Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Take, for instance, the uncomplicated BLT. Just five ingredients are necessary and none of them require a trip to a specialty grocer: bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, bread.
It’s what you do with those ingredients that can make this straightforward sandwich special and since April is National BLT Month and most who know me consider me a sort of expert on the topic–that’s my actual vanity plate to the right–I figured I’d share a few of my local favorites.
Right downtown, Ralph’s Great Divide makes a strong, standard version that comes with a side, crackers, and a miniature chocolate. Served on white toast, the bacon on this one is more chewy than crispy and rather thin but comes with a nice amount of lettuce and tomato.
Another downtown standby, the Elbow Room (left), serves a solid version on toast with good bacon (and lots of it), fresh tomato, and a good selection of sides. Try the homemade potato salad.
Head east for the Tie Dye Grill’s Far-Out BLT. What makes it so groovy? It’s served with herbed cream cheese on a toasted panini. You’ll feel cooler after eating this one, and you probably want to have one of their desserts, too. Whatever the special cake of the day may be, you’ll leave with a smile if you try it.
I’ve been a regular visitor to Broad Ripple Brewpub since the late ‘90s and have tried nearly everything on the regular menu as well as specials. Can you guess which item I’ve ordered most often? Yup, the braunschweiger BLT. It’s served on marbled rye and is such a great combination of flavors! Of course, if you’re not a fan of braunschweiger you should have them leave that part off, or if I happen to be there when you are, just have them bring me your portion, okay? Thanks. Oh yes, you must add veggie chips as your side!
Cafe Patachou in any of its locations is a great place for brunch, so it makes sense that they know their way around some bacon. Their BLT stands out due to added mozzarella cheese chunks, onions (I left them off mine), and some dijon vinaigrette for a little extra flavor. They let you choose your bread and I recommend the sourdough. Your plate will be full when you add the pickle spear, cukes, and chips.
I usually go to Mass Ave’s BRU Burger for, duh, a burger (it IS in their name), bourbon (they have a massive, top notch selection), and their fries with homemade dipping sauces; however, on my last visit I tried the Mass-Ave B.L.T. It arrived with ten, yes, ten, pieces of applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and bru mayo on toasted wheat. The bacon was so plentiful that I was constantly rescuing the deserting pieces and that’s far from being a bad thing. Did I also mention the bourbon?
If you’re looking for an old school BLT like Mom used to make, Broad Ripple’s Red Key Tavern is your destination. That simplicity I mentioned earlier? Just white toast with the base ingredients. There was a couple eating lunch a few tables away and they told me it had been 50 years since they’d been in and the place hadn’t changed a bit. I think that’s a good thing.
Right next door to the Red Key is a very different BLT at Taste. With avocado and basil aioli, it’s actually a BALT. This was a good one, but the bacon could have been more crispy. My other complaint, if you can call it that, is that the croissant I chose didn’t do a stellar job of supporting the guts of the sandwich. I could have picked traditional bread but I have a hard time saying no to a croissant. They also serve a BELT with an egg, red peppers, etc., and I’ll have to try that one next time. As a bonus, their peach tea is quite possibly the best I’ve ever had.
Venture south off I-65’s South Keystone exit to find Marty’s. For only $8 you get a full half pound of crispy bacon, fresh lettuce & tomato served on french bread because this sandwich is too heavy for mere mortal breads. You also get a side of fries, like you’ll have room if you finish the behemoth, and buckets of beer are almost always on special. The big difference here is that they use Miracle Whip instead of mayo. My advice: be sure to ask for more napkins.
Just a short walk north of the Indiana Convention Center you’ll find Bourbon Street Distillery. While known for their cajun offerings—they’re all very good—they also have a bit of fame for their triple decker BLT. It stands out enough to have made the list of Super 46 Sandwiches compiled for our Super Bowl which included entries from the entire state.
Staying in for lunch? If you’re downtown, the Libertine’s Brown Bag Indy delivery service has a revolving menu of fresh, innovative meals. Keep your eyes open for the Indiana BLT made with Smoking Goose Meatery’s jowl bacon. Have you ever seen the face of your god? You will when you eat this. I love it so much I set up an Outlook reminder to make sure I don’t miss an opportunity to eat it.
One of my Broad Ripple favorites for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Zest has a twist on the typical BLT. The mayo is replaced by homemade boursin. The creamy garlic/herb cheese worked well but at times was almost overpowering. Bacon was juicy, butter lettuce and tomato were fresh, grilled sourdough bread held the sandwich together nicely. This is another one that needs multiple napkins but it was tasty enough that I could forget I was hearing the Spin Doctors and that’s saying a lot. Start your meal with a flowering wild hibiscus mimosa.
Count on Harry & Izzy’s (all three locations) to put a special spin on the classic. Their BLT comes with fried green tomatoes & fresh mozzarella. You won’t find it on the menu, but ask and they’ll bring one out for you. Bacon was thick and crispy and foccacia bread stood up to the weight of the meat. I had fried green tomatoes as a side because…well, why not? This was such an enormous sandwich that it was two full meals for me.
I know there are lots of other contenders out there and I have Barking Dog and Shoefly on my to-do list. Wherever you go, if you’re having bacon, it’s going to be a good day.