My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Off the Beaten Track, Part Three

Lately I’ve been writing about Amish-owned businesses you can find and visit throughout the countryside.  Many are places that most tourists don’t find.  Some have no internet presence, and for those I’ve tried to give an address and phone number.  Most, however, can be found at and some have even hired outsiders to make them a simple website.  For those, I’ve included links.

Here are a few  places south (and east) of Shipshe that are worth a stop...  To find these, start at the intersection of Routes 5 & 20, at the south end of Shipshe, at the Yoder Popcorn corner.  As you wander the countryside, look for Amish roadside stands and businesses.  If there's a sign, you're invited!

Remember that none will be open on Sundays, and some don’t accept credit cards, but only cash or checks instead.  Have fun!

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Riehl’s Herbs.  This wonderful herb shop (below) is owned by friends of mine.  It is located west of the 5&20 intersection, rather than south on 5 like the rest of these stops, so it’s a little out of the way, but there’s a nice Amish restaurant nearby called Howie’s Six Mile Café.  Both Sam and Mary know plenty about their inventory, and being off the tourist path, we find their prices to be better.  Sam is the son of my beloved (and now late) Mrs. R.  Located at 0170 N 600 W, Lagrange.  (260) 768-9109.

Howie’s Six Mile Restaurant.  This place (below) is small, out of the way, very simple, and the food is cheap and good.  Locals and truck drivers on State Road 20 have been coming here for years.  It recently changed ownership, and Howie is slowly making improvements to the place, such as staying open some evenings.  He also moved his ice cream stand, Howie’s Ice Cream, from its old location down the road to a side building next to his new restaurant, and it’s open in the summer.  Located at 5975 US 20, Lagrange.  (260) 463-2381


Long Lane Furniture.  My husband and I bought a dining room set here for a very reasonable price, back when it was called Ervin’s Hardwoods. I also brought a photo of my ratty old china cabinet, and they made a custom one in the same design, except in wood to match the dining room set, for about $1,000.  Now the sons have taken over, but the quality remains high.  Drive down the long lane—don’t be shy!  More info here:

Weaver Furniture Sales.  This place differs from Long Lane in that it has lots of beautiful wood pieces, but also a lot of upholstered pieces.  Check it out if you’re in the market for furniture and don’t want to pay big-city prices.  More info here:

Owl Toy Craft.  South of Shipshe a bit.  This Amishman makes amazing things for kids from wood.  The toys aren’t cheap, but they’re the kind of thing that your great-grandkids will still be playing with some day.  His toys are sold in retail outlets all over the country.  He also has some amazing puzzles.  More info here:

Star Frappes.  The next little town south and a bit east of Shipshewana is Emma.  At the main intersection you’ll find Star Frappes (below)—one of the places responsible for making a dent in the ingrained Amish habit of drinking coffee black!  A widow started this place a couple of years ago when she needed some income, and it has thrived.  (Also—there is a new café across the street in the old Emma General Store building, which I don’t know much about.  Let me know if you go there, and what you think.  It’s called Corner Cravings.)   Star Frappes is at the corner of Main Street (600 W) and Lake Street (700 S) at the main intersection in Topeka.  I don’t know of a phone number.

Topeka Pizza.  Make time for a stop at Topeka Pizza in downtown Topeka.  I’ve brought a lot of visitors here, and they always come back later on their own.  They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we’ve never had a bad meal there.  It’s also rumored that their in-house-made ice cream is the best in the county!  Located at the main intersection in Topeka.  More info here:

L n R Footwear & Gifts.  Nearly every Amish town has a general store, and this (below) is the one for Topeka.  Like other Amish general stores, it’s an excellent way to learn about the Amish culture. Spend a few minutes wandering around…  You won’t come out empty-handed—I didn’t!  More info here:


Nature Unlimited.  This store and greenhouse specializes in purple martin houses (a local favorite for their mosquito-eating capabilities), but also carries lots of other bird feeders, bird houses, and supplies.  260.593.0610.  219 Nature Trail, Topeka.  More info here:

Carolyn’s Kitchen.  Carolyn and family make 20 flavors of homemade jams—all with no sugar or artificial sweeteners.  She has a nice country store south of Shipshe.  260.768.8160.  Located at 5965 S 675 W, Topeka.  More info here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Rollin' Like a Tourist

So, Gary and I decided to take care of some errands the other day, and it turned into a very nice day out in Shipshewana.  We used to be tourists here (well, first me, and then us) for thirty years before we moved here five years ago, so we've seen it from both sides.  I'd forgotten how nice a few hours in Shipshewana can be!

Since I was with a man, first things first: food.  I had seen some info on Facebook about a new food trailer called Guilt Free Protein Donuts, and I was intrigued.  If they're as good as they look, this is going to be a new obsession for me!  But since it was a flea market day, she was camped out there, so we decided to wait for another time.  When I finally catch up with her, I'll do a blog post on her food.

So we went to one of our favorite eating places instead—Millie's Market Café on the top floor of the Davis Mercantile building.  As usual, the service was excellent, as was the food.  Always a winner.  I got the grilled cheese sandwich from the children’s menu, and Gary got roast beef.

There’s an awesome candy store on the third floor of Davis Mercantile too, and my husband would never let that get past him, so soon I was walking out with a pound of dark chocolate covered nuts and a smile on my face.

I'm a new grandma these days—a real treat, since I didn't get married until I was 52 and I thought that ship had sailed!  On the last visit to suburban Chicago (where we're from) to visit the grandkids, I brought along a 50-piece jigsaw puzzle.  I've never done a jigsaw puzzle in my life, so I figured my 3-year-old grandgirl and I would be on equal footing!...  We had lots of fun with it, so from now on, I'm The Grandma Who Brings a Puzzle and I had to stock up at the toy store across the hall from Millie's.  That toy store is seriously amazing, and I'm gonna need to write about that place too.

Didn’t find the puzzle I wanted, though, so the next stop was the actual puzzle store on the second floor of Davis Mercantile.  What a dizzying array of puzzles!  Not a ton of puzzles for young children, but I did find two excellent ones, 60 pieces each, for myself and the grandgirl.

Next stop was the excellent Lang Store on the main floor of Davis Mercantile.  Every fall we get a wall calendar there—something beautiful to hang in the wooden calendar holder near our kitchen cabinets.  As always, we found a lovely one there.  

Back in the Jeep…  I had wanted to check out the new consignment clothing store in town, so Gary dropped me off there next, while he went over to Yoder’s Meat and Cheese.  The consignment store is new and is run by a couple of Mennonites.  They have both Mennonite and Amish specialty clothes, and also regular clothes.  I walked out with a new shirt and a promise to myself to do a blog post on the store, after my sister and I spend some time there next week.  It is called Graceful Threads Consignment, and is located on State Road 5, south of downtown Shipshe, near East of Chicago Pizza.

Next stop was Yoder Popcorn, at their beautiful new store south of downtown at the corner of 5 and 20.  Their microwave popcorn with butter has spoiled us for all other popcorn, so we try to keep a few boxes in the cabinet, and our supply was dangerously low!  I wrote about Yoder Popcorn a few years ago, at their old location south of town (which is now a veterinary clinic), and I have a blog post half-finished on the subject of their new location.  Here’s a preview:

And last but not least: Gary has been wanting an old pot or pail for a mum we bought, and I’ll take any excuse to go to my favorite Amish junkyard, Glick's—where buggies go to die.  Seems like a funny stop for a typical tourist, you say?  Perhaps so, but I have done a private tour where the couple specifically asked that I take them there—and they loved it!  This time, Gary found his pail, and I couldn’t leave without some more “rusty junk” for my garden.  I wrote about Glick's in this post.

On the way home, Gary helpfully pointed out that the big wheel above wasn’t going to stay vertical in my garden—where I wanted to set it up to add height to an area—and suggested I might want to have a big spike or something welded to it, to use as a stake in the ground.  We are familiar with at least four good Amish welding places in the area—Six Mile, Architecture, Hilltop, and Shady Lane—so this time, we stopped at Shady Lane, which is right down the road from where we live in Middlebury.  Fifteen minutes later we drove away with a long spike welded to one edge of the wheel and only $10 poorer—after talking a bit to the owner about the recent and tragic death of his wife at age 51.  They’re a good family and my heart hurts for him.

Soon we were back home, remembering why we used to spend weekends out here!  Our tummies were full and Gary had a 2023 calendar, some ground sirloin, cheese, and an old bucket.  I had chocolates, puzzles, a new shirt, popcorn, and rusty junk.  It was a very good day!

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Pie Critic Returns: Fresh Peach Pie

 Last fall my husband Gary did a “guest post” called “The Pie Critic” in which he evaluated four local pumpkin pies and rated them.  Well, he’s back, and now he’s going to talk to you about fresh peach pies—meaning, the shell is baked, then the filling is added, then a topping of whipped cream, so the filling is fresh, not baked.

Fresh peach pie is part of what Gary calls the “Fresh Fruit Pie Trifecta”—strawberry in June, blueberry in July, and peach in August, typically.

Our first pie (above) is from Blue Gate Bakery, a part of the Blue Gate Restaurant complex in central Shipshewana.  I’m not a fan of the restaurant these days, but the bakery remains a favorite—although not in this case…  Gary showed up on a Monday morning to see a sign saying “Today Only—Fresh Peach” with a price.  He mistakenly thought they had fresh peach only that day, but the reality was, it was the sale price that was “Today Only.”  But he took home the pie…

Gary rates this one only 2 forks.  His comments:  “Fresh?—I don’t think so. The fruit was already getting soft...  It had a good amount of fruit, and I bet three days earlier it would have been great.  They are very generous with their whipped cream topping, and the crust was very good too.  But I ended up having one piece, and then throwing the rest away.”

Our second pie (above) is from Country Lane Bakery.  This bakery make mini pies as well as full sized ones, and Gary bought a mini.  Country Lane is located south of Route 20 between Shipshe and Middlebury, on County Road 43.  It’s a small Amish-run bakery with a whole lot of amazing food for sale.

Gary rates this one 3.5 forks.  His comments:  “The filling tasted very good.  It had a fair amount of fruit but not loaded, just okay.  The crust was a bit overdone, which is very atypical for Country Lane—I’ve almost never bought anything there that was underbaked or overbaked!  The whipped cream on top was okay, but not as good as Blue Gate’s.”


Our third pie (above) is from Essenhaus Bakery, located adjacent to Das Dutchman Essenhaus Restaurant in Middlebury.  This pie was also a convenient mini size, so the picture shows half the pie.

Gary rates this one 4.5 forks.  He says, “The crust was excellent—flaky and cooked perfectly.  The filling was also excellent with a good amount of fresh fruit.  The whipped cream was also excellent.  The peach slice garnish was a nice touch."

As always, nobody can ever get 5 forks except Gary’s mom!…  However—he managed to get ahold of a fresh peach pie from our dear friend Ruth.  Sorry to say, her pies aren’t available for purchase—only for lucky friends like us!  Gary says, “I give Ruth’s fresh peach pie 4.75 stars—4 forks and 3 tines!  The crust was perfect, it had good and generous fresh fruit, a nice whipped topping—and she added her own special touch—a thin layer of cream cheese between the crust and the fruit filling.  Amazing!”

Stay tuned for more from my favorite foodie, the handsome and talented Pie Critic.  <3