Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >
Mar 10, 2011 06:38 PM

Coming to Indy for Women's Final Four in April. What is the best you got?

We will be in Indy for 5 days in April for the Women's Final Four BB tournament. We are looking for the best in ethnic and non-chain food that Indy has to offer. Recommendations for breakfast, lunch and dinner are welcomed. Some suggestions for late night dining downtown for Sunday and Tuesday evenings would be great. No restrictions, just looking for the best that Indy has to offer from hole in the walls to great dining experiences. Haven't seen a lot of recent posts, so your help is most appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've repeatedly updated this big discussion with detailed reports as I dine at additional places: As you can see from my posts, the best in great dining experiences in Indy starts with Oakley's Bistro! There are plenty more great places - notably Euphoria, R Bistro, and The Oceanaire. Those four are my favorites. I've also enjoyed Palomino, Z's Oyster Bar, Zest!, Meridian, and 14 West. I haven't been to Recess, but I know some people like it a lot, too; I liked Elements, the owner's previous restaurant which has since closed.

    Good luck on that Sunday late night dining downtown thing; most of the best restaurants in downtown Indianapolis are closed on Sundays. I usually wind up at The Oceanaire on Sundays because it's one of the few good places open that day of the week.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Are you going to have a car?

        For breakfast, Cafe Patachou gets a lot of press downtown and is a good option. I would recommend venturing to the broad ripple section of town and try Three Sister's Cafe. It's an amazing breakfast place. Organic food, with a ton of vegan options as well.

        For lunch, downtown, Shapiro's is a great deli. Huge sandwiches and tasty baked goods (the brownies are a meal in themselves.) If you have a car and some time, try to make it out to lunch at Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville. It's an organic dairy farm that has great food, and the milkshakes and cheeses made by the cows outside are mind blowing. If you want to stay downtown definitely make it to Yats for their cajun food. It's cheap and delicious.

        For dinner seek out Napolese pizzeria from the owners of Cafe Patachou. For late night eats the bar food at Scotty's is above average and it's a good scene.

        Cafe Patachou
        4911 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46205

        1 Reply
        1. re: Wabash70

          Yes, we will be driving to Indy and have a fair amount a flexibility to venture out from the downtown area. Someone has said that Indy has a reasonable Greek population. Thoughts?

        2. As Wabash70 asked, will you have a car and are willing to drive a little and look for places in (presumably) unfamiliar territory beyond downtown with the aid of maps or onboard GPS? Most good non-white folks food (presumably what you mean by "ethnic") will be in places beyond downtown. Do you consider German or Japanese food to be ethnic food?

          There is a new thrtead on the Great Lakes board relating to a NYT article about "ethnic food" in Indy ( ) but keep in mind the article is by no means comprehensive. If you search for Indianapolis on Chowhound (don't forget the General Midwest archive) many of the threads will contain info about "ethnic" eateries (some of which will be out of date, of course).

          If you say you are looking for "the best" does that mean price is no object?

          It might be worth mentioning that nsxtasy's recs and posted thread revolve around American/West European-type food, mostly high-end, and where diners can choose their own selections from a menu with multiple choices. Recess is an excellent place - see, eg., - with inventive food that sometimes include Japanese/East-SE Asian/other inspirations and have also tended of late to include a few "alternative" offerings for selected courses from time to time on the day's set menu. BTW Oceanaire and Palomino are chain restaurants.

          1 Reply
          1. re: huiray

            >> BTW Oceanaire and Palomino are chain restaurants.

            And Oceanaire regularly wins surveys for the best seafood in Indianapolis! It's better than many of the independent restaurants in town (many of which are closed on Sundays). Last year it even won one survey (on Metromix) as the best restaurant in Indianapolis. If you're looking for the best food in town, in some cases it's served by a restaurant group which has more than one location. (Cafe Patachou is a chain, too.) Don't rule out Oceanaire if you enjoy terrific seafood!

          2. Lots of great recommendations from both Nsxtasy and Wabash70.

            If you're wanting to stay downtown, and non-chain -

            R Bistro is wonderful. It's in the Mass Ave area, a great Arts area.
            Ball and Biscuit is there too - a fun bar with small plates - as well as a few other options.
            Euphoria is in the Buggs Temple, a really neat space that also looks over the canal.
            14 West, Harry and Izzy, Mo's a Place for Steak and St Elmo's (all non-chain as well), Oceanaire and Palomino are all near where the games will be played - and easy to get to. Harry and Izzy has a gorgeous bar and might be a good late night dining experience. Adobo Grill is a good Mexican place right on Washington Street - great margaritas, guacamole and tacos. The Slippery Noodle is a local bar on the south end of downtown - it's the oldest bar in the city and they have live jazz. Nicky Blaines is just off the circle - it's a bit smoky though - with fun drinks, and dancing.

            There are all the usual chains as well.

            If you want to venture further out, my number 1 rec would be for Recess. I think it's the best place in town. Hands down. And, just as an FYI, dessert is always on the menu now. ;-)
            Recess is near Broad Ripple - and there are several great places there - Napolese, The Barking Dog (you can bring your own wine!!), Meridian (very nice), Brugge Brasserie, H20 Sushi (try to sit at the bar), Northside Social, and several ethnic places. Google Broad Ripple Restaurants for more! Broad Ripple has a ton of bars to chose from as well.

            Near downtown and east is Fountain Square with several ethnic places, Siam Square and Santorini.
            If you want to head quite a bit west, in the area of 38th and Lafayette Road is Ethnic Food Nirvana - seriously. Most of the places mentioned in the NYTimes article are over there.
            Near downtown and south is Shapiro's - great corned beef sandwiches.

            Hope that helps and please let us know where you go and what you thought! As you noted, there's not much talk about Indy on the board, so let us know!

            ETA - the NY Times link:
            and the Indy Ethnic Food link:

            R Bistro
            888 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204

            Nicky Blaine's
            20 N Meridian St Ste Llb, Indianapolis, IN 46204

            Brugge Brasserie
            1011 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220

            Barking Dog Cafe
            115 E 49th St, Indianapolis, IN 46205

            19 Replies
            1. re: Cookiefiend

              Fountain Square is not exactly "ethnic heaven", BTW. Siam Square is highly touted by many and it is a fine place but not necessarily the be-all-and-end-all of Thai food. Santorini is hit-and-miss in my opinion. The 38th St area/Lafayette Square area is better for ethnic food (again, assuming you mean this to be "non-white folks food") in a general sense.

              Most of what Cookiefiend suggests is also American/European stuff, except for the 38th Street stuff.

              foodieinraleigh, it might be useful if you RESPONDED and said a little more about what you are looking for. As the OP you might consider looking at the posts in answer to your question.

              1. re: huiray

                huiray -

                I didn't say that Fountain Square was 'ethnic heaven', but that there were several places. My favorite Thai place is on the south side - but didn't want to tell the OP that she had to drive to Greenwood.
                I did say that the 38th St/Lafayette Road area was... and alluded to the NY Times article.

                1. re: Cookiefiend

                  Cookie, yes of course - it was just that it might not have been clear to the OP what the retaurants represented :-)

                  Y'know, I've yet to get to that place on the Southside myself...I'm in the BR/MK area.

              2. re: Cookiefiend

                Cookiefiend was wise to note some of the geography of Indy. Here's a bit more, to help you with your decision.

                Downtown Indianapolis is centered around Monument Circle, which is exactly what it sounds like, a traffic circle with a statue in the middle. Some downtown stuff is very close by, some isn't. Two short blocks south of the circle is the Circle Center, a large enclosed shopping mall; Palomino, 14 West, and Oceanique are all on the same block as Circle Center, although the entrances are from the street, not from the mall. A block east of Circle Center is Conseco Fieldhouse, where the NCAA tournament will be played. Also within a few blocks of the Circle Center are several of the major Indy hotels: Hyatt Regency, Omni, Sheraton, Conrad, Crowne Plaza, Hilton. So you can walk to and from any of these places in five minutes or less.

                Extending northeast from the circle area is Massachussetts Avenue (which the locals call Mass Ave), which is lined with bars and restaurants. R Bistro is at the far end, about 1.3 miles from the Circle Center. Euphoria is in the canal area about a mile northwest of the Circle Center. So those two places are a very long walk or short cab ride away.

                Broad Ripple and all its restaurants (including Zest!) are about six miles north of the circle. Oakley's Bistro, which I mentioned (and love) is even further, in a strip mall about eleven miles north of the circle.

                With the big tournament in town, you'll want to make advance reservations where you can. Calling places (or booking them online, on sites like will also alert you to which ones are closed on certain days/nights of the week. Again, Sundays can be a real problem in Indy, and many places are closed Mondays as well. The Oceanaire and Palomino are both open seven nights a week. Oakley's and 14 West are both open six nights, closed Sundays. Euphoria and Recess are open five nights, closed Sundays and Mondays. And R Bistro is only open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, although it's open for lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays as well.


                1. re: nsxtasy

                  A little more info. We are arriving in Indy on Friday evening and will be there until Wednesday morning. A far amount of time to explore the culinary breadth of Indianapolis. We enjoy all ethnic food from Ethiopian to sushi, including a broad range of BBQ, Can't say I have ever heard of any particular BBQ type that is home to Indy. Here in North Carolina folks have huge debates between Lexington and Eastern North Carolina style. That said, last year we really enjoy the Texas brisket at City Market in Luling Tx.... 75 miles from San Antonio. It was worth the trip. Looking at some of the menus and the fact that we will be dining several nights with non-foodies, we are probably looking for food with entrees no more than the upper teen to low twenties. We will probably hit one of the more high end places on Friday evening.

                  1. re: foodieinraleigh

                    Most of the places mentioned so far will be pushing at your $$ limits with some quite a bit beyond (...and a decent meal at Oceanaire will run around $80-100/pp with a glass or two of wine) as you have seen from the menus you have looked at, although with judicious selections you can have a fine meal within budget.

                    I would go for Recess if you were to look for something good and of a kind that you get less frequently elsewhere.

                    1. re: huiray

                      Recess is definitely out of your price range, with the tasting menu currently running $54. The Oceanaire is similar in price to most of the other restaurants mentioned here, with most entrees in the mid to upper twenties, just like R Bistro, Euphoria, and Palomino, although some of the dishes run more than that.

                      Zest! in Broad Ripple would be a great place within your budget; most of the entrees are in the upper teens. I enjoyed eating there and the food was great. I especially recommend their braised short ribs! I love the "Downtown Goes Uptown" description of their food, because it has all the creativity and care of more expensive restaurants, and the dining room itself is casual yet elegant, and the staff treat you like you're a regular, even if you've never been there before. You'll almost certainly see the owner, Chef Valerie, and get to chat with her. They recently filmed an episode of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives there. Closed Mondays, and Sundays are brunch only.

                      Another option since you're looking to keep costs down is Creation Cafe, which is the sister restaurant right next to Euphoria but more casual and less expensive (they share the same ownership and website at ), with main dishes in the mid teens.

                      Specials can keep your costs down, too. I mentioned above that Oakley's Bistro is my favorite restaurant in all of Indy. On Tuesdays Oakley's has a special with three courses for $29.95, in addition to the regular menu, and they also do free wine tastings on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 pm. Palomino often runs specials, such as their current 3 courses for $30 (their website says it's through March 31); the Oceanaire has a similar deal but only on an early bird basis (before 6 pm, I believe).

                  2. re: nsxtasy

                    Forgot to add, that I have a severe allergy to national food chain restaurants.. I rather eat great food at a dive or a hidden away place then eat at a chain. The only chain that meets our list is Starbucks, but great local roasters are high on our list. Key factor... local, local, local!

                    1. re: foodieinraleigh


                      This thread discusses more Indy-specific food experiences:

                      Regarding Napolese (mentioned above):

                      An interesting blog with reviews of pork tenderloins within and beyond Indy, also mentioned in CH thread 707657:

                      A local food blog with interesting reviews of places both good and bad [altho' in my view the comments for East/SE Asian places tend to reflect somewhat of an Americanized taste sensibility]:

                      1. re: huiray

                        Here are our current thoughts for evening dining in Indy during the Final Four: Euphoria, R Bistro and Mo's A Place for Steaks. Does anyone have a suggestion for a bar downtown where we can watch the Men's Final Four on Saturday and Monday that also has decent food?

                        R Bistro
                        888 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204

                        Final Four
                        128 N 1st St, Sherman, IL 62684

                        1. re: foodieinraleigh

                          We were there last year for the men's final four and ate at Mo's. The food and service was very good, but we were seated upstairs and the noise was deafening-if you make a reservation, ask for a table in the back if you want to hear each other talk(of course, the level of crowd excitement may have been elevated by the fact that Butler, a local team, was in the tourney). Also, for the men's finals, four local bars were designated as gathering places for each team's fans-you might want to check out which one is the designated bar for your team.

                          1. re: sherriberry

                            Thanks for the pointer about Mo's. We are not following any particular team, so we are not necessarily looking for the bars designated for the teams. A couple of downtown pubs look interesting: Tavern on South, Scotty's Pub and Slippery Noodle. Suggestions? We've read that Indy is really a sports town, so there have to be more options to watch the game and get something decent to eat.

                            Scotty's Pub
                            519 1st Ave NE, Staples, MN 56479

                            1. re: foodieinraleigh

                              Tavern on South is a new place. Never been there but from what I hear the food is a mixed bag, perhaps the place is still "settling in"?

                              Scotty's Brewhouse - never been there.

                              Slippery Noodle - fun place, not sure about being able to watch the game there but expect one of the rooms [there are several] will have the game on screen; food is pub-type food, nothing to write home about; normally has live music (jazz/blues/etc) in the back room.

                              Does it have to be a downtown bar?

                              I guess chains are back in your mix :-) (Scotty's and Mo's are both chains)

                              1. re: huiray

                                It does not have to be downtown. I did not know Scotty and Mo's were chains.

                                1. re: foodieinraleigh

                                  I don't know how old you are, but it might be an idea to consider going to Broad Ripple on Saturday (I believe touch-off for the game is around 5 pm?). There are lots of bars there, bar-type food (nothing special), places cheek-by-jowl on a short stretch of 62nd Street off College. You might wander around before the game, settle on one, then maybe wander around a bit more afterwards or even during the game(s). Then, dinner at many possible places in the area (Google "Broad Ripple, Indianapolis"), e.g. steamed mussels + Belgian pommes frites (and good beers) at Brugges, or a Jap fusion meal at H2O Sushi down the road, etc. Then perhaps a nightcap at Red Key Tavern on College about a mile south of Broad Ripple (Kurt Vonnegut hung out there) or a bit of Jazz at the jazz Kitchen in the immediate area...

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    Zest! is just south of Broad Ripple. Check it out, especially their short ribs.

                                    There's also a great bakery in Broad Ripple called Rene's. They have great breads as well as pastries, and their eclairs are as good as you'll find anywhere. It's quite small, and carry-out only. They're even open Sunday mornings, but closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Oh wait, I see from their website that they also have a new location downtown on weekdays - I guess that means it's a chain, so you're not allowed to go there, LOL!

                                2. re: huiray

                                  Scotty's is not truly a "chain" restaurant in the same way Chili's or Applebee's are. They have five locations, only in Indiana, and are owned and operated by the same person. They are not franchised, but instead owned by local Scott Wise. I would not be so quick to dismiss it just because there is more than one location. Of the sports bars, that serve food, it is the best option in Indianapolis. There are certainly better restaurants, but it all depends on what you're looking for.

                                  1. re: Wabash70

                                    I didn't dismiss it.

                                    I said I had not gone to it myself. I also merely pointed out to the OP it is a chain - even if it is an Indiana chain and even if owned by the same person - since the OP seemed insistent that s/he wanted non-chain food and instead wanted local ("local, local, local" as s/he said) places and food.

                                    Perhaps the OP might go there after all, especially with your encouragement, as s/he seemed to be interested in it and it's up to the OP to decide for himself/herself. It's possible we might hear back about it.

                            2. re: foodieinraleigh

                              >> Here are our current thoughts for evening dining in Indy during the Final Four: Euphoria, R Bistro and Mo's A Place for Steaks.

                              I like Euphoria and R Bistro a lot. I haven't been to Mo's, but the menu on their website sounds great!

                              I strongly recommend making reservations in advance - not only with hordes in town for the tournament, but also to ensure that they're open the night you plan on going there. Euphoria and R Bistro both accept reservations on

                              Sounds like you've convinced your non-foodie friends that it's okay to spend more than upper teens to low twenties for entrees. :)