Indigo Joe’s feeds fans, families

by Brian Clarey

They’re turning the dirt over in Kernersville, paving the way – quite literally – for their future as the heart of the Triad. Geographically speaking, it’s a sound moniker; K-Vegas is neatly triangulated by High Point, Winston-Salem and Greensboro. And if the steering committee is to be believed, this is where all the action will be come 2050.

You can see it in the neighborhoods where exposed Carolina red clay foreshadows new business districts and subdivisions. You can see it in the roads lined with orange traffic barrels as the veins and arteries expand to accommodate increased circulation. You can see it in the fields that await their destinies as parking lots, condos, strip malls and schools.

Part of the Main Street makeover includes the new Target center just a quick hop off Business 40 where, nestled alongside a Starbucks, sits a brand new Indigo Joe’s.

Indigo Joe’s is one of the next generation of nationally franchised sit-down restaurants with outposts in locales like Murrieta, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Springfield, Mo.; Suwanee, Ga. and Huntsville, Ala. The Kernersville shop is the second in North Carolina, the other one being Mooresville. Locations are planned for Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina.

The pitch is neighborhood-style, family-oriented fun, tilted towards sports and spirits, with a menu full of pub favorites executed with competence and a bit of style.

You wouldn’t normally expect a bar menu to have sesame ahi, Angus beef, broiled swordfish and a cheese plate, but there you have it, likely the result of extensive market research and exhaustive focus-group interviews. And there’s plenty of workingman’s fare here as well – burgers, soups, wings, loaded fries, ribs, steaks, meat-laden salads, kabobs and two-hander sandwiches.

The joint is clean and new, with tall tables and booths in the dining room, the requisite football helmets, banners and logos well evidenced. Along one wall is an impressive collage of television screens running the various incarnations of ESPN and also a game of Texas Hold ‘Em played by bar customers via remote control. By the front door, a small alcove holds a couple claw machines with prizes for the kids and a Ms. Pac Man console. Mounted frosted glass windows separate the dining room from the bar area.

Chicken wings make as fine a litmus test as any for a joint like this; the wings at Indigo Joe’s come in increments of 10, with a heat variance ranging from mild to nuclear. We get the plain old hot wings, with bleu cheese dressing instead of ranch because, when it comes to hot wings, we are purists.

The wings are fine and peppery, with a crispy skin and tender interior. The sauce holds notes of cayenne and butter, and the two species of wings – the mini drumstick and the other part – are equally represented on the plate.

For our lunch orders we avail ourselves of the more plebian side of the menu. My dining companion orders a teriyaki burger and I get the “beef dip,” which, I suppose, is what a French dip is called in these patriotic times. Likewise, the fries are labeled as “fab.” We both want them on the side.

The sandwiches hold up, as well. The burger still holds the flavor of fire from the grill, which adds counterpoint to the combination of sweet teriyaki and pineapple. Also, the burgers are served on Kaiser rolls, which I like.

The beef dip was adequate in size and came with a side of au jus that I think should be labeled on the menu as “beef juice.” The meat was of excellent quality and flavor, and I’ll admit I took the thing down like the last Christmas tree in the forest.

We were both extremely hungry when we hit Indigo Joe’s, and that’s not a bad thing. The food had a tasty, stick-to-the-ribs quality to it, and it made it to the table with speed and accuracy. And though we don’t make it out to K-Vegas as much as we’d like, we’ll likely be back to try the swordfish sandwich and maybe try our luck on the virtual poker table against the sharks at the bar.

To comment on this story, e-mail Brian Clarey at