Indiana’s best Summer Food Trails

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The Oasis Diner in Plainfield is well-known for their American comfort food. PHOTO: Visit Hendricks County

Story by Elizabeth Granger

Ice cream, hot dogs, frosty mugs of root beer, and a bit of nostalgia. Perfect summer pleasures.

The small lemony yellow building on Mounds Road in Anderson – with a matching lemon drop on the roof – is big on tradition. Even bigger on taste and customer loyalty.

The Lemon Drop restaurant’s four booths and eleven counter stools seat a total of just 27. Covid added thick plastic sheets and acrylic partitions that helped ensure diners’ safety, and kept the tradition going throughout the past year.

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Oasis Burger

“We’re one and only,” says assistant manager Sheree Titley. “You can’t get us anywhere else.”

And, she adds, “We have customers who come in multiple times in one day.”

Customer Bryan Lacey of Anderson touts the cheeseburger on sourdough bread. Others swear by the tenderloin. Onion burgers are wildly popular.

The Lemon Drop has been around since 1954 – and it’s still got that “Happy Days” kind of feel.

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The Lemon Drop in Anderson is an iconic eatery, in business since 1952. PHOTO: Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau

That same feel is at Gene’s Root Beer Drive-In in Anderson, founded in 1964. Also at The Original Frozen Custard and both Igloo Frozen Custard sites in Lafayette, founded in1932. There are 16 eateries on the Indiana Foodways Alliance “Just Cruisin’ Trail” that just shout “summer.” There’s hometown history here with generation after generation of patrons making their own personal histories.

The Oasis Diner in Plainfield opened in 1954. By 2010 it was on Indiana Landmarks’ “10 Most Endangered” list. But locals Doug Huff and Don Rector bought the diner – moved it, restored it, and in 2014 reopened it.

Huff said patrons “usually come for the experience first, and then they come back for the food.”

When the Triple XXX in West Lafayette opened in 1929, it was the state’s first drive-in. Eventually there were more than 100 Triple XXX Thirst Stations throughout the country. Now the West Lafayette site is the only one left.

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Triple XXX’s most famous burger, the Duane Purvis, which includes peanut butter. It’s named for a 1930s’ Purdue football player who “ate peanut butter on everything.” PHOTO PHOTO: Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette

The root beer recipe is original. The chopped steak is like it’s always been. The most popular burger is the Duane Purvis, which includes peanut butter. It’s named for a 1930s Purdue football player who “ate peanut butter on everything.”

Real Food, Real Indiana. The Indiana Foodways Alliance tagline says it all, as it goes about celebrating, preserving and promoting Hoosier foods. Its members are often small, family- owned eateries with heartfelt histories as well as delicious foods. Its growing lists of trails now number 21.

The “I Scream for Ice Cream Trail” has 25 stops. Soft serve, frozen custard, hand-dipped – often in homemade cones. When you see a line of people at the window, you know it’s gotta’ be good.

The blue moon is popular at Frazier’s Dairy Maid in Anderson. A distinctive pale blue soft serve with hints of lemon and raspberry. It’s a new-ish flavor at this popular stop that has lured ice cream lovers since 1954.

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One of the newest ice cream flavors at Frazier’s Dairy Maid in Anderson is the blue moon. PHOTO: Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau

Taylor’s Dairy Store in Elwood teases those driving by with goofy signs; a recent one read, “Ice cream is cheaper than therapy.” It offers 72 flavors of hard ice cream that include puppy chow, elephant ear, seaside caramel, American fireworks, and carrot cake. Tuesdays are crazy busy – with $1 coneys – but the store stops at serving 700 of them. Some patrons choose the usual coney sauce with its hint of spiciness, others choose sweeter sloppy joe sauce to cover the hot dog, and others order boats – that is, sauce but no hot dog at all.

And then there’s Ivanhoe’s in Upland with more than 100 flavors of ice cream and 100 flavors of shakes. In Rockville, Gilstrap’s Big Berry Drive-In has “walk-up” service and offers a variety of shakes, sundaes, and more than 20 flavors of ice cream.

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Frazier’s Dairy Maid

Know that stops on these trails are also on additional Foodways trails. Look for all the culinary trails at indianafoodways.com. And as you leave the Lemon Drop, be sure to grab a lemon drop.

I Scream For Ice Cream Food Trail

  • Barking Cow, Muncie
  • Chocolate Moose, Farmland
  • Fashion Farm, Ligonier
  • Frazier’s Dairy Maid, Anderson
  • French Licks Ice Cream and Coffee Bar, French Lick
  • Gilstrap’s Big Berry, Rockville
  • Gobbler’s Knob Country Store, Bloomington
  • Good’s Candy Shop & Ice Cream Parlor, Anderson
  • Huber’s Winery & Starlight Distillery, Borden
  • Igloo Frozen Custard, Lafayette (two locations)
  • Ivanhoe’s Ice Cream and Sandwich Shoppe, Upland
  • Jerry’s Dairy Freezer, Parker City
  • Jimmie’s Dairy Bar, Pendleton
  • Martinsville Candy Kitchen, Martinsville
  • McCord Candies, Lafayette
  • Sallie’s By The Shore, Culver
  • South Bend Chocolate Company Café, South Bend
  • Taylor’s Dairy Store, Elwood
  • The Original Frozen Custard, Lafayette
  • The Superburger, Paoli
  • The Tasty Freeze, Montezuma
  • Tiki Hut, Rockville
  • Weenee World, New Castle

Just Cruisin’ Food Trail

  • Chocolate Moose, Farmland
  • Collom’s General Store, Bridgeton
  • Frazier’s Dairymaid, Anderson
  • Fry’s A&W, Greensburg
  • Gene’s Root Beer Drive-In, Anderson
  • Gilstrap’s Big Berry, Rockville
  • Igloo Frozen Custard, 2 Lafayette locations
  • Ivanhoe’s Ice Cream and Sandwich Shoppe, Upland
  • Jimmie’s Dairy Bar, Pendleton
  • Lemon Drop, Anderson
  • Oasis Diner, Plainfield
  • Taylor’s Dairy Store, Elwood
  • The Original Frozen Custard, Lafayette
  • The Tasty Freeze, Montezuma
  • Triple XXX Family Restaurant, West Lafayette
  • Weenee World, New Castle