July’s First Bite

A cheeseburger topped with everything sits in a basket surrounded by fries.
Carmel’s Fork + Ale House

Tony Valainis

New In Town:
Just when you thought the brewpub market might have been overserved, you find yourself on the packed patio of Fork + Ale House (350 Veterans Way, 317-669-2686) in Carmel. Owners Chris and Amy Long settled into the rapidly expanding area next to Sun King Distillery, right off the Monon Trail, offering house brews for every taste, cocktails made from spirits mixed and barrel-aged behind the bar, and a menu of scratch sauces, dressings, and pizza. The choices can overwhelm the uninitiated, so take our advice and focus on the beer-braised beef, slow-cooked all day with onions, Sriracha, Worcestershire, garlic, and beer.

The Longs know the food biz well. Chris opened the area’s first Stacked Pickle in 2010, growing the company to six locations before selling it to former Colt Gary Brackett. He also spent 15 years at food distributor Sysco, most recently as vice president of sales, before finding a new focus here. “Our goal,” Chris says, “was to get back to the roots of food and beer.”

Pinch of Wisdom:
“Chickpeas are a great substitute for eggs as a binder. To make chickpea batter, add some sort of cream, like hempseed cream or walnut cream. It adds the fat flavor of eggs.”— Corey McDaniel, alkaline vegan chef with Black Star Movement, which donates dinners to people experiencing homelessness downtown

An Italian beef sandwich
Rush Off Main

Fans of Chicago classics like Italian beef sandwiches and decked-out Vienna dogs can find all of those big-shouldered flavors in a different toddling town—Brownsburg. When Rush Off Main (5767 N. Green St., 317-286-7002) opened on the suburban west side in March, it pioneered the brand-new Union Green development, becoming the first restaurant to open in the “luxury lifestyle community.” It has twice the square footage of its predecessor, Zionsville’s Rush On Main, but the menu didn’t expand much, still a tribute to Polish sausages piled with grilled onions, smear burgers with crispy edges, and pizza puffs (think Chicago-style hot pockets). Owners Jeff Sepiol and Johnny Vargo grew up in the Region, so it’s no surprise that the Italian beef sandwich gets top billing, slow-roasted, sliced paper-thin, and offered in three degrees of sog: dry, wet, or dipped. “The sandwich should be sloppy,” says Sepiol, who orders his hot and wet with giardiniera.

Dining News:
The Missing Brick took over the former Black Diamond BBQ location in April, featuring pizzas with nontraditional toppings. Pier 48 Fish House & Oyster Bar, owned by former NHL player Fred Knipscheer, will debut in downtown’s new Hyatt Place hotel as well as The Yard at Fishers District. Longtime Virginia Avenue watering hole Dugout Bar has expanded and added an outdoor patio.