and opted for the house lox served atop a toasted English Muffin. This was the best breakfast sandwich I've had in sometime. The lox was deep in flavor and the muffin had perfect crunch. Then there's the Cuban Lamb Frita Burger. The menu does switch but this winner has remained on it thru time. It takes a wonderful lamb patty and tops it with a fried piece of pineapple and sweet chile ketchup and white American cheese which when molded together makes for a fantastic bite. I suggest you add an egg allowing yolk to slide down into your mouth with each taste.

Cuban Lamb Burger

Jamaican Style Jerk

Northeast Indy

Despite going to and or thru Indy countless times over the last couple years I never got the chance to go try this well known Jerk Stand that I put onto by a friend of mine at LTH. This is a real city and there's stuff to eat other than burgers, pizza and breaded tenderloins. This place is part of the proof. The owner is from Jamaica and goes back yearly. Always a plus to see the smoke pit on display.

Jerk chicken attached to a liquor store in a parking lot

One day this past summer I was able to head over here right as they were getting started. The friendly owner said what up and told me I came at the perfect time as he just pulled the meats from the smoker. I opted for a lunch special which includes 1/4 chicken and a couple jerk ribs. Rice and Peas and plantains come on the side. All this below was like $7 and it was some of the better jerk chicken I've had in the States. Anything but dry. The ribs were just tender enough to pull easily off the bone and had plenty of smoke in them. My minor complaint was the sauce was slightly off. Other than that, it was still pretty good, this place is a gem that the people of Indy are lucky to have.

Jerk Chicken and Ribs

Love Handle

Pogue's Run Neighborhood

The people behind this semi-new sandwich spot have a history in Indy. They ran this place before moving to Milwaukee where they eventually broke the locals hearts and closed only to move back to Indy. They bring with them a little bit of a different approach this time around as most everything is made in-house, as opposed to by Smoking Goose, which is where owner once worked. I stopped in for a snack and tried the days biscuit ($3). It had an excellent piece of pork belly cooked just right topped with pickled red onions placed on a very soft and semi loose biscuit. I was not expecting the biscuit to be as good as it was as I would've been satisfied with the product if I was down south in Nashville or somewhere like it. This might be the best snack under $5 in town. Check them out.

Pork Belly Biscuit

Punch Burger


This popular downtown burger joint is in the mold of many other modern burger shops. It reminded me of both Shake Shack and also Company Burger in New Orleans. Local fresh ingredients, locally brewed beers, walk up place your order and take a seat etc. Here they're doing medium sized griddled patties with some traditional and also some not so normal toppings. Menu has quite a few specialty options or you can build your own burger. I went with the burnt cheeseburger off the specialties as its description was something new to me.

Burnt Cheeseburger

The griddled patty is topped with a mold made of three slices of cheddar cheese cooked on the flattop. The result is a crispy extreme cheeze-it taste along with the other traditional flavors of a classic cheeseburger to cut some of the saltiness of the burnt cheese. The bun was nice and pillowy and the beef flavor was there. Damn good burger.

The insides

Kimu Restaurant 

The Suburb of Greenwood

En route home from Louisville last year I had my eye on this Burmese spot which has been on my radar for a couple years now. All Burmese clientele on my visit, good start. The lady behind the counter was telling me her specialties and finished with mentioning the pork with pickled mango as her most famous dish thus I was sold. I went with an order of samosas to start.


Excellent eats. These were just stuffed with potato and spiced with curry but they were extra crispy on the outside and really smooth inside. I'm not that familiar with Burmese cuisine, other than this excellent cover story over at LTH the only familiarity with it I have was trying a place recommended in Moline, IL. and also a spot in San Francisco and a coming soon with a place in Fort Wayne. That said I loved the meals I ate in Moline and San Fran and enjoyed this dish below every bit as much. It wasn't spicy at all, just full of flavor from the pork and mango, the former of which was maybe the best prep of meat I've ever had at an Asian place. It was extra thin and oh so tender. I'm not sure when life will allow me to make it to Burma, but over in Fort Wayne they have the highest concentration of Burmese people in the States which equates to a few restaurants serving their native cuisine. More on that soon. Hope you enjoyed today's journey. See ya next time my friends.

Pork with Pickled Mango

534 Virginia Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 986-5131

Jamaican Style Jerk
3355 N Keystone Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46218
(317) 926-1110

Love Handle
2829 10th St
Indianapolis, IN 46201
(317) 430-5004

Punch Burger
137 East Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 426-5280

Kimu Restaurant
1280 South U.S. 31
Greenwood, IN 46142
(317) 893-2221

Friday, October 23, 2015


-Weekend Brunchin'

I hadn't had a chance to get up one of my favorite weekend brunch spots because I never got satisfying enough pictures to do so. Yeah I kind of became a picture snob in a sense. My shots aren't professional but I do require some sort of light. Dusek's is one part of the party going on over at the corner of 18th and Allport street. The building on the corner houses a venue for music called Thalia Hall, has a bar in the basement where they specialize in punch and also a cocktail bar up top where theres a more sedated atmosphere. Then there's Dusek's the restaurant we're checking out today.

Hipster Favorite in Pilsen 

Dusek's recently received a 2015 Bib Gourmand award for their food and service. While I'm not a big follower of the Michelin Man I know that others are and it's always nice for a place to get recognize. When you put lots of hard work in you like to know it was worth it. Dusek's is named after an immigrant tavern owner who built the place in 1892. The Land & Sea team decided to pay homage to him with their version of a laid back spot where one can drink some beer and eat well. On top of a really nice beer selection they also have worthwhile cocktails. The daily punch always pleases.

Elotes Benedict 

The Brunch menu features a few egg related dishes you wont find on the dinner menu. One of them is the Pork Belly Benedict which comes with a wonderful batch of perfectly fried house potatoes. The main course is confit pork belly with two poached eggs and corn chipotle hollindaise. She liked. I have always liked the juicy Lucy Burger which is Dusek's take on the Twin Cities classic. A juicy Lucy is where the cheese gets stuffed into the patty which makes for quite an oozy experience when you bite into it. Be careful when doing so, it's hot. Beef fat fries included on the side are always good though sometimes room temp. The best part about the burger is the beef which comes from Slagel Family Farm. A red onion-bacon marmalade makes it even more magnificent. Big fan fan.

The Juicy Lucy Burger 

1227 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3851

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Taco In A Bag

-Grubbing in Chicago
Booze Food

One of the more interesting openings and or unique or whatever else you want to call it happened about six months ago as Taco In A Bag moved to the Big City. Originally a stall in a Suburban malls food court the owner won a Food Network competition but quickly learned that winning was where the good ended. They struggled to meet demand and basically gave up, on the idea of being a small suburban business. Thus they moved to Lincoln Square on a pretty busy stretch of Lincoln avenue thats slowly becoming an actual worthwhile strip of restaurants. So far, so good.

Newly Opened in Lincoln Square

For those asking what a 'Taco in a Bag' is allow me to explain. The name is misleading as they're basically nachos. Here they do them with a little bit of chef driven syndrome. Haha just kidding I'm all for use of better ingredients. But really the concoctions they come up with are much more different than chili, cheese, and chips in a bag. Also of note is the high quality restaurant art which I'll always be a fan of. Love places that make original artwork part of their sell and they stay open late.

Dope Artwork Inside 

Now onto the product. They offer 12 different flavor combinations. Each one starts with thicker than norm tortilla chips that are fried fresh assuring they don't go soft when the toppings go on. Your options as far as flavor range from a Cuban Sandwich to a Chicken Parmesan. Some do sound more appealing than others but I cant comment on ones I haven't tried because they really do know how to balance the flavors. At least this was the case with my appropriately named cheeseburger nachos. The dish consists of beer braised ground beef, three cheese sauce, potato straws, deli pickles, romaine, and "Not McDonalds Special Sauce." The end result is a damn tasty batch of nachos that taste just like a cheeseburger. They come carefully layered allowing the entire flavor to be there with each bite. I'm sure this place pisses some food snobs off which is why I like it even more.

Cheeseburger Nachos in a Bag

Taco In A Bag
4603 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 250-2437

Monday, October 19, 2015

Peruvian Corner Market and Cafe

-The Sammy's of Chi

One day while reading some review on Yelp I glanced over at the section where it mentions what else people looked at as far as those who viewed the restaurant I was reading about. One of the links was for the Peruvian Corner Market on Kimball in Avondale. A place I have written about before. But new to me was the fact this place was now a deli in addition to a small market grocer selling empanadas.

Locals Favorite in Avondale Neighborhood 

Intrigued by what a Peruvian Deli puts out I decided to stop by for lunch one day. Upon entering I saw that despite looking the same on the outside that the market had undergone a little bit of a revamp inside. New colors and now tables to sit at and enjoy a sandwich off their new deli menu.

Deli Menu

The sandwiches on the deli menu don't read all that different than most other sandwich shops around town but so I was told these are Peruvian style sandwiches. Which means they're pressed ala a panini and come stuffed with marinated meats and salads and such. None are more than $6.

Peruvian style Deli Sandwiches

The first trip in I went with a 'Chepen' which is described as Peruvian roast pork and comes with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and sauce. While it may sound pretty standard the sandwich as a whole was wonderful. The roasted pork tenderloin slices were extra tender and the bread was crispy. Each sandwich comes with a side of Peruvian green aji sauce that takes it from good to very good.

Chepan Sandwich (Roast Pork)

The menu also sports a few different salads to fill your sandwich up with. On my most recent visit I tried the 'Lima' which is a chicken salad based sandwich. Made with mayo and celery it also comes with lettuce, tomato, and shoestring potatoes. Add that Aji sauce and you got another winner.

Lima Sandwich (Chicken Salad)

Last but not least they're still doing empanadas but switched up the recipe. The beef offering is actually itty bits of steak chopped down like it was going into a taco. Its mixed with potent onions and peppers and something rich. This might be my new favorite empanada in all of Chicago. Just don't forget to check the green sauce is in the bag with it. Say no to Subway and yes to Mom & Pop.

Steak Empanada

Peruvian Corner Market
3057 N Kimball Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 463-0510

Friday, October 16, 2015

Buzz Bait Taqueria

-Grubbing in Chicago
New to the 'Scene'

Towards the end of the summer Chicago got what I think is it's first full fledged fish taco house. Marc Malnati of pizza fame has teamed up with the people behind Kamehachi and opened one up in Old Town. Due to odd hours (open at 4p on weekdays) I didn't get a chance to try them until recently.

Newly Opened in Old Town

The feel of the place is very modern with a few odes to fishing scattered about. During the warmer months the windows roll up so the air can come in. There's also an outdoor seating patio and both booths and counters inside. The majority of taco options are seafood based with Baja style fish tacos joining fried shrimp, blackened fish, BBQ salmon, tuna poke, blackened chicken and also a vegetarian option of panko-crusted avocado. No beef or pork for the extremely carnivorous. Between both of my visits I've tried the ones I wanted to and have been pretty pleased with the product.

Blackened Fish (L) Fried Shrimp (R)

First thing you notice when your order arrives is the size of the tacos. These are stuffed with seafood. In the case of the shrimp it comes with three pieces of large shrimp with a thicker than normal batter. The only fallback is they're a little bit harder to eat but I'm fan with sacrificing east eating for being full from just two tacos. Orders come two per ($9-$11) and someone finally got it right allowing customers to mix and match their order. The blackened fish was the weak link thus far. It was cooked a little too much and tasted kind of dry. Though I did enjoy the peanut salsa it's topped with.

Ahi Tuna Poke Taco

On my second trip in I decided to go with a tuna poke and really liked the filling but as expected from the price-point the poke isn't as abundant as the other fillings. Mixed with guacamole and crispy cabbage this taco is perfect for those not wanting to get fried. Speaking of which the signature Sapporo battered fish taco is fried very well. Mine came with three marge chunks of fish that was extra flaky on the inside. It was a little hard to eat but all you need to do is eat one piece of the fish as is then attack the rest as a taco. We don't have a bunch of great fish taco options in Chicago so this one moves near the top of the pack my only real complaint is the tortillas need to be hotter. On my visits they were not the same temp as the filling. Other than that I liked product and price-point.

Fish Taco 

Buzz Bait Taqueria
1529 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 664-2899

Monday, October 12, 2015

Roadfood in Kentucky

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- Bites of the Bluegrass State 

Stopped into some classic Kentucky roadfood type spots on my way down to Nashville and then back to Chicago. Got four more for my database. Plus I have another spot from a different trip. Enjoy.

Laha's Red Castle Hamburgers

Hodgensville, KY

This old school slider shop has been on my list for a minute. I've tried to go a couple times while down in Louisville but it's closed on Sunday's and that was always the day I had the opportunity to take the hour drive south. After some high praise from a friend of the food trail I wanted to get there even more. This trip would be my chance. There's not much online but according to a sign inside they've been there since 1934.

a peek inside

There's only about 8 seats at the counter and so much grill space however because the little balls of smashed beef cook fast they get them out quick. I'll tell you what, Mr. Miller wasn't f-ing around when he said this place might be the best restaurant in the state. Without a doubt a Top Ten all-time burger in my book, which has 100's and 100's of chapters. I have no idea what the secret is to these amazing treats similar in size of a McDonald's cheeseburger but I know there's something special about them. I've wanted more since I finished off the order of two I convinced myself to stick with and not order any more than. Lesson learned.

Cheeseburgers for the Record Book

Harper's Catfish

Scottsville, KY

Using my best road friend google I searched out some popular catfishes houses in Kentucky and came across a few that were either within a short ride from Nashville or not too far off of the route there. Stopping at Harper's en route down meant an extra 25 minutes added onto and a route that took us through some backroads. But my saying has always been "gotta go while I'm near there." A sign greets you from the side of a backroad and then instructs you to turn down a dirtroad where the shack awaits your order. I was ten times more uncomfortable here than I've ever been at any bulletproof glass protected establishment in Chicago. I'm a city boy and this was country to the core. I ordered a platter of catfish with home fries to take for the ride. The little catfish bites were perfectly coated with a light cornmeal crust but they must've been fried and held because they were room temp. The home fries were hot and all of it was damn good I just wish it was all served to-order.

Catfish Platter with Home Fries

Ferrell's Snappy Service

Hopkinsville, KY

Another classic Hamburger Americana shop long on my list. I wasn't sure I'd ever get here and the only reason I did was because I decided to take the US-41 route that takes you back in whats almost a straight shot to Chicago. It's actually about 10 minutes quicker. According to Google maps anyway.

a peek inside

Full House on this Memorial Day visit and the wait would be loooong. The lady running the grill must've been approaching her one millionth burger made and her grill game was slowing down a bit but it would all work out. There's conflicting numbers about when Ferrell's opened with both 1929 and also 1937 being mentioned. There's another location up the highway in Madisonville and I guess the now gone original was in Owensboro so my guess is that this location has been around since 1937 and the original debuted in 1929. I cant confirm if the awesome lady working the grill has been there since day one but she got the job done.

In Action

The menu here is pretty damn simple. Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Chili, and Chips. No fries. I ordered a cup of chili which I ate the next day and was pleasantly surprised by. It looked like it was going to be a classic heavy tomato Midwest style recipe but it had a unique flavor to it and maybe one or two beans. It wasn't spicy but it was deep in chili spice. Very interesting.

Cup of Chili

The burgers are the big deal here. As they should be. While not quite on the same level of addictiveness as Laha's these were a near flawless example of the classic 30's style hamburger. Onions are served raw and I'm probably a little more partial to grilled but these babies below, along with the architecture and atmosphere, brought me memories of the Motor City. Ferrell's is an institution. A 24 hour one.


Harned's Drive-In

Paducah, KY

I f'ed up while plugging in the address from Ferrell's. I just put Chicago as the destination I was going to decide where to stop in the IN/KY border area near Evansville when I got near. I was thinking fried chicken in Henderson but it took me back to one of the main highways and I was a good 30 minutes out of the way upon realizing this so I just had to go with the flow. I google searched 'Paducah Kentucky' for some food stops and found a Doe's Eat Place via the Mississippi Delta but couldn't get an answer on the phone from them so there would be no bundle of hot tamales. Instead I got bbq.

Menu on the Wall Outside

Harned's has been around since 1955 and they're still a real deal drive-in. No girls on skates but they do come up to your car to take your order. There is no inside. As you can see up above the menu is small with BBQ Pork and Ham joining burgers, Hoagies, Chili, and Chuckwagon sandwiches.

Smokehouse in Use

There was smoke in the air and a circle of cars parked around the place so I saw these as good signs and they were. The smoked pork was hunks of lightly smoked meat topped with your choice of sauce in preference of heat. The hot was almost a dry rub of vinegar and chili powder that looked unappealing but tasted just fine. The baked beans were just ok while the potato salad was classic in a very good way.

Bar-B-Que Plate

Best thing here though was the ham sandwich. Served on toasted bread with your choice of sauce it was an excellent sandwich. You don't see bbq smoked ham everywhere and thats too bad because this was a winner.

BBQ Ham Sandwich


Lexington, KY

Bonus Stop! This one was made on a trip to Asheville last year. We stopped in Lexington, KY for the night and woke up hungry. A little searching around revealed this popular Creole style breakfast stop with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients. It was a gorgeous day so we took a seat on the patio outside and started off with an order of Beignets. Not to the level of Cafe Du Monde but good.

Beignets to Start

The menu item from here that most caught my eye was the shrimp and grits. Something I cant really find up north here in Chicago, I always have to make my own when the taste for a bowl comes calling. Here they make theirs with large, tail-on shrimp resting on a bed of cheesy Weisenberger Millgrits, smothered in tomato gravy with a dollop of homemade green onion remoulade. Bits of bacon were also scattered in. Not the best bowl I've ever had but way better than anything up here.

Shrimp and Grits

Laha's Red Castle Hamburgers
21 Lincoln Square
Hodgenville, KY 42748
(270) 358-9201

Harper's Catfish
3085 Old Gallatin Rd,
Scottsville, KY 42164
(270) 622-7557

Ferrell's Snappy Service
1001 S Main St
Hopkinsville, KY 42240
(270) 886-1445

Harned's Drive-In
4421 Clarks River Rd
Paducah, KY 42003
(270) 898-3164

262 N Limestone
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 317-8507


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