Raising a Fork in the Central Indiana Food Scene
Indianapolis is getting some major nods for gastronomic success from (to name a few) companies like Trip Advisor, Zagat and Conde Naste (the latter called us “the most underrated food city in the U.S.”). Our city is steadily climbing up to food stardom with stellar chefs and staff and impressive farm-to-table and well-thought-out menus. And let there be no doubt, as we end 2016 and move our way into 2017, there are several new places on the food front you should put on your list for now, always and later.
Offering a 2-barrel brewing system for small batch beers, located in a former butcher shop and deli location, says they offer “pints and bites”, but we also see Posole and Tunisian rabbit curry on the menu, offered by Chef Erin Kem (formerly of R Bistro) if you’re really hungry.
Festiva | 1217 East 16th St., Indianapolis | FestivaIndy.com
The owners of Tinker Street Restaurant and Wine Bar now bring you their take on Mexican food which include tamales, tacos, guacamole and a smattering of special offerings for those that abstain from meat or gluten. We particularly like it because unlike most Mexican restaurants, the dinner menu is small and concise, yet the spirits menu is robust and full of high-end offerings.
Four Day Ray | 11671 Lantern Road, Fishers | FourDayRay.com
With 4,300 well-styled square feet to spread their wings, brewmasters Brian Graham and Mitch Ackerman are pushing out everything from ales to ambers to coffee blondes in their 20-tap tasting room. And if you’re looking for eats to pair with your pint, you’ll find them in the adjacent gastropub, which has contemporary style.
LongBranch | 2205 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis
This place, in a new build on the corner of Delaware Street and 22nd Street in Fall Creek Place, brings a modern spin to Asian cuisine and offers some darn good libations to an area that’s assuredly up and coming. We like the idea of individual or shareable size bone broths, particularly in the cold months.
Serving for years at high levels…
Chef JJ’s | 42 W. South St., Indianapolis | 1040 Broad Ripple Ave. , Indianapolis | ChefJJs.com
Learn to braise ribs and make bread pudding with one of the greatest grilling instruments around – the Big Green Egg, when you visit Chef JJ’s for one of their specialty classes. It’s a unique, hands on experience not to be missed. Two locations offer even more possibility.
Eggshell Bistro | 51 W. City Center Dr., Carmel | EggshellBistro.com
Whatever you’re thinking would taste delicious, Chef Larry Hanes has thought a step beyond that and artfully brings it to the plate (and most likely has adorned your dish with a delicate and edible flower during the warmer months of the year). Ian will brew you the perfect cup of Four Barrel coffee, including a New Orleans style variety with chicory. This brunch spot is at the top of our list for taste and style – even the music is carefully curated.
India Sizzling II | 4150 Lafayette Rd., Indianapolis
If you haven’t spent much time dining in the 38th Street and Lafayette Road corridor, you’re missing out big time on one of the most amazing areas to eat in Indianapolis. Jam packed with superior ethnic eats, India Sizzling II is no exception and rates high up on our list. We recommend the dosa, an Indian pancake made with rice batter that can be stuffed with anything and everything from vegan eats to something for the carnivore. And did we mention it’s huge and won’t break the bank?
Milktooth | 534 Virginia Ave., Indianapolis | MilkToothIndy.com
Need we really say more? Mentioned by countless national outlets for its thought-provoking eats, Milktooth shines for its baked goods, made in house by Baker Zoe Taylor, and for its “no exceptions” menu by Chef Jon Brooks. Quite simply they think they know what you should eat better than you do – and we think they might just be right.
Oakley’s Bistro | 1464 W. 86th St., Indianapolis | OakleysBistro.com
What we find shocking about Oakley’s is how long it’s been around and how little people actually speak about this gem (even though its consistently popular). Located in an unassuming strip mall, this remarkable spot offers delicious, seasonal eats from Chef Oakley for just about anyone. They even offer a wine tasting Tuesdays 5-6pm.
Recess | 4907 N. College Ave, Indianapolis | RecessIndy.com
Before South Broad Ripple really took off, this French-inspired, chef-owned spot began offering a 4-course prix fixe menu that changes each evening. The owner, Chef Greg Hardesty, who is responsible for shaping many local chefs in Indianapolis himself, claims this restaurant is “my culinary playground.”
Rook | 501 Virginia Ave., Ste. 101, Indianapolis | RookIndy.com
Casual and contemporary, Asian and well-balanced, Rook is located just south of downtown Indianapolis and offers food from nearly every part of Asia which is then gracefully blessed with Chef Salazar’s Filipino roots. You can’t go wrong with buns, rice bowls and ramen any day of the week.
Serving just out of town…
Farm Bloomington | 108 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington | Farm-Bloomington.com
We can’t say enough about Chef Daniel Orr, who traveled the world before rooting himself in Bloomington. He has a “don’t be afraid menu” and why would you with such deep flavors like Indiana Benedict for breakfast, the World’s Greatest BLT for lunch and award-winning bison for dinner. If you can’t find something you like here, than we’re not sure where you should eat.
Feast | 581 Hillside Dr., Ste. 104, Bloomington | FeastCateringOnline.com
A robust menu with a 400 wine label selection greets you at Feast. They also have an in house bakery so you can have something homemade and decadent after you stuff yourself full of delightful noshes. This is a local and out-of-towners favorite spot.
Finches | 514 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington | FinchsBrasserie.com
Located just steps from Indiana University’s well known Sample Gates, Finches offers small plates, local cheeses and moules (mussels) in a cozy spot. They’re also known for their wood fired pizzettas.
Tre Bicchieri | 425 Washington St., Columbus | Trebicchieri-Columbus.Com
“Three Glasses” in Italian is a fitting name for this family-owned restaurant that offers a wide variety of wines. While Italian food is certainly delightful, we really appreciate the daily house made soups and the fresh bread.
ZwanzigZ Pizza | 1038 Lafayette Ave., Columbus
To be honest, we still aren’t quite sure if we’re saying the name right, but it really doesn’t matter if pizza is this good and consistently praised by locals. And it won’t kill your wallet and we heard a rumor they deliver beer (bless their souls!).
Bistro 501 | 501 Main St., Lafayette | Bistro501.com
Located in historic downtown Lafayette, Bistro 501 is elegant and has a French flare. Sit by the fire inside in the winter and enjoy moonlight sidewalk seating in the summer, while enjoying fresh eats. They offer Sunday brunch, which includes breakfast tamales so that’s right up our alley.
Heirloom | 102 N. 3rd St., Lafayette | Heirloom Lafayette.com
We’ve found that Heirloom offers some serious eats, including seasonal nachos that come smothered with local, fresh ingredients and decadent cheeses (need we say more?). The food here doesn’t disappoint and we love the saying on their website, “Humble food from Hoosiers in the Land of the Boilermakers.”
Serving on the horizon…
We’re keeping our fingers on the pulse of Indy’s food scene, and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of these few Indianapolis places, as well: The Owner’s Wife, Thaitanium and The Kitchen.