The south side of Indianapolis is far from a food desert, but it’s not exactly awash in trendy bistros and macha-flavored desserts, either. But look carefully and you’ll find establishments offering sophisticated fare, interesting takes on exotic cuisines, and two-fisted homages to American meat-and-potatoes favorites. Step aside, Mass Ave, the south side is bringing it.
This mid-sized Downtown Greenwood establishment likes to keep things local -- from its Indiana-sourced meats, vegetables, and wild game, to its ample list of Indiana craft beers. The menu changes with the seasons, and currently offers such stick-to-your-ribs winter favorites as poutine, braised lamb Bolognese, and orzo pasta. Make time (and wear your stretchy pants) for Revery’s Sunday brunch, the star of which is a little slice of porcine heaven: chicken-fried bacon.
If you’re looking for an obscure, hard-to-find beer, this Greenwood pub/eatery probably has it. The establishment, whose interior was salvaged from an authentic British pub, offers more than 300 bottled brews and 40 draft beers. So odds are good that you’ll find something to pair with whatever you select from the extensive dining menu, which includes a grilled boneless pork chop, panko-coated breaded tenderloin, and the less-than-toothsomely-named Swamp Chicken, drenched in the establishment’s house-made Caribbean-style marinade.
Though it faces little serious competition in Indianapolis’s landlocked southern extremities, we think Ichiban would still come out on top in the “best sushi” category. Stop by for the half-price sushi happy hour special, Mondays from 5 to 7pm and try all the rolls you’ve been hesitant about. The regular menu isn’t entirely focused on Japanese fare, so give the Thai-style tom yam soup a try. There’s also a surprisingly large selection of vegetarian and meat-optional dishes, including the home-style tofu and Japanese pan fried udon.
Situated in an old house just off Greenwood’s Main St, this establishment (as the name implies) is all about that burger. Or rather, “the finest burger this world has ever tasted, end of story.” The lineup includes the Big Daddy (two 8oz burgers topped with Cheddar cheese, blue cheese crumbles, Applewood smoked bacon, and the restaurant’s own spicy Buffalo sauce, among other things), along with the PB&J Burger, which we’re not going to explain. You just have to try it. Guest can order a “flight” of BTB offerings via the Fantastic Four Burger Sampler -- four slider-sized versions of the restaurant’s menu choices.
As the name implies, this smallish operation is your one-stop headquarters for mouth-torching Thai favorites (if writhing in agony after each bite of your entrée isn’t your thing, they’ll of course dial it back). Try the catfish curry for a peculiar melding of southeast Asian cuisine with the American South’s favorite fish, or satisfy your noodle jones with Ma Ga Tee -- coconut-flavored rice noodles topped with Thai peanut sauce, bean sprouts, ground peanuts, baby dried shrimp, and your choice of meat.
This establishment, like so many “Chinese” eateries, offers a wider range of tastes than its name lets on. You’d be well-advised to skip sweet and sour chicken and focus instead on the extensive selection of Vietnamese dishes. Try the rice noodle (think of it as ramen’s wild, exotic sister) soup with shrimp and pork, or the charbroiled pork chop with egg over rice. Many menu choices are presented only in Vietnamese, but your server will help you navigate.
At 14 years of age, this place was brewpubbing back when brewpubbing wasn’t cool -- or at least, not all that common in Indiana. The restaurant’s Nouveau-American menu includes a wide array of finger foods (try the Korean beef quesadilla), plus lots of big-plate crowd pleasers such as mesquite-smoked ribs, shepherd’s pie and Cajun jambalaya pasta.
This hole in the wall in the heart of Greenwood offers a full bar, live (mostly country) music, and karaoke. But the real star is the pizza, available in thin crust or pan style. Service isn’t lightning fast, but the results are worth the wait. Surprisingly, the deep-dish pie isn’t as heavy and buttery as you’d expect from a Chicago-style pizza. Instead the crust (made in-house daily) is light and flaky, with a crispy edge.
This huge roadside edifice has been doling out comfort food since 1944. Located in the far south side town of Mooresville, Gray Brothers is a gigantic cafeteria (seating capacity 400-plus) serving fare that’s anything but cafeteria-like. The place has been written up nationally, and offers an absolutely massive list of goodies, including peerless fried chicken, homemade chicken and beef noodles, and roast pork with dressing. Desserts consist of pretty much every pie variety known to man, from sugar cream to the establishment’s signature strawberry. If you get sleepy after a big meal, you may need a designated driver.
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1. Revery299 W Main St, Greenwood
2. Shallos8811 Hardegan St, Indianapolis
3. Ichiban Sushi Bar8265 US 31 S, Indianapolis
4. Between the Bun102 S Madison Ave, Greenwood
5. Thai Spice2316 E County Line Rd, Indianapolis
6. Oaken Barrel Brewing Company50 Airport Pkwy, Greenwood
7. Egg Roll #14540 S Emerson Ave., Beech Grove
8. The Blind Pig147 S Madison Ave, Greenwood
9. Gray Brothers Cafeteria555 S Indiana St, Mooresville
The dining room at Revery resembles something of a new-age farm house, dressed in red brick and repurposed wood, and littered with splintered oak barrels. The bar is wood-paneled and white-washed, with bulbs housed in mason jars hanging from the ceiling, while the full stock of spirits shelved behind offer something of a contemporary twist on the rustic space. The cuisine is creative American, updated seasonally and prepared exclusively with local meat and produce. With a heavy focus on meat and fish-centric entrees, the menu boasts things like Flat Iron steak, Scottish salmon with beets, and short ribs with brie-topped Brussels sprouts -- equal parts balanced and indulgent. The drink menu, also curated seasonally, offers a number of inventive house-creations, while the bourbon-forward cocktail program offers over 100 varieties of the stuff to whiskey connoisseurs, and novices, alike.
Titled the Midwest's premier purveyor of rare and exotic beers, this antique Greenwood eatery boasts over 300 bottled beers and another 40 on tap, all of which are imported from 21 different countries. In addition to the 400-or-so available brews, the place serves up a full menu of hearty, made-from-scratch comfort food -- everything from fried mac&cheese to breaded, deep-fried beef tenderloin. Gluten-heavy and sizably portioned, the plates at Shallos are rarely unsatisfying, always best complemented by one of the beer bar's numerous cold brews. The menu's most intriguing feature, however, is the lengthy list of antiques, available for purchase, following the entrees. These items -- everything from a Chevy V8 neon sign to an old high school gymnasium score board -- adorn the walls of the dining room, lending it a vintage, almost museum-like feel.
Serving up an eclectic menu of sushi, hibachi and noodle dishes, this Asian eatery is something of a hidden gem. The unpretentious, white storefront more closely resembles a department store than a sushi bar, but the decor inside is tasteful and up-scale with black-washed wood, leather seating, and rice-paper prints hung above the tables. The wine list is lengthy, with both hot and cold sake available, and the food menu offers sizable lunch specials in addition to plenty of full entrees and sushi-bar combos. When it comes to fish, the sashimi is incredibly fresh, the teriyaki sauce is an age-old Ichiban recipe, and the house rolls are tasty and inventive (the Saturday roll features fried asparagus, mango, shrimp and crab stick). And if the 80 separate rolls on the sushi menu don't do it for you, the Ichiban chefs are constantly attempting new creations.
True to its name, this Greenwood eatery is all about serving original, unforgettable burger-creations. Each patty is made by hand daily, and topped with one of the burger-joint's famous house-made sauces (things like spitfire ranch and piña colada sauce), but that's not all that goes "between the bun." These outlandish burgers come topped with everything from fried pickles and mac&cheese, to pulled pork and sautèed pienapple, while the patties themselves are flame-grilled, and smothered in things like peanut butter, maple syrup, and melted cheese (seriously). The creative eatery serves a number of other indulgent American eats (the specialty hot dogs are equally out-there) in their unpretentious, airy dining room, where guests are welcome to wash down their peanut-butter-pineapple burgers with a glass of local beer or wine.
This austere, unpretentious Asian eatery is dishing up generous portions of tasty, authentic Thai cuisine. The family-friendly, fast-casual joint offers a full take out menu, while guests are welcome to stay and feast in the dining room, under a series of glass lotus lamps dangling intermittently from the ceiling. The kitchen serves everything from classic Pad Thai and stir fry dishes, to meat and seafood-centric entrees, cooked in traditional Thai sauces and spices, and plated in notoriously excessive portions. There are a handful of beer and wine options available, along with various Thai teas and juices (try the honeyed chrysanthemum tea), and a kid's menu for the little ones.
One of Indiana's must-visit brewpubs, Oaken Barrel offers a full menu of Noveau-American cuisine, curated to pair perfectly with the eatery's impressive selection of high-end craft beers. The space includes two separate bars, a deck, and a full, enclosed dining room, replete with heavy woods, white string lights, and walls of exposed brick. Open for lunch and dinner, the kitchen serves everything from baked-to-order pretzel sticks and boneless chicken wings, to beer-broth pot roast over roasted root vegetables. The staff is more than happy to recommend any one of the house-crafted lagers (or a whole flight for that matter), to compliment a particular dish, or simply to suit a customer's taste. And for those less interested in the consumption of alcohol, there is a full indoor section reserved exclusively for family dining.
This rather austere Asian eatery, stationed in an unremarkable strip mall, manages to bring in a consistent, steady stream of local families, insistent that the food is some of the best in the area. The hidden gem serves a combination of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, offering a variety of pho noodle bowls, classic Chinese entrees, and plates of fried rice, all at exceptionally low prices. The embellishment-free counter service restaurant is family-oriented, with sizable portions, and impressively quick service (major pro for avoiding toddler meltdowns). And while the spot offers few vegetarian-friendly dishes (and also no beer) it certainly provides a variety of carnivorous combinations for the whole family (try the cream-cheese crab rangoon).
Tucked in the heart of old Greenwood, The Blind Pig is a local favorite for live music, cold beer, and IU football fanfare. While the menu offers a host of fried appetizers and hefty sandwiches, regulars will tell you it is a mistake to go for anything other than the pizza -- served either pan-style or thin crust -- baked with fresh dough prepared daily, and made to order. Dimly lit, wood paneled and classicly divey in aesthetic, the spot is low-key and free of embellishments. The neighborhood joint is rather a place for always-cold pints, friendly staff, and a whole crew of customers willing to join in, at any given moment, on the IU fight song.
Situated in the far south-side town of Mooresville, this huge roadside edifice has been doling out comfort food since 1944. Gray Brothers is a giant cafeteria (seating capacity is 400-plus) serving traditional American fare that’s anything but cafeteria-like: It's much-lauded buffet offers a massive list of goodies, including peerless fried chicken, homemade chicken & beef noodles, and succulent roast pork. Dessert options span basically every pie variety known to man -- from sugar cream to the establishment’s signature strawberry. You'll want to prepare for a mean food coma. No, seriously, bring a designated driver to get your sleepy self home.