Opened by Louis and Rebecca Shapiro in 1905 as a small grocery store, Shapiro’s became a restaurant in the 1930s. Today it is a full-service kosher-style deli where you can buy smoked fish and cold cuts by the pound; and it is also a big cafeteria serving three meals a day. In our experience, Indianapolis is not a big breakfast city, so Shapiro’s is especially well worth knowing about in the morning.
The menu ranges from biscuits and gravy (not typical of Jewish delis!) to bagels and lox. We love the corned beef hash and also the corned beef omelet, which is loaded with meat and served with good home fried potatoes. One morning we asked the server in the cafeteria line about an item listed on the menu board as a matzoh omelet. She shrugged and offered her opinion that she couldn’t imagine that some crumbled crackers could be any good in eggs. But we tried it anyway and found it to be a kind of mid-American gloss on matzoh brei, the traditional Jewish breakfast dish in which bite-size scraps of matzoh are sheathed in scrambled egg like a kind of jumbled French toast but with a distinctive unleavened munchyness.
Shapiro’s is best known, and rightly so, for its corned beef sandwich. The vivid red spiced meat is steamy hot, sliced thin and piled high between slices of excellent rye bread. With a couple of latkes (potato pancakes) on the side, you’ve got a great lunch. Other good sandwiches include melting-soft beef brisket, garlicky salami, and chopped liver. Among the hot dishes is matzoh ball soup masterfully made with extra-strength chicken broth guaranteed to cure anything that ails you.
There are other locations at Indianapolis Airport and in the Fashion Mall at Keystone Crossing.