No more than two dozen seats, some with chunky, custom-made chairs, populate the snug dining room of Casey and Sylvia Petro’s burger joint in the heart of Chesterton. But this forward-thinking, farm-sourced grill, opened in 2010 after homegrown Casey returned from a stint at restaurants in several states, is hardly short on flavor or spirit. Named for aviation pioneer Octave Chanute, who in the 1890s tested hang-gliders on the dunes at nearby Miller Beach, this shrine to sandwiches is breaking new burger ground, topping juicy patties with the likes of smoked apple butter, grilled bratwurst, Doritos, and Sriracha sauce. A recent winner came dressed with a fried green tomato, Swiss cheese, and tangy Green Goddess dressing. Grass-fed, hormone-free beef arrives from television journalist Bill Kurtis’s Tallgrass Beef in Kansas, and many of the artisan cheeses are sourced from Fair Oaks Farm, down I-65. Plenty of local beers and house-infused spirits complement the burger list, along with a generous hummus plate and sweet-potato tots with mustard dipping sauce. A fiery Bloody Mary is one of the best around, and homey desserts, many made in-house by Sylvia, have included strawberry and pineapple upside-down cake, s’mores cheesecake, and frozen Key lime pie. Come early, as crowds spill out onto the sidewalk almost nightly, waiting for one of those cherished seats. Mon.–Thurs. 3–10 p.m., Fri. 3–11 p.m., Sat. noon–11 p.m., Sun. noon–9 p.m. 137 S. Calumet St., Chesterton, 219-395-8494
While in Chesterton, check out ...
Schoolhouse Shop and Antiques: Gourmets, antiques-lovers, and anyone seeking a unique gift for the home can while away the hours at this complex of shops located in what was built in 1886 as the Porter County Schoolhouse. 278 E. County Rd. 1500 N, 219-926-1551, schoolhouseshop.com
Dog Days Ice Cream Parlor: Chrome stools line the counter at this old-fashioned ice-cream parlor and gourmet gelato shop. 119 S. Calumet Rd., 219-661-7890, dogdaysicecream.com
Gray Goose Inn: A stately inn nestled on Lake Palomara entices with its Victorian gazebo, shaded walking trails, and rooms with crackling fireplaces. And pets are always welcome. 350 Indian Boundary Rd., 219-926-578, graygooseinn.com
The Rolling Stonebaker: Chef Andrea Georgion and local musician Jim Chaddock have outfitted two vintage Studebaker trucks with wood-fired pizza ovens to produce what must be the most darling food-truck pizzeria in the state. Follow them around the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Beverly Shores, 219-246-0068, rollingstonebaker.com
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the October 2013 issue. See more Destination Dinner stories here.