Getting to know a state through its foodie options is my idea of a perfect road trip! The Kid and I recently hit the road and headed west to check out some popular food offerings in Northern Indiana compliments of Indiana Foodways Alliance. They set up the itinerary, we plugged in the GPS- and traveled over, around, and through some well-known counties and some if-you-don’t-know-about-them-you-need-to-get-there immediately counties to taste test the best of the state. Not only did we have a delicious visit, we learned about our home state’s neighbor to the west. Curious? If you’re a food lover, you should be. Second leg of the journey? Miami County and West Lafayette!
The Kid and I ventured into foreign road trip territory in early May- but never assume foreign is a bad thing. We learned so much about Northern Indiana culture- and learning about its culture through a foodie tour is my idea of fun! We traveled by state routes and back roads, all the while making pit stops at fun restaurants that serve delicious dishes. Northern Indiana road trip part two was all about Miami County and West Lafayette, Indiana. You may be saying to yourself, “Where?”, but you won’t be for long. Both spots are brimming with food and fun- and worthy of a visit.
Disclosure: I was hosted by all of these amazing restaurants, cities, and CVBs to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes the Northern Indiana foodie scene so incredible. All opinions and photos are my own!
Head to Miami County and you may just end up walking around the quaint streets of Peru, Indiana, with your mouth gaped open in surprise. At least that’s what The Kid and I ended up doing for most of the day we spent in the teeny Midwest town. Even on a misty day like the one had, the Miami County Court House is still a stunner. Peru is a town where all of the folks know each other, stop to smile and say hello, and seem really happy. The kids find plenty of things to do to keep them out of trouble including practicing for months in advance to put on the coolest three-ring circus.
Around 200 performers from the ages of 7 to 21 get together and stun the crowds for the Circus City Festival for 10 performances every July. We had the pleasure of catching an early practice and I could feel the dedication and passion in that large room. Gymnasts, jugglers, even aerial acrobatics put their hearts and souls into the Peru Circus. And speaking of children…
If you’re in town, stop at Peru High School to check out its multi-million dollar fine art gallery. Another jaw-dropping moment for us, the gallery is home to sculptures, paintings, and pottery that would make any art lover smile. They have three Salvador Dalí pieces, a Miró- I could write an entire piece about our visit. But you’re curious about the food.
Smitty McMussleman’s is an Irish pub serving traditional dishes like my Guinness Beef Stew ‘n Mash, Drunken Chicken, and of course, Fish ‘n Chips. The pub/restaurant is the local hang/go-to restaurant in Peru and the decor is a melding of Irish with repurposed church decor. One of my fave things is choose-you-own-dessert for a kids meal. The second floor has a Candy Bar and kids can pick and choose what they’s like for a sweet finishing touch.
After dinner, folks head to East End Double Dip for an ice cream cone or sundae. Another local hang (there’s a reason why the locals eat where they eat- they want great food and a good value), I saw a sign that read “Lemon Soft Serve” and had to give it a go. Part creamy custard-style, part soft serve, the lemon flavor was subtle- and perfect for an after dinner treat.
Ok, so Peru, Indiana, is famous for its circus, but did you know it’s also the birthplace of musician and all around amazing man Cole Porter? His childhood home has had the backing of local historians and culture enthusiasts and, once a run down house, the Cole Porter Inn is now renovated and ready for guests. The Kid and I stayed in the “Cole Porter Suite” on the second story and its large, lovely space had the perfect vibe for small town Indiana. Across the house is the “Anything Goes” suite and it’s sunny and simply lovely. Price per night is right around $100.
After our night at the Inn, we headed straight to Aroma Coffee Shop. Another fun spot to catch the locals enjoying their morning caffeine-infused beverages, the coffee shop has specialty drinks, homemade muffins and other sweet treats, and my favorite, local banter.
Just a few miles down the road from Main Street in Peru is McClure’s Orchard and its wine selection! Yep, the orchard makes it own wine and mead (ever tasted honey mead? It’s my favorite.), has a restaurant (we visited for lunch. If quiche is on the menu, order it. You won’t be disappointed.) in the back of the main building with delicious offerings, a sweet gift shop, and a petting zoo. Never one to deny myself a goat selfie, The Kid and I marched to the barn and had a blast with the farm animals. In the fall, the orchard turns into an autumn wonderland filled with family fun and when you stop, don’t forget to sample the wine.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of Purdue, but West Lafayette is another one of those cute little Midwest gems that’s so much more than just a college town. The city is clean and the hometown residents friendly. Heavy with agritourism, West Lafayette has plenty of farms and foodie stops- and is the home of a Guy Fieri favorite!
Did I ever mention I was a huge fan of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives? Yep, when hockey isn’t on the tele at night we’re watching Food Network and Triple D. The first season of the Guy Fieri show is one of my favorites and it includes Triple XXX Family Restaurant. Originally famous for its delicious root beer (we took a couple of six-packs home with us. Mr. Locke had one of them downed in a weekend!), the restaurant is the last of the original “XXX Thirst Stations” and the oldest drive-in left in Indiana.
So, accolades aside, what would make me drive back to West Lafayette and XXX again? The Duane Purvis Buger, hands down. Layered with the usual burger toppings, the restaurant offers one special ingredient: peanut butter. Sounds a little kooky, I know, but seriously don’t knock it until you try it. Before, I used to think of peanut butter as an ingredient that paired well with sweet, but I was pleasantly surprised, dumbfounded almost, at how well it goes on a burger. By the time the burger hits the table the pb is melted and is nearly a peanut-style sauce.
For dessert? Root Beer Cake with vanilla ice cream, of course! A restaurant favorite, the dense cake has a subtle root beer flavor and, combined with the vanilla ice cream, it’s almost like a root beer float in a bowl.
Next week: Hendricks and Hamilton Counties! Did you miss Part 1?