This week’s listmaker: Ken Honeywell. Ken is Punchnel’s editor-in-chief and a partner and creative director at Well Done Marketing.
The Society of American Travel Writers is meeting in Indianapolis all week this week. My online pal Lea Lane, who’s a damn fine travel writer–and who’s visiting Indianapolis for the first time–informs me that it’s going to be a full week. I’m sure the writers will have a chance to explore our great restaurants in the evenings. But what about the mornings? Breakfast is the most important–and, I believe, delicious–meal of the day. And our American travel writers should not have to suffer crappy buffet bagels and plastic fruit before getting down to the important business of talking about writing about places most of us will never go.
So, welcome, travel writers. I hope you enjoy your stay in Indianapolis. And if you have a chance to get out for breakfast–which you totally should–here’s a guide to the best places in town to get your egg on.
5. Sunrise Cafe. Okay, so technically, this isn’t in Indianapolis. It’s in Carmel–but the
original location was on East 86th Street across from the Fashion Mall on Indy’s far northeast side. The original was famous for its black-and-white photos of old Indianapolis sports icons, and it was a big weekday morning business hangout–and an even bigger Sunday brunch institution. Now located in a suburban office building, Sunrise still features the same delicious breakfast it’s had since Slick Leonard grew his own hair. I’m partial to omelets, and Sunrise makes a good one: hard-cooked, nicely balanced with fresh ingredients. But what really makes Sunrise shine is their hash brown potatoes: they’re shredded and fried to a crunchy golden-brown finish. Greasy? In the best way. A little salt and ketchup are not mandatory, but not to be discouraged. Add the raisin toast slathered with vanilla frosting, and you’re in business. 11711 North Meridian Street, in the Meridian Mark II building in Carmel.
3. Hoaglin To Go. We’re under the impression that this Mass Ave institution has changed hands in the not-so-distant past. If so, the food hasn’t suffered. Hoaglin To Go has one of the city’s best overall breakfast menus, and it’s all good stuff. I’m told the quiche is the best in the city, and the buttermilk pancakes are heavenly. But I’m an egg man, and I love Hoaglin’s firmly cooked omelets with just the right amount of filling. You can’t go wrong with either pommes anna or the roasted red potatoes. Their coffee is better than anyone else’s on this list. And if you miss breakfast but are still in the mood for eggs, never fear: Hoaglin has, hands down, the best egg salad in the city. 448 Massachusetts Avenue–and worth the short walk from wherever you’re staying.
2. Cafe Patachou. Travel writers, if you’ve heard of a breakfast place in Indianapolis, it’s likely this one. This is the one that gets all the pub, and it’s mostly because owner Martha Hoover is a frackin’ business genius. She’s figured out how to get most of us on the north side of Indianapolis to pay $11 for a omelet and a couple of pieces of bread, and we’ve been doing it day after day, week after week, for years. Confession time: I find Patachou’s omelets insufferably bland. But that doesn’t stop me from ordering them and decorating them with Sriracha. Bruce’s Granola is to die for, and the Cuban Breakfast–seasoned black beans, white rice, a fried egg, cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, and spinach-jalapeno sauce–is just about perfect. But the real reason to go to Patachou is the atmosphere. Hoover dubs it “a student union for adults,” and it’s a fitting description of Patachou’s friendly, casual, noisy, upbeat environment. 49th and Pennsylvania Street in the heart of Indianapolis’s great Meridian-Kessler neighborhood. Yes, there are other locations, including one downtown, but the original is better.
1. Taste Cafe and Marketplace. Ah, Taste. Let me tell you about Taste. Taste has been around for eight-plus years, and I would wager that I’ve eaten at Taste an average of once a week for those eight-plus years. And I have never had a bad meal at Taste. I have never had an element of a bad meal at Taste. My food has never been cold, overdone, underdone, under seasoned, ill conceived, or otherwise poorly prepared. (Maybe once it was slow coming out of the kitchen.) Taste’s eggs are prepared more French-style than the other restaurants on this list; they’re softer, more delicate than hard-scrambled eggs, which makes them perfect for softer omelet ingredients, such as goat cheese and tomatoes. But try the amazing strata. Or the breakfast burrito. Or the egg scramble. Or the Truffle Egg Toast: two thick slices of toast with runny egg yolks, asparagus, swiss cheese, and truffle oil. And, good lord, if you’re having a late breakfast, throw caution to the wind and order the frites. And if you get a chance to try Taste for dinner–they’re open only on Wednesday and Thursday nights–don’t miss it. Some years ago, I’d be tempted to say, “You’ll forget you’re in Indianapolis.” These days, Taste is just another one of Indy’s great restaurants. 5164 North College Avenue. Totally worth the drive from downtown.
Omelet photo by cyclonebill (Omelet med ristede jordskokker og rosmarin) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.