Indy’s Great Steakhouses: Janko’s Little Zagreb

The Road Trip

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It’s a Bloomington tradition—the go-to dinner for big occasions: graduation, the big job offer, the Homecoming reunion.

In the old days, you couldn’t make a reservation, but Janko’s Little Zagreb owner Mark Conlin decided to lose that unpopular tradition several  years ago. Expect a 10-minute wait, regardless. And without a bar or designated holding pen for lingering customers, the only area with room to stand is often outside, under the signature red-and-white awning—while breathing in the meaty scent wafting out of the kitchen.

The dining room is loud without being raucous, humming with the sound of people happy to be tucking into steaks and drinking fine wine. You can leave the coat and tie at home, and even show up in a sweatshirt if you like (just not one with a big “P” across the front). The checkered tablecloths and IU posters decorating the walls emphasize the casual vibe.

All the steaks are advertised as “cut fresh daily,” with the bone-in options (porterhouse, T-bone) sourced from Bloomington purveyor The Butcher’s Block and the ribeyes, filets, and New York strips hewn to order from slabs of Midwestern beef dry-aging under the watchful eye of general manager Cristian Ruvalcaba. Even the massive one-pound burger is ground fresh daily from the trimmings. Dual grillmasters in the open kitchen sear the steaks over a flame—a real feat in the case of the 11-ounce “super” filet, which hulks on the plate at about 4 inches thick. 223 W. 6th St., Bloomington, 812-332-0694, littlezagreb.com

Price per ounce of the small filet: $4.99

Largest steak on the menu: 3-plus-pound sirloin for three

Grade of meat: USDA Choice

Aging process: Dry

Wines by the bottle/glass: 120–125/13

Most-famous customer: Billy Joel

 

We love steak, any way you slice it. In Indianapolis, there’s a steakhouse to cater to every occasion and level of sophistication, and after months of dining like wealthy cavemen, we present them to you here, in juicy detail. A la cartes include a primer on the king cuts (for those who don’t know a porterhouse from a portobello), tips on the best cheap chops in town, a cattle call of beefy terms, and a stab at defining that common condition among steak-lovers—the meat sweats. You want a piece of this? Dig in.

 

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