Its claim to fame as Indiana’s oldest restaurant is reason enough to draw curious diners to The Log Inn in Warrenton, Indiana, 12 miles north of Evansville. But once there, the restaurant’s locally famous fried chicken, always fresh and made to order, turns first-timers to fans.
The Log Inn was built by Henry Haub in 1825. In the 1840s, it was a main stagecoach stop between Evansville and Terre Haute, and an inn. Abraham Lincoln, then an Illinois attorney, stopped there in 1844 while campaigning for his role model, presidential candidate Henry Clay. The building fittingly later became a stop on the Underground Railroad.
It served the community as a general store, tavern and dance hall through the years and through various owners. In 1965, Pete and Victoria Rettig opened The Log Inn restaurant in the building. The restaurant passed on to their daughter, Rita, and her husband Gene Elpers in 1978. It is currently run by the Elpers’ children: Kathy Holzmeyer, Trish Elpers and Daryl Elpers, and their families.
Besides the chicken, fried low and slow using grandmother Victoria’s recipe, diners most often rave about the catfish, secret-recipe coleslaw and pie. Family-style meals featuring comfort food staples like mashed potatoes and rolls are available for parties of three or more. Diners can also order a la carte off the menu.
Lincoln-philes are thrilled to enjoy their meals in the Lincoln Room where the revered 16th president spent time in 1844. The Lincoln Room is in the original portion of The Log Inn; through the years — starting post-Civil War — the several additions were made to the building.
The restaurant’s walls are adorned with historical photos, artwork, awards, and memorabilia — many donated by local residents and regular patrons of the landmark restaurant. Among the memorabilia: a copy of a 2016 “Time” magazine article which mentioned The Log Inn as one of 240 reasons to celebrate the Fourth of July. The Gibson County restaurant was also featured in the Food Network’s “The Best Of” Viewers’ Choice program.
If you go …
The Log Inn
12491 County Road 200 E.
Open for dinner every night except Sundays and Mondays.