INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Finding delicious, award-winning southern style barbecue might be much closer than you think.
Grilliant Foods (located at 4329 W. 96th Street, Indianapolis) sits unassumingly at the tip of Hamilton County, just across the street from Marion County, and one block from the Boone County line.
Yelp reviewers rave about the incredible food and warm Hoosier hospitality at this hidden gem. Inside, people are also loving something a bit more unexpected and – of all things—a bit more European.
The business has been in operation for two years, but owner Ernie Verbarg said the seed was planted in him several years before.
“This whole thing started about 7 years ago when my wife and daughter bought me a small little smoker for Father’s Day,” he said.
Now, Verbarg has four smokers here at Grilliant Foods and four at his home. And judging by the eat-in dining room walls full of plaques and awards, he’s certainly mastered the art of smoking meats. But when it comes to house favorites?
“People are loving my beef brisket. That usually goes on the smoker about 4 in the afternoon the day before. Same thing with my pulled pork. My pulled pork is actually my number one seller here,” said Verbarg.
If you want to try his famous brisket burnt ends on Fridays, be sure to get here early.
“Lately, I’ve been running out around one just because everyone’s flooded here and, boom, they’re gone,” he said.
There’s also “Tenderloin Tuesday.”
“I bring in the whole pork loin. I trim off all the fat. I butterfly my cuts, run them through my meat tenderizer, and then they are ready to be breaded or actually egg washed, then breaded, then they fry,” he explained.
Their side dishes have plenty of fans, too. Especially the coleslaw and mac n’ cheese.
“When I’m doing my smoked pork butts, when I’m smoking them and they are on the smoker for 18 hours plus. Then I lay thick sliced bacon on top of it. As it’s smoking, all the fat is rendering out of the bacon and I literally take that bacon and I crumble it into my macaroni and cheese and it is wonderful,” Verbarg said.
Four Things You Need to Know about Grilliant Foods:
- They are open Tuesday-Saturday from 10a-7p
- They offer catering, dine-in, and carry-out options.
- They are also a European market and deli, full of a variety of beer, wine, snacks, and foods that you can only find here.
- While they are definitely known for the delicious meat offerings, the sides are also incredible. Make sure and check out the mac and cheese, complete with bacon crumbles.
One unique thing about Grilliant Foods is that they are also a European market and deli, with a vast selection of eastern European beer, wine, snacks, and food that you can only find here.
“If you’re talking pierogis, I’ve got nine different varieties of Alexander’s pierogis. Nobody else here in the Indianapolis area carries them,” Verbarg said.
If you are just stopping by to grab some ingredients to cook at home, you’re definitely in the right place. Not only can you buy almost anything you need to make delicious grilled or smoked meats, but the staff’s knowledge and customer service is second to none.
“You can actually try some of the meats before you buy and you can really talk to the people behind the counter, learn how to be using it at home. So if you’re not getting those prepared meats, you can learn what kind of woods you want to be cooking your different meats on, what kind of cut might be the best option for you. So, it’s really an educational experience as well as a culinary experience,” said Brittany Smith of Yelp Indy.
Grilliant Foods offers catering services, carry-out, and dine-in space for 35 people inside (with outdoor seating also in the works). Once you meet Ernie and his staff, however, you may find yourself a frequent visitor to the dining room, where Hoosier hospitality is as important as napkins.
“If you’re looking to dine in or if you’re just stopping by to pick up some things, one of the things that always stands out is the customer service here. You really get that homey feel, small town vibes that really make you want to come back more and really hang out with the business,” Smith said.
While in the area, check out these other popular Yelp hot-spots nearby: