Before I left Miami on my 3-week book signing road trip, there were about 20 planned stops to eat at. There were no layovers in Indiana at all. My wife Marcela and I had never been to Indiana before or even driven through it on a previous drive. I changed our stay in Louisville, Kentucky, to Fort Wayne, Indiana, after realizing it was Kentucky Derby weekend. That is the kind of weekend that can severely impact your vacation with lots of traffic.
I wasn’t familiar with Indiana food spots other than what George Motz mentioned in his book Hamburger America. So I reached out to @VisitIndiana on Instagram, who connected me with Jessa from @VisitFortWayne. It was Jessa who told me about Don Hall’s Family Restaurants. She also put me in contact with Tim Hall, who I spoke with about possibly doing a book signing there (we both decided against it, too little time to set it up). Tim and I met at Hall’s Original Drive-In, where we had lunch with his dad Bud and cousin Max.
I was lucky enough to sit down and hear stories of the founding of Hall’s back in 1946. Bud is a national Burger treasure, and Hall’s and their story should be put in writing for posterity’s sake. Tim and Max would interject comments and add tales throughout his narrative. It was nice to see that generational family dynamic. It’s the type of thing that makes Hall’s restaurants extra special.
Even though Hall’s Original didn’t end up hosting an All About The Burger book signing there, we had a great time plus I did leave them a copy of the book to enjoy.
On to the food highlights…
The Onion Rings are hand-breaded and perfect with that zesty sauce. The Chicken Tenders with their flaky seasoned breading were excellent, and the Tots Poutine is an ingenious tasty idea. The Big Buster has skyrocketed to one of my all-time favorite burgers. I loved the Big Buster so much I posted two pictures of it below. Damn, it was good.
One last food shout-out goes to their marvelous Frosty Malt. Just plain incredible. I hope you can find your way to Hall’s Original and have the excellent food experience that Marcela and I enjoyed.
P.S.: There is an actual drive-in service with carhops, so if you’re old school, you can go that route instead of eating inside.
Thank you to our new friends Bud, Tim, and Max Hall, for the Hall family hospitality.