The Indy Burger Guy visited the Friendly Tavern in Zionsville on Monday, January 2, 2017.
If my burger from Mass Ave Pub was a bit of a disappointment, the one I had from the Friendly Tavern in Zionsville more than made up for it!
In terms of decor, there’s really not that much difference between the Friendly Tavern and Mass Ave Pub. Both are downtown bars that embrace a more ‘quaint’ feeling, complete with wooden accents and furniture, flatscreen televisions situated around the room showing sports of all kinds, and a stocked bar. Those similarities, however, are where those similarities ended, at least for me.
(I will say that the Friendly has been around considerably longer than Mass Ave, though.
The staff at the Friendly Tavern more than lived up to the name on the sign. From the moment I walked in, I was greeted and told to sit anywhere I liked. Not much time elapsed before I was asked what I wanted to drink and my order was taken. Looking around the bar, I could tell that the waitstaff worked hard to develop a rapport with their guests – especially their regulars. I saw patrons called by name, old conversations picked up, and hugs exchanged. The sign you see as you walk in is pretty indicative of what you find inside: “You are a stranger here but once.”
As I waited for my order to come up – a cheeseburger and fries – my waitress brought me a basket of a variety of crackers and asked if maybe I wanted a cup of soup while waiting for my burger. I declined, but, again, this attention to detail really elevates this bar in terms of overall customer service. The staff at the Friendly are one of the most attentive and gracious I’ve encountered in my lifetime – which is saying a great deal!
I actually wasn’t waiting that long before my burger came out from the kitchen, presented to me with a smile and a question about anything else I might need… but as long as I had my food, I could think of nothing else I could possibly require. This was a tasty-looking burger, to be sure. Yellow American cheese perfectly melted over a seared half-pound of beef cooked to a perfect medium and well-seasoned to boot. It also included red onion, tomato, leaf lettuce (always a welcome change over iceberg!), and pickles, with a cup of mayo on the side. (I’m gonna be honest – when mayo is included, I’m always happy!) The whole shebang was served on a toasted bun that ended up holding together nicely… which is a plus, because this was a juicy cheeseburger!
While I will gladly admit to enjoying this burger immensely, I can’t say that there was anything about it that really stood out as being particularly eye-popping or otherwise amazing. This burger is the workhorse – the trusty standby that you can always count on when you need it – delicious, juicy, and affordable. And, these days, with so many ‘bells and whistles’ and other things that can drown out the flavor of a great burger, that’s a welcome distinction for this burger reviewer.
So, if you’re in the neighborhood and are in the market for a quality, no-frills burger in a casual, laid-back atmosphere with a staff that will make you wanna kick your shoes off and plop your feet on the table (please don’t do this, though – you’re in public and we live in a society of rules), check out The Friendly Tavern for a welcome dose of hometown hospitality and a burger that will satisfy your hunger pangs!
FINAL RANKING: 8.6/10
The Friendly Tavern
290 S. Main St.
Cost Range: $–$$ ($6 and under; $7-$12)