Gentlemen, Start Your Appetites: A Food Lover’s Day in Indy
The dining scene in Indianapolis grows ever more cutting edge, with funky, independent, chef-driven eateries and food-centric shops, all dedicated to utilizing locally sourced ingredients, popping up faster than ravenous diners can take in.
What’s a dedicated food lover to do?
Here’s a culinary dream day in Indianapolis that will take you to both hip and new and tried and true. So put on your stretch pants and get in your car.
Logistically and gastronomically, it makes sense to start south and work your way north, because one of Indy’s newest dining darlings is Milktooth in Fountain Square, and they only serve breakfast and lunch. Try the Dutch Baby Cornmeal Pancake with shaved Smoking Goose ham. (Milktooth is at 534 Virginia Avenue.) Then stop into General American Donut (827 S. East Street) and pick up some of their signature “bennies,” a delectable croissant- donut hybrid. Take in the sights in Fountain Square and Fletcher Place for a bit; it’s a fast-evolving dining mecca that boasts a plethora of other unique bars and eateries—Bluebeard (653 Virginia Avenue), Rook (719 Virginia Avenue) and Hotel Tango Whiskey (702 Virginia Avenue) are on the short list. But now we’ve got to head north.
No trip to Indy would be complete without a stop at 2503 N. Delaware Street, location of Goose the Market. Goose is a perfect spot for a lunch of charcuterie, artisan cheeses, bread and wine. Take some goodies to go, too.
If you’re ready for a walk, head to Massachusetts Avenue (“Mass Ave,” as the locals call it). Yet another culinary hub, there are too many great restaurants and shops to list. But if we did, Union 50 at 620 East Street would be at the top.
Dinner at Oakley’s Bistro (1464 W. 86th Street) is a must. Chef and owner Steve Oakley has been wowing diners in his intimate, casual, near-north spot since 2002. There’s nowhere else in town you’re going to be served waffle-crusted bacon hanging on a tiny clothesline, and the duck (from Michiana’s Maple Leaf Farms) is divine.
And no culinary adventure in the Indianapolis area would be complete without a stop in Carmel, which has evolved into a bustling city teeming with arts, culture and food. Park your car in the glorious Arts and Design District on Main Street and tuck into 37 W. Main, location of Peace Water Winery, a stunningly beautiful wine tasting room owned and operated by a lovely local family.
If you complete every stop on this list, you will have just barely scratched the surface of the extraordinary epicurean delights that the Circle City has to offer. But you have to start somewhere, right?
Downtown Digs and Eats
Treat yourself to a pampering escape and book a room at the lush and modern The Alexander which is located at 333 S. Delaware Street. You’ll be smack-dab in the middle of the downtown culinary scene, and you won’t even have to step outside to check out Caleb France’s Cerulean, Winona Lake’s swanky new southern sibling, which anchors the hotel’s dining. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer excellent people watching, but the stunningly presented food will draw your attention right back in. At lunch, meals are arranged in bento boxes; at dinner, meals are simply works of art. The Viking Farms Lamb Pappardelle will warm whatever is left of winter right out of your bones. And after dinner, enjoy a handcrafted nightcap with the beautiful people in the posh and whimsical Plat 99, the hotel’s bar on the second floor.
Ready to eat in Indy? To learn more about the best local food and drink in Central Indiana, look for our sister publication, Edible Indy.