Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
-The Signature Eats of Indiana
Over the years we've featured handfuls and handfuls
of spots from the Hoosier State. Today's post is a handful of spots I've been to that feature one of Indiana's signature regional eats. As you scroll down you may wonder is anything they eat healthy? Sure. There's good produce such as corn I guess. Other than that though these spots don't exactly cater to a South beach like diet. Though I still managed to squeeze in a completely vegan meal while in-state, and it was delicious. Please read on for the info.
What's a round-up of Indiana regional eats without the inclusion of a breaded pork tenderloin? Incomplete. I don't like to leave readers hanging so instead of just any old tenderloin the first stop up is the place where the sandwich is said to have originated. Due to this claim Nick's has been featured in many publications and is always mentioned when BPT's in Indiana are discussed. Nick's is a full fledged kitchen churning out a variety of standard diner fare offerings but the breaded pork sandwich and pie are what most people are there for. Looking down on the pic of the menu I took that day I can see I made the wrong call by going peachy apple with the pie. It was just ok and Sugar Creme is the official food of the state so I should've known then and there what to get. Can't win 'em all.
Pie is Life in Indiana
As mentioned Nick's claim to fame is the breaded tenderloin. Maybe the most well known restaurant in the Hoosier State. So they claim it made it's debut in 1908 when Nick's was just a pushcart serving the more well known hamburger at the time. So they say the rest is history and the BPT is now the signature eat of Indiana. I liked Nick's just fine but have had better both in Indiana and also Iowa.
Breaded Pork Tenderloin
A Kaung Zarr
I've featured Burmese food
in Indiana before. As mentioned in that post Indiana has one of the highest populations of Burmese refugees. Many of them reside in Ft. Wayne. So with them there's a decent amount of Burmese food in the area. More than in Chicago and many other metropolises. One day we took a ride to explore the scene and came to find many of the spots closed on Tuesday. Luckily this one here was open and even better it's probably the spot you want to check out. We would end up ordering samosas, tea leaf salad, and a lo mein salad served Burmese style. This would unintentionally be a vegetarian meal that was also fantastic. It was fresh and had some flavors we don't get to experience every day. I'd say this spot is worth a detour. A true hidden gem.
Burmese Feast in Fort Wayne
Gray Brothers Cafeteria
The Cafeteria is a staple in Indiana cuisine. If you do alot of travel
thru the state I suggest taking a look at Joanne Raetz Stuttgen's book
titled 'Cafe Indiana: A Guide to Indiana's Down-Home Cafes
She documents all of the states hometown mom-and-pop restaurants in
celebration of small-town Midwest culture. One of the more well known
Cafeteria's in the state is the roadfood approved Gray Brother's
Cafeteria which rests about 20 minutes southwest of Indianapolis.
would be my first visit to one of these fill your tray up Indiana
cafeterias and thus I learned a few things as I went. The line starts
with dessert and there's lots of it. So much I was overwhelmed. Even
though I'm not the biggest dessert guy you cant go thru one of these diners in
the middle of the Midwest and not get a piece of pie.
Start of the Buffet Line
Moving thru...Beef and Noodles, Fried Chicken and Meatloaf
with my slice of apple pie I went ahead and had them put three pieces
of dark meat fried chicken and a few hush puppies on my tray. For my
sides I went overload and got green beans cooked in ham juice, mac and
cheese, sliced potatoes, and of course the standard Hoosier classic of
beef (or chicken) and noodles, second only to the pork tenderloin for
most beloved eat in-state. Read more on this in this excerpt HERE
friend went slightly lighter than I and got the Friday special of baked
cod and some sides and pie to go with it. My next learning lesson
would be in the price of all this. It wasn't cheap, maybe the fact it
was being served cafeteria style led me to believe this but my tray and
drink were easily over $20.
up the fried chicken which is taken very seriously around this way. It
was ok. I'm not totally opposed to it when it's pre-fried and served
cafeteria style and there wasn't a problem with it as far as temperature
or crunch on the exterior, it was just plain. I didn't hate it but I
don't feel the need to return for more. The sides were all pretty good
and in case anyone was wondering
the meat in the beef and noodles was indeed real and not from a can. I
know this because I got a little piece of butcher string that was still
stuck to a piece of beef in my order. I'd imagine this place gets packed on the
weekends. There were multiple generations of family in there on our visit.
Lenten season is coming but you don't need to go go to The Flamingo Lounge
on a Friday just to get some fish. Lake Perch is a specialty of the Northwest Indiana region which I wrote about HERE
. This historic Gary Indiana restaurant now located on Miller Beach serves plates of lake
perch year-round. While the old school neon sign is gone most of the
bars charm inside remains intact.
in 1941 as a lounge serving pizza I read elsewhere that it was one of
the first pizzerias in the state. The current owners added a dining room
addition onto the bar and to keep the local feel they sourced the
building material from other local establishments now out of business.
We stopped in out of season thus there were locals cuddled up at the bar
smoking cigarettes watching football and not much else going on. The Lake
Perch was lightly dusted and very flaky, tasted good in my book. Extra
points for the cup of drawn butter included with each order.
Plate of Lake Perch
Lisa's Pie Shop
Here's a place I found one day when returning home from Indianapolis. I took an off-highway route and came across this pie shop sitting on a corner in what was basically the middle of nowhere. How could I not stop? It was nearing the end of summertime so they had some fresh apple pies on display. No way I walked out without one. As good as I expected it to be. Another spot worth a detour.
506 N Jefferson St
Huntington, IN 46750
A Kaung Zarr
5205 Decatur Rd
Fort Wayne, IN 46806
Gray Brothers Cafeteria
555 S Indiana St
Mooresville, IN 46158
Flamingo Pizza of Miller
8341 Locust Ave
Gary, IN 46403
Lisa's Pie Shop
Atlanta, IN 46031