Welcome readers! If you remember, as part of my Rules for Travel, I must eat at a restaurant that doesn’t exist outside of the city/state I reside in. A local restaurant. And, if you recall, I strip my normal diet of anything anyone would consider a cheat meal. So when I travel, I don’t hold back. Travel weekends are a cheat meal fantasy. I don’t go crazy and consume an entire candy store or twelve cheeseburgers. But I don’t worry about calories, carbs, or sugar once that plane takes off.
And when I come home, I’m back to my bread-less, sugar-less, pasta-less existence. I know, sounds tragic, right? I’ve adapted to my eating habits. And I look forward to my trips for much more than just the sights!
Indianapolis isn’t short on amazing local restaurants filled with a cheat mealer’s paradise. Steak, cookies, exotic pastas…food from all corners of the world housed beautifully in one city. However, I only had a weekend–and funnily enough, I only catch up on sleep when I’m traveling, so I tend to skip breakfast. But I’ve included two great places to highlight if you’re ever in the area, or if you’ve just never tried them out.
Cheat Meals on Mass Ave
In my love letter to Indy, I speak briefly on the six cultural districts in Indianapolis and focus on Broad Ripple. Today, I move on to Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave for short. Facts first, food second:
- The Avenue runs at exactly a 45 degree angle from downtown, one of only four diagonal streets in the city. I love Indy’s diagonal streets; something about the deviation makes me giddy.
- Mass Ave houses many of the city’s art theaters, art projects, and art galleries, pretty much making it the art district of Indianapolis.
- The Avenue is also home to several shops and restaurants, landing a coveted spot on this post. During my first visit to Indy, Mass Ave quickly became one of my favorite streets in the city.
Now on to the food…
Mimi’s Blue Meatballs
If I had time, I would take you on a tour of each and every restaurant on Mass Ave. Mesh on Mass is a particular favorite (featured in a book I’m writing–yes I write books too! But I digress…). However, Mesh isn’t a local restaurant and, again, I only have a weekend to show you my cheat meals so I decided to focus on Mimi’s Blue Meatballs.
I came across Mimi’s Blue Meatballs while researching the many restaurants in the city. In full disclosure, Indy does not host the only Mimi’s in the state–Carmel, IN also has one. However, this place does not exist outside of the state so it still counts as local.
Named after an Indianapolis-born lady named Mildred Bluestein Kosene, Mimi’s prepares meatballs in ways I’d never thought to serve. Typically thought of a snack dish or an adornment for spaghetti, Mimi’s serves her meatballs plated, topped with a variety of rich sauces.
I loved the menu, mostly due to the creative way patrons select meals. Instead of just reading your selection from the plastic pages, we check or mark off our choices with their black markers directly on the menu. Now, I am in cheat meal paradise, so the type of meat didn’t faze me (BEEF!), but Mimi’s shows love to turkey, chicken, and vegetarian. Their plated meatballs come with a baguette as well. But, if you’re not as fancy as Ms. Kosene was–from what I read, she loved getting dressed up for good meals–Mimi’s also serves meatballs on buns.
Anything that looks like a burger, feels like a burger, and tastes like a burger quickly becomes comfort food to me. I gravitated to Mimi’s sliders without a second thought. My sauces: garlic cream (OH MY GOSH!), honey sriracha, and their special of the day, bourbon bbq. First off, when you haven’t had bread in a month, that initial taste feels like a punch to the pleasure center of the brain, an instant high of epic proportions. I wanted to dance down Mass Ave and shout to anyone who would listen how amazing my meal tasted. Second, when you haven’t had beef in a month, that kick, coupled with the high of bread reminds me a Scandal quotations:
“I wait for you. I watch for you. My whole life is you. I can’t breathe because I’m waiting for you. You own me, you control me, I belong to you.” _Season 2, Episode 8, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”
And I’m only half kidding…I cut bread and sugar from my normal life for a reason. But I just can’t stay away forever.
Which brings us to cheat meal number two…
Cheat Meal off the Beaten Path | Long’s Bakery
Pull up Google. Search for bakeries in Indianapolis. You’ll find Long’s Bakery among a list of brighter, more colorful, and more adorned sweet stores in the city. And I’m sure those places are lovely. But. Here’s what I know about the best local restaurants:
- They aren’t typically in the heart of the city, especially if it’s a particularly large city. In fact, the more obscure the location, the better the food. These places have existed for years, family owned and not always on the digital map. Long’s doesn’t even have a website. Doesn’t matter.
- They are small. Tiny. Intimate. Small parking lot–if they have one at all. All of which usually makes things complicated because,
- They have extremely long lines or wait times.
Long’s Bakery covers all three. From my hotel on the edge of downtown, took me a solid 20 minutes to drive here. No parking lot at all–I parked at the gas station across the street. Most patrons parked along the street, but my parallel parking leaves something to be desired and I didn’t want to get into trouble outside my home state. And inside? Tiny. Intimate. And the line nearly fell out of the door. I waited about 15 minutes from the time I walked in to get to the front counter. Again, none of this mattered.
The most popular pastry? Yeast donuts. And when I say popular, I mean people bought yeast donuts like they might go out of style. Like the world might come crashing down in minutes, and the only way to stop the end was to consume as many yeast donuts as possible. Like they held the secret to love, life, and happiness in their flaky dough. People walked out of this bakery with BOXES of donuts. Boxes. Seriously, I kept wondering if the 15 patrons ahead of me in line each had some party to attend and they were the designated donut-person. Because everyone in front of me ordered more than one donut. I felt odd only ordering 3.
Glazed cake, blueberry (quite possibly my favorite donut flavor in the world after a glazed Krispy Kreme when the HOT SIGN flashes), and, their signature, a glazed yeast donut. Donuts rank number two on my baked good of choice (behind sugar cookies and right before cupcakes) so I expected greatness from this circular punch of sugar. And, Long’s you didn’t disappoint! Soft, sweet without numbing my brain, with an unexpected creamy quality to the taste. I completely understand why locals say Long’s sells the best donuts in the city. Do not miss your chance to try one of these baked bundles of sweet joy.
Oh, and another treat? I bought three donuts for less than $2. Name a big chain where that’s possible? (Don’t worry, I’ll wait…)
Head’s up? If you’re in the area and plan a visit, they only take cash, so leave the plastic in the purse.
Final Note: The initial title for this post comes from the hit ABC show, Scandal, Season 3, Episode 2