Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern is another small restaurant that sits right off the lake in northern Elkhart. For years I considered it the “little brother” of the more popular Lakeshore Grill that sat just next door.
Pete’s had the night scene with bands and karaoke, but lacked the dock space and outdoor on-the-lake-seating. The dark interior can also be a little intimidating and the small bar might make single patrons have to sit at a table. It carries a lake/fishing theme with the various décor hanging on the walls.
In the years I’ve been living in Elkhart, I haven’t spent much time in there. But recently (and by recently I mean in the last few months) I have rediscovered the place.
I walked in there sometime in the first few weeks that I started writing this blog in order to get more material for another article. My intent was to use the time between work and bowling on Mondays to go to different places to try more wings. But after I ate at Pete’s, I haven’t gone anywhere else on that day.
I told one of the guys at my bowling league about the food, and now he meets me there every Monday. I have really enjoyed the last couple of months hanging out there for an hour talking with the waitresses and sampling the different food. (Where else around here can you get frog legs?) I haven’t been to a place so friendly and relaxed since I used to wander six blocks down from my old house and hang out at The Bulldog.
Oh, and the wings here…awesome.
The first clue you will see anywhere to tell you the wings will be good is the word “broasted.” The only other place I have seen that serves broasted wings is Rulli’s, and I declared them the best wings I have ever tasted. Broasting is deep frying under pressure. It fries faster and keeps the moisture in the chicken while keeping the outside crisp.
The breading on Pete’s wings is more of a batter, but it comes out super crisp. I made the mistake of ordering the sauce on the wings when they came out the first time. The problem with that is the first couple will be good, but as you get to the last wings, the batter becomes mushy. On other visits I’ve made sure to order the sauce on the side and dip them myself. Doing it this way ensures the last wing is as good as the first.
The sauce is just a Franks Hot Sauce base, but there is nothing wrong with that. It gets a 2 out of 4 on the heat scale. The chicken inside the wing is very juicy. You will find yourself nibbling the last bit of chicken off the bone on these.
Price-wise, these wings are one of the best deals around. Even at regular price, you can get them with a CPW of 65 cents. Sometimes on Mondays, they run a 50 cent special. They are large wings too — definitely worth every penny.
It is tempting to call these wings the best wings in town. Compared to Rulli’s, they have comparable size, price, cooking technique and sauce. The main difference between the two is the breading, and I’m leaning towards Rulli’s on that one. Pete’s batter is very good, but the taste is a little bland and it still requires that you dip them in sauce. Rulli’s is more of a traditional crispy breading and is made with spices, so you could eat them plain without any sauce.
I’m glad that I walked into Pete’s that day. People wait for new restaurants to open up hoping to find the next great place to hang out and eat some good food, but sometimes you just need to look again at what’s here now and rediscover what you missed out on the first time.