Getting to know a state through its foodie options is my idea of a perfect road trip! The Kid and I hit the road in late spring 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. The fifth (and final!) leg of the journey? Randolph and Jay Counties- and the place that started this entire gastrotour. If you missed any part of this delicious Northern Indiana food series, there’s Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four to catch you up to speed.
The Kid and I ventured into foreign road trip territory in early May- but never assume foreign is a bad thing when it comes to road tripping. 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 and county curiosities. I’m seriously sad that this foodie tour in photos is coming to an end. It’s been so much fun to relive the deliciousness!
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!
Not just another sweet spot in the Midwest, Randolph County is THE sweet spot that got this entire gastrotour started! The road trip began with a trip to AAA Travel Expo in Columbus, Ohio, and love of Sugar Cream pie. I told the folks from Indiana Foodways Alliance how much I loved the flavor and texture of the pie and they insisted I make a visit to the home of one of the most famous makers- Mrs. Wick’s!
Yes, they love their food, but they also have plenty of things to do in the county including a Firefighter Museum, Old Hotel Museum & Railroad Learning Center, the Randolph County Historical Museum, and Farmland Downtown Historic District.
Ok, so let’s dig right in to Mrs. Wick’s Sugar Cream pie and the history behind the company. Randolph County is home to both the Mrs. Wick’s Restaurant and Factory where the pies are made. The factory feeds its pies straight into the restaurant and not only can you purchase freshly made pies in the restaurant, they’re the same high-quality pies that can be purchased in stores.
The restaurant is not only a local hang for folks that love really good dessert, but it’s the place to head for really good food as well. We hit the restaurant for a late lunch and it was still packed- a sure sign that the food is delicious.
Turkey sandwiches with fresh buns, hamburgers, and waffle fries were on our menu- and, of course, Sugar Cream pie. They have a freezer area where you can buy as many as you’d like and stock up- which I did. I came home with three! I like to call them souvenirs.
Mrs. Wick’s also makes tons of other styles and flavors so, if you’re in the area, make a pit stop. You won’t be disappointed.
Unfortunately, the factory doesn’t allow cameras, but I can tell you that the pie making process is fascinating. From the crust creation to how the pies are filled, the factory is on pointe. And, during peak season they offer public tours so check the website for more info. Remember Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Picture Picture? That’s exactly what it reminded me of.
After lunch and a factory tour at Mrs. Wick’s, we headed to our final destination- Jay County. The county is known for its massive Tri-State Swap and Sell Meet- the 34th Annual just took place last month. Folks selling their goods line up (and camp out) a week in advance to get a good spot at the Fair Grounds and it’s massive.
Run for the Fallen
I’d like to call it more than luck that we were in Portland, Indiana, just in time to watch the Indiana Run for the Fallen make it’s way through town. Running over 130 miles in three days, the “total run from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis represents every service member from Indiana who laid down their lives for freedom’s cause.” Each mile is dedicated to Indiana military men and women that have passed away defending their country. Goosebumps, baby.
While waiting for the runners, we made pit stops into the loveliest stores. Filled with delicious scents, it was a great way to pass the afternoon.
Sharlette’s Fudgery & Candies
Specializing on well over 40 fudge flavors, Sharlette’s shop also makes delicious chocolates, chocolate-covered items, and has sweet gifts that would be perfect for birthdays, holidays, and the like. We stopped in for a fudge sample and I could have sampled all day. Ahh, but for the lack of time.
Glass Bonsai Coffee Shop
Steve Zelinski, owner of Glass Bonsai and artist, had two loves in his life when he opened the shop in 2004: Stained Glass and Bonsai trees. Mlding the two together to create the shop’s name, he and his wife decided to expand what they sold by adding additional local artists’ wares to the shop and a love of flavored coffee added yet an additional (and delicious-smelling) offering- flavored coffee beans.
The beans are fresh roasted using air roasting methods instead of the traditional drum method (think air popcorn popper). The shop carries over 30 flavored and non-flavored beans in stock and has access to over 100 different flavoring of beans. We brought home a bag of one of its top sellers- Jamaican Me Crazy- and the roast’s blend of caramel, Kahlua and vanilla is not only delicious, but Mr. Locke (coffee lover extraordinaire) is a massive fan now!
Redkey, Indiana, is home to Lil Bistro– and our final meal of the tour. Once the town bank, the brick building was gutted and is now home to the quaint, award winning restaurant.
Looking for simple and delicious? The restaurant’s award-winning Cucumber Squares will hit the spot.
If you don’t notice the smell of a wood-fired oven when you pull up to the restaurant, you will when you walk through the doors. Wood fired, brick oven pizza is a specialty and one that The Kid couldn’t pass up. She ordered a traditional Margherita pizza and I couldn’t help but snag a piece for myself.
And that’s it! Thanks you so much for following along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook during our delicious journey- and thanks to every CVB, restaurant, and attraction that we had the pleasure of visiting during the tour.
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