The 21 food trails by the Indiana Foodways Alliance showcase authentic Indiana food culture. On these trails, you’ll find some of the best local food in the state. You’ll find almost any food you’re looking for on one of the trails, be it those pies the Midwest is famous for to the pork that Indiana is so well known for.
The Indiana Foodways Alliance lists 220 restaurants that serve a specific type of food, organizes them by location, and puts them on a map to create the trails. Finally, they encourage people to eat their way through the trail. For the alliance to include a restaurant on a route, it must be locally owned. Additionally, they assess and approve them to confirm their quality.
Here are the 21 incredible Indiana food and beverage trails, a must-try spot on each, and some of my favorite choices.
Note: Some of this information came from hosted visits. Opinions are my own.
1. Hoosier Brews
The Hoosier Breweries exemplify small-batch grain-to-glass breweries. While you’ll find 37 stops on the Hoosier Brew Trail, one that stands out is Brew Link Brewing in Plainfield. They feature 24 beers on tap, and like the ambiance, many of their flavors are pure fun.
I particularly enjoyed the oatmeal cookie beer, while another great one is a chocolate peanut butter porter called the Nuttercup. Unfortunately, they frequently change their offerings, so my favorites may not be available when you visit — but I’m sure they’ll have something equally delicious.
If you prefer to indulge in non-alcoholic beverages, the culinary trails offer something for you too. The 13 stops along the Soda-licious Trail showcase handcrafted sodas and soda syrups. One of my favorite stops was the Oasis Diner in Plainfield, where the sodas are sweetened naturally and produced locally. One of my favorites is the butterscotch root beer, which offers a hint of butterscotch in its flavor profile.
3. Wine, Wine, Anytime
A fun fact is that Indiana had the nation’s first commercial wine-producing operation. It thrives today despite setbacks in the industry during Prohibition. The Wine, Wine, Anytime Trail features 22 stops with many award winners. It seems the trail could have been called Winner Wine Anytime.
One of my favorite places for wine is divvy in Carmel. They offer shareable plates and encourage sampling new dishes perfect for wine pairings. Their name comes from the phrase “divvy it up,” where you share your food with friends. I enjoyed their Sparkling Taster Tour.
4. Coffee & Tea Room
Tea rooms evoke images of gourmet canapés, sandwiches, clotted cream, and scones. And that’s what you’ll find along the Coffee & Tea Room Trail. In addition to the more upscale tea rooms, you’ll discover those cozy coffee shops along these 28 stops.
One of my favorite tea stops is The English Rose Café and Tea Room in Kokomo. The building is a fantastic example of Queen Anne Victorian architecture, dating from the early 1900s. If you’d like to experience one of Miss JoAnn’s Afternoon Teas, you’ll need to make reservations.
5. Hoosier Distillery
You’ll find seven stops along the Hoosier Distillery Trail, each offering something unique. Three Rivers Distilling Company is one of my favorites on this trail, as they make all their spirits in their Downtown Fort Wayne distillery. In addition, they use organic, non-GMO grain sources from local farmers, where the American Distilling Institute certifies their spirits as Certified Craft Spirits.
6. I Scream for Ice Cream
I Scream for Ice Cream Trail has 32 delicious stops, so you’ll want to space them out. Many of these are old-fashioned ice cream parlors, like Schimpff’s Confectionery in downtown Jefferson. They have been in business for generations serving malted milkshakes at the soda fountain with 1950s memorabilia.
7. Hoosier Pie
The Midwest is famous for its pie, and Indiana is no exception. When you think of Indiana and pie, the sugar cream pie might be the first that comes to mind, as people frequently refer to it as Indiana’s state pie. But the Hoosier Pie Trail includes 28 stops with all kinds of pie, fruit pies, cream pies, and all-American apple pie.
Some of my favorite Hoosier Pie stops are the Rusted Silo Southern BBQ & Brew House in Lizton, the Bread Basket Café & Bakery in Danville, and the Oasis Diner in Plainfield. Try the pecan pie at Rusted Silo, where it made my friend cry because it reminded her of her grandma’s pecan pie.
8. Sweet Temptations
The Sweet Temptations Trail is hard to resist. With over 50 stops along the way, you’ll need to buy some treats to take home and only occasionally sample while driving along. You’ll sample chocolate art, baked sweet treats, and candy companies like Charlie’s Caramel Corn and Candy Shop in Vincennes. Charlie’s still makes their chocolates onsite in the store’s basement.
9. Soup, Salad & Sandwich
If you want something light, try one of the 69 stops on the Soup, Salad, & Sandwich Trail. However, if some people want something a bit more substantial, don’t worry. Many of these places offer more than the three Ss.
Rosie’s Place in Noblesville offers a hot pastrami sandwich on their house-made grilled ciabatta roll. They top the hot pastrami with melted provolone, slaw, and a special sauce. While this isn’t a light offering, it’s undoubtedly delicious. I also love the breakfasts at Rosie’s, which offers several versions of eggs Benedict.
10. Tasty Tavern
The Tasty Tavern Trail features 22 stops along the trail that features the best pub and tavern fare in Indiana. One of my favorites with pub-style food is the Deck at Don’s Old Gas House. They offer a variety of sandwiches, sandwiches, and some tasty cocktails. I enjoyed the Raspberry Beret, a combination of raspberry vodka, puree, Chambord, and lemonade. They also serve beer and wine.
11. Tenderloin Lovers
The Tenderloin Lovers Trail includes more than 70 restaurants offering authentic Hoosier pork tenderloin sandwiches. One of the most extensive trails with 73 spots, they divided it into three sections — North, Central, and South.
I had my first one at Oasis Diner in Plainfield, where their sandwich ranks in the top 10. While they serve them blackened, grilled, and fried, fried is the traditional way. First, they pound the pork thin and as big as a plate, lightly bread it, and then fry it. Then, they serve it on a toasted brioche bun with red onion, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, and garlic mayonnaise.
12. Hoosier BBQ
The Hoosier BBQ Trail offers everything from Indian pork to beef and chicken. I love the variety of barbecue sauces in the 19 stops along the trail. You won’t go away hungry from any of these spots.
I love the barbecue style offered at Rusted Silo Southern BBQ & Brew House, cooked low and slow on their meat spellbinding Ferris Wheel of Meat. The racks rotate the meat in hickory and cherry wood until it falls off the bone.
In part, what makes barbecue delicious is the sauce. They offer four house-made sauces — a Carolina mustard sauce, a habanero Bourbon sauce, Kentucky Bourbon sauce, and an Alabama white sauce. My favorite with the hint of sweetness in the Kentucky Bourbon sauce.
13. A Cut Above
In addition to all the local home-cooked comfort food, the Indiana Foodways Alliance also offers some upscale establishments. On A Cut Above Trail, you’ll find 37 fine-dining restaurants. Think lobster and filet mignon.
One of the fine-dining restaurants is in the historic gas plant building in downtown Fort Wayne. Don Hall’s The Gas House is a white tablecloth steakhouse atmosphere. They offer steaks with various toppings, like the filet mignon au poivre with brandy mushrooms. Additionally, Friday and Saturday nights showcase prime rib.
14. Farm To Table
The Farm to Table Trail includes more than restaurants. It also incorporates farm markets and orchards to emphasize the farm-to-table experience. I enjoyed sidling up to the cider bar in Danville at Beasley’s Orchard. However, I had a decision to make on a warm fall day — an apple cider slushie or apple cider. I ended up with both, one before my apple-picking adventure and one after.
After apple picking, I got my annual fall pumpkin, with a somewhat unusual square-shaped Blue Doll pumpkin. So plan to spend some time there, exploring all they have to offer.
15. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
When I think of a chicken dinner, fried chicken immediately comes to mind. On the Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner Trail, you’ll find 26 stops offering chicken dinners in various preparations, including the fried chicken dinner.
The Mayberry Café in Danville is easy to find, with Andy’s sheriff’s car parked in front. As you walk in the door, you travel more than 60 years back in time to rural America and Aunt Bee’s dining room. First, you’ll want to try some of Aunt Bee’s fried chicken with The Andy Griffith Show playing uninterrupted. But, really, the chef-owner behind the Mayberry Café today is Brad Born, who offers all-American dishes made from fresh local ingredients.
16. Rise ‘N Shine
Deciding where to have the day’s most important meal will be challenging, with over 40 stops on the Rise ‘N Shine Trail. However, some places offer breakfast daily, so you won’t have to take over 40 days to complete the trail.
I enjoyed the Bread Basket Cafe & Bakery in Danville, where I ordered the cinnamon roll French toast served with fresh fruit, but I hear the biscuits and gravy are equally good. After breakfast, I stopped by the bakery and chose the small chocolate cake and individual apple pie to take with me as a road trip snack.
17. Za’ Pizza
Za’ Pizza Trail has 26 stops making it a pizza lover’s dream. In Mt. Summit, 1000 Degree Wood Fired Pizza started as a small five-seat restaurant with a few pizzas and grew over the years to offer a full menu with even more than pizza. You’ll want to try the Whole 9 Yards, a beautiful combination-style pizza including bacon, ham, ground beef, pepperoni, sausage, black olives, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms. With all those toppings, lifting a slice can replace your weight training.
18. Here Fishy Fishy
The Here Fishy Fishy Trail features 37 stops, including everything from a traditional Midwest fish fry to excellent seafood. The Baker Street in Fort Wayne is a fine-dining favorite, serving fish as appetizers and entrees. I particularly enjoyed the shrimp and crispy rice cake, where they served charbroiled shrimp atop a crispy sushi rice cake sitting in avocado cream.
19. Between The Buns Burger Trail
Some of the 59 spots on the Between the Buns Burger Trail are legendary. Some of my favorites include The Deck at Don Hall’s Old Gas House in Fort Wayne and Brew Link Brewing Company in Plainfield. I love the combination of the barbecue pulled pork burger at Brew Link, where they top the half-pound burger with bacon, cheddar cheese, and their house-made slow-smoked barbecue pork.
20. Just Cruisin’
The Just Cruisin’ Trail includes 18 diners and drive-ins. An Indiana favorite is the Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette. Featured on the Food Network, this is Indiana’s first and oldest drive-in. A must-try here is the famous Duane Purvis Burger, which includes a spread of peanut butter on the bun before it’s topped with the chopped steak, as they call their burgers, and all the traditional deluxe toppings.
21. Cultural Cuisine
The Cultural Cuisine Trail, with 35 stops, allows you to travel the world without leaving Indiana. While you’ll find the world, from Italy to Ireland, I suggest you try Muldoon’s, an Irish pub in Carmel’s Arts & Design District. Their house specialty is the Dublin Fish and Chips, hand-breaded and fried cod filets served with fries.
For more foodie fun, check out some of these articles on other food trails in the United States. For example, I loved eating my way through Ohio’s Donut Trail.