The Burgers of Indiana
Summertime is here and it's not summertime at Smokin' Chokin' and Chowing without some small town burger stops. My database of Midwest burger stops is always growing and today I have five more from Indiana to share with you. There's no doubt that the little stretch of the Midwest going from Wisconsin down into Illinois and over and into Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio is prime territory for some classic American burger shops. Today we take a look at five of them that the Hoosiers seem to love.
T-Berry's Diner (La Porte, IN)
First stop is actually a place you can day travel to and from Chicagoland. T-Berry's Diner isnt quite located in Northwest Indiana but it's not too far from that area. They have a full fledged diner type menu but it's two Hoosier Classics in both the burgers and the chicken and noodles that stand out.
Chicken and Noodles at T-Berry's Diner
You don't see too many spots in NW Indiana doing chicken and noodles. It's the same with breaded pork tenderloins too. This part of Indiana is more like Chicagoland than it is the rest of the Hoosier state. So no surprise to find a Schoop's inspired "Shmashburger" which is what they call their beef in a bun. They don't mention Schoop's specifically but the NW Indiana burger chain has been a part of the area for more than 50 years and it has no doubt influenced others. This is a well made burger not quite to the level of a well made Mickey from Schoop's but if you're in La Porte it's worth a stop.
Shmashburger from T-Berry's Diner
Tastee Top Grill (Cedar Lake, IN)
Cedar Lake is only an hours drive from Chicago. So it's possible you'll run into some FIBs during the summer months. Tastee Top Grill is where locals go for a taste of nostalgia. It's only been open for about a decade but it's a classic Midwest summertime stop for burgers and ice cream. The signature burger is a double decker similar to the Big Mac but with lots of mustard instead of special sauce.
Double Decker from Tastee Top Grill
Hershey's Drive-In (Veedersburg, IN)
A couple summers ago me and a friend took a trip down to Turkey Run State Park in Marshall County. It's about halfway in-between both Springfield, IL and Indianapolis, IN. About a three hour drive. To get straight down there you have to take US Route 41 and there's plenty of small town stops on the way. One of them we tried was this longtime Drive-In in Fountain County. I saw a little sign on their window advertising beef coming from a local butcher and suspected I was in for a good burger. That it was. Really good actually. Nothing too unique this was just a classic representation of the old school California style burger. A style brought to California by folks from the Midwest. Quality stuff.
Cheeseburger at Hershey's Drive-In
Larrison's Diner (Seymour, IN)
It took me about 6/7 trips down to Louisville to finally stop at this classic Midwest diner. It's about an hour north of there so about four hours west of Chicago. It's in a typical Midwest town in that they have all the old school spots up and down their Main street. Larrison's Diner is where the locals go for burgers, fries, pie and local gossip dished out by the long time cooks, waitresses, and locals.
a peek inside
Larrison's is only about 30 something years old but the building where it rests has been alot of things over the years including different restaurants and sandwich shops. Hart's Sandwich Shop was what it used to be called before the Larrison's bought it from the Hart family. The burgers have long been the main draw. They do tenderloins too but I'll take a burger over one of those 9 times out of 10. The double cheeseburger at Larrison's reminded me of the old Salt & Pepper when it was on Lincoln. This was a classic diner style double cheeseburger accompanied by some terrific fresh cut fries.
Double Cheeseburger at Larrison's Diner
The Brick (Jonesville, IN)
Last summer I was down in Louisville for work a couple times and that meant a drive through Indiana to get there. Sound like a drag? Not for me. All I see is Roadfood. Burgers being the focal point as the Midwest is the gold standard and Indiana is in the heartland of the region. This stop is pretty much the middle of nowhere but it's not that far off the highway. It's only about an hour out of Louisville so this is southern Indiana to the core. The Brick sits in a town of 177 people yet somehow stays really busy. How? Word of mouth. That's how I found out anyway. Now I spread the burger gospel to you.
Chili at the The Brick
Classic Indiana tavern with three 60+ year old male bartenders who were drinking beers, smoking cigarettes, and watching TVland in between duties. Aside from beer and wine coolers they also sell soup and burgers and that’s about it. The chili was extra tomatoey with lots of beans which was right in line with Midwest style, which isn’t my style. The burger was a fresh ball of beef smashed over a mound of grilled onions which is my style. Add pickles and mustard and you got an instant classic. One of the best burgers in Indiana and worth the small detour into the middle of nowhere to eat it.
Cheeseburger at The Brick
See also: Small Town Indiana Hamburgers