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Amazing Joe’s Grill

I was sitting at la casa de Josh and he was reading off the menus of a couple of restaurants that we had never experienced. Little did we know that it was going to be 4 hours and 43 minutes until the delicacies were going to grace our lips and satisfy the cravings of all those pent up fleeting visions of how something so magnificently described with words could actually morph into reality. We finally waltzed into Amazing Joes on the river and just off the Ball State campus in Muncie under the cover of darkness. We turned the corner into our 3-walled nook and Kait served up some sample peanut slaws that started the engines and whetted the appetite for the treasures that were about to be delivered to the table. Hailey ordered fried pickles, and they were most definitely on point. She also chose the chicken Mac and Cheese. I know what you’re thinking. Why would anybody choose Mac and Cheese When burgers had been on the brain for hours? You need to just leave Hailey alone, because she might be starting a tradition. That Mac and Cheese was slammin’. The only thing Hailey did wrong was only eat six bites. The rest of us ordered what we had been dreaming of since its description was first proclaimed from the leather couch on the south side of the living room. The Fugedaboutit comes complete with Angus beef, mozzarella sticks, steak-cut fries, onion rings, bbq sauce, cheese, bacon and a fried egg. There’s only one bad thing about thie burger…the experience ends way too soon. I would put this burger up against anyone’s culinary attempt to make a better burger. Pair it with the peanut slaw and you cannot go wrong. There is a rumor that an Amazing Joes might open a new location in Indianapolis. I would like to offer my house as a potential location.

Italian Gardens

I was rolling with Kabob and we decided to go East when we left the parking lot at Shepherd Community. Our stomachs were louder than my exhaust that definitely needs a little work, and we were trying to keep our commitment to eat local alive, but Olive Garden was about to draw our vehicle into the lot. Kabob said that Italian Gardens had re-opened, but we were jonesing for some never-ending soup, salad and breadsticks. As we approached the Gardens, the bright yellow sign began to glow as if it were a shard from the surface of the sun. It bellowed buffet, $7.99. My cars shocks were relieved as we exited the vehicle and the two of us were practically giddy with excitement. As we opened the door, we immediately noticed that the restaurant was remodeled, and we were greeted by the staff, but their sale was sealed and secured and guaranteed by the presence of pizza on the buffet. As we made our way through the line, we were presented with a plethora of magnificent and robust choices. There was soup, a spectacular salad that beats the competition because of its addition of pepperoni, and garlic bread that was buttered to perfection. The buffet included a baked spaghetti and spot-on meatballs, a baked ziti, and (insert drum roll) a chicken fettuccine alfredo that absolutely blew my mind. I even raised my hands to celebrate the victory of that immaculate reception. The restaurant is back to the original and Pizza Pete’s family is making him proud. Please stop in and meet the crew and enjoy some fantastic Italian cuisine.

Hi-D-Ho (Alamogordo, NM)

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There ain’t much that can beat a good old fashioned road trip.  I got the privilege this past week to load up in the Tahoe and head out to Alamogordo, NM, so Zach could play a little baseball for the White Sands Pupfish of the Pecos League. We had a blast jamming to the tunes, eating, playing xbox, eating, listening to a book on tape, and eating.  We had no idea how blessed we would be.  He had a game on Friday evening.  We headed out on Saturday morning to find “the” place to eat in Alamogordo.  Now, I must admit, I did notice the restaurant on the way to the hotel.  I have a gastronomic positioning system that seems to notice the right places.  The hotel staff assured us that the Hi-D-Ho was the place to be.  The sign said it was the home of the tiger burger.  I often tell people that I want to eat at anyplace that proclaims itself the home of anything.  The service was spectacular, and the food was fantastic.  Someone had advised me to get the green chile on the burger.  It’s a New Mexico thing.  Now, it’s a Danny thing.  Burgers just don’t get any better, and the staff was high-fiving us and taking our picture for their facebook page.  Grab a fresh-squeezed limeade and some ice cream or a milkshake as well.  You just drove 23 hours.  You might as well stay awhile.  There’s a sign that says not to feed the birds. Someone should have told that pigeon not to get between me and that Green Chile Tiger burger.
I loved hanging out with Zach, the team went 1-1 while I was there, the thrift stores were great and the people were wonderful.  Just in case you’re wondering, Hi-D-Ho made the trip worth it.

DJ’s Hot Dogs

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Directions to Chicago from Indianapolis: follow Ohio street west out of downtown until you reach Indiana Ave.  Drive Northwest on Indiana Ave, to the 900 block, and turn right between Noodles ‘N’ Company and Taco Bell and follow the strip mall around to the right and park at DJ’s.  Enter and make your stomach a happy camper.  The owner grew up on the Southside of Chicago and has not forgotten his roots.  He has everything from Italian Beefs to Chicago dogs and Maxwell Street Polishes.  The corn dog smothered in chili and cheese will leave you standing at the counter and asking kindly for another.  Their walking taco is also a magnificent culinary delight. The service is excellent and the food is spot on.  Make this your destination as soon as possible.  There is even an El around the corner, and it’s free, but it won’t take you very far.

Gnaw Mart (Gnaw Bone, IN)

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Everyone needs a little more Brown County, Indiana, in their life.  Turn back the clock, turn up the radio and let the folk music drown out the cares of your life.  As you roll along 46 between Columbus and Nashville and you see the sign for Gnaw Bone,  start looking for the Co-op gas station on the south side of the road.  The Gnaw Mart is the place to be.  You can order a mess of their fresh potato chips, but please don’t forget that Tenderloin.  It is worth the drive.  The service is excellent and always accompanied by a smile.  The back room is full of tables and you can even sit near the walk-in to stay extra cool on those hot, sleepy Saturday afternoons.  Indiana is all about Tenderloins, and this place has one of the best.  Enjoy!  (Don’t forget to take some chips home for all of your friends.  They will thank you, and you will be the hero of your block.)

City Cafe

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Tucked in the building at the corner of Michigan and Pennsylvania in downtown Indianapolis is City Cafe, a hoosier treasure.  You walk into a quaint diner where the owner says, “we’d rather put the money on the plate than in the decorations.” The decorations were just fine and the food was fantastic.  These guys are creative and want to showcase the best that Indiana has to offer.  The BBQ sandwich sauce is made with Shag Hickory Bark syrup which is only made in Brown County, and the chips are from the City Market.  They also surprise a lot of people with their tenderloin (a hoosier specialty) which is a rare beef tenderloin, instead of pork and is not deep fried to a golden and glorious brown.  For breakfast, they serve homemade sausage infused with sage walnut pesto.  They have “love” relish complete with jalapenos in great grandma’s bread and butter pickle sauce.  It is named such, because everyone who has ever tasted it has loved it.  You can top off one of their robust meals with some lime-cilantro sour cream.  You can even add some cookies and milk for dessert.  This is fine food with creative flare cooked and served by people who care.  That’s a recipe I look forward to eating and sharing with as many people as possible.

P.S.
I just went back for breakfast, and you simply have to get to this restaurant and enjoy some of the best food and friendly service around these parts. The eggs Benedict was amazing and the grits were unique and magnificent. My man, Greg, was digging on the roast beef hash, and the sides of syrup and Cajun ketchup just kicked it all up to another level. You won’t be sorry.

Sgt Pepper’s Chicken

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You won’t see Paul, John, George or Ringo there.  You won’t even see any Beatles memorabilia, but you will find some of the best chicken fingers known to man.  This Martinsville original also serves up some of the best fried potatoes in the business.  These guys know their stuff and will make sure that you leave there happy.  The season salt is just right and the hot sauce is smooth and easy.   Your heart might be lonely but your stomach will have some company.

Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles

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People here in Indy say, “chicken and waffles”?  They act like the two are alien concepts in restaurantland.  Of course, people from other regions of our great country just belly up to the table and wait for the waitress to bring it on as many plates as she can muster.  And, if you stop by the Citgo gas station at Ohio and East Streets in downtown you will not be disappointed with the flavors that grace your palate.  The Max Out is a burger sensation complete with gravy and fries that will wear out even the hungriest of appetites.  But on December 21st, 2011, I crossed into culinary joyland.  I ordered the Max Waffler.  It consisted of a blueberry waffle split in half and used to create 2 sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches.  I added some onions to make the flavor more complex and will add gravy next time to make it even more unique.  The food at Maxine’s really does have a taste of love in every bite.  I hope a waffle is on your horizon soon.