Doc Weesner has watched a generation grow up in his 28 years as general manager at Ike & Jonesy's. In the early years, strangers would tell him stories of how they met their spouse at the famed downtown bar and grill. Later, they would boast to Doc about how much fun they had there celebrating their divorce party, dancing under a ceiling plastered with more than 400 record-album covers. Today, a new crop of patrons shows up to bite into one-pound burgers or sip from one of 13 draft beers, and find Doc to tell him that their parents—former regulars—send their regards.
More than just time has lent Ike & Jonesy's this cozy essence of familiarity. Its décor is mocked up with '50s and '60s flourishes, from the giant Marilyn Monroe sign that soars over the sidewalk café along Jackson Place to the old-fashioned booths featuring tables made from old pinball machines. Its menu harbors classic favorites such as breaded tenderloin and steak sandwiches that keep regulars popping in day and night. They'll casually lounge with a cup of homemade soup as the sun cuts across the afternoon sky. At night, they'll pry the bartender for cocktails that are as fun to drink as Capri Suns are to stab.
The Wet Your Pants Comedy Film Festival strives to induce every reaction from a giggle to a guffaw during its one-day film spree. The festival screens comedic films from across the globe, as well as some that feature cast or crew members from Indiana. Each year, approximately 30 full-length films, shorts, and life-size flipbooks dance across the eager retinas of the audience.
The inspiration for the festival, Steve Pearce, was a National Kidney Foundation of Indiana supporter and film lover who passed away from kidney disease in 2009. His family carries on his mission to raise awareness for the disease by appropriating the funds from the festival to NKFI. The NKFI aims to prevent kidney and urinary-tract diseases, improve the well-being of people affected by these diseases, and increase the availability of transplant-ready organs. Together, the film festival and NKFI plan to alleviate these needs, one kidney at a time.
Quietly nestled in the heart of the Meridian/Kessler area, a few minutes north of downtown Indianapolis, is a restaurant that combines a fine-dining atmosphere with a casual neighborhood feel. The Meridian Restaurant & Bar blends into its surrounding residential landscape perfectly, thanks to a slightly faded olive green exterior and modest external signage. The structure, a one-time private residence with parking on its south and west sides, also allows for patio dining near an outdoor fireplace, from spring through fall. With mostly wooden floors, periodic stone wall accents and candle-style lighting, the interior of the Meridian has a cozy cabin feel to it. Soups, salads and select entrées are served during lunch hours. In the evening, an expanded menu allows for a variety of possibilities including sea scallops, seafood risotto, chicken schnitzel, pork chops, short ribs and New York strip.
Inside the family-friendly Aristocrat Pub, dark mahogany wood, large antique gold-framed paintings and dimly lit tables provide the British eatery with all the style and ambiance of a true Dublin drinking hole. Despite the heavy interior, a newly-renovated dining room offers a much more open layout, with more seats for patrons to relax with their favorite pint. A large covered patio surrounded by greenery remains a focus of the building’s exterior. The pub stocks 60 beers on tap, featuring favorites from local breweries like Flat 12, Sun King, Brasserie and The Bier Brewery. Regulars praise the Icelandic jumbo cod fish and chips, breaded or grilled Hoosier tenderloin, smoked turkey on marble rye, crab cakes and baked brie. The brunch menu includes six varieties of frittatas, a delicate crab cake eggs Benedict, French toast with seared bananas sautéed in brown sugar and chicken and waffles.
Iron kettles on wood-burning stoves brought Mother Dapa Strangeff’s stew to a burble in the late 1800s. At that time, she lived in Macedonia and prepared her hearty creations for her nine children, as well as for the farmhands on her family’s plot of land. Two of her sons immigrated to the United States in 1911, bringing with them the recipe for Mother Strangeff’s stew that would be so crucial to opening John's Famous Stew. More than 100 years later, the eatery is still going strong. The menu still features the namesake stew with varying levels of heat—mild, medium, or dragon’s-mouth-after-eating-a-jalapeño-popper—as well as black-angus burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The dessert selection showcases peach, blackberry, and apple cobblers, all of which are homemade—Mother Strangeff wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sister restaurants in Zionsville and Indianapolis, respectively, Serenity and the Signature at the Propylaeum serve helpings of English tea in historically inspired settings. In 1888, May Wright Sewall founded the Propylaeum as a place where women could gather for social and cultural events. Today, the Victorian clubhouse’s historically sensitive renovations and period-inspired decor welcome guests to Signature, a dining venue that serves up English tea and a menu that rivals the setting in elegance. Serenity transports guests back to a similar time period inside a home that was built in 1868. Antiques, aged rugs, and period lighting add to the old-timey verisimilitude, along with outdoor gardens—among which guests are invited to dine—that have been restored to mimic the original flowerbeds.