Summer’s Best Food Trails

The Oasis Diner in Plain eld is well-known for their hand-breaded pork tenderloins. PHOTO CREDIT: Visit Hendricks County

Story by Stephanie Nicol

Ahhhh…the sweet taste of summer! If food had seasons, this would surely be our favorite. And thanks to the Indiana Foodways Alliance, it’s easy to plan your summer foodie road trip. The Alliance, which was founded more than a decade ago, is a non- profit group of like-minded foodies and tourism professionals who’ve created a series of food and beverage trails around the state. And it seems only fitting that for our summer issue we highlight two of our favorites—I Scream for Ice Cream and Just Cruisin’ trails. The I Scream for Ice Cream trail has 24 stops, and if you’re up for the challenge, you can spend your summer months tasting more than 100 flavors of ice cream, shakes, and sundaes. One stop is Zaharakos, which opened in 1900 and is still one of Columbus’ historic landmarks. Belly up to the solid marble bar for an old-fashioned soda, or the “Big Z”—a colossal treat with five scoops of ice cream and choice of sauces and toppings. There’s even an original 100-year-old Welte orchestration organ piping tunes throughout the restaurant.

Hot dog heaven: Mr. Weenie in Peru

Feeling nostalgic? In Warsaw you’ll find an old-time pharmacy featuring an authentic soda fountain. Zale Drugs & Luncheonette will transport you back in time with its historic lunch counter where you can order milkshakes, malts, sundaes, and more. You can even get five flavors of phosphates, and enjoy a Coke in a real glass bottle.

Since 1965, Ivanhoe’s in Upland has been serving up food and ice cream to a loyal following, some who drive from all over the state just to enjoy their frozen treats. They’re best known for having more than 100 different flavors of shakes and 100 different sundaes, and even have a “100 Club” for patrons who’ve tried all 100 varieties.

You may not expect to find ice cream at a variety store, but two stops on the trail offer a frozen surprise. Collom’s General Store, in the tiny Parke County town of Bridgeton, serves up hand-scooped ice cream in a variety of flavors, as does Gobbler’s Knob Country Store in Bloomingdale, also in Parke County.

Even if you don’t have a convertible, you can still enjoy the nostalgia of retro drive-ins on the Just Cruisin’ trail, with 15 stops all around the state. In Plainfield, the Oasis Diner was actually shipped via railroad in 1954 from New Jersey and eventually became one of Indiana Landmarks’ “10 Most Endangered Buildings.” Fortunately, the diner was relocated, restored, and reopened in 2014 and now serves incredible food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy a hand- breaded tenderloin, hand-cut steak and eggs, ice cream sodas, and more.

Frazier’s Dairy Maid in Anderson is celebrating their 65th anniversary this year. PHOTO CREDIT: Dale Pickett

Perhaps the only thing in West Lafayette that’s almost as well- known as Purdue University is the Triple XXX Family Restaurant, Indiana’s first and oldest drive-in. Since opening in 1929, they’ve been treating customers to homemade root beer and great food, including their famous Duane Purvis All American burger (loaded up with peanut butter) which was featured on Food Network (along with some of their other sandwiches!).

Remember those eat-in-your-car drive-ins where you had to “turn on your lights for service?” Well at Mr. Weenie in Peru, that’s still the way to get your order taken. Known for having some of the best hot dogs in Indiana, Mr. Weenie offers theirs more than ten ways, including a kraut dog, Chicago dog, Bahama Mama dog, and more. Their extensive menu offers more than just hot dogs, so there’s something for everyone.