Dive Bar Digest
3 minute read
Hot Pot Pig.
Stay with us here. We’ll say it one more time.
Hot Pot Pig.
It’s not hot pot, nor is it pork pot pie. It’s a soup, see? And the funny thing is that it doesn’t even show up under the “SOUP” section of the menu because, of course, there isn’t a “SOUP” section at Ralph’s. It’s under the “What Do We Have to Eat” section, which feels like could be the title of the entire menu, but really only includes a couple of soups and dips.
Is the suspense killing you? Turns out, Hot Pot Pig is a cream of potato soup with bacon and a thick layer of melted hot pepper cheese, a la French Onion.
It’s also delicious.
Vegetarian? Fret not. For you, there’s Hot Pot Aug (which, it seems, is short for Au Gratin and we’re a suckers for a portmanteau). The primary difference would have something to do with the bacon, or lack thereof, one presumes.
Is a bun-less burger actually a burger?
In grand, sweeping terms, a popular order at most joints like this is a burger. Often griddled on a flattop, sometimes pressed thin and crunchy. But what surprised us most of all about Ralph’s burger is that it comes served between two toasted slices of bread—not on a bun. Fans of the patty melt would certainly not cry foul. However, you’ll find a lot of internet chatter about whether or not this burger even qualifies as a burger due to its lack of bun. But we’re not here to argue. Only to set expectations.
Otherwise, the chili comes highly recommended as an accompaniment to the Jumbo Frank, which, dare we say it, may be naturally cased?
The menu is loaded with additional gems. Not the food, mind you. Well, the food’s great, too. Specifically, the gems are in the writing. Like this: “Everyone loves some T and A.” The T in this situation refers to Beef Tenderloin TIPS, and the A is the aforementioned AUG. There are more tasty plays on words and otherwise sardonic wit. So read the menu. Really read the menu.
“Hot Pot Aug couldn’t be more perfect—unless it’s Hot Pot Pig.” – Amy J. Dean
Ralph’s offers a cozy atmosphere, divided into two main areas. There’s the bar in the back, and the primary dining room is loaded with old pictures of Indianapolis landmarks, as well as a few of everyone’s now-good-friend Ralph. In the way back, there’s a patio that we weren’t able to visit due to it being winter and us not being sadistic.
Speaking of, it was cold when we visited on this particular day, and being the uninitiated, we sat at the classic diner-style “bunch of tables pushed together to make one table” table nearest the door. Learn from our mistakes: if the weather’s in any way extreme, don’t do that. We ate with our coats on, because as it turns out there’s no breezeway. That’s some classic dive bar charm.
Additional tips (the non-beef-tenderloin type)
What else do you need to know? No dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays—only lunch. And piano music on the weekends. Oh, and this is no kid-friendly joint. Ages 21 and over only, please.
Are there any regrets? Only one: that no one at our table ordered a single slice of pie. Seriously: just look at the coconut cream.
Overall, the crew gave it a resounding “I liked it!” And with that pie in our sights, we have even more reason to go back.
Next up in the DBD queue: John’s Famous Stew.