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John's Famous Stew

1146 Kentucky Avenue, Indianapolis, IN - (317) 636-6212
Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on 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.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Hot Stew
Mild Stew
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John's famous stew here is augmented with a few extra vegetables and butter beans.
"John's famous stew here is augmented with a few extra vegetables and butter beans."
Michael Stern





The portion size is on the small side, but the peach cobbler is a satisfying way to end your meal.
"The portion size is on the small side, but the peach cobbler is a satisfying way to end your meal."
Cliff Strutz


From my perch on a barstool I saw Pauline (obscured on left) coach Phoebe about making the stew just-hot-enough.
"From my perch on a barstool I saw Pauline (obscured on left) coach Phoebe about making the stew just-hot-enough."
Michael Stern


A part of John's for decades, waitress and cook Pauline is a great conversationalist, especially when it comes to matters culinary.
"A part of John's for decades, waitress and cook Pauline is a great conversationalist, especially when it comes to matters culinary."
Michael Stern


While dining at the bar, you can watch TV. But conversing with Pauline was much better than the boob tube.
"While dining at the bar, you can watch TV. But conversing with Pauline was much better than the boob tube."
Michael Stern


We noticed a few places in Indy that serve stew.  John's is one of the oldest.
"We noticed a few places in Indy that serve stew. John's is one of the oldest."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


A sign at each door warns that customers must be 21 to enter. John's is as much a place to drink as to dine.
"A sign at each door warns that customers must be 21 to enter. John's is as much a place to drink as to dine."
Michael Stern



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