Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Indianapolis Right Now

Updated On 10/16/2017 at 05:56PM EST Updated On 10/16/2017 at 05:56PM EST
COURTESY OF ROOK
Big Lug Canteen

Big Lug Canteen

Nora

Get a fish taco, drink it with a Boner Pils (a German pilsner), and giggle your way through a meal that delivers as much on flavor as it does on adolescent humor. Even without the smirk-inducing names, both the food and the beer at Big Lug are consistently amazing, whether you’re stumbling off the Monon with a voracious appetite or just want a few wings to go with your pint. Even if you want a cocktail, this place has you covered on that front, too.

Audra Sternberg Photography

Cerulean

Downtown

For the first couple of years, Cerulean was mistakenly grouped in as a hotel restaurant because of its shared footprint with the trendy Alexander Hotel. Now, the independently owned farm-to-table spot is finally getting its due for its high-concept tasting dinners and a la carte plates. Make sure you leave enough time to stop at the bar for the house Old Fashioned or a carefully curated bottle of wine. Definitely check out the restaurant’s exceptional (and gorgeous!) dessert menu.

Kelley Jordan

Milktooth

Fletcher Place

It’s only been a year and a half, but Milktooth has made waves across Indianapolis like no other restaurant in the Circle City before. The casual brunch restaurant backs up the hype with outstanding, envelope-pushing food, great cocktails, and about nine ways to get your coffee -- from pour-over to the Modbar espresso. If you're pressed for time, get a few pastries and a coffee on your way to work.

Courtesy of Love Handle

Love Handle

Pogue's Run

The first version of this sandwich and brunch shop got started in Milwaukee and moved back home to Indianapolis over the summer. Expect a lineup of sandwiches piled with smoked pork belly, house pickles, and a whole mess of local ingredients stacked in between. If you need to perk up after a long night, get a plate full of house-made biscuits & gravy.

Three Carrots

Wholesale District

Before there was Three Carrots, Indy was awash in mass-produced black bean burgers as the only alternative to eating animals. You could argue that this humble food stall in City Market is more or less single-handedly responsible for the vegan revolution in Indy. Three Carrots supplies the hands-down best seitan to restaurants around the city, and it also throws down on some of the most delicious sandwiches you'll ever eat that are surprisingly meatless. Bonus: You can order lunch online and pick it up from the restaurant if you're short on time. A second location will open soon at 902 Virginia Avenue in Fountain Square.

Courtesy of Rook

Rook

Fletcher Place

When Rook moved up the street to a bigger spot, it took a long five-month hiatus to prepare the new space, which didn't seem to hurt business one bit. Now it's back, the restaurant is gorgeous, and there's room for many more diners. Get a glass of wine from the impressive list and dig into the fried chicken steamed bun and a plate of pig face hash to go with your karaage bowl.

Ashley Riley

Libertine Liquor Bar

Chatham Arch

Since the Libertine seized the crown as the best cocktail bar in the city, it's been impossible to knock off. Maybe because you can get a perfectly balanced Manhattan, or maybe because you can get a cocktail that tastes like a fancy PB&J. Whether you want something classic or experimental, you can find it in this basement bar on Mass Ave, along with one of the best small-plates menus in the city.

Courtesy of The Garden Table

The Garden Table

Broad Ripple

I believe this restaurant has the power to convert a lot of people to the whole-foods diet. When you eat The Garden Table's food, you get a shot of that clean-burning energy that powers you through the rest of the day. Two high recommendations: the acai bowl if you want something sweet, or the BLT Smash if you want something meaty and filling. One thing: It closes at 3pm, so arrive hungry and early. It now also has a second location at 342 Massachusetts Avenue.

Haley Neale

Kuma's Corner

Fountain Square

The famous Chicago burger joint now has a little sister store in Fountain Square. It’s right down the street from all the best bars, you can get takeout, and it serves liquor. Fill your face with a Mastodon while you fill your ears with metal, or take on one of the massive beef patties in the privacy of your own home as the resto starts testing out a delivery service.

Courtesy of Pioneer

Pioneer

Fountain Square

Pioneer is positioning itself as an "alpine" restaurant, carrying a variety of Italian, French, and Germanic dishes. The small-plates menu is one to love and makes a perfect accompaniment to a limited but focused cocktail selection. Pioneer’s best feature won’t come into play until spring, when the expansive patio opens for the season.

Courtesy of Taxman Brewing

Taxman Brewing Company

Bargersville

OK, so it’s not technically in Indianapolis, but it definitely has some incredible food and good beer. The Sunday brunch is a quick four-hour engagement, but the lunch and dinner options are as approachable as pub food gets, if more sophisticated in the execution. The lunch special changes all the time, so stay tuned to the spot's Instagram to stay updated.

Courtesy of Vida

Vida

Lockerbie Square

This brand-new place from Cunningham Restaurant Group is pushing the envelope in hyper-local sourcing and the use of charcuterie in the dishes themselves. There’s a hydroponic grow wall that supplies the restaurant with ultra-fresh veggies and lettuce, plus a charcuterie aging room and a wine list that would make a collector blush. Make sure you save room for dessert at this place, too!

Tinker Street

Herron–Morton

Lots of people have a crush on Tinker Street, from Colts players to regular ol’ Hoosiers. It serves farm-fresh food that’s some of the most delicious in the city, and stands out for the level of service provided by the staff. The best way to enjoy Tinker Street is to order a bunch of small plates, get a bottle of wine, and bask in all the flavors of the meatless and carnivore-friendly food. Also check out for the Tinker team’s newest project, the recently opened Festiva at 1217 E. 16th Street, featuring a carefully curated collection of authentic Mexican dishes.

Prime 47 Indianapolis

Prime 47

Carmel

Sometimes you just want that big, over-the-top, all-beef-everything steakhouse experience, and the best place to get that experience for your money is Prime 47. Now, this is no shade on a certain other famous Indy steakhouse, but the Prime 47 menu is just a little more fun (and baller), with options like a wagyu tomahawk steak for a cool $119, and a roasted wild boar option if you’re an adventurous eater. This is definitely the place to take the bachelor/bachelorette party if you’re trying to do the all-out Vegas experience here in Indianapolis.

Fitzgerald's Lunch House

Lawrence

This newly opened lunch spot is hitting home run after home run with its sandwich selection. You could get a sandwich piled high with some of the most lovingly prepared roast beef in town, or go light with a veggie roll: roasted portobello, goat cheese, roasted bell peppers, and basil mint pesto. Or split the difference and earn yourself some cookie points with the veggie sandwich, then immediately blow those points on a side of homemade chocolate chip bread pudding.

The Gallery Pastry Shop

The Gallery Pastry Shop

SoBro

Tucked behind some of 54th St’s most popular restaurants, The Gallery Pastry Shop is a brand-new shop serving up delicate, classic French pastries like macarons, opera cakes, eclairs, and croissants. Everything is made fresh daily, and we’d highly recommend grabbing a table to enjoy some desserts with a nice charcuterie plate. The glass-encased open kitchen allows diners to watch chef Ben Hardy create the artful treats, and with a six-flavor mimosa menu, it’s easy to see how you could spend hours here.

Bent Rail Brewery

SoBro

Just around the corner from The Gallery Pastry Shop, Bent Rail is a great little pub that serves great food. There is still a bit of time to wait before it can serve its own beer, but it is still on the way and in the plan. In the meantime, avail yourself of a great tap list and grub on an outstanding list of sandwiches and culinary-cultural crossover. We highly recommend going to brunch when the Korean breakfast bowl is on the menu, a filling combination of egg, rice, kimchee, pickles and veggies that perks up your palate first thing in the morning. If you’re there in the evening, try literally anything on the sandwich menu with literally anything on the salad menu. You will go home full and happy.

Courtesy of Open Society

Open Society

SoBro

The first rumblings of Open Society happened over a year ago with a series of invitation-only dinners accompanied by a selection of cocktails. The restaurant has since opened to overwhelmingly positive reviews, offering everything from Modbar espresso drinks, liquor, pastries, and a full dinner service. The new SoBro spot promises an experience similar to Milktooth with a South American flair, with help from talent imported from The NoMad in NYC.

La Parada

Holy Cross

Listen, this is probably going to come to blows, but it's something worth fighting for: The best “comfort” Mexican food in Indianapolis is at La Parada. The people deserve to know. It’s hangover-friendly without being a total grease bomb, and the tortilla chips are often still a bit warm from the fryer. Everything is actually spicy and tangy and bright, not just salty. And the beer is always extra-cold. It’s a great little neighborhood joint for when you want your tacos fresh with nothing but lime, onion, and cilantro.

Bluebeard

Bluebeard

Fletcher Place

You’ll never get a bad meal at Bluebeard, but the crew has recently re-invigorated menus with offerings like an all-street-food menu on Tuesdays, and chicken & waffles on certain days during lunch. The restaurant is having fun with its regulars while maintaining one foot firmly in the globally inspired seafood game that keeps everyone -- including regulars and Colts QB Andrew Luck -- coming back for more. Keep your eyes trained on Bluebeard's social media feeds for fun, short runs of new menu items.

Courtesy of FoxGardin Kitchen & Ale

FoxGardin Kitchen and Ale

Fortville

Folks in the northeast suburbs now have a reason to keep their dining dollars in town. Chef Jake Burgess has already garnered tons of praise for the high-end flavors presented in his laid-back dining room. Don’t feel bad about stopping in to the place while on a long bike ride or after a day at the lake, as they will be glad to serve you no matter what you wear.

BurgerFuel

Broad Ripple

Normally burger chains (or chains of any sort) don’t land on “best” lists, but we’ll make an exception for this New Zealand-based operation, which this summer opened its first US location in Broad Ripple. Try the Wagyu With Cheese, a burger featuring Australian beef, New Zealand Egmont cheddar, truffle mascarpone, caramelized onion jam, horseradish cream sauce, salad, tomato relish, and aioli. And make sure to ask for a doofer -- a cardboard burger holder that keeps the juice off your shirt. Mostly.

Super Bowl Pho

Westfield

Everybody’s trying their hand at pho these days, but you won’t find a more authentic stateside version than the one prepared at this Westfield establishment. Owner Leo Nguyen uses recipes from his Vietnamese family to fill out the menu, but really, just get the pho. Nguyen personally shops for the day’s meat and veggies, and the soup stock is created by simmering beef bones for as long as 18 hours. Toppings include sliced beef, brisket, tripe, and Vietnamese beef meatballs. A second location will open soon at 5603 E. Washington Street.

Salt on Mass

Salt on Mass

Mile Square

Set in the midst of downtown’s Mass. Ave cultural district, this contemporary-themed establishment is a go-to staple for the post-theater, -concert, and -work crowds. The seasonal menu includes Parmesan-encrusted Chilean sea bass; salt and pepper calamari cut in-house; and Indiana Viking lamb. If you’re really hungry, order the 26-ounce Wagyu tomahawk steak.

Livery

Livery

Chatham Arch

A Latin-themed Downtown establishment that gets its name from its location -- a former horse stable. A cool, two-story setting with bars on both levels. Lots of tequilas. The food includes a pork tenderloin prepared with a chipotle dry rub; red beans and shrimp; and red drum with sweet plantain and jicama fries. But you can’t go wrong with the beef short rib tamale and a side of yucca fries.

SotSot

Reagan Park

It started out as a food truck serving Cajun food. Now it’s a smallish N. College Avenue restaurant run by a Panamanian native offering (among a great many other things) his signature version of red beans and rice, an alligator sandwich, and a selection of po-boys featuring everything from shrimp to sausage to catfish. By the way, SotSot is short for “some of this, some of that.”

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1. Big Lug Canteen 1435 E 86th St, Indianapolis, IN 46240

Get a fish taco, drink it with a Boner Pils (a German pilsner), and eat your way through a meal that delivers as much on flavor as it does adolescent humor. Even without the smirk-inducing names, both the food and the beer at Big Lug are always amazing, whether you’re hot off the Monon with a voracious appetite, or you just want a few wings to go with your pint of beer- or cocktail!. PSA: You must be 21+ to enter.

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2. Cerulean Indianapolis 339 S Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Why you’re here: For a biz lunch, a date-worthy dinner, or you’re staying at the art-focused Alexander hotel.

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3. Milktooth 534 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203

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.

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4. Love Handle 2829 E 10th St, Indianapolis, IN 46201

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!

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5. Three Carrots 222 E Market St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

This counter service lunch spot in Indy's Wholesale District offers up tasty vegan versions of your favorite deli classics. Ever had a Cuban seitan bacon? Get one, stat. This super savory sando with brown sugar glazed tofu, miso "Swiss" cheese and house made pickles is seriously good.

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6. Rook 501 Virginia Ave Ste 101, Indianapolis, IN 46203

This Indy Asian fusion hotspot recently settled into their new digs in Fletcher Place. The larger space provides ample room to enjoy their expanded menu of contemporary Asian fare; check out the Longanisa Scotch egg with fermented cabbage and yellow mung beans, or one of their famous ramen bowls with a 63 degree egg.

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7. Libertine Liquor Bar 608 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Libertine Liquor Bar’s food menu is largely international; chilaquiles with braised pork, pickled onion, avocado crema, cilantro, and fritas sit flesh on the menu with rabbit pierogi with ricotta, charred leek, and rabbit jus. Libertine’s beverage ethos celebrates the pioneering American spirit by emphasizing craft distillers and boutique wines. Cocktails are taxonomically classified by spirit on the menu into “Vodka/Gin,” “Brandy/Rum,” “Agave,” and “Whiskey & More,” and standouts include the Hit or Miss – which is anything but – with pineapple-infused Vida Mezcal, jalapeno-infused tequila, agave nectar, fresh lime, and cilantro, and the Coffee Cocktail with AE Dor cognac, ruby port, egg, sugar, and nutmeg.

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8. The Garden Table 908 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220

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.

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9. Kuma's Corner 1127 Prospect St, Indianapolis, IN 46203

This Fountain Square spot professes sheer devotion for burgers and heavy metal, with all of the former named after bands in the latter genre. The Led Zeppelin includes bacon, slow-cooked pork shoulder and barbecue sauce.

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10. Pioneer 1110 Shelby St, Indianapolis, IN 46203

Midwest meets German at this breezy spot in Fountain Square. Chow down on pork chops, chicken liver mousse, and spatzle while you sip local and imported brews and Northern European wines.

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11. Taxman Brewing Company 13 S Baldwin St, Brownsburg, IN 46106

Fear not the call of the Taxman, for he brings brew! Just a short drive outside of Indy, this small-batch brewer focuses on craft ales and lagers using traditional American and European methods of beermaking. Stop by their taproom and gastropub to sample all the goods and munch on savory bar foods.

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12. Vida 601 E New York St, Indianapolis, IN 46202

This warm, casual spot in Lockerbie Square serves an extensive menu of globally inflected fusion food from across the corners of the world. The tuna crudo with tandoori 'nduja is a solid choice to start; follow up with roasted mushroom cacio e pepe or the pepper crusted venison chop.

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13. Tinker Street 402 E 16th St, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Tinker Street's a pint sized food 'n drink outpost in Indy's Downtown. The curated menu is divided into three sections: small plates, botanical aka veggie dishes, and land/sea, Tinker's meat and dish pairings. This place is great all year round, but especially during patio season.

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14. Fitzgerald's Lunch House 9130 Otis Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46216

Fitzgerald’s Lunch House has perfected the art of the classic sandwich-and-salad lunch. The counter-serve lunch joint offers a selection of carefully stacked sandwiches, like the Rooster, with chili lime chicken, smoked, bacon, avocado, pickled onions, white cheddar, and chipotle cream cheese on a baguette, and excellently blended salads, like the Chopped Wedge, with chopped iceberg, Maytag bleu cheese, bacon chunks, cherry tomatoes, scallions, and herb buttermilk dressing. With whimsical purple walls and overhead lights resembling heat lamps, Fitzgerald’s will brighten up your day during your midday meal.

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15. Prime 47 Carmel 47 S Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Prime 47 Carmel at Clay Terrace Mall is a locally owned and operated upscale steakhouse that places a premium on quality cuts of beef, which are sourced from critically acclaimed suppliers and then aged on-premises for optimal flavor, moisture, texture, and taste. Though the standard is high, Prime 47 is as meticulous with meat preparation as it is with refined décor; the wood paneling and stately high-backed chairs create an opulent environment to enjoy both prime and wagyu cuts, as well as seafood, chicken, fish, and pasta dishes.

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16. The Gallery Pastry Shop , Indianapolis, IN

The Gallery Pastry Shop in SoBro is a tiny treasure trove of reasonably priced, painstakingly crafted European pastries and plated desserts, like macarons, hand-painted chocolates, hand-rolled truffles, and individually decorated pastries like the Provence, which is a Bavarian atop a French macaron shell that’s burnished with a lavender white chocolate glaze. The Gallery offers a Sunday brunch with crepes and omelets galore, all served on handcrafted wooden tables in the industrial-style dining room. To top it off, the Gallery offers a full wine program for those wishing to indulge a little bit extra.

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17. Bent Rail Brewery & Pub 5301 Winthrop Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220

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.

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18. La Parada Restaurant 1642 E New York St, Indianapolis, IN 46201

La Parada’s exterior might not be something to write home about, but its unending menu comprised of well-portioned, authentic Mexican dishes is. Located in a somewhat sad stucco strip mall, La Parada is a burst of color inside, with technicolor carved wooden nature-themed seats at the bar and Mexican paintings dotting the walls. The whopping menu is complete with fajitas, soups, seafood, tostadas, tamales, tacos, and more. The spicy pork tacos are a crowd-favorite, as is the Crunch Wrap, a taco shell bursting with your choice of meat, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guac, rice, and beans.

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19. Open Society 4850 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46205

Located in Meridian Kessler, this cozy, brick-lined coffee and wine bar may be small in size, but it packs a punch with its extensive offerings, serving South American-inspired dishes, a daily selection of coffee from Tinker Coffee Co. and Madcap Coffee, inventive craft cocktails, and a global wine list. Both small and large plates fill the menu, all of them bursting with flavor, such as niño pobre (slow-cooked brisket, fried egg, fennel slaw, mango cherry BBQ) for brunch, and pollo rostizado (half chicken, salsa verde, Peruvian purple yam) for dinner.

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20. FoxGardin Kitchen and Ale 215 S Main St, Fortville, IN 46040

Thanks to FoxGardin, a cozy, brick-lined restaurant on Fortville's Main St, northeast suburbanites don't have to travel to Downtown Indy for a high-end meal crafted with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. What's more, they don't even have to get dressed up for the upscale plates at this 21+ spot, which have included hand-cut filet mignon, lobster ravioli, and black grouper: the dining room is so laid-back that you can stop in after a long bike ride or a day at the lake.

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21. Bluebeard 653 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203

Situated inside a 1924 warehouse, bright and rustic Bluebeard serves craft cocktails alongside an inventive, daily-changing menu that's featured everything from radish crudo to chicken liver pate to papardelle beef Bolognese, all served with Italian-style, hearth-baked loaves from the adjacent Amelia’s bakery. Different weekdays bring different specials here, such as an all-street-food menu and a chicken & waffles lunch. Keep an eye on Bluebeard's social media feeds for fun, short runs of new menu items.

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22. BurgerFuel 6320 Guilford Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220

Normally burger chains (or chains of any sort) don’t land on “best” lists, but we’ll make an exception for this New Zealand-based operation, which this summer opened its first US location in Broad Ripple. Try the Wagu With Cheese, a burger featuring Australian beef, New Zealand Egmont cheddar, truffle mascarpone, caramelized onion jam, horseradish cream sauce, salad, tomato relish, and aioli. And make sure to ask for a doofer -- a cardboard burger holder that keeps the juice off your shirt. Mostly.

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23. Super Bowl Pho 112 E Main St, Westfield, IN 46074

Everybody’s trying their hand at pho these days, but you won’t find a more authentic stateside version than the one prepared at this Westfield establishment. Owner Leo Nguyen uses recipes from his Vietnamese family to fill out the menu, but really, just get the pho. Nguyen personally shops for the day’s meat and veggies, and the soup stock is created by simmering beef bones for as long as 18 hours. Toppings include sliced beef, brisket, tripe, and Vietnamese beef meatballs. A second location will open soon at 5603 E. Washington St.