On April 4, 1968, residents of Indianapolis, Indiana, watched Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, candidate for President and brother of John F. Kennedy, mount a podium placed in the back of a flatbed truck and announce to the largely clueless crowd that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. What followed was a masterclass in compassion and charisma that alleviated the tension that saw every major American city except Indianapolis riot that night. It was completely improvised. He was the victim of an assassin’s bullet two months later. Such is the nuance of American history.
It’s impossible to imagine what Indianapolis felt like in the tense months of ’68, but visitors to Love Handle at the corners of 10th and Oxford street will get a pretty good glimpse through the veil. Just go down 10th street, park in the unassuming back lot, follow the sidewalk between dueling murals and an antique/junk shop, and listen for Janis Joplin. The louder she gets, the closer you are. She, and other 60s acts like The Temptations and CCR, rotate through the record player behind the counter.
At first glance, the decor is reminiscent of a sad Chinese restaurant in a dying Midwestern mall, but settle in and you’ll soon be enamored. Kitschy cat knick-knacks and drawings of the owners atop sandwiches decorate the restaurant. It’s no frills and filled with love, and that’s part of the magic. Imagine eating at your weird aunt’s who taught you about sex and weed (we all have one) except she’s also one of the best cooks around.
As someone on a quest to eat the best biscuits and gravy America has to offer, it might be time to call off the search and crown Love Handle, a fact that palpitates my southern heart. Imagine finding the best clam chowder in Shreveport. I would move mountains to eat Love Handle’s biscuits and gravy on any given day. I’d buy it on eBay or from a back-alley dealer. That’s how good it is.
Spicy and smoky with the perfect amount of salt, the gravy is augmented by the tenderest and most flavorful pork belly I’ve ever had, and the biscuits aren’t shabby by any means. If you don’t want them slathered in gravy, opt for the pork belly slider, another wonderful addition to the culinary world.
There’s also the matter of the chocolate toast. I’m not sure how it’s made, but it tastes like they age it in melted butter, marinate it in Nutella, and then toast it to perfection. Enjoy it with a cup of their coffee. It’s nutty, warm, and strong, much like myself.
While we were there, denizens of all walks of life happily chatted with the owners and each other, ordered something with pork belly, and seemed content with the world for a few moments. It might not be the peace and prosperity dreamed of in the summer of ’68, but breaking bread in a place like Love Handle seems just as good a place to start towards that as any.
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