The expansive Adirondack Park is comprised of over 6 million acres of land. If you were to translate that into city blocks, you would be able to fit more than 15 million blocks within the park. However, we are lucky that rather than being an outrageously oversized city, the Adirondack Park is a beautiful mosaic of breathtaking vistas, undisturbed wilderness and over 100 towns and villages each with their own unique identity & rich culture.
One of the best ways to understand a culture of a region is through food. As you travel around the Adirondacks, you will find a wide variety of restaurants ranging from small-town "mom & pop" diners and family-friendly restaurants, to elegant fine dining and artisan cafés to ethnic restaurants and pizza joints.
Small Town - Big Flavor!
Nestled in the central Adirondack region of the Adirondack Park, the small Town of Indian Lake is well know for its white water rafting, scenic hiking trails, well maintained snowmobile trails and lively event schedule. After a day of activity, there is nothing better than kicking back to enjoy great food (and drinks) with good company. Recently, I visited just the place for this... Marty's Chili Nights on Route 28 in Indian Lake.
We arrived at Marty's Chili Nights on a chilly evening (no pun intended) in November, when a fresh blanket of snow covered the ground for one of the first times of the year. We were still readjusting to the change of seasons as we ventured out for "date night" dressed in hats, gloves and our toasty winter jackets. When we stepped out of the darkness of the evening and into the warm and inviting restaurant, we were surprised to see how bustling the restaurant was for mid-November. "This place must be good!" my husband states as he pulls his hat off his head.
We were quickly greeted by our friendly server, Michelle, who showed us to our table (one of only two vacant tables is the sizable restaurant). As we read over the menu, we were captivated by the unique hand-built cork lanterns hovering over each table. Their soft light reflect off of the variety of Mexican decor that adorned the knotty pine walls.
When Michelle returned to take our drink order, I asked for her recommendation for which of the nearly two-dozen custom margaritas to choose. Her response, "The Treasure Chest of course...there is a reason why it is at the top of the list!" So, I took her advice and ordered The Treasure Chest on the rocks with salt. She was right... it was one of the best margaritas I have had in years! The Treasure Chest (also listed as #23 on the drink menu) is made with 1800 and Traditional Blue Agave Tequilas, Cointreau and Gran Marnier.
As we placed our meal order we notice a couple of the larger parties rushing out, Michelle informed us that they were in a hurry to catch a movie at the Indian Lake Theater located a few doors down the street. I wished we had come a little earlier so that we could catch the show, but then my stomach called my name again! Mental note: plan better next time.
Soup & Salsa
The night's specials included a chicken chipotle chili that was highly recommended by our server. Since it is "Marty's Chili Nights" after all, we decided to ordered a cup to split (but only one cup - we wanted to save room for appetizers and entrees). The chili came out quickly and was served up with complementary corn chips and homemade house salsa. Both were delicious! I particularly enjoyed the light smokey flavor of the chili and was impressed by the amout of chicken it boasted.
My husband and I are big fans of appetizers! We have a bad habit - typically we end up ordering a few too many and then by the time the entree shows up, we are to full too enjoy it. At Marty's Chili Nights, the appetizer menu was on the lighter side and the entree menu looked amazing, so we were smarter than usual and only ordered a half order of Nancy's Famous Nachos. It was the perfect size for us...
When we were pondering over the menu, a variety of items caught our interest, but ultimately I decided to go with the pulled pork enchilada. To top the enchilada, I chose to sample two of the four sauces (ranchera and green chili). They were both excellent and I couldn't decide which I preferred, however, the heat level was higher on the ranchera and I love spicy food. The pork was flavorful and tender, the refried beans and rice that came with it were both sensational!
My husband ordered the combination platter and went with a beef burrito and a chicken enchilada. He was equally happy with his meal (and from the bites that I grabbed off his plate I will agree that it was also great!)
Desert & the Chef!
By the time we finished our entrees, we were stuffed! But this is when our "bad habit #2" comes into play. We usually order desert to go. By the time get home and put the kids to bed, we are craving something sweet. To satisfy our future cravings, we ordered the flan and raspberry cheesecake chimichanga to go. As we waited for desert and the check, we were given the pleasure of speaking with Nancy Harding, the chef and co-owner (with her husband Walter) of Marty's Chili Nights. We chatted about the restaurant and the way it has evolved over their 18-years in business. We discussed her love for mexican food and the history of the building they are in. She was pleasant, cheerful and happy to answer all of our questions. We thanked her for her time and allowed her to get back to the kitchen.
...and by the way, the deserts were just as good as the food we had at the restaurant.
Notes of Interest
From my conversations with Nancy, visiting their website in anticipation of our night out and by reading Marty's Chili Nights' "Menu Times" which you can pick up at the restaurant, I learned some interesting tid-bits about Marty's Chili Nights!
- The building Marty's Chili Nights is in was originally called "The Commercial Hotel." At the time of its operation there were actually two hotels in Indian Lake that had that same name. The Commercial Hotel that Marty's is situated in is thought to have been built in 1898, but the records were lost in a fire at the Indian Lake Town Hall in 1909. At a period of its operation, the dining room where we ate would be filled with cots during hunting season which would be rented out as overflow to hunters.
- The site is reported to have been the first place to serve pizza in the Adirondack Park. The owner Martin A. Harr Jr. would drive to New York City to purchase ingredients and people would travel for miles to have a slice.
- On the walls of Marty's Chili Nights you will find a 26.5 pound mounted northern pike. The fish was caught in 1955, and is reportedly the largest ever caught in Indian Lake.
- And finally, If you are lucky, you just might find some local celebrities who have been spotted enjoying some tasty Mexican food at Mary's Chili Nights...
Visit Marty's Chili Nights
Start planning your trip to Indian Lake and Marty's Chili Nights by browsing through our listing of available lodging. While you are in town, don't make the same mistake we did... plan your meal around the show times at the Indian Lake Theater and enjoy dinner and a movie!