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DINING: A worthwhile stop on the road to IU

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Dining - A&E

Even the most hard-core local-restaurant advocates make exceptions when they hit the road. When making a road-trip pit stop, the minimal surprise involved in pulling into a Subway or Burger King strongly outweighs the how much time will this take/how much will it cost/how edible will it be questions involved in trying the culinary road less traveled.

Which is why I drove past Indy’s Family Restaurant (2210 Burton Lane, Martinsville, (765) 342-4600) dozens of times without ever stopping. When going to or from Bloomington, it’s easy to see the eatery and its always-occupied parking lot from State Road 37. But when munchies struck, I usually found myself pulling into the nearby Taco Bell or even the Kroger just up the road.

On a recent trek to IU, that changed. And I’m kicking myself for not coming to my senses earlier.

To be clear, Indy’s doesn’t present as anything besides a clean, friendly diner. A multi-panel menu makes clear that breakfast is big here and that senior citizens are most welcome (they get a whole page).

The Homemade Chili ($3.59) was sizable and soupy, with a cracker basket for bulking up the mixture. It would have been nice if the waitress had brought along some hot sauce to give it a little kick. A Turkey Avocado Jack Croissant ($7.59) didn’t skimp on the veggies. And, oddly in Indiana, the Pork Tenderloin ($6.89) was touted as “grilled”—you have to ask for fried, if that’s your preference. I went with the sandwich as presented, and didn’t miss the breading or crunch associated with the less-healthy option. The sandwich was large without trying to win any bets and, like other sandwiches, it came with ample and satisfactory fries.

So far, all good enough. But is that enough to cause the hitting of the brakes?

Maybe not. But that wasn’t all.

Indy’s Family Restaurant has a rotating selection of made-right-there pies ($2.99) and the three that the two of us (don’t argue with my math) tried were all winners. Our fruity choice had whole strawberries in a not-too-sweet sauce. The chocolate variation also didn’t seem to be catering to children, letting the thick filling meld nicely with the crumbly crust. Sloppiest—and most satisfying of the trio—was a banana cream that slid off our forks.

I’m looking forward to trying more—even if I’m stopping for breakfast. So long, Martinsville Taco Bell. It was nice knowing you.•

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Fifth in our month-long series of “I” restaurants.

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