Nom de Plates: Local Namesake Dishes

How do you get a restaurant to dedicate a menu item to you? Meet the inspiration behind some of Indy’s namesake dishes.

Tony’s Favorite Chicken

at Dawson’s Too (773 E. Main St., Brownsburg, 317-858-8400)

Two pan-seared chicken breasts layered with shrimp, spinach, and mushrooms and topped with a spicy garlic cream sauce
Named after: Co-owner Tony Hill

“I was never a big chicken-eater. I always wanted steak or pork chops. One day we were playing around with a pan-seared chicken breast for a photo shoot, and I said, ‘Boy, you throw some shrimp on there, and that would be a good dish.’”


Mrs. O’s Chicago at Your Local Deli (5543 E. Washington St., 317-653-1812)

Slow-roasted Italian beef, sweet peppers, and au jus
Named after: Lois O’Toole, mother of owner Dan O’Toole

“We are from Chicago and moved here in 1968. I wanted to remake an Italian recipe from up there, since there wasn’t a lot of Italian food in Indianapolis. My son and husband have poker parties, so I made it for them, and they raved about it.”

Lois O'Toole
Lois O’Toole with Mrs. O’s Chicago


The Pops at City Cafe (443 N. Pennsylvania St., 317-833-2233)

Breakfast sandwich with Smoking Goose bacon, two fried eggs, Cabot sharp cheddar, and Cajun ketchup on multigrain toast
Named after: Co-owner Brad Royal

“In this mom-and-pop operation, I am the Pop. The ketchup started off as a buffalo sauce, but now we use it on everything, so we started calling it a ketchup because in Indiana we put ketchup on everything.”

City Cafe Co-owner Brad Royal with The Pops
City Cafe Co-owner Brad Royal with The Pops


The Audrey at Shoefly Public House (122 E. 22nd St.,317- 283-5007)

A scoop of ice cream with chocolate, caramel, and whipped cream
Named after: Audrey Young, age 6. Her parents are family friends of the restaurant’s owners, and her dad (freelance illustrator Andrew Young) designed the Shoefly logo.

“I can eat 10 ice creams.”

Audrey Young with The Audrey from Shoefly


Aunt Polly’s Sloppy Joe and Aunt Patti’s Grilled Cheeser at The Mug (117 Apple St., Greenfield, 317-477-7550)

Ground beef in savory-sweet tomato sauce on a bun, and a Brie or white-cheddar grilled cheese with apple slices
Named after: Polly Palmer and Patti Anderson, mothers of co-owners (and cousins) Abby Tambasco and Chris Baggott

“These are family favorites,” says Palmer. “Every time we had a get-together, they all wanted sloppy joes, and this is how our mom made it. They called it ‘meat candy.’”

Polly Palmer and Patti Anderson with Aunt Polly’s Sloppy Joe and Aunt Patti’s Grilled Cheeser


This article appeared in the August 2015 issue.