Work has led to me various Midwestern cities that few would visit unless they were being paid to. That’s not to mean they’re unremarkable places. It’s just that no one really says, “Man, I heard Evansville, Indiana is poppin’! Let me check it out!”
Believe it or not, I found good seafood in Evansville. It was at a “fast casual” place called Tin Fish. I thought it was a local spot, but it’s actually part of a small chain with locations in California, Florida, and of course…Evansville (Newburgh), Indiana? I have no idea why, but it works.
I walked into the restaurant and felt the stares of workers and patrons who weren’t too used to my kind. By “my kind” I mean lanky black guys who scurry to the counter like they’re about to hit a lick but really just want a fish taco before the place closes. I ordered oysters and two tacos: shrimp and scallop. I almost returned the tacos because I’m anti-cheese, but the smell was mild and didn’t overpower the taste of the seafood. The shrimp were tiny, probably newborns, but the scallop taco made the meal. I’ll be back, but hopefully when I’m in California.
After the meal, I took a walking tour of the gentrification in the Haynie’s Corner neighborhood. There were round women dressed like wizards or fairies or something. I don’t know. I guess the theater had just let out. There were shops that I wish were open, and a rainbow bench that stood out.
I went downtown and walked down the very appropriately titled Main Street. There were restaurants, a co-working space, a hookah spot, and a retro-looking Greyhound station just around the corner. The ‘Hound was closed for the night so I couldn’t go inside. But I was fortunate enough to see a woman sitting on the curb, yelling, “Hey! We been married to him, bitch!”
She wasn’t talking to me, or anyone actually, and I have nothing against polygamy, but I’ve seen enough horror films to know that I should avoid eye contact and get away.
I walked over to a restaurant called Comfort by the Cross-Eyed Cricket for a beer. A white man, probably around 50, possibly a bodybuilder, or maybe just a really kind steroid user, offered me some of his cheese balls: “My man! Want some cheese balls?”
I laughed because I thought it was some sort of hyper-masculine joke among locals. But nah, he was really offering me cheese balls. As I mentioned, cheese ain’t my thing, but I didn’t want to be rude. I took a bite and thought to myself, “Nasty! Man, that’s what I get…”
I struck a conversation with the restaurant manager. He was old school, dressed impeccably in black slacks and a light purple dress shirt that you’d never find at Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx. You could tell he cared about the restaurant. We talked kids and how Evansville is a great place to raise a family. He said we should visit during the annual Fall Festival. He also suggested that I go to the casino. The bartender chimed in, “Check out Franklin Street, too. We’re going to a place called Lamascos later.”
The Tropicana Casino was THE spot for Evansville’s octogenarians. I should have known by the number of cars parked crooked in the lot. It’s not a huge casino, and fairly understated, but it’s something to do on a late Tuesday evening in Evansville, Indiana.
I wanted to have a drink, maybe get some life advice from a senior at the bar, but the smoke was killing my eyes. I got out of there when I felt tears coming on like Michael Jackson did at the end of the “She’s Out of My Life” video.
My next stop was Franklin Street. It looked as if it’d be a happening place on the weekend. There were lots of bars and even a gun shop in case s**t got real. I drove up and down the street a few times, looking for a place that felt welcoming and energetic. Unfortunately a train came through and sapped the enthusiasm I had to actually get out the car. I was stuck at the crossing for at least 20 minutes. An Impossible Whopper and a seltzer water in bed started to seem more inviting than a bar.
I went on a food hunt and then back to the hotel. Evansville, Indiana isn’t so bad, or even so boring, at least from what I saw during my limited stay. But I probably won’t be back for the Fall Festival.