7 diners where the locals go: Family favorites
Come on in, pull up a chair and make yourself at home.
The Family Spot
Where: 13305 E. Hillview Lane, Solsberry
What to order: Breaded tenderloin, onion rings
When someone will serve you: 6 a.m. - 3 p.m. every day
Is it Rose's or Rosie's? Everyone calls it by a different name, but even famed former IU basketball coach Bob Knight had a soft spot for this haven of down-home eats. He brought the entire team to the restaurant after a victory, and they all sat in a special room to the side.
You can sit wherever you like. Wait for the server. It just might be Rose's tall and kind grandson, who helps out in the family business. Place your order, then watch Rose cook it behind the low, open counter that shares the space where you dine. It's a spacious room with laminate tables and mismatched chairs. There's a poster for a community party here, and all the kids are invited. You won't want to miss her hand-dipped onion rings, which surprise you with a sweet crispness that gives way to a chewy, hot onion.
Rose is known for her pies, which some people even eat for breakfast, washed down by bottomless cups of her piping hot coffee. Bobby Knight was known to love a slice of cherry or peach.
Where: 232 South Main Street, Griffin
What to order: Country-fried steak platter
When someone will serve you: Monday - Saturday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The round table in the back of the room, or the front, depending on which door you walk in, fills with men at 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day.
"They solve each other's problems, get mad at each other, and do it again, seven days a week," owner Shirley Simmons says.
Once the town railroad station, the Depot Diner has served customers off Interstate 64 for over 30 years. Simmons, 60, bought it for her two daughters, Angie Norman and Michele Almon, three years ago.
The Depot walls are decorated with Griffin memorabilia - photos of old barns and the train that passed by, newspaper clippings from the tornado and flood that nearly took the small town out twice, many years ago. Simmons wants to keep the history in the Depot and enjoys when passersby ask about all the photos.
The diner's most famous dish is country-fried steak served alongside a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, all smothered in sawmill gravy. The roll is great for soaking up the gravy, and the green beans add a bit of saltiness.
Simmons and her daughters know all of the 160 people in Griffin by name and usually exactly what they order. "It's like Burger King," Simmons says. "You get it your way."
Most customers are farmers, oil guys and people off the interstate. A man covered in black goo to his knees walks up to counter. Simmons looks up. "Now there's an oil guy," she says, handing him a glass of sweet tea to-go.
The Breakfast Club
Van's Country Table
Where: 270 E. State Road 64, Marengo
What to order: Eggs and bacon
When someone will serve you: 6:30 a.m. - at least 7 p.m.
If you don't feel at home at this place, then you don't know what a country home feels like. The soft lighting, seasonal tablecloths and faux-wood paneling may distract you from the expansive menu.
For Marengo and surrounding towns, it's simple: The day starts here. A group waits outside every morning for Van's to open at 5:30 or 6:30 a.m. Some are retired, and some are business owners, farmers or loggers. "They're the guys that really just aren't on the time clock," owner Rose Toney says. "It doesn't matter when they start work."
Toney knows their names, where they live and what they order. A half order of biscuits and gravy is $2.59. For those who are really hungry, there's the "he-man breakfast" with its spread of eggs, pork tenderloin, hash browns and toast for $7.99.
Friends sit around and share coffee while Toney serves them and finds time in the kitchen to make her pies from scratch. You may not be in the mood for pie at breakfast, but you'll want to take a slice home for lunch. Toney makes coconut, chocolate, banana and lemon. Order ahead and you can even take a whole one home to share--if you're feeling generous.
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