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 Dustin Heller (check him out on Instagram @eatindywatchindie for your chance to win a gift card!)
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of tradition is “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.” I think you need to look no further than the restaurant in the spotlight this week to truly understand the meaning of tradition. Shapiro’s is a kosher-style delicatessen that has been serving the good folks of Indianapolis since 1905–that’s right, over 110 years and going stronger than ever!
The original Shapiro’s is located at 808 S. Meridian St., just a stone’s throw from Lucas Oil Stadium. They also have locations in the Keystone Fashion Mall and the Indianapolis International Airport.
Shapiro’s downtown is a cafeteria-style delicatessen where you grab a tray and make your way down the line of goodness. The dining area is wide open with tons of seating and the ambiance has a vintage charm that makes it feel special. As great as the place is, the people make the difference. Owners Brian and Sally Shapiro are wonderful folks who hire wonderful people. Get to know any of them and you’ll understand why Shapiro’s has been in business for over a century.
The main attraction at Shapiro’s is obviously the made-from-scratch food; what makes it so great is the consistency. They’re still serving the same great recipes that have been in their family for generations. Probably best known for their bigger-than-life sandwiches (the meat is sliced fresh right in front of you), Shapiro’s also has some fantastic soups, salads, hot dinner entrees and sides.
Seems like I’m forgetting something…
Oh yeah–dessert! They say dessert comes first at Shapiro’s. That’s not because it takes top priority but rather because it’s literally at the front of the food line. Talk about a mouthwatering way to get your blood pumping!
Without further ado, here are four “can’t miss” items for your next visit to Shapiro’s.
Smoked Tongue Sandwich: I know, I know. Gross, right? Wrong! Whatever preconceptions you might have about beef tongue, you can throw them right out the window. I could almost guarantee that if you didn’t know upfront that you were eating a cow’s tongue that you’d absolutely love it. The texture isn’t what you’d expect; it feels similar to pastrami or corned beef. As for the sandwich itself, the smoky beef tongue is thinly sliced and piled high on the best rye in the city and accompanied by locally made Batch No. 2 mustard. It’s simple, but the flavor is dynamite!
Meatloaf: I’m a Hoosier, born and raised, and when I think of comfort food, my mom’s meatloaf always comes to mind. The key to a good meatloaf is keeping it moist, and Shapiro’s has that down pat. Their meatloaf is juicy and delicious and the red sauce on top will knock your socks off. Pair the meatloaf with potato latkes and their famous mac & cheese, and you’ll be all set. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Shapiro’s meatloaf is better than my mom’s (but please don’t tell her I said so).
Poppyseed Cake: It’s probably sacrilege that I didn’t put down cheesecake as the “can’t miss” dessert at Shapiro’s, but how often do get to eat Poppyseed Cake? In my case (and I eat out a lot!), the answer is not very often. I love it with all my heart. The poppyseed at Shapiro’s is a sweet bundt cake filled with delightful poppyseeds and iced with a decadent white poppyseed frosting. If poppyseeds aren’t your thing, get the cheesecake–I won’t be mad.
Reuben Sandwich: You didn’t really think I was going to only list one sandwich on here, did you? My recommendation is to take a friend, order the smoked tongue and Reuben, and share. Pretty smart, huh? This classic Reuben is stacked with Shapiro’s famous corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing all sandwiched between their house-made grilled rye bread. Anyone got lunch plans today?