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 (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram)
You know those ultra-hip joints that give off such a cool vibe that you just want to be a part of it? What if the place was also serving up some of the tastiest and most interesting food in town? -- that, my friends, would be a true foodie paradise. Such a place does exist (no, not just in my dreams) and it’s located on perhaps the most happening street in all of Indy. The hotspot in question, Love Handle (877 Massachusetts Avenue), is the most unique brunch spot in Indy.
Owners, Chris and Ally Benedyk, are no strangers to the Indy food scene; Chris got his start working the counter at Goose the Market back in the day while Ally was a server at the dearly missed Recess. A few years later, they took their talents to Milwaukee and opened a popular sandwich and small plates shop. That was only temporary, though, because they knew they wanted to end up back here in the Hoosier state. They originally opened Love Handle on East 10th Street, but quickly outgrew that space … which brings us to today where they’re killing it on Mass Ave.
The place itself is subtly stylish and full of quirkiness, from the vintage artwork on the walls to the eye-popping yellow and green seats. Natural light pours in through the front windows to help set the scene. They even have a Wednesday Movie Night which is currently screening John Waters classics. If you’re not familiar with John Waters, to say he’s eccentric would be like saying that Meryl Streep is a pretty good actress. If you couldn’t tell, there is a lot of fun to be had at Love Handle and I haven’t even gotten to the food yet.
Let’s now move on to the real reason to be excited about Love Handle -- the food. Belly, tongue, and gizzards are some of the more adventurous items on the eclectic menu which pair nicely with the more traditional creations like biscuits and gravy and waffles. Added bonus: breakfast is served all day! Brinner (Breakfast + Dinner) never really caught on, did it? Anyhoo, no matter what you order, you can be assured that it will be special and, most importantly, taste great. The majority of the food is locally sourced and the menu changes regularly. That said, here are four items that you “can’t miss” when visiting Love Handle:
Roasted Pork Belly Sandwich: This is the first thing I ever had at Love Handle and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s darn near perfection. They begin with delicious pork belly (perfect meat to fat ratio) that is roasted to perfection; keeping it moist and juicy with tons of great pork flavor. It is then sandwiched between delicious bread and garnished with chimmi, fresh tomato, and pea shoots. The sando is served with fresh popcorn that is seasoned with nutritional yeast and pork fat. Super tasty!
Lox on Toast: Lox is thinly sliced salmon fillet that is house cured at Love Handle. The salmon has a simple, fresh flavor without the fishy taste. The base of this dish is a thick-cut slice of toast that is to die for. Aside from the lox, the bread is loaded with all kinds of fun stuff: caviar, tomato, peach, pea shoots, and of course, summer squash cream cheese. You can’t have lox without cream cheese, it’s like a law or something. Anyway, one bite of this masterpiece and you’ll be dancing in the aisles.
Biscuits & Gravy: You might be thinking to yourself: “ho hum, what’s so special about biscuits and gravy?” Well, for starters, they have a vegetarian gravy that I’d put up against any sausage gravy in town. If you’re not a vegetarian you should try it anyway, but if that’s not your deal, the pork sausage gravy will suit you just fine. The biscuits are light and fluffy and smothered in the glorious gravy. Add an over-easy egg on top and some pickled beets and you’re all set.
Waffle: I grew up with the mindset that waffles were strictly a breakfast food. Boy, was I wrong. The invention of chicken and waffles put that theory to rest years ago. The waffle at Love handle is light and crispy and full of flavor. It is topped with miso lime butter and hot honey and your choice of meat and egg. I’m a purist, so I went with the buttermilk fried chicken, but you can also have it with the pork belly or fresh fried fish. No matter what you choose, you’re truly in for a treat.