Although located in Indiana, the culinary scene in Merrillville is international and brimming with incredible flavors. If you find yourself in Merrillville, be sure to visit these 10 exciting spots.
Aladdin Pita offers diners a culinary journey through the Middle East. Start out with an order of hummus or baba ghannoush. Main dishes to try include bamyah, or okra stew, served with rice, the fasulia, a green bean stew with or without lamb; and the lamb chops with grilled vegetables and rice. For a complete dining experience, order some fresh mint tea and a slice of hareesah, or farina flour cake topped with almonds.
Asparagus is an award-winning restaurant, earning the 2008 Restaurant of the Year award from the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority. The restaurant has a beautifully designed interior inspired by the asparagus and offers Thai, Vietnamese and flavors of the Americas, all prepared with French flair.
If you have a craving for zesty Mexican cuisine, then be sure to visit El Chaparral, a lively venue creating flavorful recipes that are sure to whet your appetite. Perfect for the entire family, the restaurant features a colorful interior, adding to the fun and festive environment, plus a menu brimming with options – something for everyone, including several veggie options. If you love chicken, try the pollo Veracruz, featuring a grilled chicken breast with a delectable topping of shrimp, bell pepper, onion, enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese. For those wanting to try a house favorite, you can’t go wrong with the tamales tu y yo – two pork tamales topped with red sauce and cheese. Don’t forget about drinks. Perhaps a sangria or margarita? El Chaparral is open daily starting at 10 am.
Gamba Ristorante is housed in a circular architectural beauty, complete with a copper roof. Wanting to create an environment reminiscent of a lovely European establishment, the owners have designed an upscale ambiance through the use of luxurious surrounds, excellent service and delectable Italian cuisine. Some of the outstanding dishes offered include the handmade gnocchi with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, walnuts, golden raisins, pecorino and toasted bread crumbs; the veal tenderloin with celery root puree, roasted mushrooms, gremolata and truffle oil; and the grilled dry aged beef tenderloin served with a gorgonzola hasselback potato, spinach and port-peppercorn demi-glace. For a complete Gamba culinary experience, pair your meal with a glass (or bottle) of wine from their impressive list. They’re open for lunch weekdays and dinner every night except Sundays.
Grand Park Cafe
A locally owned and operated gem, Grand Park Cafe entices customers again and again with its comforting American and Italian dishes. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, their breakfasts in particular are known for being tasty, hearty and affordable. Some favored choices are the grand French toast and the country fried steak smothered with sausage gravy and served with two farm fresh eggs, hash browns and a choice of toast, biscuits, muffin or bagel – it will keep you going throughout the day. The lunch and dinner side of the menu includes burgers, hot dogs, pita sandwiches and triple club sandwiches, along with Southern comfort recipes like meatloaf, house specialties like Greek chicken and much more. The café is open daily.
Taste of India
Tucked inside an unassuming strip mall, Taste of India is a friendly and inviting eatery specializing in, as the name suggests, flavorful Indian fare. Featuring a menu full of meat and vegetarian options, the restaurant is sure to appeal to diners, no matter what they are seeking. For a well-rounded meal at Taste of India, start with an appetizer such as veggie spring rolls or the aloo tikki, potato patties served with chutney, followed by a hearty main of goat curry with fresh ginger, garlic, tomatoes and garam masala spices or chicken korma, with a flavorsome almond sauce. If you are craving something sweet at the end of your meal, tuck into a plate of gulab jamun – fried milk pastry dumplings in sweet saffron syrup. You can visit Taste of India daily for lunch or dinner.
For a taste of Ireland, be sure to add T.J. Maloney’s to your list of dining destinations in Merrillville. Located at the Radisson Hotel, this ‘Authentic Irish Pub’ serves a variety of American and Irish recipes in an inviting atmosphere decked out in warm woods and other natural elements such as stonework. Open for lunch and dinner daily with extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights, the pub offers a host of hearty dishes such as fish and chips served with coleslaw and house-made tartar sauce; Irish cheddar mac ’n’ cheese with bacon; and corned beef brisket with braised cabbage, herb roasted carrots and potatoes and curry sauce. With options like the chocolate car bomb – whiskey chocolate mousse, Guinness chocolate sauce and Bailey’s mousse – don’t miss out on dessert, and of course, there are plenty of libations.
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