'Indianapolis' on Serious Eats
For over a century, people of Indianapolis have never (and I suspect I will never) set foot in Indianapolis without going to Shapiro's for a corned beef sandwich. The giant deli is over a century old and deserves a mention in any discussion debating the nation's best.
I expected typical sports bar mediocrity at Scotty's Brewhouse, but instead I got a kick-ass burger in the kind of place I'd actually hang out at if I lived nearby.
Napolese is Indianapolis's most recent entry into the world of artisanal pizza. The pizzas are made from an impressive array of high quality ingredients, including some very creative (and tasty) toppings. Unfortunately, the pizzas I tried were pulled from the oven far too soon.
Tipped off by a couple of AHT readers in Indianapolis, I headed to Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream last weekend to see what the big deal is. It turns out, when it comes to the burgers, the hype is definitely justified. Burgers can be made of beef or elk and in both cases, and diners get nicely salted patties served at the desired temperature and full of char-tinged beef flavor.
From the wood-burning oven to delicious housemade toppings to the heavy use of local ingredients, Neal Brown and his team at Pizzology are unquestionably committed to perfecting their craft. A couple of tweaks are still necessary but they're already delivering what a lot of locals say is the best in town.
The story of Indiana pizza is mostly one of regional influence and corporate greed. Indiana is caught between two equally strong forces, which basically carve the state in two. On the north is the strong pull of Chicago and its thin crust, tavern-style pizza. Pizza comes in squares up there, with a strong preference for sausage. Southern Indiana, on the other hand, seems to show a lot of influence from the hands of Papa John's, which originated in the southern town of Jeffersonville, only to multiply into the third biggest chain in the country.
Union Jack Pub is located in the Broad Ripple section of Indianapolis and is probably one of the last places you would expect to serve pizza. But they take the pizza seriously enough that they have a separate menu for it—it is printed on a pizza peel. The deep, deep dish pizza is the thing to get there.
The ingredients of the two burgers I sampled from 96th Street Steakburgers were beyond reproach—the vegetables were vibrant and fresh, the bun spongy and plump, and the beef had a clean flavor. Unfortunately, despite all these advantages the burgers I tried were lackluster.
The Tamale Place makes some of the best Mexican food I've had in Indianapolis, and they do it for cheap. While most Mexican places in Indy claim their authenticity with over-sized margaritas and burritos as big as your head, this little storefront on the west side does so by focusing intensely on a particular street food that can get overlooked in the Mexican cuisine conversation—the tamale.
Hamburger documentarian George Motz turned me on to Workingman's Friend, which will be featured in the updated edition of Motz's book Hamburger America, when I told him I was visiting Indianapolis over the winter break. I was planning to write a review, but Daniel beat me to the punch last week. No worries—he did a great job. Instead, I'll supplement his review with a slideshow of photos from Workingman's Friend.
These perfectly cooked burgers had a bit of oil in them, as is often the case with smashed burgers, but that was a fine price to pay for the crisp exterior and beautiful beef lacing all the way around the edges.
Last time I went to Indianapolis, I listened to the people of that fine town and visited Bazbeaux, a place routinely cited as serving the city's best pizza but was, for my tastes, decidedly mediocre. As I mentioned in that review, on my next visit to Indy, I was going to follow my heart and hit up Maria's Pizza, which has been putting out Midwestern bar pies for more than 50 years.
50-year-old drive-in Mug N Bun in Indianapolis serves classic fast food-style burgers along with homemade root beer and pork tenderloin sandwiches in a setting that provides a window to the past.
"The pork tenderloin sandwich, while no masterpiece, deserves the spotlight every once in a while." I'm getting a little tired of all these comparisons between the Indianapolis and New Orleans food scenes. I'm from Indiana, so I feel it's perfectly...
Update: This quiz is closed as of August 26, 2013. You know every Colts stat there is to know, but how much do you know about Indianapolis restaurants and culinary specialties? Put on your thinking cap and take the quiz » Equal Time: How Much Do You Know About New Orleans Food Culture? »...
We'll let the players settle football bragging rights on the field, but we can judge which city reigns supreme when it comes to serious vittles. So without further adieu, here's the NFL playoffs, Serious Eats style.
The Weber Grill 10 N. Illinois Street, Indianapolis IN 46204; map); 317-636-7600; other locations listed at webergrillrestaurant.com Cooking Method: Grilled, of course! Short Order: A satisfyingly charred and smoky burger offering a familiar taste. Want Fries with That? Comes...
Daniel Zemans, our man in Chicago, checks in with another piece of intel from the road, this time in Indianapolis. —The Mgmt. [Photographs: Daniel Zemans] Bazbeaux Pizza 334 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis IN 46204 (map); 317-636-7662; bazbeaux.com Pizza Style: Thin-crust Oven Type: Gas The Skinny: The undisputed king of Indianapolis pizza serves up pies with good toppings and a tasty cheese mixture that are undermined by a thick flavorless crust Price: 12-inch pies start at $9.25 Since I started writing for Slice, I try to make it a point when visiting a new city to find either the best local pizzeria...
The Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis is already in session, but you have until Sunday, August 17, to enjoy the best of what it has to offer: deep-fried fair food and a giant, diseased colon. Indulge in the fair's wide array of deep fried foods, foods on sticks, and deep fried foods on sticks. How about the 2008 Indiana State Fair signature food contest winner, deep-fried bananas foster cheesecake on a stick? Count me in. Indystar.com describes other offerings, from typical corn dogs to not-so-typical chocolate-covered chicken stick. After getting your fill of fair food, visit "Coco" the Colossal Colon, a 40-foot long, four-foot tall model of a human colon "designed to educate about colorectal cancer and other diseases...