Diverse flavors and a taste of nostalgia in Lafayette and West Lafayette

by | Places, Featured Destinations

Customers sit at the counter at Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette.

Founded in 1825, Lafayette, Ind., and the neighboring community of West Lafayette, situated across the Wabash River and home to Purdue University and Cook Biotech, stand as an educational and pharmaceutical hub. In other words, it’s an area where various cultures and ethnicities converge, quilting a vibrant and diverse community. 

With its farming heritage and that rich diversity, Lafayette and West Lafayette provide gastronomic sampling like few other Midwestern cities. From gluten-free bakeries and French wine bars to nostalgic drive-ins, the global scope of the scientific and educational arenas brings myriad dining opportunities for residents and travelers. After all, one cannot live on knowledge alone. 

The morning repast can begin with scrumptious gluten-free pastries and shopping for sustainable goods at the charming Rose Market along Main Street. Located in Lafayette, with an in-house baker crafting wheat and dairy-free goods and rows of allergy-free products, customers will walk in for a dozen donuts and leave with a cartload of groceries. As soon as the door opens, visitors take in the aroma of sweets, and cases full of donuts, tarts, pies and cakes offer a feast for the eyes. Shoppers can peruse the aisles for hard-to-find alternative flours, puff pastry, a variety of pasta shapes and, of course, baking products. 

For a nostalgic taste of Indiana, head to West Lafayette’s Triple XXX Family Restaurant, which opened in 1929. The Triple XXX brand root beer and the famous Duane Purvis peanut butter-topped burger, featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” are worth the wait to sit at the winding counter, but the root beer started it all in 1895. By the 1920s, the root beer chain grew to nearly 100 Triple XXX “thirst stations,” and today, this is the last remaining and oldest drive-in in the state. 

If you’re in the mood for something less crowded, Lafayette’s East End Grill, which opened in 2016, provides a modern, relaxed atmosphere. It’s the perfect choice for a local meeting, date or even a place to hang out and watch the NCAA tournament. The menu, overseen by chef de cuisine Haley Garrity, spotlights local farms and serves roasted and grilled meats, seafood and vegetarian specialties.

Head directly across the street for a coffee or a glass of Burgundy at French-inspired Cellar Wine Bistro. Serving over 100 wines by the glass, it’s an opportunity to discover new favorite varietals. Enjoy one of the wine flights, which offer three 3-ounce pours, and find a new bottle to take on a picnic or a home to sip on your porch. It’s the perfect place to take stock of your quick tour through the art galleries, independent retail outlets and the captivating walk along Main Street. 

In Lafayette and West Lafayette, every meal is an opportunity to savor the flavors of the new heartland, so come hungry, leave fortified and prepare to fall in love with eating and drinking delights in this charming Midwestern enclave. 

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