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The Indianapolathon -- Weekend of June 23 - 25, 2006

The Indianapolathon -- Weekend of June 23 - 25, 2006
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  • The Indianapolathon -- Weekend of June 23 - 25, 2006

    Post #1 - August 24th, 2005, 8:52 pm
    Post #1 - August 24th, 2005, 8:52 pm Post #1 - August 24th, 2005, 8:52 pm
    NOTE: This event transpired the weekend of June 23, 2006. Post-mortem begins HERE


    O.K., folks. I am going to resurrect the Indianapolathon and am aiming for the weekends of:

    September 23 or September 30

    (Note that we already have one vote for September 30.)

    The plan would be the same, basically, as before -- drive down on a Friday afternoon, a kick-off dinner at Hollyhock Hill, lunch Saturday at Shapiro's and other local delights as time allows -- cafeterias, Hoosier Deutsch, soul food, perhaps getting a handle on the large number of barbecue joints in town. Plus enjoying some of the underappreciated cultural aspects of the city, including the strong jazz and blues scene.

    So -- Vote for the weekend of the 23rd or the 30th, but please -- don't vote because that's your "lucky weekend" -- only vote if you seriously plan to attend on the weekend for which you are voting. Also, to avoid confusion, just go ahead and post a reply here rather than PMing or emailing me. (Sorry, but while I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS TRIP, I probably spent 10 or 20 hours just sheparding the last go-around, all for nought.)

    Here, by the way, is the Official Indianapolathon Guidebook (ed.3), which is a summary of all the places posted during the first go-around -- note that unless specifically stated otherwise in the Guidebook, there is no recommendation for good or ill:

    Official Indianapolathon Guidebook, 3rd ed.
    “If it was mentioned in the thread on LTH, it’s here”



    Asian
    Yummy
    740 Braeside South Dr
    (317) 299-8883


    Brunch
    Cafe Patechou
    4911 North Pennsylvania Street
    (317) 925-2823


    Cafeterias
    Shapiro's Deli (Jewish-style cafeteria)
    808 S. Meridian Street
    (317) 631-4041

    MCL
    (various locations; check the website: www.mclcafe.com)

    Jonathan Byrd's
    "We are located right off of Interstate 65, Exit 99 in Greenwood, Indiana" (south of Indianapolis)
    317-881-8888

    Gray Brothers
    555 S. Indiana Street
    Mooresville, IN
    (317) 831-5614


    German
    The Rathskeller (dinner and great biergarten)
    401 E. Michigan St. (in the Athenaeum/Das Deutsche Haus building)
    (317) 636-0396

    Cafe Heidelberg (lunch and bizarre German souvenirs only)
    7625 Pendleton Pike
    (317) 547-1263


    Hoosier
    Hollyhock Hill (fried chicken dinners)
    8110 N. College
    (317) 251-2294

    Mug & Bun (pork tenderloins and housemade root beer)
    5211 W. 10th Street
    (317) 244-5669

    Ice House (best tenderloins in town according to LTHer DBurrL)
    2352 S West
    (317)788-7075

    Barringer’s Tavern (tenderloins)
    2535 S Meridian
    (317)783-3663

    John's Hot Stew
    1146 Kentucky Ave
    Indianapolis, IN 46221-1306
    (317) 636-6212

    Ayres Tea Room (functioning restaurant reproduced inside the Indiana State Museum)
    650 W. Washington Street
    317.232.1637

    Italian
    Iaria’s (In Indy’s Little Italy; I used to take dates here in the ‘80s)
    317 S College Ave
    (317)638-7706


    Mexican
    El Sol de Tala in Union Station Downtown
    39 W. Jackson Place
    (317) 636-8252

    OR

    El Sol de Tala East Side (original location):
    2444 E. Washington
    (317) 635-8252

    La Frontera
    2541 W. Washington
    (317) 822-3994


    North African
    El Morocco
    1260 W. 86th Street
    (317) 844-1104

    (Note that this is a rapidly expanding cuisine in Indy; try indyethnicfood.com for more suggestions)


    Soul Food/Southern/Barbecue
    Elbow Room Pub & Deli (recommended by LTHer Kennyz)
    605 N Pennsylvania St
    (317) 635-3354

    Marble's Southern Cookery (recommended by LTHer soupcon)
    2310 N. Lafayette Rd.
    (317) 687-0631


    Big Mama's (rated “best soul food in Indy” by LTHer DBurrL)
    2356 N Sherman Dr
    (317)547-0830

    Mississippi Belle
    2170 E. 54th St.
    (317) 462-0522

    King Ribs (several locations)
    1. 3145 W 16th St - (317) 488-0223
    2. 4130 N Keystone Ave - (317) 543-0841
    3. 7336 Pendleton Pike - (317) 547-5464 (near Café Heidelberg for German)

    Generations
    2044 N. Harding St.
    Indianapolis, IN 46202
    (317) 639-6339

    Big Fellas
    3469 N College Ave
    (317) 258-4079


    Upscale Dinner
    R Bistro
    888 Massachusetts Ave
    (317) 423-0312

    H2O Sushi
    1912 Broad Ripple Ave
    (317) 254-0677

    Elements
    415 N Alabama St
    (317) 634-8888

    Broad Ripple Steakhouse
    929 E. Westfield Blvd.
    (317) 253-8101

    Estilo
    4939 E. 82nd St.
    (317) 570-0831

    Oakley Bistro (I can personally recommend this one)
    1464 W. 86th St.
    (317) 824-1231

    St. Elmo Steakhouse (a 100-year old classic, but a bit of a tourist trap)
    127 S. Illinois
    (317) 635-0636


    Miscellaneous
    Indianapolis City Market
    222 E. Market Street

    The Chatterbox (Late-Night Jazz Club, the best in town)
    435 Massachusetts Ave
    (317) 636-0584

    Duck Pin Bowling in Fountain Square
    (Atomic Bowl and Action Bowl – in the same building)
    1105 Prospect St
    (317) 685-1955 (Atomic Bowl)
    (317) 686-6006 (Action Bowl)
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on June 26th, 2006, 5:44 pm, edited 7 times in total.
  • Post #2 - September 15th, 2005, 7:00 pm
    Post #2 - September 15th, 2005, 7:00 pm Post #2 - September 15th, 2005, 7:00 pm
    Just wanted to bump this up to the top, as the date is now two weeks away. So far, only one taker -- but the event will go forward. Let me know if you would like to join us.

    JiLS
  • Post #3 - September 16th, 2005, 11:13 am
    Post #3 - September 16th, 2005, 11:13 am Post #3 - September 16th, 2005, 11:13 am
    That's right -- NOW WITH MACHINE GUNS!!!. Although that would be optional, of course.

    JiLS
  • Post #4 - September 23rd, 2005, 9:33 pm
    Post #4 - September 23rd, 2005, 9:33 pm Post #4 - September 23rd, 2005, 9:33 pm
    Well, O.K., it looks like September 30 is the date, and it will be just me and Cathy2 on the 'thon. Photos and written reports shall be forthcoming. Anybody who wants to participate last minute shoul PM me; there actually are personal/family reasons why the whole deal may have to be moved back again.

    JiLS
  • Post #5 - April 3rd, 2006, 12:48 pm
    Post #5 - April 3rd, 2006, 12:48 pm Post #5 - April 3rd, 2006, 12:48 pm
    O.K., after aborted attempts last year, I'm going to try again (with some urging from one confirmed interested party) to resurrect the concept of an "Indianapolathon." This time I'm thinking the month of June -- good weather, kids out of school but not the big month for family vacations -- we'll see whether I'm right! Anyway, I'd like to target Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 18 [edited to add: or the following weekend]. As originally planned, Mrs. JiLS and I would plan to drive down the Friday afternoon and will make a reservation at Hollyhock Hill for any and all who want to and can make dinner that night. The rest of the weekend is open for discussion, although I'd say Shapiro's and at least one German option (probably Rathskeller) would make sense, and maybe soul food and/or Hoosier options discussed in the thread above from last year's attempts. Any takers should post here to help generate some buzz! Thanks.

    Edited 5 Minutes After Posting: I am now advised that the weekend I have chosen is Father's Day weekend. That probably spells doom for the Indianapolathon (although it'd work out great for me and my dad!). So, anyway, maybe the following weekend (Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25) is a better choice?
    JiLS
  • Post #6 - April 3rd, 2006, 1:37 pm
    Post #6 - April 3rd, 2006, 1:37 pm Post #6 - April 3rd, 2006, 1:37 pm
    Weekend of 6/16-18 would work for us. I hear there's a good zoo.
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  • Post #7 - April 3rd, 2006, 1:44 pm
    Post #7 - April 3rd, 2006, 1:44 pm Post #7 - April 3rd, 2006, 1:44 pm
    Mike G wrote:I hear there's a good zoo.


    Yes, it's a decent zoo, and it's connected to a larger campus of museums and places of interest known as White River State Park. The Eiteljorg Museum is part of this complex and is one of the most interesting (and unexpected) museums in the Midwest. You've also got the Indiana State Museum (which includes a culinary destination, the restored Tea Room from the old L.S. Ayres department store), an IMAX theater, and the NCAA headquarters, which includes a Hall of Fame. Plus Indianapolis Indians AAA baseball (home the weekend of June 23). It's quite the family fun mecca.

    Edited to Add:The weekend of June 16 has the added benefit of being the weekend for the Indy Jazz Fest. Wynton, Dr. John, the Neville Bros. and a number of others, in Military Park, which is part of the White River State Park complex noted above.
    JiLS
  • Post #8 - April 3rd, 2006, 9:16 pm
    Post #8 - April 3rd, 2006, 9:16 pm Post #8 - April 3rd, 2006, 9:16 pm
    Hi,

    Whichever weekend is decided upon, I plan to be there.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #9 - April 4th, 2006, 12:00 pm
    Post #9 - April 4th, 2006, 12:00 pm Post #9 - April 4th, 2006, 12:00 pm
    Hello all. This is my first post on the forum. I've been lurking here for a while and am a regular over at Chowhound, as I know many of you are.

    Anyway, I live in Indy and thought that I may be able to be of assistance to you in paring down / adding to your list above. Also, if you don't mind a townie hanging out with you, I would love to meet up with you somewhere along your travels (given that I'm in town the weekend that you come).

    One note on your list, the entry for Yummy is out of date. Yummy moved to Georgetown Road, just north of 38th St., and eventually went out of business. The good news is that it quickly reopend as Shen Yang with many of the same kitchen and front of the house people. The food at Shen Yang is very authentic Chinese and very good. What puts it over the top though, is their Dim Sum. I've eaten Dim Sum in Toronto, New York and San Francisco and Shen Yang ranks right up there with them.

    As long as it's okay with you I'll chime in as your plans develop and hopefully be able to help.

    Matt
  • Post #10 - April 6th, 2006, 11:42 am
    Post #10 - April 6th, 2006, 11:42 am Post #10 - April 6th, 2006, 11:42 am
    Jim and I have chatted a bit through PMs about the type of experience that he'd like everyone to have on the Indianapolathon (love the name!). I agree with him that it's pretty much pointless trying to impress a group of Chicago food lovers with the ethnic and high-end cuisine available in Indy (although, if I might be allowed a small plug, it is pretty good and getting better each year).

    Friday dinner at Hollyhock and Saturday lunch a Shapiro's are both great ideas. I know that Jim has covered this in detail so all I'll add is that I would have to eat at Shapiro's every day for about a month before I would order something other than the pastrami on rye. Then I'd probably move to the corned beef on rye!

    Assuming that you go to the Shapiro's on the south side of downtown (and I would highly recommend that), you should head over to a true Indy institution, Klemm's German Butcher Shop (South St., between Delaware St. and East St.). Klemm's is the kind of place that time forgot. Everybody who works there has a German accent and they quite often talk amongst themselves in German. Their cash register is circa early 20th century. All charges are hand calculated with a pencil on the white butcher paper that your order is wrapped in. And, of course, the meats and sausages are to die for. I always go to Klemm's for my ribs and Boston butts when I fire up the smoker. The sausages served at the Rathskeller and Biergarten come from Klemm's as well. There is an ugly rumor floating around these days that Eli Lilly is trying buy up the whole area that Klemm's is in to be part of their corporate campus. Given that they just tore down the building right next door to Klemm's I fear that it's probably more than a rumor at this point. I've also heard some rumors as to where they may relocate and, so far, the rumors have them moving to a location not too far from where they are now, which is a good thing because I live very close by.

    As Jim has said, Hoosiers have taken cafeteria style dining to the next level. I think that, other than Shapiro's which is in a league of it's own, Jonathyn Byrd's and Gray Brother's are the two places that are unique to the area (MCL being part of a larger midwestern chain). While Byrd's make the claim that it's the biggest cafeteria in the country, I think that Gray Brother's has the better food. In fact Gray's is pretty much legendary around here for their fried chicken.

    I think that Mug n' Bun is a must try. It's Indy's original drive-in and it's still going strong. They do a decent version of the infamous breaded tenderloin sandwich. Combine that with the homemade root beer and the batter dipped onion rings and you've got a real Indy experience.

    As you can no doubt see, Hoosier cooking tends to be a bit on the "heavy" side. Does anyone in your group happen to be a cardiologist? :wink:

    I'll write about some of the other choices like soul-food and barbecue in a follow-up post. But one place that I wanted to toss into the mix as a bit of a counterpoint to all of the fried goodness is Trader's Point Organic Creamery. Trader's Point is located in the northwest corner of Indy, basically 86th St. and I-465 on the west side. On Friday's in the summer they have an organic farmer's market from, I believe, 4pm to 7pm. Talk about fresh, you can buy chickens from the Amish ladies that were killed and plucked that morning. Trader's Point Whole Milk Yogurt just won first prize from the American Cheese Society. It is delicious! The farm and retail store is open daily 8am to 6pm. You can even wander around the farm amongst the chickens and cats and dogs. I think that if you're there around 4pm you can even watch them milking the cows. Now it doesn't get much more Hoosier than that! Like I said, I thought that that might make for an interesting food related detour at some point during the weekend.

    Enough for now. Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.
  • Post #11 - April 18th, 2006, 3:26 pm
    Post #11 - April 18th, 2006, 3:26 pm Post #11 - April 18th, 2006, 3:26 pm
    Mike G wrote:Weekend of 6/16-18 would work for us. I hear there's a good zoo.


    Also, one of the best Children's Museum's anywhere...

    http://www.childrensmuseum.org/catalog/home.asp
  • Post #12 - April 24th, 2006, 7:25 pm
    Post #12 - April 24th, 2006, 7:25 pm Post #12 - April 24th, 2006, 7:25 pm
    Primarily just posting to bring this thread back to the top of the list ... but I will add that this weekend I was back in Indianapolis for a belated Easter and that included dinner at Hollyhock Hill. And I was reminded just how great this place is, and how unlikely it would be to find its certain set of perfections anywhere in the Chicagoland area. All who've suffered my complaints about the miserable state of the biscuit hereabouts would note how (seemingly) effortlessly Hollyhock hauls out basket after basket of perfect, perfectly fresh biscuits (along with perfect pan-fried chicken). I do hope many will take a leap of faith and go on this trip with us. And there's always the Indy Jazz Fest that weekend, in case you need more diversion.
    JiLS
  • Post #13 - May 3rd, 2006, 2:25 pm
    Post #13 - May 3rd, 2006, 2:25 pm Post #13 - May 3rd, 2006, 2:25 pm
    I apologize for not posting for a while, but work and personal matters have been keeping me pretty tied up the last few weeks. I have been looking into some of the options for soul food and barbecue in the area and I thought I would post a quick update.

    I have some bad news to report. Big Mama's House appears to have had a major fire sometime in the last year or so. The building is boarded up with no signs of reconstruction. The phone has also been disconnected. It's too bad because I had read several good reviews (in addition to the endorsement on Jim's list above).

    At this point, I would recommend Marble's on Lafayette Road for soul food. My wife and I have eaten there several times and we love it. I will try to get over there in the next couple of weeks and take some pictures.

    On the barbecue front we took a trip over to Bar-B-Q Heaven (located on the westside at MLK and 25th), a place that I've been wanting to try forever but had never gotten around to.

    Image

    Image

    The place has been in business since 1952, so I figured that they must be doing something right.

    It's an interesting place. It's carryout only, so when you walk in there is a small waiting area and area in which to place your order. The bulk of the interior space is taken up by a large indoor grill on which the meats are being kept warm. There is a large hood over the grill that is connected to the chimney that you can clearly see in the first picture above. There is also a food prep area where the meats are chopped and the orders assembled. All of that is surrounded by bullet proof glass so that I couldn't get a very close look at the operation.

    If you notice there is a small building with a brick chimney at the rear of the main building in the second picture. I believe that is where the meats are smoked. There is a fairly large wood pile back there as well. I didn't smell or see any smoke while we were there.

    We ordered a full slab of ribs and a full order of rib tips:

    Image

    our side order got a bit mixed up and we wound up with what appears to be a double order of mac n' cheese and two orders of cole slaw (dinners come with two sides and the ubiquitous white bread). We also bought a sweet potato pie.

    Image

    We had also ordered some beans and greens, but being newbies we obviously weren't clear enough. Note to self, next time speak more clearly through the bullet proof galss!

    As for the food, it was good but I wasn't blown away like I hoped I would be. First, I'm not a big fan of pre-sauced barbecue. I prefer to add my own and really see the meat unadorned. They have three sauces, sweet, mild and hot. I got hot on the ribs and my wife got sweet on the tips. The ribs had a nice toothsome texture requiring just the right amount of force to remove the meat from the bone. They had a nice exterior char but hardly any discernable smoke ring. They also had very little of a smokey flavor. The hot sauce was good and did leave a nice cumulative glow in my mouth and on my lips.

    I liked the rib tips better than the ribs. They actually did have a noticable smoke ring. There was a lot of meat on each of the tips as well. I wasn't a fan of the sweet sauce, too tomato-y.

    The sides varied. The cole slaw was pretty standard, the mac n' cheese was above average but the killer side was the sweet potato pie (which we paid extra for). It was served warm out of the oven and was really fantastic. My wife said it was the best that she has ever tasted.

    Overall I'd give it a grade of B. The positives were the fact that they have one of the coolest looking BBQ joints in the city, the rib tips, a decent hot sauce and a fantastic sweet potato pie. The negative was mainly the general lack of smokiness to the meat.

    Depending upon the weather, a trip to Bar-B-Q Heaven could be turned into a picnic at the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art which is just a few blocks up the road. They have beautiful grounds and gardens that would make eating barbecue just that much more enjoyable! As a matter of, that's what my wife and I did and that's why the food pictures have a park bench as a backdrop.

    I will post more as I get to other places.
  • Post #14 - June 5th, 2006, 7:23 pm
    Post #14 - June 5th, 2006, 7:23 pm Post #14 - June 5th, 2006, 7:23 pm
    Looks like we've got our team of Indianapolathoners assembled (Cathy2, Mike G and family, Matt986 and Mrs. JiLS and me, but in case you are fence sitting and looking for another reason to go (or if you are one of our little group and looking for another option while there), I just read about the 14th Annual Indian Market at the Eiteljorg Museum. For your consideration.
    JiLS
  • Post #15 - June 18th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    Post #15 - June 18th, 2006, 9:00 pm Post #15 - June 18th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    HI,

    I am really looking forward to this weekend.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #16 - June 19th, 2006, 1:02 pm
    Post #16 - June 19th, 2006, 1:02 pm Post #16 - June 19th, 2006, 1:02 pm
    JimInLoganSquare wrote:Mexican
    El Sol de Tala in Union Station Downtown

    OR

    El Sol de Tala East Side (original location):
    2444 E. Washington
    The original location is closed for
    a few weeks for "remodeling", so the
    Union Station location is the only
    option.

    But I'd recommend Pancho's
    Taqueria
    , about 70th and Michigan
    Road, on the northwest side,
    for an overall tastier/more
    "authentic" experience. Some
    of the best al pastor tacos
    around (though of the "grilled",
    not "cone" variety - but with
    pineapple, and a "fixins bar").

    There are also a few "papusarias"
    and other off-the-beaten-path
    places.
  • Post #17 - June 19th, 2006, 7:28 pm
    Post #17 - June 19th, 2006, 7:28 pm Post #17 - June 19th, 2006, 7:28 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:HI,

    I am really looking forward to this weekend.

    Regards,


    As are Mrs. JiLS and I!

    Here is the crew:

    JiLS and Mrs. JiLS
    Cathy2
    Mike G and family (+3)
    Matt 986 +1
    My old pal James Moriarty (yes, Sherlock Holmes fans, yes) and his wife Ingrid.

    Friday night, we are aiming for a 9:00 p.m. visit to Mug & Bun followed by Rathskeller and/or Chatterbox or Slippery Noodle.

    Saturday morning, we will follow the guidance of Matt 986 for breakfast, possibly at Peppy's, possibly somewhere else.

    Saturday lunch, it's Shapiro's.

    Saturday dinner, at 7:00 p.m. sharp, it's Hollyhock Hill. (Sorry to dissapoint SCUBAChef regarding the drastically post-5:00 p.m. timing of dinner, general lacking of greyness of diners' hair and relative lowness in the height of diners' pants. But I suppose the food will be bland, and all, and uncool, so you won't be missing anything. Unless, of course, you would like to join us! :wink: )

    Lots of other opportunities for fun, including other German options, real Hoosier cafeterias (even just an MCL, or possibly a jaunt to a bigger and better option), plus museums, culture and, well ... fun, fun, fun!!! (Including my ability to show you parts of the city they don't put in the guidebooks.) Cannot wait to get down there, folks!
    JiLS
  • Post #18 - June 25th, 2006, 8:42 pm
    Post #18 - June 25th, 2006, 8:42 pm Post #18 - June 25th, 2006, 8:42 pm
    Well, many thanks to:

    Image

    Mr. and Mrs. Jim in Logan Square, and also to Matt 986 and his wife Susan, for coming up with about 36 hours' worth of The Best of Indianapolis. I'm sure there's at least another 36 hours' worth, but we certainly felt like what we saw and did was primo, not-to-be-had-in-Chicago stuff. I imagine many Indianapolitans would think it odd that, as their restaurant scene seems to be getting hipper and finer, we focused on places that had been around for 75+ years each, but history is the one thing you can't buy when opening a restaurant, and so we really enjoyed a couple of Indy classics for precisely what they are that we don't have here.

    As noted elsewhere, we stopped at Calumet Fisheries on the way down, it took longer than we expected, and so our first planned stop, the Sterns-approved Mug'n'Bun, didn't happen. Then we slept late and missed the breakfast rendezvous, so someone else will have to report on that. Instead we visited what has to be one of the coolest buildings in the midwest, and a masterpiece of early 20th century American architecture completely unknown to me: the fantastic ziggurat World War Memorial, a building out of Lang's Metropolis come to life:

    Image

    It's so moving a memorial, even the characters on PBS Kids felt the need to pay homage on this day:

    Image

    There's also a very impressive monument to the Civil War (and other conflicts of the 19th century) a few blocks south on a nice circular plaza facing the capitol building. It'd be worth spending some time poking around that, but we had a lunch date to keep at...

    Image

    As you can see, this is a classic East Coast deli, starting with the New York attitude...

    Image

    And extending to old Jewish favorites like Three Bean Salad.

    Shapiro's is like if Jews left a deli behind and Methodists tried to run it as faithfully as possible. Tables are spaced far apart (and so neatly organized Stanley Kubrick could have shot Full Metal Jacket in there), people speak quietly amongst themselves, they eat desserts that look like this:

    Image

    It's unmistakably got a midwestern vibe, and yet...

    Image

    This is a serious pastrami sandwich. I can't say I took it as that much of a recommendation when Jim touted the amount of bread on a Shapiro's sandwich, but after I tried it I understand-- this rye, baked in house, is so fresh when you get it that you need a hearty chunk of it to contain the soft, supple meat. And the meat-- Manny's pastrami is so heavily cured that it comes out transformed with a consistency like bacon, Shapiro's cure is light enough that the meat is still recognizably brisket, in both looks and taste.

    On the other hand, I can't praise everything, so there was this:

    Image

    No, it's not a macaroon, it's a potato pancake. It was okay, but far from the best I've ever had. And if you like your pickle to exude garlic, this isn't the deli for you-- given a choice, in each case Shapiro's tends to choose the milder end of the spectrum (within the expected range for deli food). But Shapiro's was excellent overall, very nice cherry pie and rhubarb pie ended the meal, and if the idea of deli food with friendly, "yes ma'am" service isn't too much of a disconnect for you, it's well worth a visit.

    We spent the afternoon at the Children's Museum before meeting up again with the group at:

    Image

    "Get away from the mine-run of club or hotel service." The mine-run, whatever that is (pushing a truck full of coal a thousand feet underground?). Exactly the metaphor I would have chosen for being a rich white guy eating lunch in a downtown men's club circa 1928....

    Hollyhock Hill was once out in the country, now it's surrounded by suburbia, but it still has the feel of a family-run roadhouse serving a prewar midwestern supper club menu-- fried chicken is the star, whitefish, steak and orange roughy the no-surprises-here alternatives. It's all served family style, the meal starts with tomato juice and relishes (back then, I wonder, did you tend to pack your own vodka to turn it into a Bloody Mary?), then an iceberg salad with their own sweet vinaigrette (bottles for sale in the foyer), pickled beets, cottage cheese, etc.; then the main courses arrive with classic sides:

    Image

    And, though by this point you're stuffed as can be, it concludes with vanilla ice cream served with a little three-dish lazy susan containing hot fudge, mint and butterscotch syrups. After which, you will be hard pressed not to pick up a banjo and while away the rest of the evening on the porch singing "Old Folks at Home."

    You get bad versions of the classic American cuisine so often in coffeeshops and the like that you should go to Hollyhock Hill to be reminded why people liked it in the first case. The salad and beets sparkled with a vinegar tang, the green beans had plenty of bacon flavor, the biscuits (though the midwestern dinner type rather than the southern breakfast type) were flaky and tender, even the artificial toppings for the ice cream were surprisingly good. And the fried chicken-- Jim made a persuasive case at dinner for the idea that no one in Chicago really remembers what good fried chicken is any more because we always get it deep fried, which means a coating thick enough to withstand deep frying, etc. This was pan fried and lightly, subtly coated, tasting of chicken rather than oil. Really excellent, I'd be hard pressed to say whether Shapiro's or Hollyhock Hill was the star of the day.

    The next morning (today, now that you mention it) we stopped on the way back for breakfast in Zionsville, a vast suburban sprawl with a tiny nugget of 19th century brick-street quaintness at its center, now filled with the usual Ye Olde antique shops, muffinaterias, knicknack and gimcrack emporia, etc. I think these plaques on two adjacent buildings sum it up nicely-- Zionsville, Then and Now:

    Image

    The brother of the Painter of Light! Not since I met Bobby Knight's Aunt Myrtle or John Grisham's dentist has there been such a thrill... Anyway, we stopped in a place called Eagle Creek Coffee Company and had a perfectly pleasant breakfast including, to my surprise, extremely good biscuits and gravy. So take it from me, Mr. Vegas, seen here standing before the 70s scifi buildings where all new Indianapolitans are grown and the expired ones are reprocessed into Hollyhock Hill fried "chicken":

    Image

    Indianapolis-- it's my kinda town!

    Indiana War Memorial
    431 N Meridian St
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

    Shapiro's Downtown
    808 S Meridian St
    Indianapolis, IN 46225
    317.631.4041
    www.shapiros.com

    Hollyhock Hill
    8110 N. College Ave.
    Indianapolis, IN 46240-2554
    (317) 251-2294

    Eagle Creek Coffee Company
    10 S Main St
    Zionsville, IN 46077
    (317) 733-3771
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  • Post #19 - June 25th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    Post #19 - June 25th, 2006, 9:00 pm Post #19 - June 25th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    Looks like a blast!

    I only tried Shapiro's once, several years ago, but I remember the corned beef being VERY good (better than Manny's). Too bad it's so far away. :(
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #20 - June 25th, 2006, 9:20 pm
    Post #20 - June 25th, 2006, 9:20 pm Post #20 - June 25th, 2006, 9:20 pm
    Thanks for the thorough (and thoroughly flattering) post, Mr. G. Here's a little commentary:

    Mike G wrote:I imagine many Indianapolitans would think it odd that, as their restaurant scene seems to be getting hipper and finer, we focused on places that had been around for 75+ years each, but history is the one thing you can't buy when opening a restaurant, and so we really enjoyed a couple of Indy classics for precisely what they are that we don't have here.


    Yes, and we didn't even hit the Athenaeum (built by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s grandfather as Das Deutsche Haus and still cranking out the gemutlichkeit). In fact, German food is one thing notably missing from this go-around; something to be corrected next time.

    Mike G wrote:... we visited what has to be one of the coolest buildings in the midwest, and a masterpiece of early 20th century American architecture completely unknown to me: the fantastic ziggurat World War Memorial, a building out of Lang's Metropolis come to life:

    Image

    It's so moving a memorial, even the characters on PBS Kids felt the need to pay homage on this day:

    Image


    The World War Memorial is just the focal point of Indianapolis' large and impressive downtown mall space. Equally suitable both for introspection on the ultimate sacrifice of our forebears in defense of democracy as for kiddie rock star appearances by PBS Kids and Barney. THAT is what America is all about.

    Mike G wrote:There's also a very impressive monument to the Civil War (and other conflicts of the 19th century) a few blocks south on a nice circular plaza facing the capitol building. It'd be worth spending some time poking around that ...


    This would be the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which forms the focal point of Monument Circle, which is the reason for Indianapolis' nick name of "The Circle City."

    ,
    Mike G wrote:but we had a lunch date to keep at...

    Image

    As you can see, this is a classic East Coast deli, starting with the New York attitude...

    Image

    And extending to old Jewish favorites like Three Bean Salad.

    Shapiro's is like if Jews left a deli behind and Methodists tried to run it as faithfully as possible.


    I understand they keep the Ark of the Covenant in the back room with a doily over it so it will be ready for the Jews when they need it back. :) Seriously, the Shapiro family still runs the joint, and to my knowledge they are no more or less Jewish than their forebears who emigrated to Indianapolis from Russia and first set up the operation 101 years ago. But a little 3-bean salad never hurt anybody, did it? OK, I actually threw up after my one and only experience with it at age three, but I think I've made my point.

    One last item, the "Mr. Vegas" picture does not show off to full advantage The Pyramids.

    Thanks to one and all who participated in the Indianapolathon. Maybe we'll make it a regular event!
    JiLS
  • Post #21 - July 5th, 2006, 11:01 pm
    Post #21 - July 5th, 2006, 11:01 pm Post #21 - July 5th, 2006, 11:01 pm
    Hi,

    Time is flying faster than I ever imagined!

    You know what was the worst thing about the Indianapolis-athon? Just getting out of Illinois! It took two hours to crawl 40 miles to the Illinois-Indiana border. Once in Indiana, it was clear, crisp sailing to Indianapolis. While JiminLoganSquare, MikeG and I left at staggered times, we all converged to Indy about the same time: 9 PM. Unfortunately too late for our intended first stop at Mug & Bun, which closes at 10 PM.

    At 8 AM, Mr and Mrs. JiminLoganSquare, our new friends from Indy Mr. and Mrs. Matt 986 and I met at Canary Café. Matt felt these were the best biscuits and gravy located so far in the Indianapolis area. We ordered a large order of biscuits and gravy for everyone to share. The biscuits were fresh enough and the gravy full of sausage chunks with the addition of extra pepper were appreciated by everyone at the table. I ordered grits with a piece of cheddar for myself. Unfortunately these grits were not cooked long enough because they were not universally soft instead they had a solid uncooked core. Hmmmm gritty grits perhaps? Everyone else had omelettes, which is more than I desire first thing in the morning. So I soldiered on finishing my grits.

    Since we were just north of the downtown, we left the cars at Canary Café to take a walking tour of downtown Indianapolis with the annual Indian market a destination. It was 9 AM with cool air plus a little exercise never hurt anyone. From Jim and Matt’s narrative, we learned Indianapolis is the home of the American Legion. We passed the World War Memorial building, which Mike G took interior photos. The very impressive Soldiers and Sailor memorial was done on a grand scale reminiscent of those seen in any nation’s capital, though a surprise in the middle of prairie state capitol.

    Jim kept us entertained with great very local stories like Acapulco Joe’s Restaurant, which according to Jim was once the only Mexican food to be had in Indianapolis. Wrong Way Joe took a bus from Mexico to Minneapolis, but somehow ended up in Indianapolis instead. Joe couldn’t afford a ticket to Minneapolis and settled in Indianapolis instead. Indianapolis is home to a 104 year old St. Elmos Steak House, which Jim was not too enthusiastic about the food. Next door was Indianapolis’s finest hotel, which Madonna visits when in town.

    Indianapolis is home to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. We did not visit the museum, though on this occasion we toured their annual outdoor Indian Market featuring Indian crafts, food and live music. Entering the grounds we could hear the first group concluding their sound checks with a song, which painted pictures in my mind of buffalo racing across the plains. While I gave cursory interest in the crafts, I was really biding my time until the music began.

    Arvel Bird and One Nation featuring Arvil Bird who principally is a classic violinist. While many may not associate the violin with Indian music, Arvil explained it has been part of the Indian instrument repertoire since the Europeans arrived. Twenty years ago Arvil regularly won prizes at the fiddle/violin competition at the Indiana State Fair. Arvil Bird is a mixed Southern Paiute and Scottish ancestory, is a composer and music producer with a fine hand in orchestrating his music. His classic CD is called ‘Animal Totems,’ which were the featured tunes during the set we heard.

    As wonderful to listen to the music, he had a visually distracting drummer name John Little Eagle, known to his fans as Eagle, formerly of Brule. John Little Eagle is fully aware of the presence he makes while beating rhythmically on a pow wow drum with his hair flying in the wind. Wind? It was a calm day! Yet he seemed to be the spitting romantic image of an Indian riding his horse fast across the plains. I knew I wasn’t alone when Mrs. JiminLoganSquare suggested John Little Eagle with his shirt off and a woman in his arms could be the cover of a Harlequin Romance. Yes, all the women in our group were very appreciative of his ummmm aura.

    Image

    The mystique of John Little Eagle hardly faded when we later saw two fans at 5 and 7 o’clock positioned to tussle his hair. We knew that he knew how to accentuate his assets.

    Afterwards, we tried the Indian Taco and Corn Soup. The Indian Taco was not extraordinarily different than what we can get at Anawim Center in Chicago every first Friday.

    Image

    While the corn soup was a simple broth with bacon and with charred corn, which really kicked up the flavor and an idea to borrow someday.

    Image

    It was almost noon, so we walked down to the canal walk to see a steam driven clock sing. The clock’s eight brass whistles play a few notes of "Back Home Again in Indiana" every 15 minutes. A more complete rendition is played at the top of every hour. While we were waiting for the clock, we saw this bird shimmy as if preparing to molt.

    Image

    We had an appointment to meet Mike G and his family at Shapiro’s whose food did not disappoint. After our exercise, I was ready to dig into a Reuben sandwich and their sweetened ice tea. After lunch concluded around 2 PM, everyone went their separate directions with plans to meet again at 7 PM for dinner. I decided to take a meandering driving tour of Indianapolis with the general destination my motel for a nap. Along the way I saw a sign for a soulfood restaurant, which may be worth a visit someday. If I had been remotely hungry, which I wasn’t, then I might have stopped in. I just didn’t think it was terribly wise to just walk in, look around and scoot out the door.

    Image

    In my serendipity style, I managed to drive past Hollyhock Hill where we would dine a few hours later. It was in the middle of a residential neighborhood where the homes were set back from the road. Hollyhock Hill had all the appearances of once being a private home with a gravel parking lot substituting for the lush green lawns of their neighbors. When it was time for dinner, I came early enough to see a 50th anniversary party leaving with everyone commenting about the chicken. The celebrating husband quipped, “I don’t mind getting married again knowing in 50 years I can have that chicken dinner again.” As Mike reported it was a chicken dinner worthy of its reputation.

    The next morning I learned there was a Shapiro’s in Carmel, where I was staying. I enjoyed lunch so much the day before, I hoped they might have a homemade corned beef hash. They do make a corned beef hash, which unfortunately they seem to have modeled after canned corned beef hash, which I don’t particularly like. The corned beef hash did have a fresh taste though ground to a mush unfortunately. The potatoes were mostly finely chopped except for a few who someone missed getting minced to oblivion. I ordered hash browns, which were not in the usual configuration. The only redeeming factor was the excellent bagel. I will return for breakfast sometime though it will be lox and bagels.

    Image

    On the way home, I stopped briefly at Fair Oaks Farms which appears to be a very large scale dairy farm. They conduct 45 minute tours of the farm plus house a museum and dairy shop. They offer 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 year aged cheddars. They were out of the 5 year aged, instead I bought a 4 year for approximately $10 per pound. If I was not pressed for time, then I would have gladly taken the tour.

    Driving through Chicago on a Sunday afternoon was relatively effortless. I had never been to Indianapolis, now I recognize there is plenty to do from a cultural as well as food point of view. JiminLoganSquare has proposed future visits perhaps concentrating on German food and African American/soul food options plus the oddities like John's Stew, which I am not sure what that may be. Speaking of oddities, non food related, there is supposed to be an interesting medical museum

    Clearly Jim put a lot of well placed heart into this adventure. While we never did see the grocery store David Letterman worked at or where Jim get’s his hair cut, we somehow managed to enjoy ourselves knowing someday we will. It was also fun to meet Matt and his wife Susan who contributed a lot of contemporary information for this trip. They come to Chicago occasionally, which I hope they will allow us to return the favor.

    Thanks for a great weekend!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #22 - July 6th, 2006, 6:32 am
    Post #22 - July 6th, 2006, 6:32 am Post #22 - July 6th, 2006, 6:32 am
    Cathy2, how was the Fair Oak Farms cheese? I also stopped by there recently, and just breezed through, I didn't stay for any of the tours or buy anything. I was really excited about stopping here, but then I got that underwhelmed feeling. Maybe, I was being too judgemental for no reason.

    On the way home, I stopped briefly at Fair Oaks Farms which appears to be a very large scale dairy farm. They conduct 45 minute tours of the farm plus house a museum and dairy shop. They offer 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 year aged cheddars. They were out of the 5 year aged, instead I bought a 4 year for approximately $10 per pound. If I was not pressed for time, then I would have gladly taken the tour.
  • Post #23 - July 6th, 2006, 7:42 am
    Post #23 - July 6th, 2006, 7:42 am Post #23 - July 6th, 2006, 7:42 am
    Cathy2 wrote:The next morning I learned there was a Shapiro’s in Carmel, where I was staying.


    Cathy,

    I'm going to be in Carmel this weekend for a wedding. Shapiro's is on my "must do" list for my trip to Indy. In fact, a promised visit to Shapiro's was the only thing that got me to agree to accompany the Chow Poodle to her cousin's wedding. How would you compare the two Shapiro's locations? Do you think I should forget about the Carmel location in favor of the original for my one and only visit?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #24 - July 6th, 2006, 7:51 am
    Post #24 - July 6th, 2006, 7:51 am Post #24 - July 6th, 2006, 7:51 am
    Hi Steve,

    Carmel's location is very high stylized deli, while their downtown location is more evocative of Manny's. You will probably prefer the downtown location, though when it comes to food I would rely more on JiminLoganSquare's advice.

    ***

    I haven't tried the 4-year old cheddar yet. I will update once I have.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #25 - July 6th, 2006, 7:52 am
    Post #25 - July 6th, 2006, 7:52 am Post #25 - July 6th, 2006, 7:52 am
    Cathy2 wrote:The next morning I learned there was a Shapiro’s in Carmel, where I was staying. I enjoyed lunch so much the day before, I hoped they might have a homemade corned beef hash. They do make a corned beef hash, which unfortunately they seem to have modeled after canned corned beef hash, which I don’t particularly like. The corned beef hash did have a fresh taste though ground to a mush unfortunately. The potatoes were mostly finely chopped except for a few who someone missed getting minced to oblivion. I ordered hash browns, which were not in the usual configuration. The only redeeming factor was the excellent bagel. I will return for breakfast sometime though it will be lox and bagels.
    Image


    C2, excellent pix (really like the mystery bird moulting in the shadows).

    Your pic and commentary on the corned beef hash reaffirmed my personal commitment to make a mental note to always ask that chefs/cooks make some things "crisp" -- potato pancakes, bacon, French fries, corned beef hash, etc.

    David "Eating vicariously" Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #26 - July 6th, 2006, 8:17 am
    Post #26 - July 6th, 2006, 8:17 am Post #26 - July 6th, 2006, 8:17 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi Steve,

    Carmel's location is very high stylized deli, while their downtown location is more evocative of Manny's. You will probably prefer the downtown location, though when it comes to food I would rely more on JiminLoganSquare's advice.


    I would say the food is basically similar at each location, although the atmosphere at the original downtown location is more fun. Of course for your plans, the Carmel location is much more convenient (it's about a 45 minute or longer drive from Carmel to the downtown Shapiro's).
    JiLS
  • Post #27 - July 6th, 2006, 8:35 am
    Post #27 - July 6th, 2006, 8:35 am Post #27 - July 6th, 2006, 8:35 am
    JimInLoganSquare wrote:
    I would say the food is basically similar at each location, although the atmosphere at the original downtown location is more fun. Of course for your plans, the Carmel location is much more convenient (it's about a 45 minute or longer drive from Carmel to the downtown Shapiro's).


    So then the choice is whether to drive for 1.5 hours (both directions) to enjoy the more interesting deli or to go to the sanitized suburban location and spend the "extra time" I would save with my wife's relatives. Hmmmm I wonder what choice I will make. :twisted:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #28 - July 6th, 2006, 3:22 pm
    Post #28 - July 6th, 2006, 3:22 pm Post #28 - July 6th, 2006, 3:22 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:... the oddities like John's Stew, which I am not sure what that may be.


    John's Stew (a/k/a John's Famous Stew or sometimes, John's Hot Stew) is an ancient little diner just southwest of downtown that serves what are alleged to be old Macedonian recipe stews (along with more typical Hoosier/diner fare). I've never been, but it has a great reputation. Link to Review Here. (Because of the peculiarities of the linked site, you'll have to run a search for "John's" and then click on the "View" button to read the review.)
    JiLS

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