Just had dinner at 14 West on July 9. In Indy from Pittsburgh seeing the Swimming National Championships. 14 West was great food. Ordered the Salmon special- wild salmon on a bed of mac and cheese with a twist- small bits of shrimp were added. Not too filling, but enough. Started with the chopped salad- ultra fresh and tasty with cuts of heirloom tomatoes. Chef even let me have a tasting of the bolognese sauce. Sat outside in the cool summer air. Beautiful evening. Recommend it highly. Very creative and tasty menu.
I like the Oceanaire a lot. Obviously, you're already familiar with it. indiwaiter mentioned saving a few bucks there at lunch; IIRC, they have a bargain three-course lunch deal, available till 4:30, that's a small fraction of the price of their normal dinners.
The other place in downtown Indianapolis I like a lot, not yet mentioned by others, is 14 West. It's at 14 West Maryland St (hence the name), right around the corner from the Oceanaire, on the same block as the Circle Center (but the entrances for both are outside, on the street). Their panned veal sweetbreads are heavenly, and everything else is very good as well. In season (obviously, not November) they have a very nice outdoor dining area. Only open for dinner. The restaurant's website is www.14westindy.com and you can read a more detailed report of my delicious meal there at www.chowhound.com/topics/348586
Give us some parameters on what kind of food you like, pricing, indie or don't care, etc. If it were me, I'd eat breakfast at Le Peep, lunch and cheesecake at Shapiros, dinner at Oceanaire, Elements, or St. Elmo's-this depends on what you like. I wouldn't leave town without tasting a pie from Bazbeaux...mmm. Personally, I'd skip Yats and hitchhike to Broad Ripple. I've never been to MacNivens, but that sounds interesting. City Market is OK because it is convenient. I only went there when my brother worked downtown, and because there was authentic Filipino food in there. That was almost 10 years ago. Not sure if the Abbey coffeeshop is still around, it used to be a cool hangout.
Thanks for the recommendations. I'll skip St. Elmo's because I've never really liked steak. We've got an Oceanaire where I live (DC). Bazbeaux seems like my best bet. My parameters are pretty narrow. I arrive at 4:30 p.m. and leave at 5:30 p.m. the next day. I have a morning meeting. I was wanting to go to Brugge Brasserie in Broad Ripple. I could take a cab one way to speed things up and I'm not adverse to taking a bus back. Would it be worth it. Cafe Patachou seems attractive. I'll look up Le Peep and City Cafe.
I'm definitely for public transportation in cities like NYC and DC, but here no. Take the cab back, there will be plenty nearby so the wait won't be too long. I'd rather windsurf on the hood of an El Camino in November....than take a bus from BR to downtown. Maybe that makes me prudish, but I'm being honest.
City Market- I find it to be a lunch hub for the workers downtown. Its definitely not bad but I would not recommend it to someone visiting our city wanting tasty eats downtown.
What I would recommend is:
'Oceanaire' for either lunch or dinner. Lunch can save you a few bucks compared to dinner.
"MacNivens" on Mass Ave for either Lunch or Dinner. Lunch and dinner prices are the same but they are really pretty cheap. Its a Scottish pub that has really delicious pub food. Everything I have had there is REALLY good.
"Shapiros" for NYC style corned beef sanwiches. NY prices also.
"Yat's" on Mass ave for dirt cheap cajun dishes. Lunch or dinner is the same rock bottom pricing.
Elements is the most cosmopolition restaurant downtown and is open for dinner only. It is very tasty and the restaurant is NOT pretensious.
Bazbeaux if you want pizza OR delivery. Get one of their gourmet pies.
As for breakfast? I have NEVER eaten breakfast downtown so I cannot personally attest to any of the following recommendations;
"City Cafe" is respected in the restaurant community. Open for Breakfast and Lunch only.
"Cafe Patachou" I believe it has a downtown outpost. People seem to love it in these parts.
Le Peep is a chain that gets recommended.
Thats all for now. I can dig deeper if you like.