You’ll literally need to travel off the beaten path down a few winding roads to find Bonge’s Tavern. Located 30 minutes from Indianapolis, Bonge’s is the claim-to-fame of the small unincorporated area known as Perkinsville. And, it’s one of those must-visit destinations for Hoosier foodies.
Opened as a tavern in 1934, the building sat empty for a few years in the mid-’90s. That’s when Don Kroger happened upon the building, bought it and called his buddy — current owner and chef Tony Huelster — to help him bring Bonge’s back to life.
Both veterans in the restaurant world, Kroger and Huelster collaborated on Bonge’s menu ideas and recipes.
The menu, which is posted on a chalkboard above the bar, is ever-changing. Everything is made fresh in-house – from salad dressings to desserts. Perkinsville Pork is the menu staple. Duck, New York strip steaks, and apple-smoked prime rib can always be found on the weekends. The chicken dish rotates. Seafood is served fresh in season and can change daily in the summer.
Chef Tony’s favorite dish is the smoked salmon appetizer. But the most popular selection by far is the Perkinsville Pork. Huelster says that’s because of “all the love we give it. It’s a good quality, Indiana-raised pork loin.”
While the menu keeps foodies coming back, the experience of waiting for a table has made Bonge’s legendary.
Billing itself as a “tailgating paradise worthy of an adult field trip,” the restaurant takes reservations for parties of 10 or more. If you don’t have a reservation, you’ll want to be in line by 4 p.m. on weekends to get your name on the list and then head back to the parking lot to pass the time tailgating. The restaurant encourages you to bring your own beverages, snacks and tailgating supplies but asks you leave the cornhole boards and Frisbees at home.
The restaurant also offers more tailgating tips with its “Bonge’s Tavern Summer Guide” available on its website.
If you go
9830 W. 280 N.
Tuesday–Thursday: 4:30–9 p.m.
Friday–Saturday: 4:30–10 p.m.
Reservations taken for groups of 10 or more. Must be 21 and older, 18 with a parent or guardian.