The food scene is growing by leaps and bounds and starting quite a fire in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve been regularly visiting for a couple of years and am always happy to see the great eateries still packing in the customers, and new ones popping up often. Here are the best places to eat in Fort Wayne (restaurants), as personally sampled and studied by Wherever I May Roam. From farm-to-table, mind-blowing breweries, and addicting breakfast joints, we’ve got a list to drool over.
Junk Ditch Brewing Company
Junk Ditch is a fun and funky eatery with indoor and outdoor seating in the old Korte Paper Company warehouse. It offers eclectic cuisine and globally-inspired dishes, with an air of sophistication from the exposed brick walls to the tables’ fresh flowers. Expect everything here to be made from scratch and using quality ingredients.
For a mere $4, you may as well have the Junk Ditch fries with a house and garlic aioli for starters. The Chuck Roast Gnocchi is stuff dreams are made of, with ricotta gnocchi, Gojuchang, and scallions with a perfectly slow-cooked egg. Junk Ditch has a bragged about weekend brunch and are open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but closed on Tuesdays.
The Hoppy Gnome
The Hoppy Gnome (a play on brews) is a modern gastropub serving cool menu creations using fresh ingredients in the heart of Fort Wayne. Food choices include salads, soup, small plates, and much more, but the specialty is tacos.
My favorite tacos are the Cauliflower (with guacamole and chili glaze) and meatball (lemongrass, red curry mayo, and mango slaw). The Kimchi Chicken Fingers are original and full of flavor, too, while the tortas or tuna nachos are a safe (and utterly fabulous) choice anytime. Hoppy Gnome’s S’Mores dessert is to die for!
One unique thing you can do at The Hoppy Gnome is brewing your own beer at their BOP (brew on-premises), and it is the only one in Indiana. You can either bottle or keg your creation, and the fun experience makes a great gift option. Besides 40 beers on tap at Hoppy Gnome (10 or so of their brews), they also have wine, sangria, and handcrafted cocktails. Try a beer flight to sample a bunch.
Proximo is of the most beautiful eateries in downtown Fort Wayne, with incredible food, service, and menu options. Serving nothing but top-quality ingredients, Proximo is a one-stop-shop for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drink needs. Proximo’s dishes are Latin-fusion inspired with influences from Spain, Cuba, and Colombia.
My friend Sara and I were treated to a meal of six different Proximo breakfast plates. I can say that the Chilaquiles, French Toast (with macerated berries and pecans), and the Carnita Benedict were all finger-licking good. The Carnita Benedict, with braised pork over cornbread instead of English muffin, had me at hello. It was honestly the perfect bite and oh-so picture perfect. Sara’s favorite was the French Toast with berries.
I tried Steak and Eggs for the first time—a traditional Midwestern breakfast dish. The steak (with chipotle demi-glaze) was amazingly tender and well-seasoned, complimenting the gorgeous fried eggs. Make sure to order a side of Sweet Pepper Bacon. Yum!
Dinners at Proximo range from Chimichurri Ribeye to Vegan Mushroom Barbacoa, while lunch has street tacos, Cuban chicken, shrimp & grits, and Crab Chilaquiles. You can make restaurant reservations through OpenTable.
An industrial-chic farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of Fort Wayne is Tolon. With a focus on sustainable ag practices, craft cocktails, and seasonal ingredients, Tolon is a restaurant that will make you want to visit Fort Wayne—again and again. Chef Matthew Nolot is the brainchild behind this fun eatery.
Great starters at Tolon include crispy Brussels sprouts and the duck fat frites (fries) with basil aioli. Two other dishes that I didn’t try but certainly piqued my curiosity were Tolon’s Deviled eggs and “god’s butter” (roasted bone marrow). For dinner, try the Classic Coq Au Vin or the Bacon Cheeseburger with bacon jam. Nom, nom!
Tolon is one restaurant you might think about eating dessert first because the creations are so amazing, you won’t want to be too full to hold one. There is no wrong selection from this list of house-made ice creams, chocolate cream pie, and apple butter coffee cake.
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A mainstay on The Landing is Nawa, a beautiful Asian restaurant with special lunch pricing, rice bowls, wok dishes, beer, and wine.
For lunch, Nawa offers several curry dishes with various flavors (Green, Panang, Massaman) to choose from and proteins (chicken, tofu, pork, beef, shrimp, seafood). I tried the Massaman Curry with Jasmine rice which was super flavorful and delicious. The lunch portion was plentiful, so Nawa did not skimp on size to offer a reduced lunch price. You can also choose the spice level you prefer. Seaweed soup comes on the side. Lunch at Nawa ranges from $10 to $12 and runs from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM.
Nawa offers sake, beer, wine, cider, and a whole menu of cocktails. They also serve Thai teas, a tasty and refreshing drink made with coconut milk.
Dash In is a refreshing dining spot with a relaxed vibe and a great menu, namely an amazing grilled cheese menu. Choose from one of Dash In’s 20+ craft beers and cider on tap as you munch on comfort dishes such as pulled pork, pub burgers, and red pepper chicken for lunch or dinner. The restaurant also serves drinks ranging from barista specials (macchiato, Vietnamese coffee, and lattes) to smoothies, teas, shakes, and wine.
Dash In is terrific for breakfast and coffee, too. I recommend the Dash In breakfast sandwich (on a bagel or croissant) with spinach, tomato, Cheddar, Canadian bacon, herbed cream cheese, and a fried egg. Other breakfast faves include biscuits & gravy, French toast casserole, and avocado toast. Weekend brunch at Dash In features a variety of omelets and an impressive list of Benedicts (smoked salmon, crab cake, or carnitas as the main ingredient).
Hop River Brewing Company
The food quality and creative dishes at Hop River Brewing, a microbrewery and taproom in the heart of Fort Wayne, is unbelievable. Enjoy a flight made up of your favorite four beers, or have a staff member choose. Pair the brews with Hop River Brewing’s scrumptious Caramelized Onion Dip with fresh veggies (colored carrots, watermelon radishes, celery) and kettle chips. Vegan and vegetarian fare is on the menu, and I can attest to how tasty the Vegan Sloppy Joe with mustard vinegar collard slaw is. Fantastic!
Sara had the White BBQ Chicken Sandwich, which ended up being her favorite meal of the trip. Zinnia’s Bakehouse makes the bread for Hop River’s sandwiches.
Back to the beer at Hop River Brewing, I tried some good ones, including Constance Markievicz, Fat Bob’s Porter, Terry’s Wit, and Greater Heron, my first Doppelbock that I loved! Hop River has a family-friendly atmosphere with board games, pinball machines, and many other signature calendar events.
816 Pint & Slice
Serving Fort Wayne’s favorite pizza, you will also find grinders, calzones, and salads at 816 Pint and Slice. Go here to grab a slice of New York-style pizza in classic versions or try one of 816 Pint and Slice’s daily specials such as Greeeen! with bacon, chicken, pesto sauce, and ranch. The crust is delicious, almost cracker-like in taste, and sturdy enough to hold up the slice’s huge amount of toppings.
Other desirable menu options include Build-Your-Own wraps, pasta, calzones, and grinders with your choice of sauce, side, and four ingredients from an extensive list. I found the $3.89 special, which includes a gourmet slice of pizza and fountain drink, a steal!
816 Pint & Slice has a vast selection of beer and a casual vibe to the restaurant. They play fun movies on TVs to watch while you dine. I wanted my slice of pizza to last so that I could hang out a bit longer.
Fort Wayne is a foodie town, and nothing embodies it better than Copper Spoon, a sophisticated dining spot with prohibition-style cocktails and a killer Chef-inspired menu. You’ll gasp at the craft cocktail list, describing the ingredients, alcohol content, and unique features. It even goes so far as to help you find a new cocktail to try based on the things you know you already like. If cocktails aren’t your thing, Copper Spoon has a splendid wine menu to select from.
Start your dining experience at Copper Spoon with the Pimento Cheese Board, topped with baguette, cornichons, and pickled onion. It is the perfect pairing for those adult libations! I also tried my first cornichon, a tart and tiny French pickle. How did I wait 50 years of my life to try one of these tasty little numbers?
For dinner, go with Copper Spoon’s Ribeye with chorizo butter, or the Grilled Salmon. It was hard to not get the Baron, a double-patty gourmet burger with egg salad. Save room for the Chocolate Torte with berries for dessert. Enjoy the spacious patio for a different kind of vibe.
DeBrand Fine Chocolates
Fort Wayne, Indiana, is so lucky to have DeBrand Fine Chocolates in their town. This high-end, top-quality candy store is filled with beautiful gifts, decadent creations, and mouth-watering desserts. I always end up taking a box of their chocolates home with me, though many don’t make it that far.
DeBrand has several locations, but one is a dessert cafe, with great spaces to enjoy good chocolate, ice cream, or dessert, and the company of those with you at the corporate headquarters 10105 Auburn Park Drive address. The signature collections of DeBrand chocolates are the truffle, classic, and connoisseur. Need help deciding which chocolates to try? My favorites are:
- Raspberry Balsamic
- Key Lime Pecan truffle
- Dark Raspberry Cream
Don Chava’s Mexican Grill
Don Chava’s in a part of Fort Wayne that was new to me. Serving excellent Mexican food, margaritas (lime, mango, peach, strawberry, or raspberry), and Fried ice cream, you certainly won’t leave hungry from this festive grill. Don Chavas actually has quite an impressive amount of seafood options on the menu, not just the typical entrees. You can tell it is a Fort Wayne favorite by huge crowds during lunch and dinner.
Don’s Arroz Con Pollo was delicious—a grilled chicken breast over Spanish rice covered in creamy queso dip. The chips and salsa were endless and 10/10 tasty.
Zesto Ice Cream
Zesto, the cutest retro ice cream stand, serves classic frozen custard cones and sundaes. The butterscotch dipped cone (with creamy vanilla ice cream) gets my top vote, but Zesto’s menu also has malts, razzles (their version of a Blizzard), chili dogs, bbq, and slushes. And where else can you have a banana split for under $5?
The nostalgic corner spot is Instagram-worthy and a great display of a business going 50 years strong in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I had to come for the cool signage as well as the tasty treats.
Rise ‘n Roll Bakery
This Amish bakery is a restaurant that will make you want to visit Fort Wayne without a shadow of a doubt. From the delicious “Amish crack” donuts (sugared cinnamon cake) to the Bismarcks, muffins, homemade bread, and other baked goods, everything is sinfully delicious at Rise ‘n Roll Bakery. My favorite creation of theirs is a rolled sausage, cheese, and egg slice drenched with sausage gravy. It is tasty and creative, too!
Fort Wayne’s beloved Italian eatery, Casa Ristoranti (or one of the other three owned by the same family), serves up exquisite Italian dishes from entrees to appetizers, desserts to family-style suppers. For starters, the Toasted Ravioli, Bruschetta, or Polpette (housemade meatballs in a Parmesan cheese-topped meat sauce) are all excellent.
Next comes the big decision—what to get for the main course. You can get almost anything you want at Casa Ristoranti, steaks, wood-oven pizzas, sandwiches, classic pasta dishes, and much more, but the Petto di Pollo al Palermo is terrific. This specialty features a breaded chicken breast sautéed in lemon white wine sauce, with peas and mushrooms. Eat what you will, but don’t skip the sensational house salad with signature dressing. You can also order gluten-free or vegetarian fare.
Fort Wayne Famous Coney Island
The people of Fort Wayne love and partial to their hole-in-the-wall hot dog shop, where you can enjoy watching the beloved coney dogs cooking and being prepared. Sit at the counter or in one of the full-service tables, hardly changed from the origin of Coney Island in the 1910s, and enjoy a hearty bowl of “chili soup” or the signature item, the famous Coney Island Hot Dog.
What is a Coney Island dog? It starts with a steamed bun for the grilled wiener, mustard, homemade coney sauce (chili), and diced onions, and the taste is pretty darned good. I am more a fan of the Skyline chili cheese dog, but I realize that Indiana and Cincinnati chili are two different things.
Pay close attention to the servers at Coney Island. Many of them know the regular patrons orders and just bring their food out. I was fascinated by that. You can also get glass bottles of Coke, here, a fun treat. Coney Island is definitely a nostalgic place that you should visit at least once.
Mmm, Mmm, Good Fort Wayne
I hope this list will make you want to visit Fort Wayne, Indiana, or at least eat your way through it at some point. I think I have the best and luckiest job in the world getting to experience amazing dishes and local businesses like these. Thanks for having me, Fort Wayne.
What restaurant did I miss that you love in Fort Wayne?
Thanks to Visit Fort Wayne for hosting many of my meals. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
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