John’s Famous Stew, Indianapolis

John’s Famous Stew is famous for…yes, you guessed it, stew.  It’s one of those largely undiscovered treasures in Indianapolis that thrives in spite of a less than ideal location, and seemingly no advertising except for word of mouth.  They do a thriving lunch and dinner business, and you simply can’t go wrong with a visit there.

Even though they’re famous for stew, they have several other options on the menu as well…one of them being a hand breaded tenderloin.  I’ve been meaning to get down and try one for quite some time now, but haven’t had the chance.  On this particular day, I was meeting my dear friend Dean Phelps for a long delayed lunch, and picked John’s partly because I wanted to try the tenderloin, and partly because Dean had never been there.

The lunchtime crowd was a nice mix of business people and blue collar workers, kind of like the great melting pot of near downtown Indy.  That’s what their menu is like also…although it prominently features stew, there’s a little bit of everything else on the menu.

I only perused the rest of the menu, as I was there for the tenderloin.

And it’s a pretty darn fine tenderloin indeed.  The meat is tasty, tender, and moist, and the breading is nice and crunchy.  One of the signs of a really good tenderloin is whether the breading gets soggy during the end of the sandwich.  I took longer to eat this sandwich than most, due to the fact that when Dean and I start conversing, we usually talk a long time…and I’m happy to report that the breading stayed nice and crispy to the very end.

The bun was very nicely toasted….I prefer my buns toasted perhaps a bit more than a lot of folks, and this one certainly fit the bill…and our friendly waitress paid attention to how I wanted my sandwich dressed…a big tip ‘o the hat to her for being attentive!!

I’d really, really, really like to give this tenderloin a 5 out of 5, but I can’t.  Why?  Because it was simply pounded out too thin for my tastes.  As I’ve said before, when a sandwich is too thin, it makes it hard to distinguish between the textures of the breading and the meat, and, for me, that was the case here.  However, that’s the ONLY thing that keeps it from being a 5 start tenderloin.

That said…it still was a VERY good sandwich.  I’m going to give it a 4 out of 5, which means that I certainly would drive all the way down there for it…and it’s no short trip from my house.  And the entire experience….waitress, atmosphere, everything else on the menu…makes John’s Famous Stew a must visit, whether you’re a local or a visitor to town.

John’s Famous Stew is located at 1146 Kentucky Avenue in Indianapolis.  You can visit their website at


2 thoughts on “John’s Famous Stew, Indianapolis

  1. Try the Tenderloin Supreme next time you’re at John’s Hot Stews. Its a Tenderloin, without the bun, covered in stew. Delicious.

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