Monday, December 23, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I’ve been noticing a lot of year-end wrap up articles lately, and figured, I want to do that too! These are some of my personal “favorite things” from local Indianapolis restaurants (I tried to pick things you can always get at these places so you guys can check them out too). These are things that I find myself going back to over and over again.  (Note: I am sure I have left things out, and there are many restaurants that are hard to include because they change the menu frequently, which in and of itself is one of my favorite things as well).

So in no particular order other than as they pop into my head, here goes:

Tuna tartare from H2O Sushi: (CLOSED) I am pretty sure I could eat this every day if hubby would let me. He has finally given up trying to make me not order it every time we go. They have the seasoning nailed with soy, ginger, lemon, cilantro, radish, chives and masago. I love this stuff. And those cookies too.
Frites from Brugge: These are easily the best fries in Indy. Freshly made and always crisp-- and I love all the choices of dipping sauces. My current favorites are the straight up aioli, the blue cheese, and the sherry vinegar and salt. Best mussels in town too, but it’s the frites that dreams are made of.

Burger from Barking Dog Café (CLOSED): I love this burger—it is currently my favorite in town. And I like it just how they make it—with their special sauce, super thin sliced onions (one of my favorite parts), lettuce, pickles, ketchup, Dijon, and cheese of course. It’s a thin burger with crisp edges and all the flavors meld together perfectly. Best clam chowder in town too.
Barking Dog
BALT and frites from Taste: I can’t go to Taste without ordering both these things. The BALT is one of my favorite sandwiches because of the tangy dressing they use on the lettuce. It also has lots of a guacamole-type spread, which I like because it is evenly spread on the whole sandwich (and of course there’s bacon). The basil aioli is what makes the frites so amazing.

Egg salad from Patachou or Petite Chou: Egg salad on toasted sourdough with an extra pickle. That’s my regular order (although Petite Chou does it as an open-faced tartine on toast—and actually I usually eat the Patachou version open-faced as well because you really don’t need all the bread). The egg salad is simple and perfect. Just eggs, mayo and salt and pepper. I easily eat this once a week.
Slice of mushroom and red onion pizza from Brozinni: Best pizza in town, hands down. Big New York style slices. The onion is evenly distributed and the crust is exactly the right amount of bendy and chewy. Dip the crust in the garlic butter from the knuckles, and it’s perfect.

Bacon flight from Libertine: Ok, I haven’t had this one as much as some of these other dishes I've mentioned, but I love Goose bacon, and sometimes, just getting the various varieties served straight up (well, with dipping sauces) is just what you need.

Ramen noodles from Ichiban: stir fried ramen noodles with perfectly sized slices of veggies mixed in and topped with a breaded pork tenderloin.  Cheap and something good in Castleton!
Steak tartare from Meridian: I have a thing for steak tartare. Well, any tartare really. But they are often too bland and one-dimensional. This one is great, one of the best (and one of the few) I have had in Indy. The beef is tender and seasoned with capers and garlic mayo, onions and nice crispy fried chickpeas on the side, which add a touch of salt. Oh, and don’t forget the quail egg on top. 
Brad Gates’ breaded lamb chops: This is something I have had several times at catered events by Brad Gates, and these things are ideal finger food. He takes individual lamb chops, trims them perfectly, coats them in breadcrumbs and fries them in butter.  A grown up lollipop. You can’t really go wrong here. I wonder if he ever does them at the Pantry at the City Market? He should.

Fried Chicken from Mississippi Belle: If you’re thinking about going to KFC, don’t do it. Skip over to Mississippi Belle instead. Dinner is all you can eat and this is some of the best fried chicken I have found in town. Pan-fried, so it doesn’t have a ton of crispy coating, but the seasoning is spot on. And the mac and cheese is a must order as well.
Mississippi Belle
Spaghetti from Bluebeard: Truth be told, there are several other more mind-blowing items to be had at Bluebeard, but the side order of spaghetti with lemon, crème fraiche and parmesan has been a regular item on the menu since they opened, and a regular side item on our table on nearly every visit. It is simple, but the tangy flavor of the lemon and the crème fraiche make it special.

Rare beef salad from Long Thanh: This was a dish that I ate repeatedly for a long time and still, now, as soon as I start talking about it, I want it again. It is basically a salad with lots of cilantro and basil, topped with thin slices of tender rare beef and chopped peanuts. It has a distinct lime flavor and when mixed with the fish sauce that comes along with, and the crispy fried shrimp chips that are light as air, it makes for lovely little tangy bites.

Chicken soup at La Hacienda: This soup is so good. Especially in the winter. Or if you have a cold. Or hell, even in the summer if you’re me and you just can’t hardly not order it. It’s basically a kitchen sink of Mexican food items. Chicken broth, rice, tortilla chips, chicken, pico de gallo, cheese, avocado. Everything good. All in one huge bowl for under $6. And be sure and get a Texas margarita too. 

Roti Rolls at Siam Square: This is a must order dessert for us at Siam Square. It’s a simple concept—puff pastry, butter and sugar, but it the kind of dessert that hubby and I really like.

Fried shrimp po boy from B’s Po Boy: Extra shrimp is required so they’re pouring out of the flown in from Louisiana bread. I like mine dressed with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and mayo and with a side of the spicy remoulade sauce that I drizzle on top. Even hubby agrees it is as good as the ones you get in New Orleans (and in some cases better).

Chicken Salad from Movable Feast: No fruit. No nuts. Just chicken, celery, green onions and a great tangy yogurt-based sauce with lots of dill. A great, tasty, straightforward chicken salad.

Sautéed eggplant with basil sauce add chicken from Jasmine Thai: There was one guy who worked there who just referred to me as “eggplant” for awhile when I walked in to pick up my carry out order of this stuff. But apparently, there is another patron who eats it 2-3 times a week so there must be something addictive about it. Soften golden eggplant in a soy/basil sauce. I like to add the chicken for a bit of texture variation. All over rice. Another staple in my diet.
Jasmine Thai

Fried chicken from Sahm’s: Huge, super crunchy pieces of chicken that have good flavor and taste even better the next day (according to hubby).  I only wish I could get on track as to when they have it at my local Sahm’s. But the Fishers’ location serves it daily apparently.

Sticky Toffee Pudding from Late Harvest: Ok, so I have had issues sometimes here, but the one thing I will always order on any visit is the sticky toffee pudding. I fell in love with the dish while living in England, and they do a spot on version with a tender, warm spice cake and topped with toffee sauce and whipped cream. 

Late Harvest

Hot and Sour Soup from House of Cheung: This is one of my latest cravings and has been intense. There can be a little variation from visit to visit, but overall it’s a great version of the vinegary and spicy soup. And they have the only fried wontons in town that I have found that are never stale. A bowl of this with the wontons on top makes me very happy.

House of Cheung
So there you have it---a list of a (not so) few of my favorite things. But once I get going, it’s hard to not keep having things pop into your head. So tell me, what thing(s) popped into your head as you read? I want to know what your go-to items are in Indy restaurants. 

And now I am really, really hungry.

Happy Holidays and Cheers! I’ll be back with new posts next week.


  1. Truly enjoyed reading this post, Erin! Sometimes I am almost reluctant to share my absolute favorite spots - probably from a blend of wanting to keep it a secret... and maybe avoiding being disappointed if someone isn't as enthusiastic about it as I am (this happens a lot with my loved ones and Pizzology, for some reason)

    Anyway, you should try to get on the email list for Sahm's Place - I think that's the one that's your local. I've found their website touch and go, so you might have to send a message to their page on Facebook. I enjoy scoping the lunch and dinner specials each day.

    My favorites of 2013? La Margarita's slightly revised menu (Saturday lunch special of chorizo hash, add a $3 can or two of Founders all day IPA)... I believe City BBQ in Carmel and downtown Indy came in 2013 - I love their Q and it is rather closer than their previous Indy locations. My best meal was probably at Graze in Madison, WI.

    I'll 2nd the burger at the Barking Dog Cafe!


    1. To, I agree I love the bbq at CIty BBQ too. Going to have to get back to La Margarita soon. thanks for your comment!

  2. For me, it's the Ploughman's Platter at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub. A simple, fresh plate of raw vegetables, often with Jicama, and a scoop their basil hummus serve with whole wheat pita bread and a ramekin of low-fat ranch dressing. my wife and I probably go there for this a couple of times each month. I always walk away feeling good....

  3. My go to this year has been the Kitchenette's Cheesy Bacon Love omelet with a cup of their mushroom soup. I feel like I'm in there all the time, but apparently not because I'm always asked if this is my first visit!

  4. Thanks for sharing your list - I've been able to try a few on here and would agree, though it's always hard for me to decide between the chicken and egg salad at Patachou. That spaghetti from Bluebeard is calling my name now :)