Sidebars: Restaurant built on lifelong family traditions

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SidebarsAs a kid, I used to love breakfast-for-dinner dinners. Of that meal, my favorite was the waffles which my mom made on an old, square, electric waffle maker that made the traditional, thin waffles perfectly. It was such a special treat for dinner and now you can enjoy such a treat for lunch at Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles, which is attached to the downtown Citgo at the corner of East and Ohio streets in Indianapolis.

Fred and I, and the most important person in our legal lives, our paralegal, Gina, ventured out for chicken and waffles. We knew that it is not necessarily a quick in-and-out type place, so we allotted a full hour for lunch. A very clean and casual atmosphere welcomes a diverse customer base of businessmen, students, families and blue-collar folks.

The story behind Maxine’s creates the charm of the place. Maxine, may she rest in peace, cooked at St. Francis Hospital for 30 years while her husband, Ollie, worked a different shift at Chrysler for 33 years. Their coordinated efforts in raising their 10 kids resulted in a variety of culinary feats over the years. In 2007, the kids and grandkids joined forces to open Maxine’s with the menu-base being the recipes, with more than a dash of love, of Ollie and Maxine over the years. We, your customers, thank you for sharing the love!

There is a lot on this menu. We started with chicken wings coated with a buffalo sauce that contained just a hint of pepper or garlic or something to distinguish it from the traditional buffalo sauce. The heat was manageable. We also munched on some onion rings that retained a bit too much grease, but who really complains about that? Other starters include Max Fries – get this – french fries with cheese sauce, fried chicken chunks, diced tomatoes, onions, green peppers, topped with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream – OMG. Also to munch on is the southern tradition of fried green tomatoes with “southern sauce.” Oh, also, corn bread patties with peach butter are offered up to whet your appetite.

I had to indulge in Maxine’s signature dish of chicken and waffles, which is a big ol’ rounded waffle and three jumbo chicken wings fried to perfection, served pipin’ hot. You get the peach butter (or you can ask for traditional butter) and warm syrup for your waffle (of which there are a variety of types of waffles – i.e. chocolate chip or strawberry.) I tell ya, it is the warm syrup that seems like a personal hug from Maxine herself. Fred tried his patience by ordering the pan-fried chicken for which you should allow about 35 minutes to cook. The process cooked in the juices and treated Fred with flavorfully spiced breading that can only come with pan-fried chicken as opposed to the deep-fried method. The only disappointment was the generic french fries he had with his chicken. The barbecue chicken sandwich impressed Gina with it being so juicy for grilled chicken and this was despite them forgetting to put the barbecue sauce on it! She described her side of macaroni and cheese as creamy and very homemade.

Other notables are the omelets (one a six-egg omelet), pancakes, a waffle sandwich, and Shirley’s Biscuit (pieces of fried chicken smothered in gravy, served with two eggs, grits or potatoes and a biscuit). Leaning more toward lunch (really supper) entrée? Check out the tilapia or catfish dinners, the smothered chicken dish or the slow-baked chicken dinner. As far as salads and sandwiches, Maxine’s menu has numerous selections of each, including many burger offerings, a smoked sausage sandwich, and fried or blackened catfish or tilapia sandwiches. The dinners come with two sides and the sandwiches come with one side. There are too many sides to mention but this will encourage return trips to try each of them at some point!

I would grant Maxine’s three gavels on the food but four when it comes to the motivation of those honoring Maxine and Ollie’s obvious love for their children who now are sharing it with us. Check out their website at and visit them at 132 N. East St., Indianapolis.•

Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn & Paul in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.


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