Visiting Whitley County? Try these 4 small eateries with big flavor

Whitley County, west of Fort Wayne, is not lacking when it comes to local flavor, figuratively and literally.

The next time you're there, make a point to check out these four unique establishments that locals swear by.

1. Pickles Café

A Ham and Cheese Panini with Apple Butter at Pickles Cafe.A short drive from Jefferson Pointe, Pickles Café in Dunfee (5310 S 800 E-92) is located inside a nostalgic general store reminiscent of those found in the Old West. Pickles promises a home-cooked meal (think: comfort food) and friendly conversation. 

Pickles has been in business for more than a decade, but the concept preceded the cafe’s existence in a way. 

“I’ve been in the restaurant business since I was a kid,” says co-owner Kimberly Judd. “My mom was a waitress, so I went to work with her." 

Fast-forward to today, and she's now in the kitchen. Judd describes Pickle’s atmosphere as “laid back.” She says the menu consists of soups, salads, and desserts made from scratch. Look for daily specials like meatloaf and a signature omelet.

They do lunch Tuesday-Saturday, and breakfast Saturday only.
 

2. The Nook

A coney basket with fries is a popular dish at The Nook.

No town is complete without a locals haunt like The Nook at 223 W. Van Buren St. in Columbia City. This place captures the quintessential diner atmosphere.

Everything is made right in front of you. 

Regulars love the breaded cheeseburger, steak sandwich, and coney dogs--all for only a couple dollars each. The Nook has been family owned and operated since 1971, according to General Manager Shanna Johnston.
 

3. Brewha Coffee House

The Brewha Coffee House in Columbia City has more than great drinks.

Right on the square in downtown Columbia City, Brewha Coffee House at 120 N Main St. has been a haven of the arts and culture in Whitley County for 14 years.

Home to craft coffee drinks and fully stocked with snacks like muffins, ooey-gooey monster cookies, and taffy, it has everything you need to kickstart your day, provide the perfect afternoon pick me up, or set the backdrop for a cozy conversation.

While you're there, be sure to browse the selection of local art, crafts, and antiques on display for unique finds like handmade greeting cards, jewelry, and home decor. You can hang out in its funky, living-room-like space to chat and enjoy free wifi, or take your treats to-go at the drive-through window.
 

4. Poptique Gourmet Popcorn

In addition to its usual flavors, Poptique offers special seasonal flavors, too.
Poptique Gourmet Popcorn is a home-grown success story.  With locations in Fort Wayne and Columbia City (120 W. Walker Way), Poptique is your destination for a salty or savory popcorn treat. You can take home a bag in one (or more) of 20 flavors, including holiday specials. The popcorn is made fresh in small batches and then bagged by hand.

Owner Gary Hively is carrying on the legacy of his late daughter, Lindsey Hively, who was Poptique's founder. It's all about adding a special touch.

"We have many snack and gift items great for Christmas, holidays, parties, receptions, etc.," says Gary. "Lindsey specialized in custom labels for party and wedding favors and corporate gifts. We specialize also in holiday and specialty gifts along with customer and employee appreciation gifts for a variety of local and national businesses." 

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.
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