With the chief complaint I hear from many people in our community revolving around the apparent lack of a good steak house, a short drive to Akron, Indiana will reveal Dillys Restaurant and Bar. A legitimate argument against the dearth of decent steak houses to choose from in our area (that’s another argument for another day), Dillys’ counterargument doesn’t just broach the steak house conversation. It also offers proof that a great family dining experience can be found in the unlikeliest of places.
If film producers were looking for a one stoplight town in the middle of a flyover state to stage their next movie, central casting would be hard pressed to send a better candidate than Akron, Indiana. About a half hour southwest of my home in Warsaw, Akron wraps itself around the intersection of state highways 14 and 19, with the aforementioned one stoplight ensuring the safe flow of traffic. Less than 250 feet from that intersection sits Dillys. I’m not sure what role this brick-encrusted building played previously but its current role is one I hope it will have for a while.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I first ambled through the back door of Dillys. I had heard great things about the restaurant but my preconceived misconceptions about the establishment had me envisioning something quite less spectacular. Let’s get one thing straight – Dillys would be impressive anywhere you plopped it down. From the moment I stepped through the back door into the bar area until we found our table in the family dining section, I was awestruck. “I can’t believe we’re in Akron” was my silent refrain to myself for most of the evening and that feeling didn’t go away once the food was served.
Our party was large, consisting of at least a dozen birthday celebrants, and the restaurant was packed with even more people milling about the entrance waiting for coveted seats to open up. That had little impact on our service. Sure, I could have gotten my second whiskey sour a little quicker as I sat and slowly watched the left-behind ice cubes melt but I suck them down pretty fast anyway. The food took a bit longer than normal but was served with sincere apologies for the slight delay. Keep in mind that Dillys just opened a few months ago – for a new restaurant to be handling orders as well as they did was impressive.
We ordered a mix of plates from steaks to sandwiches to wraps. The side salad that came with the steaks was a little small but acceptable for the dish’s total price. Beyond that, everyone enjoyed their selections with little (pardon the pun) complaints. Steaks were delivered cooked to specifications, sandwiches oozed with deliciousness and the wraps left everyone full and satisfied. Side notes: If you aren’t into gorging yourself, the wraps are easily shareable between two people. Take a pass on the sweet potato tots but make the fried pickles a priority for an appetizer. They’re a tad bit on the spicy side (not a bad thing in my book) but I couldn’t stop shoveling them into my mouth.
Dillys isn’t just a restaurant – it has a full service bar as well. The cocktail program, while not on the cutting edge, offered plenty of favorites and craft creations to choose from, more than enough to make your typical diner’s insides awash with warm and fuzzy feelings.
Pricing was on the low end for restaurants of similar ilk but don’t take that the wrong way. Dillys offers value but not at the expense of quality.
Parking advice – head out back behind the restaurant. If you try to find a space on the street, you’ll need the patience of a saint.
Eating out is my thing and while I love it, there are drawbacks. New discoveries become harder to find and the unimpressive are, well, unimpressive and simply fade. The yearning for a new establishment to leave me awestruck, though, never goes away. My journey to experience new “wow” moments is endless – I want restaurants to blow me away, make me want to come back and put my search for a new favorite on the back burner, at least for a little while. Dillys did that and I know if you give it a chance, you’ll soon be echoing the same silent refrain I did on my first experience there – “Wow, I can’t believe we’re in Akron.”