Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo Revisited

This was Anita’s and my second time visiting the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. We were on our way from Indianapolis to Findlay, Ohio, and figured heck yeah, let’s stop for a few hours! The zoo is always so well maintained. The paths flow through the zoo in a an effortless, meandering way, making for a nice stroll from exhibit to exhibit.
Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedWe got to the zoo as soon as it opened on a slightly foggy day. The zoo quickly filled with children. It’s a popular place!

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedSince I’d already posted tons of pictures from the zoo before, I decided to just take a few pics, this time concentrating mostly on the faces of the many animals.

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedIf you need a break from walking, don’t miss out on the log or train rides. They are my favorites. I have a rule about zoos. I NEVER miss out on a zoo train ride. Never.

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedThe pic of the peacock is my favorite.

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedWe lucked out and got to the red winged hawk’s cage just as he was eating. By coincidence, we saw a fantastic red winged hawk near the road on the way from the zoo to Findlay, Ohio, about an hour later.

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedDid you know that turtles can live to be over 200 years old? Wow!

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedThis nice black swan tried to race us while we were floating along on the log ride.

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedOwls are my favorites. We used to have an owl living in the woods behind our house. We were lucky enough to see him in our backyard a few times.

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedFor a few bucks you can feed the giraffes. The kids at the zoo got a big kick out of it.

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo Revisited

Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo RevisitedIf you’re near Fort Wayne, and whether you have children or not, swing by the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. You won’t be disappointed!

Also checkout the pictures from our first trip to the Ft Wayne Children’s Zoo.

96th Street Steakburgers, Indianapolis, Indiana

Sadly, 96th Street Steakburgersm, like Boogie Burgers, another favorite burger joint, is now closed. For diner-style burgers in the Indy area, visit Stookey’s in Thornburg, the Broadway Diner in Fortville,and Triple XXX in Lafayette. If you find yourself in the Knoxville, TN area, you have to stop at Scotty’s.

I visited 96th Street Steakburgers once before, long ago, right after they opened. I can’t remember the meal as being overly great or bad. I’ve been on a steakburger kick lately, so I decided to drop by for lunch with Anita and a co-worker of hers.

96th Street Steakburgers, Indianapolis, IndianaFrom the outside, 96th Street Steakburgers makes you think “steakburgers”. It has that old diner kind of feel. Inside, it is fairly sparse, with a cold concrete floor that makes a horribly loud noise when people drag their chairs across it. But hey, I’m not there to marvel at the floor, I want a burger.

96th Street Steakburgers, Indianapolis, IndianaOrdering is easy. Just walk on up to the counter. We were there early so there wasn’t a line. Most likely you’ll order like we did – from the combo menu. I ordered a #2, which is a double cheese burger with fries and a drink. I supersized it so I got more fries and a bigger drink. Anita had the #1, which is a single steakburger with fries and a drink. You get a ticket with a number and wait for it to be called when your meal is ready.

96th Street Steakburgers, Indianapolis, IndianaAt first glance, everything looks great. The fries look inviting, and they are tasty, but they were a bit soggy. The burger toppings were fresh, and the patty was cooked perfectly, but it could’ve used some seasoning. I’d have to say that the best part of the burger is the secret sauce. Without it, the burger wouldn’t have been much different than one from Steak ‘n Shake. With it, it’s not bad, just not anything to make me dream about it eating it later that night.

I found the restaurant to be in need of a decent cleaning. Being the first customers of the day I would’ve expected the tables and floors to be sparkling clean from the night’s cleaning, but they were not.

I was a little disappointed with our experience. With just a little effort (cleaning, seasoned patties, and crispier fries), 96th Street Steakburger could easily be on our regular dining rotation.

On the ‘Mater Rater I had to zing 96th Street Steakburger for the reasons I mentioned.

'Mater Rater

Pizzology Pizzeria & Pub, Carmel, Indiana

We’ve eaten at Pizzology Pizzeria & Pub in Carmel, Indiana a few times, and we’ve pretty much ordered the same thing each time – red sauce pizza with Mozzarella, sausage, mushroom and onion. What can I say? You find something you like and you sometimes just stick with it.

The pizza arrives pretty quickly (we are usually there at off-peak hours). You can even sit and watch your pizza go into the oven. The crust is thin and tasty. Anita loves it. I’d prefer it to be more crunchy, but I also love the flavor. I could probably eat just the crust and be perfectly happy.

Pizzology Pizzeria & Pub, Carmel, IndianaThe sauce and toppings are good. Anita absolutely loves the sausage. I like the sausage, but I would prefer more spice. The mushrooms and onions are good. The mozzarella is the real winner. I could eat the cheese all day. It really is great cheese. It is made fresh, and the time and effort have paid off big time.

Pizzology Pizzeria & Pub, Carmel, IndianaService each time we have eaten at Pizzology has been very good. And, Pizzology has a great selection of beers. So what’s not to like? Some folks have complained about the prices, but I think they were quite reasonable.

We really should order something else off the menu at Pizzology. After all, it isn’t just a gourmet pizza place. But, it’s just hard to break with tradition when we love our “standard” pizza!

Because Anita loves the pizza so much, and I think the mozz is outstanding, I’m going to go ahead and give Pizzology top marks on the ‘Mater Rater.

'Mater Rater

After devouring a delicious pizza at Pizzology, drive a few miles west and enjoy Carmel’s West Park.

Gumbo A Go-Go, Indianapolis, Indiana

Sadly, Gumbo A Go-Go has closed. But, you can still make my take on their Drunken Cajun Chicken Po Boy.

If you follow this blog at all you know that I love spicy foods. Not burn-my-mouth I’m-in-pain spicy, but food that is flavored well and has a kick. I like spice and I don’t like bland. The pox on bland! Spicy is exactly why I love Gumbo A Go-Go.

Gumbo A Go-Go, Indianapolis, Indiana I’ve eaten at Gumbo A Go-Go several times now. I am completely addicted to the Datwich. I could eat a Datwich every day. In fact, I have a tub of Datwich chicken in my fridge right now, just screaming “have me for lunch”. The Datwich is a po’boy topped with shredded chicken that has been slow-cooked in all sorts of good spices, garlic and beer. Spices (lots of sage!), garlic and beer… You can’t go wrong with that. It is messy. It drips yummy goodness. I love it. Make sure to snag a bag of Zapp’s potato chips, too.

I also tried a little of the Ya Ya chicken this time. Yowsa, that Ya Ya chicken has some kick. A lot of kick. I loved it!

Gumbo A Go-Go, Indianapolis, IndianaGumbo A Go-Go isn’t your black tie kind of eating establishment. It’s simply decorated. And it can get busy at lunch time. Get there early, order up a few dishes (at the counter) from the menu (on a chalk board behind the counter), and enjoy!

Gumbo A Go-Go, Indianapolis, IndianaI can’t wait to return to Gumbo A Go-Go. I’ll try something new, and grab me another pint or so of that Datwich chicken and bring it on home for dinner!

'Mater Rater

Stookey’s Family Dining, Thorntown, Indiana

After last week’s great outing to a local diner, the Broadway Diner in Fortville, Indiana, I was looking forward to another diner. This time we stopped at Stookey’s Family Dining in Thorntown, Indiana. The diner is located on main street in quaint downtown Thorntown.

Stookey's Family Dining, Thorntown, IndianaOnce again we were the only ones in the restaurant. Our friendly waitress greeted us and told us to sit wherever we wanted.

Stookey's Family Dining, Thorntown, IndianaI had read online that the onion rings at Stookey’s Family Dining in Thorntown (just northwest of Indianapolis, Indiana), are fantastic, so I ordered a half order and a loaded cheeseburger.

Stookey's Family Dining, Thorntown, IndianaAnita ordered the tenderloin sandwich and a half order of rings.

Stookey's Family Dining, Thorntown, IndianaOur sandwiches were quite good. Cooked perfectly and topped with very fresh ingredients. Just what you would expect.

… and the onion rings? Oh me. Really, really good. I mean… just… make-you-cry good. I’d go back and just get a full order (see how big the half order is???) and just sit back and enjoy. And check out the perfect onion ring stacking. That’s not amateur stuff there, no.

Stookey's Family Dining, Thorntown, IndianaThroughout our meal our waitress kept us in drinks without being annoying. All in all, we had a great lunch at Stookey’s. My only complaint was the men’s restroom. It really needed to be cleaned (I’m fairly sure the ceiling light hadn’t been cleaned in a long, long time). Anita said the ladies room was acceptable. Besides that, we really enjoyed everything and we’d return.

On the ‘Mater Rater I gave Stookey’s high marks except for the condition of the bathroom:

'Mater Rater

Broadway Diner, Fortville, Indiana

I have been hankerin’ for some good diner food lately. I mean real diner food. Old seats, old floors, old signs, and most importantly, an old flat top. Old is not bad. Old is good.

Specifically, I was hankerin’ for a griddled burger like I’d get as a kid when my grandpa would take me into town. So, when Anita and I were heading up to Pendleton, Indiana, we decided to swing by the Broadway Diner in Fortville, Indiana, and fulfill my diner food quest. And did we.

If you’re looking for a $12 burger on a chewy pretzel bun, soggy fries, $4 iced tea and mediocre service, then don’t go to the Broadway Diner. For $17 we had 2 fresh-brewed teas, grilled cheeseburgers on grilled toast with toppings, and to-die-for-diner fries.  And great service. All in a real diner that brought back lots of memories.

Broadway Diner, Fortville, IndianaThe place was full of what seemed to be regulars. That’s a sign that someone’s doing something right. How many times have you been to your local big city chain restaurant and recognized ANYONE? Small town diners are something we need and need bad, and not just in small towns.

Anyway, back to the food! I was soooo happy to get my burger on grilled bread! When’s the last time you had that? It wasn’t soggy, fall-apart bread. It held up to the toppings (all fresh) and the meat without even blinking. The fries… Were they frozen? Probably. Were they good? Absolutely. They were different. We didn’t ask questions. We ate. Anita’s favorite thing? They serve ketchup in cold squeeze bottles. So Anita did what you would do – drenched her fries in ketchup and she loved every minute.

We can’t speak about the rest of the Broadway Diner’s menu… yet. But we will return and try some other dishes. I think. I mean, it’d be hard not to just order the burger and fries again.

I scored the Broadway Diner very high on my ‘Mater Rater. It was exactly what I was looking for, from the food to the setting to the service.

'Mater Rater

 

Local Eatery & Pub, Westfield, Indiana

Anita and I were recently out on a Saturday antiquing run when we decided to stop by a new (to us) place for lunch, the Local Eatery & Pub in Westfield, Indiana. The pub is located in a strip mall off a fairly busy residential road just north of Indianapolis. The menu focuses mostly on locally-grown ingredients.

Local Eatery & Pub, Westfield, IndianaI liked the layout of the pub, including the TVs, which weren’t so in-your-face like some places, and they had some rather interesting artwork on the walls. We were seated immediately, followed in seconds by our server.

Local Eatery & Pub, Westfield, IndianaI ordered the fish and chips, substituting tater tots for fries. The fish (nice and flaky) was fried in a fantastic light beer batter, and there was plenty of it too! The fish came with a homemade tartar sauce that I could’ve (and did) just eat out of the bowl. Now on to the tater tots (made in house!). I don’t think I can tell you just how good the tater tots were. They were the way you want them – a great, crispy outside and a warm, soft potatoey inside. Oh, that crunch! And what do you want to dip the perfect tot into? Homemade ketchup. Right there, in a bottle, on the table (and available for sale). When we return it will be hard to fight the temptation to just order a few baskets of tots and grab a few bottles of that ketchup. And a beer.

Local Eatery & Pub, Westfield, IndianaAnita ordered the goat cheese panini, with fries. The panini (from their site) comes with white truffle goat cheese, wild mushrooms, balsamic caramelized onions, and arugula. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? It was. Anita loved her sandwich (she wanted more of the caramelized onions!), and the fries, and almost had to fight me for the homemade ketchup.

You can tell the Local Eatery and Pub is serious about putting out some good local-when-possible food, with a unique menu that is really a pleasure to order from.  We look forward to returning!

'Mater Rater

Black Swan Brewpub, Plainfield, Indiana

Anita and I were recently on the west side of Indianapolis to do a little antiquing at Gilley’s Antique Mall. We decided to stop for lunch at the Black Swan Brewpub. We arrived right as the place opened so we were the only ones there for the time being. My first impression was that the dining area was clean, and that the staff was pleasant.

Black Swan Brewpub, Plainfield, IndianaIt was a bit early in the morning for me to sample their renowned beers (and still be able to function), so I stuck to ordering lunch. I ordered the Reuben, which is my go-to sandwich when visiting a new restaurant. I can tell if a place is good by the quality of the corned beef they use. Too much fat, cut too thickly, bland… all signs of bad things to come. But not the case at Black Swan. They make their own corned beef, and it was fantastic. Not overpoweringly corned, but tasty and very, very tender. With almost no fat. They serve their sandwich with Russian dressing, as a true Reuben is meant to be. Everything about the sandwich was perfect. I added a side of the salt-and-pepper fries, which may have been the best fries I’ve ever had (Anita agreed). They are twice-fried. They are sooooo crispy and crunchy and seasoned with just a bit of salt and pepper. I could’ve had a huge platter of them and then asked for seconds. I know they’re “just fries”, but Bravo! Black Swan!

Black Swan Brewpub, Plainfield, IndianaAnita ordered the BrewpubLT, their take on the BLT. It comes with candied bacon. I probably don’t need to say any more. Candied bacon on a BLT. Pure genius and deliciousness. The meat was good and tender and the toppings and bread were fresh. It was a great sandwich. Did I mention it came with candied bacon? Anita also had the omg-these-are-great fries.

Black Swan Brewpub, Plainfield, IndianaNow, not all was perfect on our first trip to the Black Swan. The restrooms were lacking a bit in the cleanliness department. Actually, lacking quite a bit so I had to take away a few points on the ‘Mater Rater. The food was so good that I didn’t let it ruin the experience, but it did slightly annoy me that everything else was so good yet the bathrooms weren’t. I hope it was a fluke because we sure plan on returning next time we are in the Plainfield area.

'Mater Rater

Also check out the Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery if you’re in the Kokomo area.

Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery, Kokomo, Indiana

Anita and I were recently in nearby Kokomo, Indiana, spending a day at some of the antique malls in town. We decided to eat an early lunch at the Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery, located right off Highway 31. I was looking forward to our lunch after reading some of the reviews.

Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery, Kokomo, IndianaWe were greeted by a friendly host, and seated in the dining area. As we came in, we walked by the beer making vats. Sadly, it was a little early in the day for me to have a beer. I’ll have to save the tasting for another time.

Our waitress was very friendly also. Throughout our meal she was attentive and pleasant.

I ordered the brisket sandwich, substituting beer-battered onion rings for the house chips. The brisket was great. It had a nice light smoky flavor. The meat was tender, juicy, and not fatty at all. I liked that it was served on a rugged kaiser roll, holding up to the meat and sauce just fine. Half Moon also has the BBQ sauces on the table, something I am a big fan of.

Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery, Kokomo, IndianaThe beer-battered onion rings were to die for. They come with a lightly-spiced dipping sauce that is somewhat similar to that at Buffalo Wild Wing’s, but oh so much better and made fresh (like everything on the menu). I’ve never had a batter so light. I asked the waitress later if they use that same batter on other menu items and they do, like on their fish which must be absolutely awesome. The onion rings were the star of the show.

Half Moon Restaurant & Brewery, Kokomo, IndianaAnita had the class tenderloin sandwich and fries. She loved the sandwich. It was not fatty, breaded perfectly, and cooked correctly and evenly (sometimes a problem with tenderloins). The toppings were very, very fresh. The tenderloin is also served on a kaiser roll so you don’t have to worry about it not holding up to the toppings. Anita substituted fries for the chips, which were also great.

The only disappointment was the small side of slaw that came with our meals. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t exciting. In all fairness, it’d be hard to wow me with a slaw after eating the brisket and the onion rings. I would’ve liked a little zing to the slaw, but I lean towards the spicy, and I know not everyone would agree. It certainly did not detract from what was a great lunch.

We’ll be stopping by Half Moon again the next time we are in Kokomo. I am going to have the beer-battered fish-and-chips and more of them onions rings. And a beer.

'Mater Rater

I’m a big fan of brewpubs. Also check out Black Swan if you’re in the Indianapolis area.

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Anita and I recently took a day off and headed up to the Fort Wayne Children’s zoo. This was our first visit to the zoo, which is located about 2 hours north east of Indianapolis. We arrived right at the time the gates opened, 9am, on a nice cool day.

We weren’t sure what to expect at the zoo. It’s very highly rated, and people often rave about it, but we don’t have kids so we weren’t sure how it would be different than a “regular” zoo. Well, this place is fantastic. Kids or not, you’re going to love it.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFirst, the zoo is unbelievably clean and well maintained. The staff are all super friendly.  We were the only ones in the first area we visited, the African Journey. The Safari Trail is very well landscaped and designed.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaThere are fun little areas along the way for kids (and me) to play around on, like this abandoned Land Cruiser.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaOf course, there are lots of animals to see, all in great exhibits. One thing I really liked was the fact that the plexiglass separators between the animals and us humans were spotless, making for fantastic pictures and a real up-close feeling. That was really the case at the lions. You felt like you were in the exhibit with them.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaThis is just a small sample of the animals at the zoo.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaFort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaYou can even feed the giraffes, which are really cool! They come right up to you!

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaThere are a few rides at the park also, including my favorite, the choo-choo train. Going to a zoo and not riding the train is just not an option. Same goes for the river boats. They are inexpensive and a nice way to rest your legs for a bit!

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaThe zoo even has a nice interactive petting area that includes lots of goats that you can brush and feed. Anita decided to give them a brushing… until one of them decided to start eating her shirt! It was quite entertaining. For me at least.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IndianaWe highly recommend the Fort Wayne Children’s zoo to people of all ages. From decent food, to great animal exhibits, to fantastic landscaping and a pleasant staff, you’ll enjoy your visit.

Also check out the pictures from our second visit to the Ft Wayne Children’s Zoo.