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Best of the Fort

When it comes to the city, it is the magazine’s job to know it inside and out. We taste the town’s mouth-watering dishes. We visit the city’s old standbys. We investigate the places that constantly come up in conversation. We pressure those in-the-know to give-up Fort Wayne’s best kept secrets. We scour the landscape to find what’s truly amazing. We then, creatively categorize and expertly curate our findings to offer what we believe are the meals, places and experiences that make the Fort fabulous.

 

BEST USE OF COLOR:

The murals that are painted on the sides of Fort Wayne’s downtown buildings are great for adding energy, a cool factor and a pop-of-color to the city’s scene. To see the talents of local artists and the impact of using vibrant and bold hues, head to Art Crawl, produced by the public art program Art This Way. Art Crawl attendees will travel through the city’s streets and alleys to where the artwork is on view. Each location features a cash bar and live band. Proceeds go to funding more public art. September 20, 5-10 pm, tickets are $15 per person, Downtownimprovementdistrict.com

 

DISH BASED ON NAPKINS REQUIRED:

At Black Dog Pub, the secret to a juicy burger is not the sauce – it’s in the beef. It believes 80/20 ground chuck is the perfect beef-to-fat ratio for juicy, flavorful burgers. The burgers are so juicy that they are napkins’ ultimate nemesis. The signature Black Dog Burger is hand-formed with a half-pound of meat served on an onion bun. It is topped with bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms and melted Swiss and American cheeses. And if you really want to see juice that is hard for any number of napkins to keep in check, go for the Big A ­- ­s sandwich, a pound of ground chuck served on the pub’s signature bun. This mammoth meal is a burger lover’s dream and a stack of napkins nightmare. 6230 Covington Road, 260.432.5534

 

USE OF SPACE:

Thanks to the City of Fort Wayne’s Alley Activation Project, side-streets (aka alleys) are being enhanced with string lights, art installations and moveable furniture to create spaces that are more than empty outdoor hallways. The accoutrements given to these spaces are designed to encourage people to gather and hang out. The alleyways being spruced up are located between Berry Street, Washington Boulevard, Harrison Street and Calhoun Street. The first of these made-over alleyways is the parking spaces adjacent to the alley on Calhoun Street next to Pint ‘n Slice – named the Porch, it is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a slice.

 

BEER TASTING:

The brewer at Hop River Brewing Co. Kevin Debs is on a mission. He wants to introduce as many beer drinkers as possible to the Alt, a German beer that is easy to drink and packed with bold flavors. And with his award-winning Alt Bier, Debs is succeeding. “Dark in color, some people might think the Alt is a heavy beer, but it is surprisingly nimble. It’s a crushable, flavorful beer,” said Debs. He did a great deal of research when developing the recipe and his interpretation remains true to the traditional German style. It’s smooth but has an assertive bitterness from the hops, which is balanced by subtle caramel malt flavors. 1515 N. Harrison Street, 260.739.3931, hopriverbrewing.com

 

USE OF THE RIVER:

For the past 31 years the Weigand Construction Duck Race has taken place. With over 19,000 plastic ducks sold for the race, they then make a splash into the St. Joseph River and float to the finish line. Proceeds from the race go to SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) and its services and programs to protect children and strengthen families. scanfw.org

 

BREAKFAST DISH THAT SHOULD BE LISTED AS A DESSERT:

If you think you have to wait until after dinner to enjoy dessert, think again. The staff at Spyro’s Pancake House are slicing into angel food cake to make a breakfast so delicious that you’ll think it’s dessert. The Angel Food Cake French Toast is made with slices of the cake dipped in French toast batter (eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg) and then grilled. But it’s not just the preparation, it is also how customers choose to eat the French toast that also helps to classify it as a treat. At the end of the meal, many customers will place an order and share with everyone at the table – just like a rich dessert. 6455 W. Jefferson Boulevard, 260.436.7797, spyrospancakehouse.com

 

NEW FORT WAYNE FESTIVALS:

Deerstock Summer Festival filled with love, peace, music and charity is September 7. Musical Guests include Duke Tumatoe and Scratch N’ Sniff. The event is open to those over 21. Proceeds help support Miss Virginia’s Food Pantry, St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen and Vincent Village. $10, Noon – 11 pm, Deer Park Irish Pub, 1530 Leesburg Road, deerparkpub.com.

Festival Of Really Terrific Barrel Aged Beers (FORTBAB) is October 19. This street festival showcases 15 local breweries from the Northern Indiana Beer Trail and their offerings of barrel-aged beers. Local brews aged in bourbon, rye, hopped whiskey, wheat whiskey and rum barrels from Three Rivers Distilling will also be showcased. $45, Noon – 4 pm, Rudy’s, 409 W. Brackenridge Street, for tickets go to eventbrite.com.

Donut miss out on the first annual Donut and Pastry Fest, September 1. It is sure to delight all carb lovers. The morning is filled with tasty pastries from local favorites including Tom’s Donuts, Rise ‘N Roll, Tim Horton’s and Leo Donuts. The tasty treats will be accompanied by a variety of coffees and adult beverages, live music and donut-themed activities. $20/person (includes vouches for two donuts, one pastry and two beverages), 9 am – 1 pm, Headwaters Park, 333 S. Clinton Street, for tickets go to eventbrite.com

 

INGREDIENT ADDED TO A CRAFT COCKTAIL:

Before there were cocktails, there was punch. It was popular in the 1800s. And Copper Spoon’s co-owner and beverage director Trevor Scovel is bringing it back and he said punch offers its maker more creativity than an individual cocktail. His Incredible Emotions Punch is definitely proof of this fact. Scovel used the adage – one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong and four parts weak as its base while also using a very distinctive ingredient – hibiscus leaves. Scovel said the leaves are full of flavor. 301 W. Jefferson Boulevard, 260.755.1019, copperspoonfw.com

 

TASTING COCKTAIL:

Do you want to know the secret to a good cocktail? It’s the bartender’s ability to balance acidity, sweetness and bitterness. At Three Rivers Distilling Co., the drink masters prepare cocktails with the distillery’s locally made spirits. The mixologist’s talents shine through in its Savannah Gentleman. A bourbon cocktail that pays homage to the state of Georgia with its use of peach nectar, warm vanilla and a touch of mint offers a refreshing herbaceous element. 224 E. Wallace Street, 260.235.5170, threeriversdistilling.com

 

COMEBACK TO STATEMENT “THERE’S NOTHING TO DO:”

Thanks to Visit Fort Wayne and its concern for not only the city’s visitors, but also its resident, it has worked with a variety of partners to create two online community calendars. CurrentFortWayne.com offers an up-to-date resource for everything happening in Fort Wayne. And the just launched CurrentNEI.com is a resource for events and activities happening throughout northeast Indiana. And just to make sure you are prepared with the best comeback to this tiresome phrase, here is the 411 on a few of the region’s September happenings:

Downtown Wabash holds its annual Founder’s Day Festival and Parade on September 21. Local businesses and vendors will be lined along the streets of downtown. wabashmuseum.org

The 88th Annual DeKalb County Fall Fair is September 23-28. The week-long event offers live entertainment, a Midway, food vendors, a large merchant area and 4-H competitions. It is known as one of the largest street fairs in the state. dekalbcountyfair.org

The Village of Winona celebrates Oktoberfest with a day-long party on September 28. Included are a variety of German-themed activities, including beer in The Garden, German food, dancing and a Porsche show. villageatwinona.com

The Kuehnert Dairy Fall Festival spans two months, September 13 – October 27. In its seventh season, the event features an endless amount of fun – a corn pit, corn maze, straw-bale mountain, farm tours via a hayride and a Ninja course. Food available for purchase includes the farm’s famed grilled cheese sandwich – The Mousetrap. kuehnertdairy.com

The Village of Winona hosts its Block of Love day September 7. A day of music, food, games and shopping. villageofwinona.com

The 47th Annual Grabill Country Fair is September 5-7. This historic town in the heart of Amish country offers crafts and contests including frog jumping, apple peeling and cherry pit spitting. grabillcountryfair.org

 

MENU ITEM TO EAT WITH ONE HAND:

When eating with your hands, you want to be able to pick up the food and go. There should be no fumbling or attempts to eat with oversized bites. A customer favorite at The Club Room at The Clyde is its fried avocado wedges, and we can’t help but think it’s because they are something you can easily snack on while standing and enjoying live music and sipping a cocktail from your other hand. 1806 Bluffton Road, 260.407.8530, clydeclubroom.com

 

HOME RESTORATION:

The McColloch-Weatherhogg Double House, also known as the J. Ross McCulloch House, is a historic residential building constructed in 1883 in the Victorian Gothic Revival style. The building is now the home of United Way of Allen County. The house was built for banker Charles McCulloch and Thomas J. Tolan is believed to have been the building’s architect. It was also the residence of prominent local architect Charles R. Weatherhogg.  The home was once on the Indiana Landmarks Foundation’s list of the 10 most endangered buildings. It was restored in 2003 and purchased in 2005 by Jerry Henry and given to United Way. 334-336 E. Berry Street.unitedwayallencounty.org

 

RESTAURANT MEMBER-ONLY CLUB:

Whether they want to feel like a VIP or enjoy special access, there are more opportunities than ever before for diners to invest in special experiences. And, at Umi Seafood and Sushi Fort Wayne diners may choose to buy a membership that allows access to its whiskey lounge. Stocked with Japanese whiskeys, the space also features 48 private whiskey lockers where members can store their personal collections of sakes, Japanese spirits and cigars. Members also get to use the private entrance to the downstairs lounge and can even have a sushi roll named after them. 2912 Getz Road, 260.203.9975, umifortwayne.com

 

HISTORIC HOME:

Now a national historic landmark, the 1827 Greek Revival Chief Richardville House was built for Miami Chief Jean Baptiste de Richardville. He built a trading empire in the Old Northwest Territory that reportedly made him the richest man in the state when he died in 1841. In recognition of Richardville’s role as a principal chief among the Miami people, the US government provided $600 toward construction of the house. The chief also contributed to the home’s cost that eventually totaled $2,200 when it was built in 1827. In 1991, The property was acquired by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society. Guided tours of the home are available on the first Saturday of the month, May – November. 5705 Bluffton Road, 260.426.2802, fwhistorycenter.com

 

PLACE TO SHOP AND DO GOOD:

Purchase fashionable bags, blankets, napkins, throw pillows and yoga mats and the proceeds from the sale go to help the women who made the goods. Sari Bari works with women who have found themselves working in Calcutta, India’s red-light district to find an alternative way to earn money. Using recycled saris to create a variety of products, helps the women exit exploitation and protects those who are vulnerable to human trafficking. Sari Bari currently employs 114 women full-time in India. The organization’s executive office has a retail store in the front and is opened Monday – Thursday, 9 am – 4 pm. 1008 N. Wells Street, 260.420.8518, saribari.com

 

STREET TO HIT FOR SHOPPING AND DINING:

West Wayne Street is the pavement to hit for a nice selection of stores and eateries. The street is home to such dining destinations as: Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Caliente and JK O’Donnell’s. Its locally owned retailers include: Third World Shoppe, The City Exchange, The FIND, Smiley’s Joy and Outer Grace Boutique.

 

ESTABLISHMENT MAKEOVER:

A renovation project usually takes a restaurant into the future. But Don Hall’s Original used its extensive remodeling project to take a few steps back in time. Not only did the restaurant return the classic diner feel with white subway tile, letterboard menus and a stainless-steel pass-through, but it also brought back the drive-in. The restaurant, which originally opened in 1946, offered drive-up dining until the late 1960s. The restaurant’s interior is definitely reminiscent of times past, but the menu has been updated with modern-day favorites. 1502 Bluffton Road, 260.747.7509, donhalls.com

 

BRUNCH MENU SELECTION:

Brunch might have begun as a weekend meal that’s somewhere between breakfast and lunch, but now it is the must-have weekend meal. With dishes far off a traditional breakfast menu, brunch in Fort Wayne has received elevated culinary status. But it’s the cinnamon rolls at Junk Ditch Brewing Co. that have stolen our hearts and filled our bellies. The rolls, which are made by Grace Kelly May, have the perfect balance of a crunchy exterior with a soft interior; but, they are not too sweet. The pastry is large enough to share, split amongst a table while waiting for your order of eggs in purgatory or a grain bowl. 1825 W. Main Street, 260.203.4045, junkditchbrewingco.com

 

SUBSCRIPTION OFFER:

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning only to discover that you are out of coffee. Local roaster Utopian Coffee, offers a subscription service where you choose your coffee preference, the number of bags you want to receive and how often you want them delivered. Utopian is committed to working with growers who are helping coffee growing communities. So not only does the coffee perk you up, but offers additional perks to others. 222 Pearl Street, 888.55.UTOPIAN, utopiancoffee.com

 

FINGER-LICKING FOOD:

The phrase finger-licking good was coined by Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1956, and it served as its slogan for 50 years. For the Colonel, it was all about a food that was so good that you couldn’t help but lick your fingers. But for us, a finger-licking food should also be a bit saucy. And the wings at 07 Pub easily satisfy. They are juicy and flavorful; and diners can choose from a variety of sauces – mild, hot, teriyaki and citrus chipotle BBQ, just to name a few. The wings are so good you’ll naturally find yourself licking your fingers. 3516 Broadway, 260.456.6807, 07pub.com

 

SPOT FOR REALLY COOL VINTAGE FASHIONS:

The thrift and consignment store Consignor Boutique is stocked with fashionable finds for women, everything from designer jeans to elegant evening wear. 3516 N. Clinton Street, 260.484.6686

 

MEAL DEAL FOR THE DAY BEFORE PAYDAY:

There are days when our appetites don’t quite match up with our wallets. And while we might not get paid on a Wednesday, it’s hard to deny the deals at the Office Tavern. The spot, which is more bar than restaurant, has a reputation for serving good food at jaw-dropping prices. And on Tuesdays, the Office Tavern offers its steak burgers at half price. But, don’t worry the burgers are not half-size; they begin as a half-pound of ground steak before being grilled and are served with cheese on a fluffy bun. The burgers are so good that you will forget that you are holding out for direct deposit. 3306 Brooklyn Avenue, 260.478.5827

 

FOOD TRUCK TO SET AS THE DESTINATION FOR YOUR EVENING:

Operated by the classically trained chef Joseph Allison, Head2Hock offers dishes we have come to love from a food truck; but it’s the care that Allison takes to create the truck’s menu that sets Head2Hock apart. Its meat is sourced from local farms, the produce is organic and all of the sauces are homemade. And if you need another reason to follow this truck … the fries are tossed in bacon butter. Allison recently launched a new food truck, the Localvore. It is also farm-to-truck, but the menu changes more frequently. 412.996.5540, jcfoodandwellness.com

 

FARMERS MARKET HOMEMADE GOODIE:

Weaving through the booths of fresh vegetables and handmade goods on a Saturday morning can be an assault on the senses – in the best possible way. There’s the sound of farmers talking, the smell of fresh coffee being served and the feeling of the morning sun on your skin. But there might be one feeling that is more like a craving – a craving for something refreshing. Suzana da Silva is a familiar face at the Barr Street Market, and she is the maker of the delicious Xiscos, all-natural ice pops featuring local in-season fruit flavors. Many are vegan-based and are made with coconut milk. Flavors include: strawberry lemonade, avocado coconut, mango and Indiana-inspired sweet corn. 260.602-0299

 

HOTEL LOBBY TO HANG OUT IN EVEN WHEN YOU AREN’T A TOURIST:

The Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Wayne Downtown is the city’s newest hotel, but the space is much more than a place for tourists. With its modern design, the hotel is a place for both visitors and locals to soak up the excitement and energy of downtown Fort Wayne. The hotel lobby is a the place for friends to meet-up for a drink before heading to an event or before going to the hotel’s Burger Bar for a bite. To further extend hanging out without overstaying your welcome, head up to Conner’s Rooftop Bar where the couches are extra comfortable. 223 W. Jefferson Boulevard, 260.247.6915, hilton.com

 

WINE LIST:

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is known for its quality steaks and fine-dining atmosphere. But, a steak dinner is not complete without a quality wine to complement the cut. The staff at Ruth’s Chris honors this fact by offering one of the most extensive award-winning wine lists. Enjoyed by the bottle or by the glass, there are more than 200 labels from wineries around the world that will excite not only wine lovers, but also those who want to expand their palates. 224 W. Wayne Street, 260.444.5898, ruthschris.com

 

WAY TO Do A PUB CRAWL:

It’s time to gather 13 of your best friends and pedal your way from pub-to-pub to find Fort Wayne’s best brews. Pedal City makes this task easy to explore and drink your way through downtown. Its standard pub tour, which lasts two hours, includes stops at Junk Ditch Brewery, Redwood Inn, Hoppy Gnome and Columbia Street. 1215 West Main Street, 260.415.6167, pedalcityfw.com

 

PLACE TO GET FREE STUFF:

Believe it or not, the words Freegal, Flipster, Hoopla and Overdrive are just the names of some of the free stuff you can get at the Allen County Public Library. With these services and a library card, you can download everything from music and magazines to movies and audiobooks. And in addition to its extensive collection of reading material, the library has board games, seeds and people (through its Human Library) that can be checked out (literally). There are also computers, internet access, classes, movie nights and special events all available at no charge. 900 Library Plaza, 260.421.1200.acpl.lib.in.us

 

WAY TO GET YOUR SWEAT ON:

There is no doubt that the Workout Of Day (WOD) at Mad Apple CrossFit will kick your butt and leave you sweaty. This box (CrossFit lingo for gym) is for the hardcore – those who are serious about getting in shape. Workouts focus on strength training, mobility movement and cardio to make sure every muscle in the body gets a workout. But don’t worry if you are new to CrossFit or just starting to get your sweat-on, the coaches at Mad Apple are happy to modify workouts as they believe that CrossFit is for every body. 3630 Illinois Road, 260.225.7900, madapplecrossfit.com

 

STORE FOR MOST UNUSUAL ITEMS:

In need of the most inappropriate gift, all things related to magic, masks, wigs, funny hats or costumes? It can all be found at Stoner’s Funstore. Since 1949, this downtown staple has taken its role of keeping Fort Wayne laughing very seriously. 712 S. Harrison Street, 260.426.1100, funnygoofycrap.com

 

RESTAURANT SIDE DISH:

What two sides would you like with that? This is a question we all have answered when placing our dinner order. But side dishes are no longer about making selections based on individual preferences, they are now chef-selected accompaniments designed to elevate the entrée rather than supplement it. At Black Canyon Restaurant, it has taken a picnic classic and given it some serious flair – its horseradish slaw is served alongside orders of baby back ribs and chicken tenders, helping to cool off the heat in the ribs and adding a crunchy element to the tenders. All the while, the slaw has a freshness and spiciness that is hard to resist. 1509 W. Dupont Road, 260.203,5900, blackcanyonrestaurant.com

 

BAR TO MAKE YOUR PERSONAL CHEERS:

Sometimes you want to go / Where everybody knows your name / And they’re always glad you came, these are the lyrics from the theme song to the TV show Cheers. And as you walk into the bar at The Green Frog Inn it’s hard not to find yourself humming the song as you find a spot in this cozy pub. The Green Frog Inn is a tavern in the German-Catholic neighborhood just north of downtown. With Cindy Henry at the helm, there’s a parade of regulars who come in for a pint and conversation. Having spent many years in the tavern, Henry has gotten to know many of the customers by more than just their names. And if you are new, with Henry behind the bar, you will quickly become a regular. 820 Spring Street, 260.426.1088, greenfrognation.com

 

SHOP WITH A SINGLE FOCUS:

In 1988, two boys ages 11 and 13 had a dream to sell the stuff they loved. So, they opened a little shop out of their home. And then, with the help of their dad, who took over the business, it grew, but its focus on comic books, sports memorabilia and games have continued at Summit Sports, Comics & Games. Now, the store is run by the two very grown-up boys. 4240 W. Jefferson Pointe Boulevard, 260.436.2719, summitfortwayne.com

 

Photograph by Matt Owen

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