The Workingman’s Friend is said to be the “best blue-collar burger place in town.” Founded around 1918 by Louis Stamatkin, an immigrant from Macedonia, who was helped by his fellow Macedonian immigrants to open the place. He served lunch to local railroad workers and other factory workers and called his place Belmont Lunch. Beer and liquor were a big draw for customers. When the workers were on strike he let them run a tab for which the place was given the nickname “The Workingman’s Friend.” When he died at the young age of 46 his sons (Carl and Earl) took over and renamed the place in his honor, but they also added some more expensive items to the menu and live entertainment. Carl’s daughter Becky started working there in 1978 and by 1980 the live music and steaks were gone. The place again focused on burgers and beer, of which the burgers are thin with a crispy edge. The expansion the sons planned never happened but it is still a large place filled with small closely spaced formica-topped tables. There are a number of lots around to park in and they were all pretty much full at 1:30 as was the interior. At one point a line formed waiting for the tables. It took close to an hour to get our food but the wait was worth it. It is a fantastic burger. The service was friendly but the noise level is loud from conversations. Televisions over the long bar were turned off, but a full bar of liquors is available.
The burgers are Giant Double Cheeseburgers and fries or onion rings are extra. They are a 3 half-bun burgers and come with lettuce, tomato, onions and mayo. Ketchup and mustard are on the tables. Pickles are on the side. The juicy flavorful meat is really crispy on the edge and each thin patty is topped with melted cheese. The onions are not cooked and instead mixed in with the lettuce. It was wonderful. One of us got fries and the other got rings. Neither was worth the price. If I had it to do over we’d split a third burger instead. The fries and rings were both a frozen variety and not bad but not good either whereas the burger was exceptional.
3 thoughts on “The Workingman’s Friend, Indianapolis, 4/20/23”
I’m jealous! I’ve wanted to go there for a while. It will happen one day. We go to Indiana periodically to visit friends.
That burger looks fantastic.
It was a fine burger but I’d skip the rest. It may be the busiest place I’ve been in some time- so be prepared to wait. I adore a burger with crispy edges. Hope you get there – it’s a phenomenon! If you get to Indianapolis try Bluebeard (write up coming out Tuesday). It was great! The city also has a presidential site about Benjamin Harrison that’s worth visiting.
Thanks. We are usually based in Bloomington, where our friends live, but that’s not that far from Indy. The last time we were there, I had to choose between Workingman’s Friend and Shapiro’s Deli for our meal in the city and opted for the latter.