One of the biggest problems I face living in Indiana is deciding where and what to eat. Why? Because we are surrounded by such awesome food choices. However, while there are more and more craft and specialty restaurants popping up every month, here are nine dishes in our state that you absolutely have to try once in your lifetime.
1. Fried Tenderloin – Holt’s Market Café, Bedford
Some Hoosiers claim it’s the absolute best tenderloin sandwich you’ll find in state. Whether it tops your list or not, this fried tenderloin is a Hoosier classic - perfectly breaded, seasoned, and fried. For a real treat try it with a side of fried green tomatoes.
2. Jalapeno Cornbread – Bonge’s Tavern, Perkinsville
Bonge’s Tavern is a favorite among Hoosiers, and there isn’t too much that isn’t delicious there. Bonge’s has a rotating menu (plus small permanent menu), and one of the house staples is their jalapeno cornbread. It may not sound like much, but just one taste will have you hooked.
3. Red Velvet Pancakes – Milktooth, Indianapolis
You can find fancy, decadent pancakes at almost any highly rated brunch or breakfast place, but the red velvet dutch baby pancakes from Milktooth are truly something special. Topped with blood orange glazed beets, candied mixed nuts, whipped cream cheese, and cocoa nib brittle, this sweet breakfast treat will leave you coming back for more. Don’t worry; they’re a staple on Milktooth’s ever-changing menu.
4. Brisket Sandwich – South Street Smokehouse, Lafayette
If you’re looking for great barbecue somewhere between Indianapolis and Chicago, South Street Smokehouse can satisfy even the pickiest of cravings. The dish to try? Their tender brisket sandwich. No matter what style you opt for (Carolina, Baltimore, Kansas City, etc), the brisket is always juicy and perfectly cooked. Your taste buds will thank you for this one.
5. Unagi Nigiri – Kansai Japanese Steakhouse, Clarksville
Love sushi? Kansai Japanese Steakhouse has some of the best hibachi and sushi around, all at pretty affordable rates. The real showstopper: the unagi nigiri. If you’ve never tried eel before, but consider yourself a fan of sushi, you have to try this the next time you’re in southern Indiana. If you love unagi (and we’re not talking about Ross Gellar’s total sense of awareness from Friends), Kansai will delight your senses.
6. Fig Pizza – Venturi, Goshen
Want out-of-this-world pizza? Venturi in Goshen prides their restaurant on fresh, unique, and unbelievably good pizzas, all fresh from a wood burning oven. While there are plenty of original blends on their menu, their fig pizza is a real treat. Indulge in this sweet, savory, salty, and cheesy dish next time you’re in northern Indiana. I promise, you won’t regret it.
7. Wild Mushroom Soup – Café Navarre, South Bend
If you’re thinking, “Why did just a cup of soup make this list?” then you’ve clearly never experienced the mushroom soup at Café Navarre. The wild mushroom soup here is raved about, and keeps many visitors coming back in to try new things. No matter what you order here, the mushroom soup will kick your experience up a notch.
8. ??? – Harry and Bud’s, Terre Haute
If you haven’t heard of Harry and Bud’s, you’re probably a little confused right now. Harry and Bud’s almost seems like an urban legend and has confused many people who have tried and failed to visit this elusive restaurant. The outside of Harry and Bud’s has no signage: if the light is on, you can go inside. If it’s off, they’re closed. There is also no menu, but you’ll be asked about what you like, dislike, etc, and get your own personalized dish from there. You have to visit at least once in your lifetime!
9. Roasted Marrow Bones – Black Market, Indianapolis
Feeling a bit adventurous? If you’re up for trying something different, Black Market, tucked away at the end of Mass Ave, has something unique and intriguing for you. While the menu at Black Market always changes, they usually have their beloved roasted marrow, one of their signature dishes that you absolutely have to at least try once.
Feeling hungry yet? Be sure to cross each one of these amazing dishes off of your Indiana bucket list. What other dishes do you think should have made this list?