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.
Restaurant, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Lebanese, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Aladdin Pita offers diners a culinary journey through the Middle East. Start out with an order of hummus or baba ghannoush. Main dishes to try include bamyah, or okra stew, served with rice, the fasulia, a green bean stew with or without lamb; and the lamb chops with grilled vegetables and rice. For a complete dining experience, order some fresh mint tea and a slice of hareesah, or farina flour cake topped with almonds.
Restaurant, Thai, Asian, Fusion, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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.
Shrimp Pad Thai © Aurimas/Flickr
Restaurant, European, Northern European, French, Swiss, $$$
Founded in 1997, Cafe Fondue is a wonderful place go for a fun, relaxing night out with friends or a romantic outing with that special someone. Fondue is the name of the game at this café, with a variety of dishes that will appeal to meat eaters, seafood lovers, and vegetarians, plus there is a decadent chocolate flambé dessert fondue. The menu features a three-course meal with a salad, fresh vegetables, dipping sauces – ranch, spicy mustard, and orange ginger, to name a few – a main dish including vegetarian, chicken and tenderloin with lobster tail, and the dessert fondue. You can have the cheese fondue appetizer in place of the dessert or have everything with the four-course dinner, plus they also offer an à la carte menu. Cafe Fondue is open every night except for Sundays.
Cheese Fondue © Javcon117/Flickr
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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.
Enchiladas © Mark Mitchell/Flickr
Restaurant, European, Italian, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, $$$
Gamba Ristorante is housed in a circular architectural beauty, complete with a copper roof. Wanting to create an environment reminiscent of a lovely European establishment, the owners have designed an upscale ambiance through the use of luxurious surrounds, excellent service and delectable Italian cuisine. Some of the outstanding dishes offered include the handmade gnocchi with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, walnuts, golden raisins, pecorino and toasted bread crumbs; the veal tenderloin with celery root puree, roasted mushrooms, gremolata and truffle oil; and the grilled dry aged beef tenderloin served with a gorgonzola hasselback potato, spinach and port-peppercorn demi-glace. For a complete Gamba culinary experience, pair your meal with a glass (or bottle) of wine from their impressive list. They’re open for lunch weekdays and dinner every night except Sundays.
Grand Park Cafe
Cafe, Pizzaria, American, Italian, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food, Street Food, $$$
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.
Burger and Fries/ ©Pexels
Restaurant, American, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Vegetarian
Roxana’s Restaurant is another locally owned and operated delight specializing in American and international dishes with a healthy spin. Priding themselves on offering high-quality fare, the culinary team at Roxana’s procures only the best ingredients including all-natural meats – steroid-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu is brimming with incredible choices like sweet and savory options for breakfast – try the ‘really, really big breakfast’ with blueberry buttermilk pancakes, eggs, turkey bacon, sausage and potatoes for the best of both worlds – and savory goodness for lunch and dinner. One delicious dinner entrée is the qabuli palow, or a tender lamb shank with julienne carrots, raisins, almonds and basmati rice.
blueberry lemon pancakes| © haiderzs/flickr
Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
Visit Tapas Cafe if you are looking for a fun night out on the town with family and friends while sharing plates of delicious Spanish cuisine. Established in 2012, this café creates an array of small plates (both classic and signature), entrées and paellas with a modern spin, using only the finest and freshest traditional ingredients available. The ambiance is warm and hospitable, perfect for a relaxing meal paired with great conversations. Some of the deliciousness you’ll find on the menu includes pulp a la plancha, or sautéed octopus with garlic potatoes and olive oil; goat cheese baked with tomato sauce; Mayan potstickers stuffed with seasoned pork, grilled onions and pineapples; and the veggie paella. Tapas Cafe is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
Grilled Spanish Octopus, Avocado, Roasted Jimmy Nardello and Padrón Peppers, Pickled Fresno Chiles, Pepper Flowers, and Tomato-Chile Water Acqua Pazza | © Megan Swann from StarChefs/Courtesy of Bar Dough | © Megan Swann from StarChefs/Courtesy of Bar Dough
Taste of India
Restaurant, Indian, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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.
Curry © Pixabay
Pub, Irish, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, $$$
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.
Mac n cheese with bacon © Omid Tavallai/Flickr