Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
7/21/2009 9:56:00 PM
A little-discussed feature of Indy cuisine is the frequency with which stew is encountered on local menus. This homely dish is found in taverns and sandwich shops often enough for one to assume the local folks have a particular fondness for the stuff. One great place to sample it is at John's Famous Stew, in the working-class section of Indy west of the river.
John's stews come in mild, medium, and hot, as do many of the stews around town. His stews are said to be made from a 19th-century recipe from the founders' Macedonian mother but, to our taste, other than the heat, they seemed like good ol' beef stew, a brimming bowl filled with huge clods of beef and large chunks of vegetables. We especially enjoyed the hot version, which will not scorch the mouth of any but the most chili-sensitive. On the side come slices of white bread.
All sorts of stew variations and exotica are made as well. A Hot Minced Pit adds hot peppers and butter beans to a bowl of hot stew. Stuffed Pepper Stew will get you a beef and rice-filled pepper at the bottom of your bowl before the stew is ladled over. Ask for a Tenderloin Supreme and you get the stew of your choice over a hand-breaded pork tenderloin (those tenderloins look very promising).
John's is a friendly tavern where you can down a mug or two of beer with your stew. All-in-all, a nice taste of old-time Indy.