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.
Our food journey throughout Indianapolis takes us to the lovely city of Chicago this week…wait, what!? Well, we’re not actually going to Chicago, but rather an authentic Chicago-style deli and pub that is bringing the best of the Windy City right here to our fine city. Fat Dan’s Deli originally opened back in 2009 right in the heart of the Broad Ripple Strip, where that location eventually relocated to SoBro at the corner of 54th and College. They have since grown their brand and added a location downtown on Mass Ave and also on Main Street in Carmel. Fat Dan’s is the brainchild (and namesake) of lifelong Cubs fan and owner Dan Jarman; he wanted to bring his love of all things Chicago to the Hoosier state.
Jarman’s original vision was to create a place that resembled his idea of the perfect basement. A place where friends could gather to watch a game while the kids stayed busy with shuffleboard and board games; not to mention some great food and drinks to boot. There’s not a better place in Indy to catch a Cubs or Bears game! All three locations are slightly different, but that Chicago spirit is ever-present in all of them.
Fat Dan’s is known as “The Home of the Chicago Beef”, but I’m here to tell you that their menu is loaded with amazing food from top to bottom. From a legit Chicago Dog and Italian Beef to mouthwatering burgers and smoked meats, no one will leave Fat Dan’s hungry. With such a fun and exciting menu, it was quite the daunting task to narrow my “can’t miss” choices down to only four. It’s a great menu to explore over multiple visits, but that is not my job, so here is what you “can’t miss” on your next trip:
- Fat Havana…Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union of the Fat Burger with the Pressed Cubano in holy matrimony…what a beautiful couple! If you couldn’t have guessed, the Fat Havana is a Fat Dan’s Fat Burger that is topped with smoked pork, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, Goya Mojo, and mustard. All of the burgers at Fat Dan’s are delicious, but this one blew me away. Why struggle with the decision to order the burger or the Cuban when you can have the best of both worlds under one bun.
- Fat Dan’s Slow-Smoked Wings…If you’re anything like me, you like talking about food almost as much as eating food. Perhaps my favorite conversation around food is the “Who has the best _______ in Indy?” Whether it be pizza, burgers, or even wings (wink, wink), I love hearing anyone and everyone’s opinion. That brings us to the topic at hand…these perfectly-smoked-bursting-with-flavor chicken wings they’re serving up at Fat Dan’s. I can’t come out and say that they’re absolutely the best wings in Indy, but they’re definitely in the conversation. The wings are meaty, tender and have a rich smoky flavor, so much so that you really don’t even need any sauce. Speaking of sauces…you can get any one of Hot, BBQ (my pick!), Hot BBQ, Teriyaki, or Honey Dijon for dipping. So, if you have a favorite place for wings in Indy, make sure you check out Fat Dan’s before making any final judgements.
- Dirty Tots…These fall under the “Fun Baskets” section of the menu and I can’t think of a more fitting name. This basket of fun contains crispy tater tots that are piled high with smoked pork, then covered in cheese sauce and Fat Dan’s hot sauce, and then finished off with scallions. If by Dirty, they mean Crazy Good, then yes, these are Dirty Tots. Warning: the hot sauce is pretty hot, but it goes perfectly with the other ingredients. Full disclosure, I sing “Dirty Tots” in my head to the tune of “Dirty Pop” by NSYNC every time I see it. Sorry about that.
Fat Dan’s Slow-Smoked Brisket…If you’ve made it this far into the column, I’m sure you’ve already noticed how much I’m digging the smoked meats at Fat Dan’s. They smoke their brisket for fourteen hours, making it melt-in-your-mouth tender. It is then sliced and placed perfectly upon a soft bun. It is served with a side of BBQ sauce along with pickles and onions. Brisket is a tough cut of meat that can be difficult to prepare; never fear, though, Fat Dan’s makes it look easy.
Check out my Instagram page (@eatindywatchindie) for a chance to win a $20 gift card to Fat Dan’s. Go Cubs!