Zesto's: I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream!
I wish Zesto's were open year-round. I'd even brave the cold now and then to get a taste of my absolute favorite ice cream shop anywhere. Which brings up another point-- I wish Zesto's were a nationwide chain. They HAVE grown locally. Now there are at least 4 locations in town (the original downtown on Broadway and Creighton, one northeast at St. Joe Center shopping plaza, one southwest off of 24 and Liberty Mills Road in Village of Coventry, and one out north at Coldwater Crossing). I've also seen one by Columbia City off of US 30. All but the original location downtown have a drive-through service and an outdoor seating area to enjoy your treat. But they're only open from sometime in April to usually sometime late September. So much ice cream ... so little time!
Favorite Dish: If you like soft-serve ice cream with a smooth, velvety texture that just melts in your mouth, you will love Zesto's.
My favorite is the Boston Cooler, which consists of ginger ale and vanilla ice cream made into a shake. I would usually get it as a malt for the extra flavor. But the ginger ale is a very nice twist. And I've never seen anything like it at any other ice cream shop. Oh, and their servings are very generous-- even a small shake is filling. For the health-conscious, there are various flavors of frozen yogurt that rotate daily and can even be used as a substitute for ice cream in any concoction.
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
Cindy's: Serving the whole world 15 people at a time...
You can sit at the counter or you can sit outside. There are no booths, no tables here. Just a counter a mere meter away from the grill where John works his magic while Cindy slings the coffee. Chrome and formica is the motif with juke box stations placed every few feet along the counter. Play "Crazy" by Patsy Cline for me when you go there.
They are only open for breakfast and lunch, closing about 2pm. It's a favorite hang out for cops, fire fighters, EMTs, lawyers, city officials - blue collar, white collar, and even a clerical collar or two.
It was featured in the movie "In the Company of Men" shot in Fort Wayne.
Favorite Dish: Breakfast Special #1 is two eggs, cooked to order, toast, hash browns, and a side of bacon, ham, or sausage, just like you'd expect. Coffee comes with the price of the meal, like it's supposed to. Everything at Cindy's is predictably good, from the food to the service to the company. It's as hometown as hometown gets in middle America.
Get some of John's homemade pie for desert. I prefer the rhubarb, but it's all good, just like you'd expect.
If you get Angela as your waitress, give her grief for me.
Power's Burgers: Want a Heart Attack?
If you're from California, then it's all about In-and-Out. If you're from the East Coast, then it's all about White Castle. If you're from Fort Wayne, then it's all about Power's Burgers. The size is right in between a double-double and a slider with twice the greasiness. Order with onions if you plan to have bad breath for a week.
Favorite Dish: Double-cheeseburger with onions and a chocolate malt.
Casa Ristorante: Best Italian, at a good price
Simple italian, nothing too fancy or over the top. Just generous portions of straight forward dishes. Pretty much exactly how you'd want and expect. Homey ambience, busy for lunch and weekends. Avoid the crowds and get takeout if you're in a hurry. Everything on the menu is tasty. Great food at a fair price.
Favorite Dish: You must start your meal with the Insalata Casaburo. It's the house special. And you'll never forget it! I haven't lived in Fort Wayne in over 7 years, and I still dream about this salad. From there it doesnt matter where you go, but I was always a huge fan of the Mostaccioli al forno. Not for the shy of cheese types though. This one has like 3 different types, all melted in gooey perfection on top of this baked dish. You'll have plenty of leftovers, and they're almost as good the next day!
- Food and Dining
Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano: Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano
An elegant, if not expensive, Italian restaurant chain with about 11 locations nationwide, including one here in Fort Wayne. The restaurant is casual and features pastas, pizzas, and a large selection of wines. Follow this link for pictures of the Fort Wayne restaurant. http://www.biaggis.com/photos/ftwayneopening/index.htm The restaurant is open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 11am-9pm.
Favorite Dish: The Ravioli Quattro Formaggi. If you don't like cheese, skip this wonderful pasta. If you do, sink your teeth into cheese heaven! Raviolli filled with four, count them, four cheese and topped with the Biaggi's four-cheese cream sauce and parmesan bread crumbs! I'm am getting hungry now!
The Deck (Part of the Gas House): I Finally Got My Lobster Sandwich
After walking around the downtown and near downtown area of Fort Wayne on my second evening in town taking pictures, I was getting a little thirsty and hungry and with the threat of rain in the air I had to decide if I wanted to take the safe route and eat inside or be a little adventuresome and tempt Mother Nature. If you know me, you know that it really wasn't that difficult of a decision. Living in the Midwest with our 4 season weather, I take every chance I can to eat outdoors during nice weather unless my allergies really start acting up.
I finally decided to eat at one of the two restaurants located on or by the St. Mary's River which is one of the 3 rivers that converge in downtown Fort Wayne. (St. Mary's, St Joseph's and Maumee). I forget exactly what I asked one of the staff before I entered the deck area, but I think it was something like, "Do you think I should have dinner here?" "You really should!" was his answer and thus the sale was closed (I was in sales for 8 years early in my career so I appreciate an upfront honest answer.) I found out a little later in the meal that the person who answered my question was the manager of The Deck (motto from their paper menu is "Cold Drinks, Good Food, Muddy River") Jake Hall whose grandfather Don started his restaurant business with a Fort Wayne drive in back in 1946. And if you look at the website you will see that the family owns, I think, eleven different eating and drinking establishments in Fort Wayne, including a hotel and catering business.
Anyway, before I get too long winded about this place let me sum it up for you in a few words, before you go further and read about the food. "Nice atmosphere, gracious and pleasant staff (thanks Mindy and Jake for taking the time to talk to me), good food, cold drinks and of course that MUDDY RIVER.
NOTE: My gamble paid off, just a little drizzle, even though 4 miles away at my hotel they said it poured. I had my Indiana University umbrella at the ready!!
Favorite Dish: The only dish I've had so far was the Blackened Lobster Sandwich. I say only because I will be back in Fort Wayne next week for a few more days and hope to make it back with a few of my colleagues. NOTE: I didn't make it back on this trip.
I titled this tip,"I Finally Got My Lobster Sandwich" because for years watching the food channels I have always wanted to try a lobster sandwich or lobster roll and being on a business trip where I worry a little less about spending money I thought this was a great opportunity to try. And seeing that I had missed my chance about 6 weeks ago at Citi Field in New York (they had a lobster roll in one of the concession stands, but we saw it after the game on the way out of the ballpark) I wasn't going to pass this by.
First, though I asked my server, Mindy, where the lobster was from (I really don't like the warm water lobster's down in the gulf coast and this was my opinion even before the latest oil spill). Several minutes later Mindy came back (she had to go across the parking lot to the main restaurant to ask - sorry Mindy for making you walk so far) and said it was from Australia. I've never had an Australian lobster so I was ready to order. When asked how I would like it, blackened, broiled or crispy fried I opted for blackened (but as I told Mindy only slightly blackened). When the sandwich came back it was just slightly blackened and with the remoulade sauce served on the side with homemade coleslaw and my Tequilla Sunrise (hey, I was warm after walking around town taking pictures) it made for a perfect eating by myself evening.
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
Any of the Casa Restaurants
Any of the Casa family of restaurants: Casa Grille, Casa Ristorante, Casa Mare, Casa D'Angelo
These are Italian restaurants and often voted the best italian food in Fort Wayne if not the best restaurants period in Fort Wayne. Because everything is served a la carte (no salads included with the meals and no breadsticks), the place is very cheap. But cheap doesn't mean bad! The atmosphere can be great as well. I love the soft glow of the Casa Grille at night, both inside and out. And the selection of wine is some of the best!
Favorite Dish: Everything!
Cap and Cork: Seriously disappointed
I was so disappointed in Cap and Cork. I've heard raves from friends for some time. The food was so-so. Salmon was dry and over-cooked. Others in the party also had problems with steak not being cooked as ordered. Waitress acted like she was doing a favor waiting on us, and didn't check back to see if meal was ok. All in all, we could have done better at Ponderosa!
Cindy's Diner: A Whole Lotta Garbage!
Don't let the title of this tip fool you. On the menu of this small 15 seat diner in downtown Fort Wayne is a dish called GARBAGE. As described in the travel book I had with me Garbage is "a blend of eggs, potatoes, cheese, onions and bits of ham prepared our special way". Intriguing no doubt! The morning I was there I ordered a dozen donuts for my training class. The donut machine was rescued from the formerly nearby Murphy's Dime Store the closed in the late 1980's. John and Cindy (the owners) purchased the donut maker and now make fresh cake donuts every morning. I picked up ones that had vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut and strawberry frosting on top. Needless to say they were gone very quickly even before my class started.
From the 2 pictures I have here, one is from the inside and one from the outside. The outside picture shows the Lincoln Highway designation on the front of the diner. The inside shows the counter, a few patrons (I know police in a place where I got donuts, don't go there) and a server. John was also there at the grill. Take a look at the sign from my 2nd picture. "We can serve the Whole World, 15 at a Time." 15 counter stools and that's it.
Favorite Dish: Can't really speak for anything on the menu since I just ordered the dozen donuts, but if I get back and am able to have breakfast you better believe I'll have something that John makes.
- Family Travel
Magic Wand: Don't Go if You Have a Clown Phobia
Yes, if you have Coulrophobia (the extreme fear of clowns) don't stop at the Magic Wand located 15 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. Why, you may ask? Take a look at the pictures included here to give your some idea.
I stopped at the Magic Wand on my way home to Chicago from Fort Wayne on a Friday afternoon. It was a little out of the direct path back to Chicago, but not by much. I found out about the Magic Wand again from the Lincoln Highway book I used for the Cindy's Diner tip.
This establishment has been going strong since 1964 so they are inching close to their 50th year in business. As the story goes the owner, Judy, has a clown collection which is figured predominantly in her restaurant.
I had a large cherry Crystal Freeze which I ordered from the take out window which is a slush with ice cream which gives it a little sweet sour taste. Good cold drink for my 180 mile drive back to Chicago.
I had to go inside though so I could get some more of those clown pictures and after asking for permission (good thing I did because a few weeks earlier they had been robbed and were a little apprehensive until I told them about VT and my motives) got a couple of good shots including the COUNTER, my favorite.
Favorite Dish: Only tried one thing, the Cherry Crystal Freeze which was very good. They have a full menu of down home favorites.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Oley's Pizza: Best Pizza on the Planet
This place is a dump, which makes it even cooler. Its actually housed in a little strip mall and if you didn't know it was there you'd go right past it.
Favorite Dish: Everything is awesome! The pizza is about 3 inches thick, the chicken wings are the best out there, and the beer is served in a frozen metal bottle holder that keeps it ice cold.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Waiter on the Way: Order Food Delivery from Waiter on the Way!
Waiter on the Way restaurants is the best place in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis for restaurant food delivery. We pick up the food and delivery it to your home! Makes it much easier to enjoy the pleasure of going out to a restaurant without actually leaving your home.
Favorite Dish: All of the dishes are from Fort Wayne's known restaurants. Enjoy restaurants such as TGI Fridays, Munchies, IHOP, Bandidos, Carlos O'Kellys, a lot of other well known restaurants.
Mad Anthony Brewing Company: Mad about the Brew!
This is one place that I have to eat at when back in the Fort visiting family. It is a laid back casual place. I love the old signs on the walls.
Favorite Dish: Where else can you find a place that serves Scooby Snacks? They have lots of choices on their menu. I love thier unwraps. It is a pizza-like entree. The crust is thinner than a thin crust, but thicker than a tortilla. The Greek and Portabella Unwraps are my favorite. Thier pizzas are also amazing!
Queenie Mae's Soul Food: Best soul food in Fort Wayne!
What can I say? They've got great food. The restaurant is freshly painted and has bright-colored African paintings. The atmosphere is friendly and casual.
Favorite Dish: Try the fresh catfish or the gigantic country-fried steak with a side of mashed potatoes! I'd also suggest a large mug of Faygo grape or orange to go with it.
Flanagan's Restaurant and Pub: Flanagan's Restaurant and Pub
A very fun atmosphere, the place can be noisy and is not the place to take a date. But it's a great place to go with a group of people! They boast being voted the best restaurant in Fort Wayne.
Favorite Dish: Whatever you want! This place has everything from Pizza to seafood to hambergers and steaks!