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Workingman's Friend — Indianapolis

Workingman's Friend — Indianapolis
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  • Workingman's Friend — Indianapolis

    Post #1 - October 29th, 2006, 8:40 pm
    Post #1 - October 29th, 2006, 8:40 pm Post #1 - October 29th, 2006, 8:40 pm
    I'm a fan of old bars and if they have good food, so much the better. Workingman's Friend is a real gem, well known and much loved in Indianapolis.

    Workingman's Friend is located a couple miles west of downtown in a mixed residential and industrial neighborhood.
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    It's been around nearly 90 years and is now run by the third generation of the founding family.
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    Decorations are pretty much limited to beer signs but the place has a beat-in cheerful feeling about it. It seems like nothing that still works is discarded; note the cigarette machine (they actually have two), television with rabbit ear antennae, and the cash register. Even the trough-style urinal appears to be original (I'll spare you the picture of that).

    I had a modest lunch of a burger and a glass of beer.
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    However the glass held 32 ounces and the burger must have weighed in at over a pound. Oh, and they're known for their onion rings so I couldn't pass those up. The burger was darn good and the onion rings were better. The tab was barely over $10 for a huge and tremendously satisfying meal. I can't wait to get back for a Big John (grilled ham and Swiss) and a bowl of chili. It's a shame places like this are becoming so rare, a classic tavern run by friendly people who clearly care about what they're doing.

    Workingman's Friend
    234 N Belmont Av
    Indianapolis IN
    317-636-206
  • Post #2 - October 29th, 2006, 8:45 pm
    Post #2 - October 29th, 2006, 8:45 pm Post #2 - October 29th, 2006, 8:45 pm
    Rene G wrote: It's a shame places like this are becoming so rare, a classic tavern run by friendly people who clearly care about what they're doing.


    Great post -- it makes me want to go there, what more can one say?

    And you're only right about these places vanishing, especially, it seems, in Chicago...

    :(

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #3 - October 30th, 2006, 4:55 am
    Post #3 - October 30th, 2006, 4:55 am Post #3 - October 30th, 2006, 4:55 am
    Very nice post. It brought back a memory for me. I used to work with a guy who came to work every day with a Workingman's Friend, which was a hip flask filled with (in his case) Jack.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - October 30th, 2006, 6:50 am
    Post #4 - October 30th, 2006, 6:50 am Post #4 - October 30th, 2006, 6:50 am
    ReneG, it's kind of amazing that you found this place -- I'm guessing it was mentioned in conversation by someone in some other bar ( :wink: ).

    That Deco-ish glass block facade is a excellent way to project sturdiness while still letting a lot of light into the bar (seems like the bar also has back-lit glass block -- nice).

    Next time I'm in Indianapolis...

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #5 - October 31st, 2006, 10:08 pm
    Post #5 - October 31st, 2006, 10:08 pm Post #5 - October 31st, 2006, 10:08 pm
    Antonius wrote:Great post -- it makes me want to go there, what more can one say?

    And you're only right about these places vanishing, especially, it seems, in Chicago...

    I’m glad you enjoyed the report. I’m sure you’ll like the real thing even more.

    While sitting at the bar I was thinking just that—what a shame it is that a Chicagoan has to travel to Indianapolis (or Milwaukee) to experience a real tavern. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but not by much.

    David Hammond wrote:ReneG, it's kind of amazing that you found this place -- I'm guessing it was mentioned in conversation by someone in some other bar.

    That Deco-ish glass block facade is a excellent way to project sturdiness while still letting a lot of light into the bar (seems like the bar also has back-lit glass block -- nice).

    I don’t recall where I first came across Workingman’s Friend but I’m pretty sure it was on the internet. The place seems far from unknown locally, and is often cited as serving the best burger in Indy. While hoisting a few in Indianapolis I tried to get more suggestions from the locals but came up empty.

    Ever since I was a kid I’ve liked glass bricks and I think Workingman’s Friend uses them to great effect. There’s a lot of light inside but it’s not too bright.
  • Post #6 - October 31st, 2006, 10:34 pm
    Post #6 - October 31st, 2006, 10:34 pm Post #6 - October 31st, 2006, 10:34 pm
    Rene G wrote:While hoisting a few in Indianapolis I tried to get more suggestions from the locals but came up empty.


    Could the advice be any worse than what we received from the bartender at Phil Smidt's? "Don't go there!" Maybe Indiana natives are pledged to keeping their great state and its' dining secrets all to themselves! :wink:

    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 #7 - November 1st, 2006, 8:43 pm
    Post #7 - November 1st, 2006, 8:43 pm Post #7 - November 1st, 2006, 8:43 pm
    I remember this place and many places just like it in Indianapolis growing up there in the 50s and 60s. We kind of lose track of them. The chains kind of got us away from them as a primary place to go. Then high-powered yuppiefied sports bars and fancy fern bars came into vogue in the 70s and 80s and haven't stopped. These places like Workingman's continued to exist but in dwindling numbers because I can remember Haughville having four such places on each corner at many street intersections. They're still around. You just have to force yourself to venture forth and try them because you generally won't find them in published directories or internet searches. My pork tenderloin sandwich pursuit is my hobby and has taken me to many a place I would have passed on just a couple of years ago. I have ventured into many a place that didn't have a pork tenderloin but was interesting nevertheless.

    I have taken a flyer and ventured forth in San Francisco, Chicago and London in places that don't appear on the tourist literature or guidebooks and came away satisfied. It works.
  • Post #8 - November 1st, 2006, 10:48 pm
    Post #8 - November 1st, 2006, 10:48 pm Post #8 - November 1st, 2006, 10:48 pm
    Davydd wrote:I have taken a flyer and ventured forth in San Francisco, Chicago and London in places that don't appear on the tourist literature or guidebooks and came away satisfied. It works.


    I strive to do that at all times. That is the spirit of LTH.
    Last edited by stevez on November 9th, 2006, 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - November 9th, 2006, 7:53 pm
    Post #9 - November 9th, 2006, 7:53 pm Post #9 - November 9th, 2006, 7:53 pm
    Earlier in this thread I wrote: I can't wait to get back for a Big John (grilled ham and Swiss) and a bowl of chili.

    I went back and had a Big John but no chili (no room unfortunately). The ham and cheese were grilled so the cheese melted and became brown and crispy—very nice. Unfortunately the (ungrilled) roll was really lousy and they used WAY too much mayonnaise (I'm not a fan and I forgot to ask). All in all it was a decent sandwich but I think I'll stick with the burgers in the future. No doubt about it, Workingman's Friend is a great place.

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