Ray’s Drive In, Kokomo, Indiana

Rays outside

 

Ray’s Drive In, in Kokomo, is one of those places I’ve heard about for quite some time, but when we were in Kokomo it wasn’t mealtime, so we’d not had the chance to visit.

Friday we had the opportunity to go up to Kokomo for lunch, so we called our friend Doug Arnold up there, and asked him if he’d like to meet us, and luckily, his schedule allowed it!

Ray’s is located in a mixed industrial/commercial area of Kokomo, off of the beaten path.  It’s one of those places that you likely won’t just stumble upon (unless you’re lost!).  You will have to seek it out.

It’s an old, 50’s style drive in, but it also has an inside dining room which has obviously been added on much later.  They have curb service, but I’m not much of a fan of eating in the car…I spend enough time in the car as it is.  So when I have a chance I want to get out and stretch my legs, I like to take advantage of it!  We chose do dine inside.  The dining room is small, but comfortable with some pictures of the history of Ray’s on the walls.

They menu is a mix of traditional diner food (sandwiches, fries, etc.) and comfort food.  On the menu, there are 3 tenderloins listed…the king tenderloin, a tenderloin, and a mini tenderloin.  I asked our friendly waitress what the difference was, and she explained that the tenderloin and the mini tenderloin are fritters, but the King Tenderloin is hand made in house.  So, of course, I chose the King Tenderloin.

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The sign outside proclaims Ray’s as “Home of Indiana’s Largest Tenderloin” and if it’s not, I’ll be surprised.  This is one big sandwich.  It’s appears to be hand pounded and breaded, given the uneven shape, and the meat itself was a bit thicker in some places than in others.  The meat itself was tasty and moist, and I LOVED the texture of the breading.  The flavor of the breading was good, but in my opinion fell a bit short of outstanding.  For my personal taste, I think a bit more seasoning is in order.

And, although this sandwich is thinner than I prefer, I still like it a lot and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again…although I’ll share it with someone the next time I order it.   I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.  Had it been a little thicker and seasoned a bit more, I’d give it a 5 out of 5, no doubt.

For her lunch, Holly had a half order of chicken and noodles.  The lunch platter comes with mashed potatoes and gravy, an additional side, and a choice of bread.  This classic comfort food lunch was very basic and filling.

Ray’s Drive In is located at 1900 N Courtland Avenue, Kokomo, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page for them.

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The Lemon Drop, Anderson, Indiana

Lemon Drop Outside

 

There are places that try to be retro and take you back to the 50’s, and you end up getting overpriced frozen burgers and fries, and leave feeling empty and hollow inside.

Then there are places that really DO take you back to the 50’s, you get a good meal for a good price, and you leave feeling satisfied and happy.  The Lemon Drop is one of those places.

It’s been a gathering place in Anderson, Indiana since 1954, and who knows how many thousands of regular people, and more than a few celebrities have passed through the doors since then, even though it only seats 27 people.  That’s right, folks, the seating capacity is 27.

You’ll not find any gourmet food here, and the menu is pretty limited.  Burgers, fries, onion rings, tenderloins, chili, and that’s about it.  But it’s good, and, at least to me, the atmosphere is amazing.

Their flagship burger is the Onionburger, and, until this day, that is all I’d ever had there.  If you like burgers, you can’t go wrong with an Onionburger.

But, I had it on a good authority that The Lemon Drop serves a pretty darn good tenderloin, so I decided to give it a try.

Lemon Drop Loin

This is no “hang over the bun” sandwich.  Instead, it fits neatly into the bun. It’s thinner than I prefer, but it works for me.  The breading is nice and crunchy and the meat is tender, moist, and tasty.  The bun is nicely toasted, and the condiments were plentiful.  And, the price is right…this sandwich was roughly $4.39.  A bargain in my book!  While it’s not the best tenderloin I’ve ever had, it’s certainly above average.  I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 bites.

For her lunch, Holly ordered a toasted cheeseburger, which is one of their signature patties with cheese, served on toasted bread, dressed as you like – which for Holly, included lettuce and tomato.  Before serving it, they cut it in half first…just like Mom used to do.  And the taste reminded her of home, too – which is a good thing.  It was a simple, juicy burger that was just the right size for lunch.

I want to make a couple of special notes.  First – the service.  Being inexpensive is no bargain if the service is shoddy.  Service here is top notch.  We were greeted promptly, our order was taken in just a minute or two, and our food was prepared and served very shortly after that.

Secondly – the price.  My wife and I had two sandwiches, two sides (fries for her, onion rings for me which were fantastic) and 2 drinks all for just a hair over 15 bucks.  Combined with the service and the quality of the food, there’s no question in my mind why The Lemon Drop stays so busy.  I HIGHLY recommend a visit here, if you’ve not been already.

The Lemon Drop is located at 1701 Mounds Road in Anderson, Indiana.  I was unable to find a web site for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

The Oasis Diner, Plainfield, Indiana

Oasis Diner

As an entertainer, I get to travel a fair amount.  When I’m looking for a unique dining experience, the main things I look for are a locally owned restaurant, great food, and if there is a sense of history, that’s an added bonus.

Our friends, the Kerns, invited us to join them for dinner at the Oasis diner, which sets right on the National Road (US40) in Plainfield, Indiana.  The Oasis Diner is a restored 1950’s diner, manufactured in New Jersey, I believe.  It used to set further East in Plainfield, but recently, it was relocated, restored, and reopened on the Western edge of Plainfield.

Replete with diner decor and fantastic neon lighting, the Oasis takes you back from the moment you step through the door.  It’s like stepping back to the days of Bobby Darin, Elvis, and pegged pants.

Although the menu is heavy on traditional diner fare (burgers, shakes, and such), there are a few surprises on the menu.  They seemed to have taken their menu above and beyond, and are a welcome addition to the Indianapolis area restaurant scene.

I already had my mind made up when we arrived…I was trying the hand breaded tenderloin sandwich.

Oasis Tenderloin

Let me tell you, it was fantastic.  Light, crispy breading with just the right amount of seasoning.  The seasoning complimented the taste of the meat and breading without overwhelming it.  The meat itself was tender and moist, with a fantastic flavor.

I neglected to check to see what kind of bun it was on, but it wasn’t your ordinary hamburger bun…it was quite tasty, and yet another compliment to an already fantastic sandwich.  This sandwich is 5 stars, all the way…absolutely no question about it.

For my side, I chose fries, and they were good, but nothing special.  I’ll probably try the onion rings next time.

As an aside…they offer a breaded tenderloin with gravy on their breakfast menu, which is what David had.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had one with gravy, but that may be my next order there.

For her dinner, Holly chose the Sriracha Shrimp Wrap, which consists of a serving of Honey Sriracha fried shrimp, lettuce, onion, tomato, cilantro, and ranch, all rolled up in a large flour tortilla.  As her side, she chose the broccoli with cheese.  Holly reports the Honey Sriracha shrimp to be very tasty – there is just a hint of honey, but you can definitely tell it’s there.  She said she could not detect the cilantro at all, and the ranch dressing was just enough to tie it all together – not too little, not too much. The broccoli was cooked perfectly – al dente all the way!  She wasn’t a big fan of the cheese sauce.  It was okay, but she said she’d rather have had just a plain bowl of steamed broccoli.

This was an extremely positive experience.  The service was great, the food was outstanding, and I LOVE the atmosphere.  We will certainly be back, and soon!  And, take this tip…try the Butterscotch Root Beer, which is locally brewed.

The Oasis Diner is located at 405 W Main Street, in Plainfield, Indiana.  Their website is http://www.oasisdiner.com/  and you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.