Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by CBS4Indy.com contributor Dustin Heller
You know that “light bulb” moment when you try a new restaurant and you realize that you’ve stumbled onto something pretty special? You ask yourself “Why aren’t more people talking about this place?” I’m sure all of my foodie readers have experienced a place like this at some point, which brings me to the hidden gem that resides inside the Flat 12 Bierwerks building at 414 Dorman St. Hoagies & Hops is a deli and sandwich shop that brings everything great about Southeast Pennsylvania all the way to downtown Indianapolis. Owner Kristina Mazza grew up in SE PA and graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Restaurant and Hospitality Management. Needless to say, her roots run deep in PA. She and her husband decided to move to Indianapolis in 2007 to be closer to family, but her love for Pennsylvania remained true. After years of having authentic Pennsylvania food brought to her by family and friends, she decided it was time to share it with the great folks of Indianapolis, and thus in 2015, Hoagies and Hops was born.
The Hoagie was the inspiration for Hoagies & Hops, but if you couldn’t have already guessed, the Philly Cheesesteak is a pretty big part of what makes them special. In honor of this glorious sandwich, Saturday, March 24 is National Cheesesteak Day (hallelujah!), and Hoagies & Hops is going all out for the special occasion. They are having a cheesesteak eating competition for local celebs (and myself) with 10% of their sales going to the charity of their choosing. I’m honored to be a part of it and feel like I’ve been training for this my entire life. Also, all cheesesteaks are $2 off that day, so bring your appetite!
I, for one, love a great sandwich, and the bigger…the better! The Hoagies & Hops menu has so many delicious options to choose from, that you might start to feel a little overwhelmed. This is where I come in. I’ve taken the liberty to select four “can’t miss” sandwiches from their menu that are sure to leave a smile on your face. So, without further ado, let’s get on to the good stuff:
1. Hog Island…This sandwich is named after the area in Pennsylvania which some believe to be the birthplace of the hoagie. Rumor has it that Italian workers at the old Navy Yard on Hog Island famously made sandwiches by putting various meats, cheeses, and lettuce between two slices of bread…and voila, the hoagie was created. The Hog Island at Hoagies & Hops is piled high with Salami, Dietz & Watson (Philly-based) Black Forest Ham, Prosciutto, Capicola and Provolone and then topped off with lettuce, tomato, onion and house-made Italian dressing. If you’re feeling frisky, add some banana peppers and don’t look back. There is a reason this sandwich is the favorite of Kristina herself!
2. Cheesesteak… Philly has given us some really great things throughout history…the Liberty Bell, Rocky Balboa, cream cheese, the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, but let’s be honest, the cheesesteak has got to be the greatest gift of all. My whole life, I’ve been told that you can’t get a good cheesesteak outside of Philadelphia. Well, times have changed, and now you can get a legitimate Philadelphia cheesesteak right here in our fine city. The bread (the most important part of any self-respecting cheesesteak) comes straight from South Jersey and the steak is Delmonico ribeye, which is thinly sliced in house and grilled to perfection. When asked “with or without fried onions?”, you’re response should be a resounding “WITH!” Add sharp provolone and pepper relish to truly make this a Philly original and a sandwich masterpiece.
3. Dutch Country…This sandwich is all about the Seltzer’s Lebanon bologna which has been a Pennsylvania Dutch favorite since 1902. Don’t think of the bologna (baloney) you were forced to eat as a child, but rather, aged beef that has been carefully smoked in tall, wooden smokehouses over hand-tended fires. Is your mouth watering yet? Imagine this bologna covered with Muenster cheese, lettuce and tomato…oh, I almost forgot, it’s smothered in Pogue’s Run whole grain mustard which will knock your socks off.
4. PA Dutch Dog…I’m probably cheating here, but that smoked Lebanon bologna is so darn good! I normally wouldn’t recommend getting a hot dog at a sandwich shop, but this is no ordinary dog. They wrap a Nathan’s all beef hot dog in the Lebanon bologna and then stuff the bun with Muenster cheese, Horseradish mayo and a dill pickle. I know it might sound a little odd, but tasting is believing.
So the next time you have a craving for a big sandwich or a legitimate cheesesteak, look no further than Philadel…uh, I mean, downtown Indianapolis at Hoagies & Hops. Also, keep your eyes peeled because the Hoagies & Hops food truck is coming later this spring. Sign me up!