The Indy Burger Guy visited the Rock-Cola ’50s Cafe on Saturday, May 6, 2017.
While I was only born in the 1980s, even I get a little nostalgic when walking into a ’50s-themed diner. It may have something to do with my love of old Hollywood (most of these places have pictures of 1950s icons like Marilyn Monroe and James Deen adorning the walls) or the fact that I have fond memories of visiting a ’50s-style diner with my extended family up in Goshen, IN when I was younger (Alley Oops Diner, now closed unfortunately).
At any rate, if you’ve never been to a ’50s-style diner, you might be expecting something more in line with Jack Rabbit Slim’s from Pulp Fiction, with a waitstaff dressed like ’50s icons like Mamie Van Doren and Buddy Holly, booths in the shape of 1950s model American sports cars, a large dance floor which features regular ’50s dance-offs, and a $5 milkshake. Rock-Cola could not be more different… in all the best ways.
Rock-Cola is a small diner that has probably been in place since the ’50s. It has enough seating for about 20-30 people altogether, including booth and bar seating. A large flattop grill is set up behind the bar where the cooking is clearly seen from the restaurant area. The pre-pattied beef is thrown onto the grill and pressed down to achieve even cooking and crispy edges. The burgers are seasoned by a special seasoning from a large tin spice shaker and a dark liquid from a massive squeeze bottle. The burger is then topped with two slices of American cheese, which are then allowed to melt nicely.
The standard toppings on a burger are iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, a slice of white onion, pickles, and mayo and it is served on a standard white hamburger bun. While I did find the sheer volume of pickles to be overwhelming to the overall flavor of the burger – thus throwing off the flavor balance quite a bit – the burger itself was well-cooked and flavorful, perfectly seasoned, with a nice crust covering the outside.
To accompany my burger, I ordered a side of fries – crinkle-cut, which is not my first choice when it comes to fries – and a vanilla malt, which tasted like $5, despite costing less than $4. Rather than serving it in a glass with the remainder in the large metal cup, the entire malt was served in the metal glass, which I quite liked.
This is a good burger, but there’s very little about it that puts it “over-the-top” in terms of overall appearance and flavor. Still, for the kitschy ambiance, friendly service, and nostalgic ’50s vibe, one could do significantly worse than Rock-Cola ’50s Cafe!
Rock-Cola ’50s Cafe
5730 Brookville Rd.
Cost Range: $ ($6 and under)