Eggstacy fills its breakfast and lunch menu with omelets, sandwiches, and traditional midmorning favorites made with fresh ingredients and prepared from scratch whenever possible. Homemade sauces such as strawberry compotes ooze over fresh pancakes and crêpes or slices of French-toast bread, baked daily in the Eggstacy kitchen next to edible copies of Le Petit Prince.
The Stop In Family Restaurant serves up hearty portions of classic American comfort fare. Early risers can indulge creative impulses by building towers of fluffy pancakes ($3.59 for three) and using the waffles to make crispy castles with gooey syrup moats ($3.89). Meanwhile, the farmer's omelette yields tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, an edible edition of Poor Richard's Almanack, and a choice of meat ($6.29). At lunch, the three-alarm pizza cranks up the heat with a medley of jalapeños, peppercinis, and banana peppers ($12.95 for 14 in.).
An independently owned restaurant that has been building its open-establishment reputation for nearly four decades, The Carriage House Dining Room & Gardens has cemented its status as Indiana's destination restaurant. For 24 years, it has received the AAA Four Diamond Award (one of only four Midwestern restaurants to accomplish this). And for the past 28 years, Wine Spectator has praised its cellar, most recently with a Best of Award of Excellence in 2013.
These achievements would be impressive on the strength of a single menu, but The Carriage House changes up its board of fare every season. Prepared in traditional French style—in accordance with the vision of the restaurant's founder, Indiana Restaurant Association Hall-of-Famer Evelyn C. George—each dish is made fresh from gourmet ingredients. These selections infuse the evening's dishes and cocktails, which might include all-natural beef-tenderloin medallions sautéed with shallots, parsley, and cognac or a holiday dessert of poached-plum bread pudding garnished with spun sugar.
The impeccable presentation doesn't stop at the dinner plate's edge. It encompasses the main dining room's hand-hewn walnut beams (unchanged since The Carriage House was first built as a church in 1851) and its showcase of Indiana Hoosier Salon paintings dating from the early 20th century. No matter the season, sommelier Judith Coté (Evelyn's daughter) can recommend a wine for any occasion thanks to her years of study with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
At Ed Debevic's, every house burger, hot dog, and diner entree shares a not-so-secret ingredient: sass. The servers welcome guests to the vintage venue with tongue-in-cheek remarks and paper deli hats, seating them next to vibrant examples of what Centerstage calls "smart-aleck decor": fake autographs, old-timey ads, and signs that carry proverbs such as "Eat Now…Pay Waiter." The mischievously retro tone is cultivated in homage to one of the owner's favorite restaurants, Lill's Homesick Diner. Back in the '50s and '60s, Lill acquainted Ed with the classic flavors of comfort food cooked from scratch, showcasing the spirited moxie that made her a standout in the short-order world.
Ed chose to emulate both her classic cooking and feistiness at his own diner. Many of his menu items are housemade, including the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, the desserts, and the blue-cheese sauce on top of the Ed's Blue Moon burger. Milk shakes and malts pair well with a variety of hot dogs and sandwiches, especially when counterbalancing the effects of Atomic Mix: a blend of diced jalapeños, onions, and tomatoes that garnishes certain plates. The staff stays in comically impudent character throughout these meals. And every now and then, the servers pause to put on countertop dance numbers that are almost as exciting as the time your grandpa turned the lazy Susan into a zoetrope.
Papa Murphy’s serves up a tasty menu of handmade take-and-bake pizzas created using dough, cheese, meat, and veggies that are freshly prepared every day. After customers choose their pie, Papa Murphy's personable pizza fashioners will build the pizza in-store and then package it for customers to bake at home in the oven, a pottery kiln, or over a pile of burning cookbooks. Customers can select one of Papa Murphy's signature pizzas or customize their pie to a more specific taste, choosing from sauces, crusts, and the more than 20 toppings available. Italian sausage, mushrooms, and black olives are corralled into the Cowboy ($15/16"), and the Chicago-style stuffed pizza is packed with onions, cheese, four kinds of meat, and one of the most efficient public-transit systems in America ($16/16").
The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
Granite City Food & Brewery, a casual family restaurant founded by a hospitality expert, boasts a beefed-up menu stuffed with more steak, seafood, pasta, flatbread pizza, burger, and sandwich options than Abe Lincoln had dollar bills stuffed in his top hat. Appetizers such as crab-artichoke quesadillas ($11.99) and crispy buffalo shrimp diving into shimmering blue-cheese pools ($11.99) take taste buds on a road trip across the culinary hot spots of America. A savory selection of steaks include the 14-ounce New York strip ($25.99), honey-rosemary filet mignon ($17.99), and a classic Angus top sirloin caught catnapping on a bed of golden onion strings ($22.09). Flatbread pizzas and nine pasta plates keep tongues from running off to Italy, and small plates such as the half-pound mediterranean chicken ($10.99) quell tiny hunger swells. The half-pound Napa Valley burger, dressed for the season in balsamic spring greens and topped with mozzarella and crispy prosciutto ($9.89), as well as 10 sandwiches pitch in to settle belly debts and prevent collection agencies from gathering on tongues.