One of my very favorite cities in the state of Indiana is Fort Wayne. I’ve been there many times over the last two decades and have been impressed on so many levels – from their amazing zoo, science-themed children’s museum, botanical conservatory, minor league baseball stadium, historical attractions, riverfront park, boutique hotel, Sweetwater campus, stunning courthouse, convention center and arts scene to the varied dining selections.
Here are five places to eat to consider adding to your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to the Hoosier state’s second largest city. I made a list of 15, but my descriptions were too lengthy to go into detail on all of them. I’ll have to work more into a future column because I’ve discovered Fort Wayne to be such a wonderful food city.
I adore this tiny diner that dates back to 1952 where all the seats are counter seats and the quarters are so small you can get a close up view of your omelet being made on a big flat top griddle. There are 15 counter seats and they’re open for breakfast and dinner only. You might find you have to wait if it’s peak lunch time, but it’s worth the wait and the food comes up really fast. It’s just a fun overall experience and good, hearty comfort food.
People are also reading…
U.S. Steel to pay record profit-sharing bonuses of more than $14,000
WATCH NOW: 1 dead after shooting inside gas station, police say
Two pulled from Robinson Lake, official says
People can rent Lamborghinis, Ferraris and monster trucks at new Crown Point luxury car rental business
Family urges use of helmets after ‘loving, caring’ man dies following motorcycle crash
Steelworker taken to Chicago hospital after serious injury at Cleveland-Cliffs Indiana Harbor
UPDATE: Overturned kayaks blamed for leaving Dyer resident dead, another critical
Naked man fled room after family caught him molesting girl, police say
School City of Whiting turnover rate has many agitated
Man broke knife off in woman’s head, raped her during attack at motel, police say
Two dead in separate Gary shootings, coroner says
Ford reports $667M profit in second quarter
Customer complaints mount during Old National’s integration of First Midwest Bank
‘Filth was on every inch of the floors’: Woman faces neglect of dependent charges
WATCH NOW: Police investigate homicide in Gary
This place blew me away. It’s been several years now since I was there and I can still picture that meal and still taste it when I look at photos. I honestly had one of the best meals of my life here. I’ll never forget the amazing fisherman’s stew that was full of mussels, shrimp and halibut or the chuck roast gnocchi. And I was very pleasantly surprised to find crab okonomiyaki on the menu – it was fun trying this trendy dish with warm flakes of bonito that sway from the heat and appear to be dancing. Oh, and they have beer, too, and it’s really good, but the food is so amazing you almost forget you’re at a brewery and not a swanky top-tier restaurant.
From the lump crab hushpuppies to the smoked chicken wings to the BLT deviled eggs, there are so many delicious elevated bites in this chic, corner spot in downtown Fort Wayne. I always order buratta when it’s on the menu and I loved theirs. Entrees are amazing and creative – Baja fish tacos, a smoked pork Cubano, a gorgeous way bacon cheeseburger and more. Don’t pass on dessert – gooey butter cake is a definite recommendation.
Birdie’s is one of my very favorite spots in the city – and not just for the food. The menu is an abbreviated one, but with some great options, like steak frites, mushroom risotto, a chopped salad, crispy artichokes, marinated olives and melon salad. The best part of Birdie’s is that it is a rooftop eatery with a spectacular view. Even if you aren’t hungry, be sure to stop there for a cocktail where you can sit back and sip on the rooftop patio overlooking downtown Fort Wayne.
I’m also going to mention Arbor here. It’s a separate restaurant, but both are in the same building – The Bradley Hotel. The luxury boutique hotel is a gem in this historic area that opened last year. While Birdies is a rooftop lounge, Arbor is a full-service dining room on the lower level just off the lobby with large windows across two walls. It’s got a fun, eclectic menu of Italian-inspired starters, entrees, desserts and specials with stunning presentations. Pasta is house made, the charcuterie board is beautiful, the sides are works of art and the desserts (caramel budino, anyone?) are not to be skipped.
I love nostalgic eateries and this one takes the cake. The menu is simple (although not healthy), but they’ve been doing dogs for over 100 years and they know what they’re doing. It’s a place you just must try when in Fort Wayne. It bills itself as the oldest coney stand in the country. It opened in 1914 and is a classic diner that’s been run by the same family since 1916. As you walk by you can see the hot dogs being grilled right in front of the window, which is fun. Prices are ridiculously reasonable at $1.80 for a hot dog with coney sauce, mustard and hand-chopped onions.