Indy’s brunch scene used to be a bland landscape of over-easy eggs and white toast. In the last couple of years, diners have been asking for better breakfast food, and our city’s chefs have delivered in a big way. You can still get those simple plates of bacon staples, but now bleary-eyed diners can also order a vegetarian breakfast burrito stuffed with a garden-fresh rainbow or a heaping plate of Sunday morning soul food. We’re a real brunch city now, and we’ve got the coffee, cocktails, and (ugh) epic lines for tables to prove it.
If you haven’t heard of Milktooth outside of Indianapolis, you’re probably not up on foodie trends. If you haven’t heard of Milktooth inside the city, you might be in a coma. This airy converted car garage turns out inventive takes on comforting breakfast favorites, like the Dutch baby pancake with vanilla-rum parsnip puree and brown-butter hazelnut dukkah. Having a mighty burger craving? Upgrade to Milktooth’s lamb frita, and make sure you get a little hair of the dog from the cocktail menu. Word to the wise: be prepared to wait a long time for a table here on weekends.
Biscuits and gravy is just about as Hoosier as brunch gets, and no one does B&G like Love Handle. Think silky mushroom gravy on top of flakey, tender biscuits, with a selection that changes daily. You can add some rich smoked pork belly or a jellied egg yolk to go with the pickled radishes that add crunch and cut the fat a bit. Love Handle perhaps is best known for its lineup of sandwiches featuring everything from farm-raised jowl bacon to pineapple mostarda, all served with pork-fat popcorn. Just make sure to save room for some coconut lavender cream pie from the sweets case.
The Venn diagram between hardcore vegetarians and juice-loving yoga fanatics overlaps at Garden Table. You might go in for a bottle of fresh juice and walk out with a gigantic burrito in your belly when you smell what they’re cooking back there. It’s also one of the few places in town where you should actually choose the salad option as your side -- it's the fancy field-greens Cadillac of side salads.
The sister restaurant might be Italian, but this is an American diner serving up eggs and bacon with all the hot coffee you can drink. Some other influences make an appearance, like Hawaiian loco moco, a rice bowl layered with beef, eggs, and gravy. Of course, with “Mama” in the name, you should expect that this restaurant also serves up darn good eggs in purgatory and a criminally delicious (and messy) meatball sub. The wait is often long on weekends, but this spot'll at least let you pour yourself as much coffee as you need while you wait.
Cafe Patachou and brunch in Indianapolis are more or less synonymous at this point. Patachou has been serving dressed-up, farm-to-table omelets since the late '80s, and has since grown to five freestanding locations and one in the airport. The restaurant’s tagline is “A student union for adults,” which comes through with its self-serve coffee and dressed-down service that’s easy like Sunday (or Saturday) morning. Chances are, if you’re somewhere in a central neighborhood north of Downtown, you’re near a Patachou.
If you put a neighborhood greasy spoon in a blender with a Mexican restaurant, you’d get Biscuits. If you’re really hurting, get a plate of spicy biscuits and gravy, a burrito, and some eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns and wash it down with a Tecate or gigantic mimosa. The worst time to try to dine in at Biscuits is the day after every major drinking holiday from 10am to 2pm. Luckily, it has carry out for just such a hellish occasion.
Brunch is a new thing for Bent Rail, but it’s more than welcome in SoBro. You can stop by the Broad Ripple winter farmers' market and then sit down for a simple plate of eggs and toast, or get a fancy waffle piled with toppings. If you’re having a particularly tough morning, grab a pint or a Bloody Maria to soothe your pounding head.
Back when Indy wasn’t awash with either vegetarian or brunch options, 3 Sisters was there with its veggie omelets and calico hashbrowns. Luckily the wait isn’t eternal anymore, though Broad Ripple folks still pour in on weekends. You can still get plenty of meat options, but TSC splits the difference between indulging and eating smart if you need to fortify without clogging your arteries.
Way up in Zionsville, Cobblestone Grill makes a delicious fancy Sunday brunch that you should probably keep in mind for Mother’s Day. The brunch is like Biscuits’ sophisticated older brother, with Oaxacan-influenced flavors punching up proteins sourced from some of Indiana and Alaska’s best small farms and fisheries, like grouper al pastor. Though it can be a bit of a drive, this Sunday brunch is absolutely worth the gas.
If you didn’t have the pleasure of growing up with a Southern grandma, let Georgia Reese play a convincing soul food stand-in. No matter what you get along with it, the only thing you’d be a fool to miss is the fried chicken -- especially if you’re at the Downtown location. It’s a standard flour breading, but a high-tech fryer at that location leaves it much crispier and craggier than your average KFC bucket. Even if you don’t go to church, you can still have a religious experience at Georgia Reese’s.
The Katris family’s mini-chain of pancake restaurants is proof that the American dream is still alive. George Katris left his home village in Greece at 13, nickel and diming his way to survival by working just about every restaurant job he could find. By 1985, George opened the first LSP in Kokomo, and eventually grew the business to 10 restaurants scattered around the city and surrounding suburbs. Expect good, honest diner food and bottomless coffee, as well as a few Greek classics like gyros and salads.
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Sarah Murrell contributes to Thrillist Indianapolis and Thrillist Sex & Dating, and is the owner and editor of The Sensualist. She will tell you the secret to the perfect omelet if you buy her enough mimosas and follow her on Twitter.
1. Milktooth534 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis
2. Love Handle2829 E 10th St, Indianapolis
3. The Garden Table908 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis
4. Good Morning Mama's Cafe1001 E 54th St, Indianapolis
5. Cafe Patachou225 W Washington St, Indianapolis
6. Biscuits Restaurant1035 Broad Ripple Ave, Indianapolis
7. Bent Rail Brewery & Pub5301 Winthrop Ave, Indianapolis
8. 3 Sisters Cafe6360 Guilford Ave, Indianapolis
9. Cobblestone Grill160 S Main St, Zionsville
10. Georgia Reese's Southern Table & Bar3454 W 86th St, Indianapolis
11. Lincoln Square Pancake House2330 N Meridian St, Indianapolis
A toasted house bialy and sorghum-glazed bacon or a Dutch baby cornmeal pancake with peach-amaro jam? Not your typical brunch, but that’s why we like it.
This breakfast, brunch and lunch spot has a friendly vibe and an ever-changing menu. Get the biscuits drowned in gravy and grow your own love handles happily!
With fresh juices and drool-worthy organic eats, you'll walk out of The Garden Table feeling really healthy and really full at the same time.
This gas station turned brunch spot has a fun 50-retro vibe and serves up some great, classic diner food, plus all the coffee your body can take.
With several locations throughout Indiana, Patachou features omelets made with locally source ingredients, killer cinnamon toast, broken yolk sandwiches and salads – and lots of coffee. Or maybe Prosecco. Or locally brewed Sun King beer.
For a greasy but obviously delicious Mexican-style brunch, Biscuits should be your go-to. Try their spicy biscuits and gravy with a gigantic mimosa for the very necessary full Biscuits experience. Plus you obviously need to get a waffle on the side.
Located off the Monon, Bent Rail Brewery and Restaurant is a SoBro neighborhood hangout that serves craft brews and American dishes. The core selection of beers focuses on flavorful yet sessionable styles, with a mixture of creative and modern specialties. With its extensive food selection, Bent Rail is a cut above most breweries. In addition to small bar bites, you can order up a salad, custom pizza, or sandwich, with sweet and savory brunch options served on weekends. With a massive open floor plan, and both indoor and outdoor seating, Bent Rail is an ideal spot to spend a few hours with friends.
With a long list of stacked sandwiches, 3 Sisters really pulls out all the stops on their menu, divided into meaty and not meaty sections, so you know there really is something there for everyone.
Known for their fancy Sunday brunch, Cobblestone Grill serves up killer plates with Oaxacan-influenced flavors with a decent wine list and craft beers on tap.
Georgia Reese's serves up some serious southern soul food. You have to get the fried chicken, your arteries might not be happy afterwards, but you definitely will be.
One of a few locations, Lincoln Square Pancake House serves up true blue diner food with some Greek influence as per the founders Greek roots. The menu is huge with so many brunch options you'll end up ordering the banana bread french toast, the rancho burrito and the Greek omelette because they just all sound too damn good.