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DINING: New independent burger joint adds punch to downtown

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Dining - A&E

Indy may be saddled with the reputation of being a chain restaurant town. But think about it: You can wander downtown and not find a McDonald’s, a Burger King or a Wendy’s. On the other hand, you can find a terrific new non-chain burger joint likely to make you a repeat customer.

I’m talking about Punch Burger (137 E. Ohio St., 426-5280).

ae-punchburger-4-15col.jpg The Aloha at Punch Burger features Black Forest ham, grilled pineapple, and Swiss cheese. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

What makes Punch Burger work? Well, friendly service certainly helps. But the big draw is beef that hasn’t crossed state lines and wasn’t subjected to hormones or antibiotics. It’s grass-fed at Fischer Farms in Jasper and, yes, you can taste the difference. While all their burgers feature 1/3 pound of meat, there’s no effort to make them homogenous. Yours might fall apart a bit in the bun (choose between classic white, wheat or pretzel), but that’s a small price to pay for individuality. All are cooked about medium well, without anyone at the counter asking you how you’d like it.

There’s a multitude of ways to dress your sandwich here, but you can cut down the choices by opting for a Specialty Burger. I didn’t find much difference between the Burnt Cheese variation ($6.95) or the standard Punch Cheeseburger ($5.75)—the cheese was melted, as it should be on any cheeseburger, but without any overt darkening. The delicious Good Morning ($6.25) features a fried egg (this time, you get a choice of how you’d like it cooked) and several narrow strips of bacon, though a slice of melted cheese would really complete the picture.

For me, the Build Your Own (starting at $5.25—with most toppings free) remains the best option. My choices included Swiss Cheese (you’ve got six other choices at $.50), lettuce, tomato, red onion, house-made cooler pickles, pineapple and Asian slaw (messy, but worth it). And while I usually skip the gimmicky pretzel bun (a 40-cent upcharge), here a softer-than-usual variation complements rather than competes. Ten sauces, from sweet chili to creamy Dijon, offer additional options.

My guests were equally satisfied with their Turkey (also grass fed and with an Indiana pedigree) and Portabella Mushroom Cap versions. Alas, while fine and satisfying, neither the Waffle Fries ($1.50) nor the Sweet Potato Tots ($2), among the limited selection of sides, merited superlatives.

There are two dining areas plus some seats at the adults-only counter. Orders are brought to you, but drinks (and silverware) are self-serve. A well-curated lineup of local beers and wine by the glass round out the beverage choices.•

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First in a month-long series of reviews of keep-it-simple restaurants.

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  1. If what you stated is true, then this article is entirely inaccurate. "State sells bonds" is same as "State borrows money". Supposedly the company will "pay for them". But since we are paying the company, we are still paying for this road with borrowed money, even though the state has $2 billion in the bank.

  2. Andrew hit the nail on the head. AMTRAK provides terrible service and that is why the state has found a contractor to improve the service. More trips, on-time performance, better times, cleanliness and adequate or better restrooms. WI-FI and food service will also be provided. Transit from outlying areas will also be provided. I wouldn't take it the way it is but with the above services and marketing of the service,ridership will improve and more folks will explore Indy and may even want to move here.

  3. They could take the property using eminent domain and save money by not paying the church or building a soccer field and a new driveway. Ctrwd has monthly meetings open to all customers of the district. The meetings are listed and if the customers really cared that much they would show. Ctrwd works hard in every way they can to make sure the customer is put first. Overflows damage the surrounding environment and cost a lot of money every year. There have been many upgrades done through the years to help not send flow to Carmel. Even with the upgrades ctrwd cannot always keep up. I understand how a storage tank could be an eye sore, but has anyone thought to look at other lift stations or storage tanks. Most lift stations are right in the middle of neighborhoods. Some close to schools and soccer fields, and some right in back yards, or at least next to a back yard. We all have to work together to come up with a proper solution. The proposed solution by ctrwd is the best one offered so far.

  4. Fox has comments from several people that seem to have some inside information. I would refer to their website. Changed my whole opionion of this story.

  5. This place is great! I'm piggy backing and saying the Cobb salad is great. But the ribs are awesome. $6.49 for ribs and 2 sides?! They're delicious. If you work downtown, head over there.

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