Two Northwest Indiana restaurants, Schoop’s and Miner-Dunn, dish up hamburgers mixed with a healthy helping of nostalgia. You won’t find fat hamburger patties at these restaurants. The hamburgers are fried up just like my Mom made them — thin and crispy. Maybe that’s what keeps patrons coming back, that window into the past evoked by eating a good old fashioned burger.
How do you fit a square hamburger into a round bun? Schoop’s has been doing it since 1948 when Allen Schoops opened his first burger joint in Hammond, Ind. Now there are over 20 Schoop’s restaurants mainly in Northwest Indiana and Illinois. My favorite is one of the older storefronts at 215 Ridge Road in Munster, Ind. All Schoop’s are decorated in red, white and chrome. The restaurants have that classic 1950s burger joint feel complete with a real soda fountain counter.
Schoop’s burgers come loaded with ketchup, mustard, onion and relish. Be sure to add cheese, lettuce, pickle and tomato for the full Schoop’s effect. Served in a retro, red plastic burger basket, a Schoop’s burger is not for the health conscious. The moist burger is brimming with calories and juicy enough to soak through the bun.
Though Schoop’s burgers haven’t changed much in 60 years, the restaurant menu has with updated items like salads and chicken burgers.
And did I mention the soda counter? At Schoop’s you can order real milk shakes, classic malts and unique soda drinks (like Green River and Chocolate Coke).
Like Schoop’s, Miner-Dunn has served hamburgers for decades — eight decades to be precise. At the height of the Great Depression, Harold Miner and Ralph Dunn opened their burger stand in Hammond with just $80. The current Miner-Dunn diner is at 8940 Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland, Ind. You’ll find crispy fried burgers very similar to Schoop’s. For a real treat, try the Major-Dunn burger with its double meat, cheese, fried egg, and bacon! To accompany your burger be sure to get either the onion rings or fries. Both are handmade and delicious.
If you want diner food instead of a burger, Miner-Dunn is your place. Their meatloaf just melts in your mouth. For an added 50 cents finish your dinner with orange sherbet. Or add dessert with the diner’s homemade pie served with a hefty helping of soft serve ice cream.
Miner-Dunn is not fancy. It’s not the trendy faux-diner. Some may view the décor as dated. I, on the other hand, find the mint green walls and Formica tables comforting. It’s what you’d expect in an authentic roadside diner.
So the next time you’re in Northwest Indiana and craving a burger, stop by either Schoop’s or Miner-Dunn for a trip down memory lane.