What I Learned From Visiting West Lafayette, Indiana
The city of West Lafayette is about an hour from Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana. I chose to go there on a day trip to see the home of Purdue University, one of the top institutions in the country. While there, I found West Lafayette to be full of talented and friendly people, a holder of fantastic local businesses, and a place that I would recommend for our readers to spend some time. Take a look at what I learned from my day of visiting West Lafayette.
Triple XXX has the Best Drink in Indiana
I read about Triple XXX long before visiting West Lafayette. The restaurant is most famous for its root beer of the same name. In fact, Thrillist named it as the most iconic soft drink in Indiana on a list of all 50 states. After tasting the hand-crafted soft drinks, I can see why. Delicious! Flavors like root beer, cream soda, grape, orange, and sarsaparilla formed under the “XXX” name, which means “the highest grade” due to its pure sugar content. Triple XXX root beer has been in production since 1895.
Triple XXX is an old-school family restaurant, circa 1939, specializing in amazing breakfast dishes served all day long. The owners, Greg and Carrie Ehresman, shared their story and passion with us all while serving us so many dishes to try that we couldn’t keep up! I recommend the Drew Brees Breakfast Special, Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy, Duane Purvis Burger (chopped steak with peanut butter!), Grilled Tenderloin, and fluffy pancakes. My favorite was the Boudia (Boe-Dye-Uh), a toasty sesame bun stuffed with cream cheese, American, Swiss, bacon, and tomato served with hash browns and gravy. Sublime!
People’s Brewing Company has a Tasty Brew
Since 2009, West Lafayette has had a major player in the craft beer world with People’s Brewing Company. People’s Taproom serves seasonal, year-round, and specialty small-batch beers and is comfortable with an intimate feel. I love the packaging; whimsical and fun.
My beer sampling included Moundbuilder IPA, Altbier, and a seasonal dark beer. Chris Johnson (the creator of People’s Brewing Company, owner, and Purdue alumni) was knowledgeable and shared with me his story about the business and sense of community in West Lafayette. Daily specials and live music make this an even more attractive hangout. I would spend a lot of time here if I lived in West Lafayette.
Igloo Frozen Custard has Delicious Frozen Treats
When I first saw the neon sign outside of Igloo, I knew that I was in for a treat, literally and figuratively. Igoo Frozen Custard makes everything homemade and has perfected frozen custard—and that is just the start of the frozen delicacies they serve. My favorites were the hand-crafted treats, such as igloo bites, cheesecake on a stick, and nut bars. Igloo even has pup cups for your dogs!
Igloo has a drive-thru for convenience, soda flavorings that you can buy, fruit drinks, food (burgers, hotdogs, salads, & bbq), and take-home packed frozen custard containers. For a stroll down memory lane, try the Krunch Kote, a crispy topping that I remember from my childhood days. I loved how friendly and fun Igloo’s pastel decor is. Sample Igloo’s seasonal and rotating flavors as you make your way through Indiana’s “I Scream for Ice Cream” Trail, one of 19 culinary trails in the state.
Bruno’s Pizza is a Family Favorite Eatery
Bruno’s, serving Indiana for over 60 years, has some of the best pizza in West Lafayette. In fact, it was the first pizzeria in the town. Bruno’s makes a fantastic dough that is simply called Bruno’s Dough. The dough is deep-fried, brushed with garlic butter, sprinkled with Parmesan, and served with dipping sauce. It is a must try item! Bruno Itin, the creator, and Swiss immigrant, showcased his cooking skills through the Swiss, German, and Italian dishes that make up his menu, now carried on by his children.
My scrumptious sampling of Bruno’s Pizza dishes included Evelyn’s Margherita pizza, Stromboli, Lasagna, and Cheddar Cheese Balls. I love that Bruno’s offers German specialties such as Wienerschnitzel, Bratwurst, and Knackwurst. Keep in mind that Bruno’s has dessert pizzas (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip…I’m drooling!), so save room! Entertain the family before, during, or after your meal at Bruno’s Big O’s Sportsroom.
Purdue University is quite Prestigious
I knew that Purdue existed and that they had a good basketball team. What I did not know is that you have to be really smart to compete for registration at this internationally respected university. Per the admissions office, “Students don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to change the world”. The black and gold Boilermakers (40,000 students, 10K of which are international, and nearly half that of employees) make up the lively college town vibe in West Lafayette. Purdue has many famous graduates, including more astronauts than any other institution in the country, 23 to be exact.
Points of interest around campus include the Loeb fountain, nine libraries, Purdue Mall Fountain, and the statue of John Purdue, founder and namesake of the university. I loved the Boilermaker statue, next to the Drew Brees (quarterback of the New Orleans Saints) gymnasium.
Wildcat Creek Winery Wine is Even Better with Chocolates
My stop at the Wildcat Creek Winery introduced me to their sweet wines and the process of growing grapes and making fruit wines. Our sampling included yummy tastes of Lafayette Red and White, Traminette (love it!), and Riesling. Traminette is Indiana’s signature wine that has fresh fruity aromas.
Steuben, made from a blue-black grape, is the winery’s best seller and was my favorite. It is similar to a Rosé, with cranberry and strawberry flavors, and very easy to drink. We paired Aunt Minnie’s Cherry Tree semi-sweet wine with chocolate morsels and it was amazing at how different the wine tasted with the chocolate on our tongue. Yummy! Wildcat calls it “cherry pie in a glass”. You will definitely not be leaving here without a bottle of the Steuben.
You Will Feel Right At Home At Arni’s Restaurant
Arni’s Restaurant is another eatery that has endured more than 60 years in West Lafayette, IN. It has now branched out to nearly 20 locations through the state. Known for their super thin and crispy pizza crust, Arni’s is much more than a pizzeria.
I kid you not that Brad Cohen, son of the original owner Arni, brought over 25 dishes for us to try, each more delicious than the next. At the top of my list was Arni’s Junior salad, which you can pair with one of the MANY homemade dressings the restaurant makes. Go for the sublime Celery Seed Parmesan! I adored that the ham, turkey, and mozzarella cheese were diced into tiny pieces and the salad was topped with radishes, an underused vegetable, and green onions. Don’t leave Arni’s Restaurant without trying the amazing Magnificent Mushrooms, stuffed with cream cheese and sausage. Other highlights were the Potato Pancakes, wings, Buffalo Chicken roll-up, and Maui Wowie pizza. Holy goodness this is some great eating!
You Can Have Delicious Irish Eats In Indiana At Nine Irish Brothers
This is as close to Ireland as you are going to get in Indiana, maybe even in the whole United States! Nine Irish Brothers is, you guessed it, an award-winning neighborhood Irish restaurant and pub serving really good food and drinks. The decor is spot on and the restaurant is known for their delicious brew of Guinness and traditional Irish fare. Tiger Mike’s Fish & Chips and Deluxe Reuben are just two of the favorite eats here, not to be outdone by the Guinness Stew and Shepherd’s Pie. We also sampled the Goat Cheese Fritters (with raspberry vinaigrette), homemade coleslaw, Breaded Tenderloin, and Traditional Irish Soda Bread Pudding. Hats off; I loved every bite!
The owner Jerry O’Bryan has a rare jewel in his possession with a restaurant that makes you feel like you have stepped into a local pub in Ireland. Where can you have the best pint in the United States? Guinness picked Nine Irish Brothers. Whiskey flights are also available.
Downtown offers some fantastic local businesses
McCord Candies has been making mouth-watering chocolates since 1912. McCord also produces famous candy canes in their downtown three-story soda fountain. Linda, an exceptional jewelry artist, blew me away with her personalized pieces that any mother, grandmother, sister, friend, daughter, or aunt would love. In addition to selling handmade glassware at LE Originals, Linda can transfer a picture onto a glass bead. Amazing!
Grateful Heart Gallery & Gifts is another cool place for souvenir shopping and buying local art. The shop even has creative pottery pieces that double as musical instruments.
West Lafayette Is a Great Day Trip Option
I get so excited discovering new small towns to share with you. Indiana has several of them worth visiting. I found Lafayette to have friendly business owners whose sense of pride in the community is apparent and endearing. I hope you will enjoy visiting West Lafayette, Indiana just as much as I did.
Special thanks to Visit Indiana, Visit Lafayette/West Lafayette, and Indiana Foodways for hosting my visit. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
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