Dining a la King: How to make the most of Elkhart Dining Days

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By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

Ryan Martin/Flavor 574

The fourth Elkhart Dining Days starts Friday, Oct. 30, and I can’t wait to get eating.

For nine days, the eating will be even better than usual in Elkhart. Ten percent of the price of those Dining Days specials will go to Church Community Services. That agency does a lot to keep people fed and warm in our community, as well as doing job training for men and women.

Elkhart Dining Days has been a great event since Michele Scherpenberg got it going four years ago. Last year, Flavor 574 took it on and we put on Goshen Dining Days this past spring.

This year’s event in Elkhart is later than it has been in the past, but it’s nestled around Halloween, Election Day and before the holidays hit.

Based on what’s on the menus, we might need a few weeks of salads before holiday eating begins. Just looking at the menus makes my mouth water. I wonder what flavors will surprise and what will delight, from this year’s 20 restaurants and bakeries.

Full menus are online at www.elkhartdiningdays.com. We’ll have a bunch of coverage and stories on Flavor574.com and in The Elkhart Truth, as well as television and radio. You can find more information online and in The Elkhart Truth’s print edition. 

Here’s your guide to eating well during this great event:

Places to get dinner for two for $30: Sports Time Family Pub & Grill has four entree options, including seared tuna tacos, braised short ribs and steak or pork chop. Dinner includes soup or salad and cheesecake. Iechyd Da will offer dinner with beers, two entrees and a dessert to share for $30, inspired by a recent trip to New Orleans. Rulli’s will offer two entrees, soup and salad and two desserts. Entrees include pasta or even an Italian bread bowl filled with pasta and then baked.

Places to get a $30, three-course meal: Artisan, now Elkhart’s highest-end restaurant, will offer a starter, entree and dessert for $30. The items being offered would usually set you back a lot more than that, including the excellent bison short rib entree. If you haven’t yet tried this restaurant, this value is an excellent way to try it. Just down the street at 523 Tap & Grill, the team in the kitchen will offer soup or salad, a pork ribeye or cod loin and dessert for $30.

The biggest menu: Bacon Hill Kitchen & Pub is offering five appetizers starting at $5, four entrees ranging from $10 to $25, and three dessert options for $5 to $10.

Just wine and appetizers? Cappy’s is offering an appetizer and two glasses of wine for $20.

The $15 entree: A number of restaurants are offering such a thing, but at Callahan’s you can get a Greek lunch or dinner with appetizer, chicken or chops, potatoes, soup or salad, and rice pudding for $15. It’s one of the best values in Elkhart Dining Days. On both Saturdays of the event, Cappy’s is offering sausage and vegetable lasagna and salad for $15.

$10 is really special this year: With specials being offered from $5 to $30, this year’s magic number is $10. Most places have some sort of $10 offering, ranging from two 16-ounce cups of yogurt at Twisted Cow to two kinds of poutine (fries with meat, gravy and cheese curds) at New Paradigm. Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern will again have the bluegill, frog leg and perch baskets for $10 along with an 8-ounce prime burger. b on the River will offer a sandwich combo, cookie and drink for $10. Stacks Pancake House will have a massive steak and eggs special for $10. Allen’s Bristol Street Cafe will have either a $10 breakfast skillet and drink or chicken fajita skillet for $10 and is donating 20 percent of sales rather than just 10 percent.

The $5 specials: Hotdogeddy’s will offer a Chicago dog and soda for $5. Ben’s Soft Pretzels at Concord Mall will have a $5 pretzel pocket with a dip and drink for $5. For $2 more, you can get a cinnamon and sugar pretzel with vanilla icing.

Funny names: Lucchese’s is offering beach bread, a loaf cut in half and topped with bleu cheese dressing, tomatoes, bacon, more cheese that’s baked and topped with balsamic drizzle for $10. There’s also a range of other appetizers, entrees and desserts for $5 to $25. Miles Lab is offering ribs, cod or Cha-Chos. That $10 plate is house-fried chips with roasted, pulled chicken and green chile cheese sauce.

Best potential options to take to work: Baker’s Nook Cafe has $10 lunch items that look good, but also has $25 trays of pastries (serves 16 or 20) and cookies (serves 48). Mini Delights Bake Shoppe will offer a four-pack of mini cupcakes for $5, six full-size for $10 or one dozen for $20.

Who’s in for the first time: Artisan, Bacon Hill Kitchen and Pub and Hotdogeddy’s weren’t open a year ago and are in the event for the first time. Allen’s Bristol Street Cafe, Twisted Cow and Ben’s Soft Pretzel are other first-timers.

It’s going to be fun. Enjoy the event.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

Marshall V. King is food columnist for Flavor 574 and community editor for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, mking@flavor574.com, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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