The bar at the back of Callahan’s restaurant was the place to be Tuesday night, packed with a rambunctious crowd that has obviously been coming for years.
As my waitress passed by during the course of my meal, she quipped, “We don’t charge for the entertainment,” with a dry smile.
So it goes for Callahan’s, a 24-hour staple in Elkhart and another worthy participant in the 2015 edition of Elkhart Dining Days. And, yet again, its spin on comfort food hit the spot.
While the restaurant offers a wide variety of food on a nightly basis — from American to Mexican to the well-known, all-day breakfast — the Dining Days version of Callahan’s focuses on Greek food. Diners had options for a four-course meal, including appetizer options of cheese puffs, spinach puffs or saganaki, dinner choices of Greek pork chops or Greek chicken (both with Greek potatoes), plus choice of soup or salad and rice pudding for dessert. The restaurant is also serving glasses of Greek wine as part of the special for five dollars each.
Plus, you’re the talk of the restaurant when the waitress comes out and lights your food on fire.
While the $15 price tag might make some Callahan’s regulars go a little wide-eyed based on the normal fare, don’t be fooled: This meal is a food coma waiting to happen.
I started my meal with an appetizer of saganaki. I understand that “technically” saganaki is Greek but quite honestly, is there anything more American than fried and melted cheese doused in alcohol and lit on fire? Didn’t think so. The only slightly un-American part of the dish is putting the fire out with lemon, but doing so added just a slight zesty kick that put the saganaki over the top. Plus, you’re the talk of the restaurant when the waitress comes out and lights your food on fire. Highly, highly recommended.
After the appetizer was a very well-sized Greek salad, complete with a full spread of veggies and giant chunks of feta cheese. This salad is almost big enough for two people. Thankfully, I had a nice long break before the main course.
Of the two entrée options, I opted for the Greek chicken. As many who frequent Callahan’s know, the restaurant isn’t exactly known for small portions and the Dining Days special was no exception. When my waitress slammed down the half-a-chicken (literally), cup of rice and whole potato, she looked at me like I obviously didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
“I’ll see you in an hour,” she chuckled.
No doubt, the chicken was a great choice. The meat was super tender, had good seasoning and a great hint of grilling flavor. The rice that came with it wasn’t necessarily anything super special on its own, but tasted especially good when you mixed it with the sauce from the chicken. The potato was, like I said, a whole potato cut into four huge wedges that were crispy and seasoned on the outside but soft on the inside. They were covered in a delicious gravy as well.
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By the time about a half hour had passed, I was staring at a half-eaten plate of food when my waitress came by and sarcastically mentioned, “You realize you get dessert, right?”
“Yeah, I’ll take that to go,” I replied.
For those wondering about Callahan’s this Elkhart Dining Days, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value. After stuffing myself all night (and attempting to finishing writing this before I fall asleep), I still brought home at least another full meal plus a small vat of rice pudding.
It’s everything you love about Callahan’s: Comfort food and a neighborhood atmosphere at an affordable price.
You can bet I’ll be back for the fried cheese, er, saganaki soon.