People ask me all the time about the differences between Kansas City and Indianapolis. I generally tick off the things that aren’t different first, then say, “The food is much better in Kansas City though”. People here are often surprised by that statement, not in defense of Indy, but because they don’t know about the tradition of food in Kansas City. As I’ve learned, it’s not really a matter of there being no good locally owned restaurants here. There are plenty of good local places tucked between the PF Chang’s, Chili’s, Outbacks, etc. It’s more a case of there being no place like Southwest Boulevard, where you have your choice of dozens of Mexican restaurants to chose from if you’re in the mood for something spicy. It’s a matter of the racial divide being more rigid here, and people in the suburbs are not as willing to drive into the hood to eat barbecue as Kansas Citians are. Saturday, when we were out with some friends driving downtown, we passed a couple down home looking barbecue places. “Wow, I should check those out sometime.” The reaction I got was a cross between absolute disbelief and wondering if I was just being funny. But the biggest difference is that there’s no nationally known “Indy food”. Tell someone you’re from Kansas City, and chances are, even if they’ve never been there, they know about Kansas City barbecue. They may not know about the Boulevard or the huge number of nationally recognized steak houses, but they’ve heard about Kansas City barbecue.
In fact, Indianapolis does have a signature food item, the pork tenderloin sandwich. It’s appropriately the most popular food item during race weekends at the Speedway. I’ve yet to have a tenderloin since moving here, so I clearly need to get on that. The two articles below from today’s Indy Star may make your stomach rumble, so you might want to read after lunch.