Category: Best Of
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been doing some work in the Lawrence, Indiana, area a couple of days a week. It’s not a place that I frequented very often before January, but I decided to explore the food scene when I started spending time here. Specifically, Lunch in Lawrence.
Pendleton Pike and 56th St are long strips of chains with nothing unique standing out on the surface. But, dig a little deeper, and you can find some hidden gems owned by locals serving some quality food.
Fitzgerald’s Catering & Lunch House – Ft. Ben
First written about in Week 6 2022, Fitzgerald’s is located in an unassuming (former barracks building?) off Otis Ave. It’s an assembly-line-style lunch counter run by a hard-working group. They feature scratch-made items, even down to the pickles served on their Cuban sandwich. They can get quite busy, and seating can be limited, as people like to linger and talk. The restaurant is clean, and the service is prompt and friendly. Fortunately, they offer online ordering that’s always been ready when I got there to pick it up. They announce the daily specials on Facebook and have a good variety of sandwiches, soups, and salads. The Cobb Salad, Cuban, and Roast Beast sandwiches are my favorite things to order.
Porter Books & Bread – Ft. Ben
This place looks easier to find on Google Maps than it really is. You place your order in the basement of a multi-story, multi-tenant building and climb the spiral staircase to the seating area above. The walls are exposed brick with bookshelves and some great music playing in the background. Their house-made Ficoccia is used for several of the sandwiches and comes with the salad. I think the Octavius Salad is one of the best in the area, and the Vonnegut Sandwich will not leave you hungry if you manage to finish a whole one.
The Grill – McCordsville
While technically not in Lawrence, it’s close enough for me to drive to for lunch, so it’s on the list. The Grill has an over-21 side and a family dining side. Both times I visited, I sat in the bar. I’ve only ordered one thing both times, and the Fried Chicken salad hits the spot with a nice-sized salad with a large portion of pounded out sliced fried chicken breast on the top. The service is very friendly, and you can tell this is a family-run place with the father of the group running the show.
Tritan Brewing Co. and Bistro – Ft. Ben
The Bistro at Tritan is only open Fri/Sat/Sun for lunch, so I’ve only been able to have lunch there once on a Friday. I first wrote about it in Week 8 of 2022. It was a toss-up between the fish and chips or the tenderloin. My server asked how hungry I was and when I said quite a bit, she didn’t even hesitate to recommend the tenderloin. I really enjoyed this sandwich and would order it again if I’m in the area when the Bistro is open.
Notable mention to Jacomo Pizza that I’ve had for lunch a few times but never took any pictures. It’s pizza, and we know what that looks like. It’s quick if you get a slice or two of the daily special and scratches the itch if you want pizza and/or a fast lunch.
While there are not many local restaurants in Lawrence, there are enough to have some variety when in the area a few days a week. I still need to check out the Garrison at Ft. Ben and the Caplingers location on Pendleton Pike. It’s also been a long time since I visited Mama’s Korean, so I may have to fix that soon.
Following up on my initial review of Grammarly in October 2021, I’m still finding it a HUGE resource to make sure the communications (and blog posts) I have are concise and properly formatted. I’ve learned I have a big issue with missing commas, and Grammarly has made me more conscious of that and helped my grammar along the way. It’s still not a cheap utility, but if you make a living communicating with people, it’s worth checking out.
And finally, The Urbanist posted a video of a strange skyscraper in New York City with no windows. These kinds of buildings are not that unusual, in fact, we have a similar AT&T building in Downtown Indianapolis, but this one is very unique looking.
It’s the final Sunday of 2021 & it’s time for another Year in Review! I wanted to bring the blog back to life this year and post at least once a week. I missed a few weeks throughout the year, but overall I’m pleased with how I was able to keep things active. Along the way, I kept a list of ideas to discuss, so I should always have some content as I attempt to keep this up in 2022.
The weekly format seems to work well as it allows me to summarize the previous 7-days and add some additional content that appears relevant (or fun). As I did last year, this post will be a summary of the past year. It’s been another wild year with Covid and all the VAX/Boost discussions but we’re in the home stretch. Next Sunday will be the first post of 2022!
I shared our family favorite Scalloped Potato Gratin
Started visiting A2Z Cafe again for lunch (Closed on Monday)
The Bon Appetite Test Kitchen falls apart
Clancy’s opens in the garage Food Hall
We visited Indy Tacos
Discovered a Vegan Cheeseball that fooled everyone I served it to (AmazeBall)
Dropped Lass Pass for BitWarden (and never looked back)
Hoagies and Hops opens a new location in Fletcher Place (now closing on 12/31)
Life in Indy launches
I start playing Disk Golf (Like Ball Golf only better)
We discover J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (although I mentioned him on the Blog in 2010)
My First COVID Vaccination at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Saraga plans to open a store in Castleton (still not open)
Baseball returns and I actually watch it (Go Reds!)
I order a TidByt (it was delivered the day before Christmas, review coming soon)
I finally ate at Loughmiller’s Pub & Eatery (free cookie Monday)
More Disk Golf (I’m hooked)
I visit the Gus Grissom Monument In Mitchel, Indiana
Hiking at Hemlock Cliffs
More Disk Golf at a Monastery in Southern Indiana
I finally try Chris’s Ice Cream And fall in love with their Chorizo Burrito
First camping trip of the year at Indian-Celina Lake Campground
Bought a WOOL T-Shirt (and LOVE it)
Who could forget the 17-Year Cicada Brood
Built a Pi Weather Station (use this daily)
More Disk Golf
Travel to Cincy and visit the War Birds Museum, and Jungle Jims, for fathers Day
Road Trip to the Allegheny National Forest (So much rain)
Found a proper Beef on Weck at the Bar-Bill Tavern (I have dreams about this sando)
Visited Niagara Falls (nicer than I remember)
Visited the Zippo/Case Museum
FINALLY saw Rock City (only to find out it’s not the one I saw signs for growing up)
Walked the Kinzua Bridge State Park in Kane, PA
Reviewed Upland Brewing (Jalapeno Blue Cheese Sauce)
Bought an iPad Pro (FINALLY)
Reviewed the 99% Invisible Podcast
MORE Disk Golf
Looked at the WP Recipe Maker plugin (too much work)
20 years since 9/11
677,737 American deaths attributed to COVID so far
Visited San Diego
Bought a new Apple Watch
Updated my Kindle Paperwhite
Watched the Donut King Documentary
Visited Findlay Market
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (READ this)
No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald (then READ THIS)
So that’s it for 2021. We covered a lot of ground this year and started some new things. The Keto “diet” has turned into more of a “watch those carbs” lifestyle and I’m happy to report I’ve had some moderate success. Disk Golf was something new this year and I really enjoyed playing various courses around the area. San Diego was a nice escape, even though I was there for work, and the Allegheny National Forest was one of the nicest camping trips I’ve had in a while, despite all the rain.
Here’s to another year, and thanks for reading!
I always love digging this out every November. Enjoy!
So how was your 2020? It was an interesting one to say the least. Something we’ll all remember the rest of our lives. My New Years resolution is to try & revive the blog with a weekly posting format that will allow me to build each post as the week progresses and publish the summary once a week.
The following is a 2020 recap by month via pictures I took along the way. Warning, there will be a LOT of food pictures. If you follow me on Social Media a lot of these are re-posts but I’m adding more context. You can click on each one for a larger image.
- Finally made it to Working Man’s Friend for a legendary burger. Why did it take me so long to visit?
- Celebrated a successful 2019 with the team from work (Cowboy Ribeyes at Sullivan’s)
- Started playing with Sports Betting (have turned $50 into $400 this year).
- Had the best Calamari EVER at King Dough.
- Interviewed the founder of Clustertruck and got a behind the scenes look at the downtown operation.
- Made a killer Deep Dish Pizza to celebrate Super Bowl LIV.
- And some homemade Coconut Marshmallows for for people at work.
- Correctly guessed the winner of the Daytona 500 and turned $5 into $53.75.
- Covid is starting to get a lot of coverage in the news and we start testing a new video collaboration tool called “Zoom”.
- The Covid Memes also start to become a daily sight.
- Last burger and Fry combo at Kreuger’s in Indianapolis (they closed after this).
- I put the 3D printer to use and start printing sanitation hooks for friends and family.
- The Work From Home revolution begins as office parking lots start looking like a late Friday afternoon every day of the week.
- Found a new casserole that is the definition of Comfort Food.
- Got a free speed bump on the home Internet so working from home was lightning fast!
- Baked bread and ate a LOT of BLT’s throughout the year.
- Had to upgrade the home networking setup to make the speed boost more usable.
- Took advantage of a new Kincaid’s butcher shop opening up right down the street (Spud Buddies and Flank Steak).
- Early in May I had a Covid-19 scare and proceeded to the Lilly testing sight in Downtown Indianapolis. Test was negative.
- Added some flair to the Zoom background in my makeshift dining room studio.
- Continued to help keep Kincaid’s in business.
- And the BLT’s were the go-to meal when working from home.
- Operation American Resolve was a tribute to the front line healthcare workers.
- Followed by a Blue Angel’s tour of the USA. They flew right over my office when they visited Indianapolis.
- Civil Unrest brought out the ISP Chopper to keep an eye on things downtown (Flight track from Flightaware).
- The Rose Bush in the front of the house decided to flex and brightened up the landscape.
- In June I set off to Indian-Celina Lake in southern Indiana for some camping. It was nice to have the campground pretty much all to myself!
- The guys at work decided it was time for some Socially Distant Golf so we hit up a small little public course on the east side of Indy.
- My Son wanted Pizza one night so we made pizza!
- Bought a new Police Scanner to keep up with all the things going on downtown.
- The YoHo General Store in Solsberry, Indiana was a place to stop for lunch…
- …While I visited the Tulip Trestle in Bloomfield.
- George Floyd mural on Mass Ave in Indianapolis (not my photo).
- Right before the July 4th Holiday we received bad news about Kincaid’s. They would end up being closed much longer than they anticipated (until October).
- We celebrated Independence day with a BBQ chicken on the Big Green Egg.
- Once of many beautiful sunsets from the backyard in 2020.
- Introduced my son to the Soft Shell Crab roll at Ocean World in Indianapolis.
- Lucked out on an NBA wager to end the month.
- I found and tried the “Danzig” of wines (80’s music reference if you didn’t know).
- Discovered COCONUT ALMONDS! These are addictive & don’t last long after bring purchased.
- Re-visited an old friend at Shapiro’s Deli. They took a big hit in 2020 but were still producing a quality product when I visited.
- It was time to update my Avatar.
- Speaking of visiting, we took a road trip to Gas City and tried Payne’s Fish and Chips. The Fattoush salad was delicious and they cook up a mean plate of food. Well worth the visit if you’re in the area!
- Took another trip to Indian-Celina Lake early in the month.
- Tried to predict the future and placed a $5 bet on Notre Dame to win it all (they play in the semi-finals on the day I’m writing this post).
- Took another camping trip a few weeks later. This time a multi-day, multi-state adventure. Starting in Madison Indiana at Clifty Falls. Just in time for the first Presidential debate. Bingo cards from the No Agenda podcast.
- The next day I headed farther south to Mammoth Cave. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid. I picked a great time to visit. The crowds were non-existent and the camping area was wide open.
- You aren’t allowed to burn regular firewood at this park so you have to use Bio-Blocks. I was skeptical but they actually worked great!
- Continuing the multi-day, multi-state adventure I started the morning with a drive to Nashville, which is in the news the week I write this because of a huge explosion.
- While looking for a BBQ place for lunch I drove by Hugh Baby’s and the smell drew me in.
- I ended up ordering the Mushroom Swiss Smash Burger (with SMOKED MUSHROOMS) and it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. I still have dreams about it 3-months later.
- Traveling northwest to Land Between the Lakes I drove around a corner to find a giant Minecraft looking structure. Turns out it’s a Charcoal Blast Furnace. I ended up seeing several of these on my travels and each one was just as interesting as the last.
- Woke up to a COLD morning at Land Between the Lakes, probably because I was camping lakeside.
- That afternoon I drove up to Garden of the Gods for some breathtaking views.
- After arriving home I turned on the first episode of Ted Lasso (best show of 2020 in my opinion) and proceeded finish the season by the next day.
- The following weekend I met some family in Auburn to tour the Cord Duesenberg Museum. It was HUGE and totally worth the 2-hour drive from Indianapolis.
- Work had me downtown a few days later and I just had to stop in and get some Bison Meatloaf at St. Joseph’s Brewery.
- Oct 31 was a sad day. The BEST James Bond (Daniel Craig is a close second) passed away at 90 years of age.
- Indianapolis continued to be boarded up because of the threat of election day violence.
- Left the office & had a Weinermobile spotting!
- Discovered a clever artist in Indy (@itghostwithoutsaying on Instagram).
- The Cobb Salad at Bru Burger, it’s a work of art.
- Red Bird in the front tree, trying out the new iPhone 12 Pro.
- Hoagies & Hops was selling Taylor Ham (pork roll) and I could not pass up making a classic sandwich (pork roll, egg, & cheese on a Kaiser roll).
- I think I found the Cookie of the year
- 2020 even caused Trader Joe’s to shut down
- I decided it was time to make some chicken stock for some upcoming soups and stews.
- Even though most agree Die Hard isn’t a Christmas Movie I thought this was funny.
- And last but not least, The Oatmeal figured out how to properly end the year.
Well if you made it this far THANK YOU for sticking with me. After realizing I was neglecting the blog I felt it was time for a super post to get caught up. As I said above my goal is to post a weekly summary with all of the things I found relevant throughout the week. We’ll see if I can actually pull it off.
It will be interesting to see what reverts back and what stays the same. I think working from home, for some, is going to be the new norm. I can’t help to think masks will be part of our way of life for years to come, especially during flu season. I’m glad we all made it through 2020 and I’m looking forward to, hopefully, getting back to the way things used to be.
See you next week!
Spring is almost here and with that comes a lot more outdoor activities (FINALLY). The poor weather in February lead to a lot of indoor time. I used that time consume various types of media. It’s kind of weird but ever since I “cut the cord” I find myself watching more TV & Movies than I think I did before. I’m really into binge watching newly discovered TV Series.
My favorites for the month were:
- Suburbicon – A dark crime/mystery/Drama/Thriller starring Matt Damon and directed by George Clooney
Favorite TV Show:
- Black Mirror Season 4 – Netflix
Good morning! I’m starting a series this year called “Best of”. This will be a Top-10 sort of list based on a random subject of my choosing. I’m open to suggestions or requests so if there’s something you want me to cover feel free to post a comment below.
This time I’m going to focus on the weekday lunch in Downtown Indianapolis. None of these are fancy but they’ve proven to be consistently good and are locked into the rotation of places I go on a regular basis (with the exception of one that just got added). These are in no particular order and it’s certainly not a complete list.
Often called an Indianapolis Institution this cafeteria style establishment turns out some of the best pastrami sandwiches around. Their house made rye bread is a great complement to the tender and smoky meat piled high inside. Prices are on the higher end of the spectrum and the staff can be a little abrasive, especially during the lunch rush. This is a place that’s nice to visit once in a while for a filling meal and a little people watching while you eat.
This Indianapolis Startup is turning the food delivery business on its head by offering a large selection of favorites from many area restaurants delivered to your door quickly and efficiently. All of the food is made to order in their central kitchen and delivered only within a 6-minute radius to help ensure your food is hot and fresh when you get it. My only complaint, and it’s not just Cluster Truck, is the bicycle delivery riders are some of the most unsafe riders I’ve ever seen. Running red lights, riding against traffic on one-way streets, and constant close calls with pedestrians in crosswalks. It gives recreational cyclists a bad name with motorists and make it’s unsafe for everyone.
Only about a year old this place is located inside the Flat 12 brewery on Dorman Street (near east side). They specialize in “Authentic Pennsylvania Hoagies”. I’ve had many Cheesesteak Hoagies here and they’re legit. From the house made shaved Top Round to the bread shipped straight from PA this place makes a mean sandwich. It’s been known to cause me to want to take an afternoon nap on occasion.
Ralph’s, like a lot of hole in the wall places, is a little rough on the outside and you’re not going to know what to expect on your first visit. The building has no windows and the parking is a little tricky because of the one-way street the building is saddled up against. They have an outstanding version of creamy potato soup, a hamburger club sandwich, and one of the best slices of coconut cream pie you can get in the city. Service is always fast and friendly and it’s reasonably priced.
The first Sahm’s restaurant opened at 116th and Allisonville in 1986 and they have continued to grow over the past 30+ years. I’ll always remember them for the pasta salad and coffee cake of which only the coffee cake is still on the menu. They have several locations around central Indiana as well as a few spinoff locations called Rockstone and Big Lug a pizza and brewery respectively. The Sahm’s location downtown, just north of the One America parking garage, includes a Rockstone menu and does a great lunch business.
If someone didn’t tell you about Pearl Street Pizza you’d probably miss it as it’s in an alley, aptly named Pearl Street, that’s just south of Washington between Meridian and Pennsylvania. Their lunch special of a speciality pizza slice, salad and drink is one of my go to lunches when the weather is nice for a little walk from the circle. You can be in and out for under $8 in about 15 minutes if you’re pressed for time. As I’m writing this post I learned Pearl Street will be opening a Fishers location in the coming months. I hope they have the same lunch specials as they do downtown!
Truth be told I’ve only been to Subito once but it was a very good experience. It’s a SMALL place with a loyal following. On my visit the owner, Chuck, was taking each order and knew a lot of the customers by name. He was super helpful and you could tell he was putting a LOT of effort to make it not only a good experience but a memorable one. They have a rotating soup selection that I hear is really good. On my visit I had a Cuban sandwich with a side of Macaroni Salad. Both were outstanding. Unfortunately the weather turned cold and I have not ventured down to Virginia Street since. Another visit needs to happen soon because I’m craving that macaroni salad.
I’ve reviewed Wildwood before and it remains one of my top lunch spots downtown. If I could figure out how to open one of these in Fishers I would. They feature a different sandwich daily and I’m not aware of them EVER repeating a combination in the 2+ years I’ve gone there. This is a place I have to hop in the car to get to at lunch but it’s worth it for the food, not to mention the cool little market with a great variety of speciality items. I’ve made my share of impulse purchases to take back to the office. View their daily sandwich creations on Instagram.
When I’m craving a Mission Style Burrito or the cheesiest Chicken Quesadilla you could ever imagine I hit the first floor of the Salesforce Tower and pop into Fast Burrito. The food is fresh, the portions are huge, and the prices are reasonable. This is a true alternative to the other fast casual burrito chains. Their daily specials draw a steady crowd every day.
This chain of sandwich shops has a premier location on the east side of Monument Circle. It’s a very popular place at lunch time often with a line 20+ deep to the front door. They have a decent selection of customizable sandwiches and salads at a mid-level price. A bonus for the location is plenty of outside seating around the Solders and Sailors Monument, especially when the weather is cooperating.
Honorable Mention – Jimmy John’s
I’m not a fan of big chains but when I need something to eat and I need it quickly It’s hard to go wrong with an occasional sandwich from JJ’s. The downtown location can typically deliver a sandwich in less time than it would take for me to walk to the location 3-blocks away. Like I mentioned above regarding Cluster Truck JJ’s delivery cyclists can be reckless and downright dangerous at times so heads up if you’re near Meridian and Washington.
So that’s the first of what I hope to be many “Best Of” lists to be published this year. It was actually kind of hard to narrow the list down to what I did as there are a LOT of great places to eat lunch downtown. I already have a few drafts I’m working on that cover such things as Coffee Shops, Pizza Shops, and Grocery Stores. Look for those in the coming months. Enjoy your week!