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Apr 11, 2010 11:30 AM

Recommended eating spots in Indy that showcase the city and region

Hi - I'm going to be in Indianapolis the first week in May for a sales meeting... looking for some interesting spots to eat that are representative of the region and city. I enjoy "fine dining" but I also equally appreciate "dives"... and good spots to mix meals with a drink or two would be great as well.

I've never really spent any time in this region of the country, let alone Indy, so I'd appreciate some recommendations for fun, interesting and representative spots that would be fun - especially if we pull together smaller groups to go together (5-6 people at most).


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  1. My top pick would be Oakley's Bistro, on the north side. The food there is outstanding - the best I've had in Indy - and Chef Oakley has such a whimsical way with his menu, with such items as "shrimp corndogs" and "lobster waffles". Delicious AND fun!!!

    Regina Mehallick is also serving some excellent food at her R Bistro at the end of Mass Ave, northeast of downtown.

    The Oceanaire is always great for the freshest seafood, and you gotta love a seafood restaurant that's designed to look like a cruise ship! I've had people tell me that some of the best, freshest seafood in the country is in cities like Indy (and Memphis) that have big FedEx hubs, and you'll find some of the best at the Oceanaire.

    Those would be my top three restaurant picks in Indianapolis, although there are plenty of other good restaurants around town as well. (I've also enjoyed Euphoria, Palomino, 14 West, and Z's Oyster Bar, and those on my "to try" list include Meridian, Zing, Zest, and Recess.)

    If you enjoy pastries, check out Rene's Bakery in Broad Ripple, a neighborhood north of downtown. Great eclairs!

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Oakley's food is outstanding but the wine list (one page opposite the menu) comes off as an afterthought and the pricing is punitive. And, being in Indiana corkage isn't an option.

      1. re: HoosierFoodie

        My two cents: Thanks for that. We are visiting from Oregon wine country, in June, and wine is very important to us. Appreciate the tip.

    2. If you're Downtown - I would second nsxtasy's rec for R Bistro. Truly local fare and inventive as well. The menu changes daily to reflect what's available. Plus it's in the Massachusetts Ave Arts area - a fun area full of small shops.

      Also in the Mass Ave area is MacNiven's - a Scottish bar - with Scottish beers on tap. The Rathskeller is on the corner of Michigan and Massachusetts in the Athenaeum - and while I don't think the food is wunderbar (leetle German humor there) the Biergarten in back is a fun place for beer and assorted pub-type food, plus they might have live music - always a plus.

      Creation Cafe and Euphoria is in the Buggs Temple - 337 W 11th St. One of the prettiest views of downtown when you're out on the patio overlooking the canal and the skyline. Creation Cafe is great for lunch or a lighter dinner, Euphoria is more upscale but still casual. I haven't eaten there recently - but they have a new chef now.

      Adobo Grill is on Washington St - killer margaritas and guac - I like the tacos too.
      Barcelona Tapas (on Delaware ) - fun tapas place - small and energetic.
      Oceanaire and Palomino are always good.
      Harry and Izzy's, St Elmo's and Mo's a Place for Steak - for steak of course. Harry and Izzy's is a sister restaurant to St Elmo's and includes the infamous cocktail sauce for your monster shrimp. Mo's is fun in that it has a piano and a 'jazzy' sort of atmosphere.
      There's a whole lot of chains as well.

      Now - if you're on the Northside of Indy - I'd recommend Peterson's Restaurant - IMHO the best steak and seafood in the city. Miyagi for sushi and Shanghai Lil for Chinese.

      In between Downtown and the Northside is Broad Ripple - almost another city. My first recommendation would be Meridian. Great food, great atmosphere and if it's nice you can sit outside on the patio overlooking a small park.

      Brugge Brasserie is in the heart of Broad Ripple - known for the moules frites, crepes and their beers
      H2O for sushi and other delights
      There's a jillion bars - Barley Island just opened - they're an Indiana microbrewery.
      The Broad Ripple Steakhouse and The Jazz Kitchen would be good choices too.

      For a pork tenderloin sandwich - I'd have to send to you Zionsville to the Friendly Tavern.
      Here's a link to Davwud's (another CH poster) experience there:

      I hope you enjoy your visit and let us know what you think!

      R Bistro
      888 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204

      Jazz Kitchen
      5377 N. College Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46220

      MacNivens Restaurant
      339 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204

      Brugge Brasserie
      1011 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220

      Shanghai Lil Restaurant
      8505 Keystone Xing, Indianapolis, IN 46240

      6 Replies
      1. re: Cookiefiend

        Thanks for the replies! Great info and I'll be sure to try them out when I'm there next month.

        1. re: PKirchhoff

          Indy is dominated by themed out chains but the dining scene is improving every year. If you are looking for local/regional establishments, I would rec. Goose the Market is a deli and produces freshly smoked bacon and charcuterie utilizing product from Indiana farms such as Gunthorpe (pork and duck), Viking (lamb), and Fischer Farms (beef). By far the highest quality/most specialized meat counter in Indy. Great beer and wine cellar in the basement, too! R Bistro's dinner menu changes every week and reflects the seasons by utilizing local growers and farmers. Think fram to table with multiple influences. Recess does the same but the cuisine is more sophisticated with a daily changing pre-fix menu with wine pairings. Oakley's is also good. H2O Sushi and Miyagi's (both have the freshest fish) and Sakura (atmosphere) are the three for sushi. Napolese Pizzeria right beside the newly expanded Cafe Patachou should bring the pizza standards up for Indy when it opens in the next couple of weeks. Saigon for Vietnamese Pho and Guanajuato for authentic Mexican are great but out in isolated areas. The Working Man's Friend has a great burger with fish bowl beers in a blue collar setting (a true institution on the West side that attracts white collars for lunch). Sun King Brewery is Indy's first Craft brewery and has a tasting room open Thursday thru Saturdays. You will find their seasonal beers on tap at many local bars and restaurants so please support the local brew. Even more, support the local independent restaurant and bar scene. Chains are too safe!! Enjoy your visit!

          R Bistro
          888 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204

          Working Man's Friend
          234 N Belmont Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46222

          Cafe Patachou
          4733 E 126th St, Carmel, IN 46033

          4210 Stelzer Rd, Columbus, OH 43230

          1. re: PKirchhoff

            Please report back and let us know where you go!

              1. re: PKirchhoff

                I like Ichiban and Asaka as well for sushi/Japanese. Miyagi's too Americanized for me. But then - you asked for LOCAL flavor, not ethnic-type food, :-) so many of the other choices offered by, e.g. Cookiefiend and napolean would be closer to the mark. Pork tenderloin is a classic Indy/Indiana food item - other places in town for this that i've heard both good and bad things about (depending on who did the eating) include Ike and Jonesy's, Moe and Johnny's, Marco's, Pawn Shop Pub (the last two in the 54th St/Keystone area).

          2. re: Cookiefiend

            Note to folks looking for info on this thread:
            Creation Cafe is still open but Euphoria is closed as a public-access restaurant - it is now a catering business.

          3. Years ago I was in Indianapolis and had the best fried chicken I have ever eaten at Hollyhock Hill. I asked the waitress what made it so good and she told me that they fried it in lard.

            I will be going back to Indianapolis for the first time since and am wondering whether the chicken is still so good or have they succumbed to the health trend and discontinued the use of lard?

            Hollyhock Hill
            8110 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46240

            1 Reply
            1. re: brentk

              Hi brentk - Hollyhock Hill is still there and the chicken is still very good.

              I don't think they fry in lard anymore though...

              Hollyhock Hill
              8110 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46240

            2. Thanks to all who shared their Indy recommendations. Wanted to get some feedback to you - albeit brief. I was in Indy last Monday night - Thursday afternoon. There weren't enough Chow-types in my group to do much exploring food-wise, but I was able to hit Brugge Brasserie on my first night there.

              It was a fairly good meal, but did not set new standards for brasserie-fare. The house beer and fries (and sauces) were excellent, the moules (classic style) were OK, and their spinach salad was very fresh but served with a strangely bland dressing. Maybe I should have done the steak frites instead. But if I find myself in Indy again, I'd definitely give Brugge Brasserie another shot!

              Brugge Brasserie
              1011 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220

              1 Reply
              1. re: PKirchhoff

                Good to know!

                Thanks so much for reporting back and let us know when you'll be back in town - there may be something new!