Good (and bad) Eats!

We just got back from a week spent in Indianapolis, and one of my vacation rules is that we can never eat something on vacation that we can get in our hometown! You should also know that we live on the Dave Ramsey envelope system, so we don’t normally eat out a whole lot, especially at expensive or “upscale” places. Therefore, vacation time is where we loosen those rules and have some good eatin’. So here’s a little review of our eating extravaganza the last few days.

1. Logan’s Roadhouse (S.R. 37 – Noblesville)

This was what we selected for our first night away. We both enjoy Texas Roadhouse, and the sign attracted us that said, “Two Dinners for $13.99 ALL DAY”. The special was for real. There were about 7 or 8 choices on the “special” menu. I chose the 7 oz. Sirloin, topped with onion straws, with a side Garlic Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, and accompanied by a Miller Lite. Mandy had the Teryaki Chicken with a Sweet Potato and her standard water with lemon. It was pretty good, although the steak was about to be put to shame just two nights later (scroll down!) I did not eat much of the potatoes, as I felt they had way too much garlic in them. Mandy’s chicken and sweet potato were both good, but not sensational. I’d have to say we probably enjoy the food at Texas Roadhouse better. But the atmosphere is where Logan’s really shines. The music was not too loud (like it is at T.R.), and it was a better mix – not just hot country, but shuffling in some texas blues and southern favorites. The wait staff was very good, and the service was quick. We wondered when we left if the food would have been better if we had strayed from the “special” menu. MEAL FOR 2: Less than $20.

2. Chipotle (Westfield)

I have to start with this – my wife and I LOVE Qdoba. We are big fans. We try to mix it in at least once a week. So it would seem to be a no-brainer that we would also love Chipotle – after all, they’re essentially imitation competitors, right? Well, yes, and no. They do have a similar menu, but the taste and experience are not quite the same. Mandy and I’s last three experiences at Chipotle have been bad. So they’re now officially on THE list. You know – the list of places where you WON’T go. We have had bad expeiences with the shredded beef (it was so spicy it made Mandy sick to her stomach), the taco salad, and the 3 taco meal (both plain, dry, and skimpy on cheese and/or sour cream). There is absolutely no comparison. Qdoba is far and away the better establishment. MEAL FOR 2: about $14.

3. Maggiano’s (86th St.)

Ahhh, the taste of Italy. You know – the real one – not the Olive Garden Americanized one. Maggiano’s is a fine restaurant complete with Valet service, waiters in formal dress, and crisp new tablecloths for each party. Did you know it is also a “fresh” kitchen, meaning all sauces and ingredients are made for each prepared dish? This means you can order food if you have an allergy and they will whip it up immediately on the spot for you. It also means that you can request special dietary needs, like gluten-free pasta for example. I ordered the Chicken Parmesan, and Mandy had the Fettucene Alfredo with Grilled Shrimp. Yum! Ohhhh and the bread – the bread was fantastic! We both enjoyed our meals immensely. We ended the meal by having a Kahlua & Cream (me) and a Grasshopper (Mandy). Four stars! MEAL FOR TWO: about $60.

4. Red Robin (Clay Terrace)

We sampled the Red Robin with a group from our church. What fun! The wait staff bent over backwards to rock our food on time and get us anything we needed (including quick checks!) The food was good, too. I had the Gourmet BaconCheeseburger with American, and Mandy had the Grilled Chicken salad. We were both very pleased. It IS pricey (about $9 for a burger with steak fries), but it’s also good quick American food. Because of the price, and the fact that we usually eat as a family of four, I would probably hesitate to make it a regular part of our lives, but I wouldn’t turn it down should the option present itself in the future. MEAL FOR TWO: about $22.

5.Harry & Izzy’s (Downtown)

Best. Meal. Ever. Mandy and I decided to go downtown for a bit and do some shopping at the Circle Center Mall. After we looked a round a bit, we decided to take the plunge, and go for our “big vacation meal” at Harry & Izzy’s. It is basically a “little brother” to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse, which is right next door. We learned that H&I’s shares appetizers, desserts, and steak cuts with its famous big brother. So we started off by getting the world-famous St. Elmo’s style Shrimp Cocktail appetizer. Oh. My. Gosh. Excellent! Fresh made-from-scratch cocktail sauce accompanies the huge juicy shrimp. YUM! (Tip: The cocktail sauce is not your typical wimpy bottled stuff – it is made fresh every day complete with fresh horseradish. BEWARE! It will burn your nose if you get too much – trust me.) Beyond the awesome starter, we both ordered steaks. I got the 10 oz. New York Strip, and Mandy got the 8 oz. Filet Mingon. Words cannot desrcibe the awesome goodness that was those wonderful hunks of meat. Perfect seasoning. Cooked to perfection. And cooked in a way that the entire steak stayed hot through the whole meal. I had the wholegrain rice blend on the side, and Mandy had the Mashed Red Potatoes (which came mixed with generous amounts of sour cream.) Both were sensational. And the bread…oooooooooh the bread.  A+ on the atmosphere, too. It was upscale (waters in jackets and bow ties, and used table combs in between each course) yet the diners were very casual. I saw people in ball caps, shorts, flip-flops, etc. and all were welcome. YES, it’s pricey. But for those special occasions – it was simply amazing. MEAL FOR TWO: about $100.

6. Chic-Fil-a (W. 86th)

On Saturday we picked up the kids to join us on our vacation. We stopped for a quick luch on the way back to the hotel. Everyone knows about Chic-Fil-a. We have eaten there many times, but as we don’t have one in Kokomo, it made the list! Best Fast Food Ever. MEAL FOR FOUR: about $20.

7. Loon Lake Lodge (Castleton)

Saturday night, we went to the Loon Lake Lodge. It is a replica of a mountain lodge and harkens the feel of a cold bristly day in the mountains. Decor includes plenty of taxidermy specialties, replica mounted fish, and dear, elk, and moose heads. There is a huge aquarium which contains many different species of large fish. And the highlight for the kids was the timed animatronic animals hidden in the ceiling and walls of the decor. From time to time, a light would come up on an owl, a woodpecker, raccoons, and three black bears – and the appropriate sounds would eminate from the creatures. It was great fun for our kids. The meal was pretty good, although, honestly, after Harry & Izzy’s, it would be hard to get a high rating. I had the BBQ ribs with “smashed” garlic potatoes and creamed corn, Mandy had the breaded tenderloin with green beans, Sarah had a small sirloin steak with green beans, and Zoe had chicken strips with fries. Overall, it was a good experience with a couple of exceptions. My “smashed” potatoes were so heavy with garlic that I couldn’t eat them. And Sarah said her green beans were way too heavy with black pepper. I tasted them and agreed 🙂 Everything else seemed good, it was a unique atmosphere, and the kids had a blast. MEAL FOR 4: about $55.

8. Indianapolis Children’s Museum Food Court

Sunday brought us to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum (awesome), and its accompanying food court (not so much). The court had burgers, chicken strips, pizza, etc. We opted for the pizza (individual slices). Mandy and the kids had the cheese version, and I had the Pepperoni. It was on the downside of average, if that makes sense. It wasn’t necessarily BAD…it just wasn’t good. Mandy and I shared a large soda and the kids had milk. MEAL FOR 4: about $30.

9. Adobo Grill (Castleton)

Nuvo Magazine rates it as one fo the top Mexican style restaurants in all of Indianapolis. It is praised for its unique atmosphere, awesome creations, and complete lack of “Tex-Mex” conventions. That sounded interesting to me, so we decided to give it a try. I had the Chicken Molé Enchiladas, Mandy had the  Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa, and Sarah and Zoe had Chicken tacos off the kids’ menu. I thought the molé sauce tasted like burnt marinara, and Mandy’s pineapple salsa turned out to be simple pico de gallo with pineapple chunks blended in! Sarah and Zoe’s chicken tacos looked like silver dollar pancakes with dried up chicken and lettuce on them. No cheese. No sour cream. No tomatoes. Yuk! Mandy’s quote on the experience is thus, “Way too overhyped. Didn’t even seem like mexican food. It seemed like the owners were more interested in creating a cool vibe restaurant than they were good food.” It was Metro for metro’s sake. There is not a prayer that we would ever go back to this place. MEAL FOR 4: about $45.

What about you? Where have you had good and bad experiences in the Indianapolis area?

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4 Comments on “Good (and bad) Eats!”

  1. Natrino Says:

    1. Logan’s Roadhouse has somewhat replaced Texas Roadhouse for us, mostly because we’re in the Castleton area more often than Fishers or Michigan Road (where Texas Roadhouse is). We went to Texas Roadhouse a lot when I was younger. Almost every time we ate out as a family was at Texas Roadhouse. It’s a pretty comparable experience for me, although I prefer the rolls at Texas Roadhouse a little more than Logan’s.

    2. Never tried Chipotle, but it doesn’t seem like something I would like. Although I LOVE Qdoba, and I am actually craving it right now.

    3. Haven’t been to Maggiano’s yet, will probably make it there this Christmas sometime. Christmas and really good Italian food go well together for some reason.

    4. Red Robin. We love Red Robin. Awesome burgers, excellent drinks (try the Blueberry Pomegranate Limeade), and unlimited refills on fries, although I think I’ve only made it through two servings. The Royal Red Robin is my favorite burger. Fried Egg FTW!

    5. Someday I will go to Harry & Izzy’s. Someday.

    6. Who doesn’t love Chick-fil-a? If you’re ever there for breakfast, try the Chick-n-mini’s. Love these things. Their sweet tea is pretty good as well.

    7. I’ve driven by Loon Lake Lodge quite a few times, but usually not that far down 82nd street (unless it’s for Skyline), but I may need to stop in there.

    8. Children’s Museum Food Court. How exciting.

    9. Adobo Grill. Never been there, but I do like good Mexican. So I guess I may never try it.

    Some other places to try in the Indianapolis area:

    Puccini’s Smiling Teeth – Clearwater Crossing – truly awesome pizza, Lou introduced both Steven and I to this a few months ago, and it is almost always the place we go whenever we get together. The Sweet Lil Razorback is a must.

    96th Street Steakburgers – 96th street between Keystone and Allisonville – an incredibly simple menu with incredibly delicious burgers. Their fries are among the best I’ve had, and their milkshakes are fantastic.

    Five Guys Burgers and Fries – Castleton – finally tried this last week, great burgers and fries (another Lou recommendation)

    Petite Chou or Cafe Patachou- Broad Ripple, Downtown, Keystone – an artistic atmosphere with great food. Omelet or French Toast Patachou for breakfast (french toast croissants with powdered sugar and nuts with a side of fruit…really good fruit), chicken salad for lunch

    El Torito Grill – Keystone – the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. instead of tortilla chips, they give you tortillas, and they will make guacamole at your table. try the fried ice cream, it is seriously amazing. (the strange thing about this restaurant is that there are 10 locations: 9 in southern california, 1 in Indianapolis.)

  2. kylee Says:

    I came here to say what Nathan just said. Except I’ve been to Chipotle and I wasn’t overly impressed. Qdoba for the win, for sure. Other than that, his post would have been mine. El Torito was GREAT. They put coffee-tequila on the fried ice cream. It doesn’t even feel like Indy in there.

  3. Don’t give up on Adobo Grill……it is the best guacamole, hands down, that I have ever had. They make it from scratch right at your table…..SOOOO good. I met some friends from work there for guacamole and drinks this spring. It is a perfect stop for something like. I’ve never had a read dinner, so I can’t comment about the other food.

    Here are some of our other favorites!
    *Mama Carollas in Broadripple. This is our favorite Italian restaurant.
    *Taste in Broadripple. Best Sat Brunch/Lunch place I’ve ever been to.
    *Bazbeaux Pizza in Carmel, Downtown Indy, and Broadripple. Great pizza.
    *Rathskeller in downtown indy. World class German food.

  4. matt Says:

    Funny how subjective it all really is. My wife and I are fanatics about Chipotle, and actually feel Qdoba is the “imitation competitor.” For me, the meats are better, the rice is better, pretty much everything is better. Outside of authentic mexican (we lived in Guadalajara, MX for a year), there is no better burrito than the chicken burrito at Chipotle.

    just my dos centavos.

    p.s. a quick google of “chipotle vs. qdoba” turns up rants and raves on both sides of the fence. it’s another mac vs. pc if you ask me. no one on either side is going to convince the faithful in the other party.

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