The author of The Far Land doesn’t have to go far for some of his favorite things.
A self-proclaimed sandwich aficionado (with no expertise whatsoever), I’m a faithful subscriber of a certain meat/fixings/sauce/crunch/bread ratio for the most perfect bite. I will riot if the patty melt at Milktooth (534 Virginia Ave.) ever falls off the menu; same goes for the brisket grilled cheese at Half Liter Beer & BBQ Hall (5301 Winthrop Ave.)—get a side of pickles and sneak them into the sando. And if you don’t want a total coronary, opt for the house-roasted turkey club with extra mayo at Cafe Patachou (4901 N. Pennsylvania St.).
Place to Read
In the throes of winter, I like to escape the house and catch up on my reading at the Central Library (40 E. St. Clair St.). The top floors get great afternoon sun through the floor-to-ceiling windows. In summer, I grab a bench in Holcomb Gardens (Butler University, 4600 Sunset Ave.) under the shade-bearing branches of an old tree. For something more social, leather couches and lattes pair nicely with the latest lit at Parlor Public House (600 E. Ohio St.).
I’m a bit partial, having purchased a home in Meridian-Kessler last year, but the area has proved even more lovely than I imagined. It’s practically illegal not to wave hello to neighbors on my morning runs. And I’m never more than a few blocks from a great restaurant, brewery, or boutique. Eat your heart out, Brooklyn.
Sure, TikTok stardom is real. But TV stardom is still better. Southside native and standup comedian Benedict Polizzi hit the national spotlight this summer when he wisecracked his way through auditions for HBO’s dating show FBoy Island and was cast as a “nice guy” contestant opposite the titular jerks. The 32-year-old lasted the whole series but didn’t end up with the girl. Instead, he started a serious relationship with success—opening for the show’s host, Nikki Glaser, in Las Vegas. But he gets some of his best material back home in Indianapolis.
Starbucks on Mass Ave (430 Massachusetts Ave.) because there are more dogs than humans.
The Colts because I start every morning by kissing the Peyton Manning statue.
The Ball & Biscuit (331 Massachusetts Ave.) because the lighting is so low that no one can see my crow’s feet.
The Patron Saint (250 S. Meridian St.) because I feel like we’re breaking fire code.
Helium (10 W. Georgia St.) because all the best comedians perform there and they’re dumb enough to book me.
The guy who plays the saxophone at the Chatterbox (435 Massachusetts Ave., 317-636-0584) outside my apartment until 2 a.m.
Bru Burger (multiple locations) because it feels naughty.
Boys Night Out
The Garden Table (342 Massachusetts Ave., 317-638-0321) because the homies love good lighting for Insta picsssssss.
Burn (110 S. Meridian St., 317-602-2260) because I can pretend like I smoke cigars and bet on games.
The Tap (306 N. Delaware St., 317-820-5880) because of the firepit and they let me put two pieces of salmon on every salad.
Naptown Thrift (2174 E. 54th St., 317-602-5639) because how are they even finding this stuff?
Corporate (245 McCrea St., 317-426-3813) because I’m gonna walk out with an overdraft fee but you’re gonna ask where I got my shoes.
Max Fleetwood because he made me do squats until I had a dump truck for Fboy Island.
Legends Barbershop (8923 S. Meridian St., 317-361-4018) because I can panic-text Sean Wendling at 3 a.m. and go in for a haircut at 8 a.m.
The world-champion competitive eater—now a Hamilton County resident—once ate 17 pounds of St. Elmo shrimp cocktail in one sitting. He has also consumed enough of his new home to have some opinions.
This is surely influenced by the fact I’m cutting out sugars right now and literally dream of sugar and starch. The bourbon bread pudding at Harry & Izzy’s (153 S. Illinois St., 4050 E. 82nd St.) has been on my mind more than anything. The server brings it to the table fresh out of the oven and drenches it with enough Maker’s Mark to make me nervous. I don’t even want to know how much sugar is needed to balance out the booze, but there is enough. The texture of the bread pudding is perfect, not burned, super moist without being soggy. I fantasize about sitting at the circle bar and only ordering the bourbon bread pudding and Budweisers, over and over again.
I love chicken wings. All of the Ale Emporium locations do a great job. Quality and consistency, which is hard with chicken wings, plus unique sauces and employees that love wings.
Close to me in Westfield is a Joe’s Bar and Grill (16156 Spring Mill Rd., Westfield). The food is great (for a bar); I get the BLT. There is a great mix of people. It is amazing how busy the place can get on Friday and Saturday nights. I’ve used the free shuttle they offer to keep everyone safe. Oh, yeah, they have great bartenders who can be convinced to take shots.
I love that I never had tenderloin before moving to Indiana. Trying new foods and learning about them makes me feel like a kid. Close to where I live, Grindstone on the Monon (17470 Wheeler Rd., Westfield) has an amazing tenderloin sandwich—perfectly seasoned and fried in a way that reminds me of great fried chicken. The bun is big enough for the tenderloin and toppings. I’ve had some sandwiches that are all tenderloin and nothing else. For dinner, I get the Hoosier plate with the same tasty tenderloin covered in gravy.
Hoagies & Hops (4155 Boulevard Pl.) is about 25 minutes from where I’m at in Westfield, but it’s worth the drive. The owner or her husband drive to Philly to get the bread! The steak is ribeye and the cheese is wiz, just like the best places in Philly. But it tastes so much better in Indiana.
Pupuseria Casa Maria (7363 N. Michigan Rd.) is a small joint, but I have always been able to sit down and enjoy a variety of awesome pupusas. Maria is in the kitchen making the pupusas fresh. Her husband works the register and is happy to give recommendations. Every meal I’ve had at Maria’s has been more than satisfying.
Urban Vines (303 E. 161st St., Westfield) is sweet. In the winter, they have igloos that you can rent and get crazy in.
Tip for Eating Shrimp Cocktail
I’m honest with myself. I accept that it is going to hurt and know the pain will go away. The first shrimp is always the hardest. The fresh horseradish hits so hard I want to panic. I get a rush from not panicking, then I chew the shrimp and swallow. Almost like magic, the heat goes away and I’m left wondering if I was exaggerating. So I end up eating another … then I’m addicted. And in trouble.