Indianapolis Monthly

Restaurant GUIDE


INCLUDES Fletcher Place, Fountain Square, Mass Ave, Mile Square, Windsor Park


PIZZA As some of Indy’s most celebrated restaurateurs open pie places all over town, we haven’t forgotten where we first found artichoke hearts and goat cheese on our ’za. Bazbeaux has changed little since 1986, when it opened in Broad Ripple, and it hasn’t really needed to. Flat crust baked crunchy. Toppings you won’t find at Domino’s, like pine nuts and prosciutto. And the cheese—mounds of mozzarella blended with provolone and pecorino. 333 Massachusetts Ave., 317-636-7662,


CONTEMPORARY A former car-repair shop just outside Woodruff Place sets the stage for a daring piece of performance art that has featured pig-skin noodles, granita-topped uni designed to melt on the tongue, grilled cucumbers, and other transfigured meats and veggies. Labor-intensive cocktails are so smart and spot-on that it’s hard to choose just one. Or three. 1844 E. 10th St., 317-419-3471,

Black Market

UPDATED MEXICAN After eight years of pioneering perfect plates of seasonal, locavore comfort cuisine, this Mass Ave original changed gears in the summer of 2019 with a cantina menu recalling the rich flavors of Mexico City. But classically trained chef Esteban Rosas and his all-star staff are as exacting as their forebears, grinding corn by hand for their tortillas and concocting a beguiling mole from nearly 50 ingredients. Slow-braised lamb barbacoa is a mainstay of the menu, as are fish and al pastor tacos, pork-cheek tamales, and especially fresh ceviche. And playful favorites of the restored lunch service, such as ultra-light potato flautas and tortas with spicy fried chicken or broccoli rabe and fried plantains, are worth skipping out of work. The restaurant’s secluded patio pergola makes summertime downtown dining especially nice. 922 Massachusetts Ave., 317-822-6757,


CONTEMPORARY Crowds still roll in for chef Abbi Merriss’s take on seasonal comfort food, a category she dominates in town as evidenced by her vast collection of national media mentions and James Beard Award nominations. Start with the bread baked next door at sisterbusiness Amelia’s—delicious slathered with anchovy butter—and build your meal from the ever-changing menu of small and large dishes. Fried morels may show up on a spring picnic plate, while winter nights call for a comforting butcher-shop Bolognese. Bluebeard is a rare neighborhood restaurant open for Sunday dinner, a popular $1 oyster night. 653 Virginia Ave., 317-686-1580,

The Bosphorus Istanbul Cafe

TURKISH This cozy, colorful cafe inside a restored house in the Holy Rosary neighborhood has been one of our most consistent ethnic restaurants for nearly 20 years, introducing local diners—especially nearby Lilly employees—to the aromatic cuisine of the Middle East, Greece, and the Eastern Mediterranean. Silky, tahini-rich hummus is a must, alongside exemplary falafel, creamy eggplant salsa, and borek—buttery phyllo stuffed with feta and parsley. 935 S. East St., 317-974-1770,

Bru Burger Bar

GOURMET BURGERS The Cunningham Restaurant Group, based in Indianapolis and the force behind several of our hottest spots, revives the gilded burger trend to great effect, pairing patties that combine sirloin, chuck, and brisket with craft beers in a young and stylish spot off the Cultural Trail. The signature Bru Burger reinvents the bacon cheeseburger with Taleggio, sweet tomato jam, and porter-braised onions. 410 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-4278,

Burger Study

BURGERS Part of the St. Elmo Steak House family, Burger Study conveniently backs up to Circle Centre, offering mall-side USDA Prime Black Angus burgers made from a blend of brisket, short rib, and chuck. The burgers are gilded with posh add-ons like root beer–glazed bacon, gouda, and pimento cheese, and the Wagyu burger contains locally sourced beef from Joseph Decuis topped with triple-crème whipped brie, blueberry jam, and arugula. 28 W. Georgia St., 317-777-7770,

Cafe Patachou

CAFE The original Meridian-Kessler “student union for adults” continues to draw in the baseball-capped morning crowds and has inspired citywide offshoots, such as this sleek downtown location, a huge hit with the business, convention, and weekend hordes alike. The cinnamon toast is still as thick as a brick; the produce is still locally sourced; the massive omelets still have cheeky names; and the broken-yolk sandwiches are still a lunch favorite. 225 W. Washington St., 317-632-0765,

The Capital Grille

CLASSIC A theme of rich decadence permeates this downtown steakhouse adjoining the equally posh Conrad hotel, from the gilded-framed pastoral paintings that hang on its dark-paneled walls to the selection of elaborate steaks (one of them drenched in a Courvoisier cream sauce, another sauced with aged balsamic—and some of them dry-aged). The servers are exquisite, of course. 40 W. Washington St., 317-423-8790,

Chuck’s Coney Island

CHEAP EATS Natives of Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan will wax nostalgic at the offerings from Detroit native Charles Lovelady’s hot-dog walk-up. He and son Charles Jr. even drive up to the Motor City every few weeks to load up on authentic chili for their Coneys and piled-high cheese fries. But don’t discount the pair’s original creations, such as the three-cheese Boom Bang Burger layered with corned beef on Texas toast. Seating is limited, so be prepared to make off with your bounty. 2932 E. 10th St., 317-426-4945


LATIN FUSION Food truck–style fusion in the form of General Tso’s chicken tacos and char siu pork burritos are some of the tasty globally influenced choices at this counter-service spot. Breakfast scrambles and pastries from such local sources as Saraga International Market start the day alongside espresso drinks, and street-food favorites such as beef and chorizo empanadas, “flaming hot” corn-and-mayo elotes, and Korean-inspired bulgogi nachos make great choices for lunch. 43 E. 9th St., 317-426-4392,

Condado Tacos

TACOS This flashy Mass Ave outpost of the Ohio-based chain offers a paper menu of build-your-own taco options, from tortilla to sauces. Customers fill in the dots next to their preferred fixings, like the Firecracker hard shell, the house-made chorizo, and the Thai chili tofu. 530 Massachusetts Ave., 317-222-5999,

Conner’s Kitchen + Bar

CONTEMPORARY At this luxe, relaxed restaurant inside the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, a glowing wall of alcohol separates the dining room from the bar, and deep, all-seasons sofas made for lounging sit on the sidewalk-side patio. Art-directed cocktails, like the Prickly Pear Margarita and the Peppered Paloma, elevate after-work drinks, and a simple upscale-casual menu focuses on chopped salads and basic dishes done well, like a grilled five-cheese sandwich and a little pail of black-truffle potato chips too addictively light and crispy to share. Weekend brunch calls for cereal milk–infused cocktails garnished with Cocoa Puffs. 350 W. Maryland St., 317-405-6100,

Croûte Baking Company

PATISSERIE Acclaimed for her decadent and whimsical desserts at Vida and other Cunningham Restaurant Group outposts, pastry chef Hattie McDaniel now bakes up French-style pastries and crusty bread and rolls at this welcome patisserie in the Chamber of Commerce Building downtown. Sweet and savory danishes, cinnamon blossoms with maple cream-cheese icing, and brioche-like Bostocks with frangipane and seasonal fruits are among the knockout morning offerings. But sandwiches are worth the trip back for lunch, especially a spot-on ham-and-cheese and a pastrami-and-Havarti on house rye. Salads, sides, and daily iced teas are thoughtful touches at this takeout-only spot that opens for weekly chefs’ tasting tables where Cunningham toques dazzle guests with test recipes and other off-the-cuff creations. 320 N. Meridian St., 317-956-5584,

The Eagle

SOUTHERN-INSPIRED Just try to resist the country-fried charms of this lively Cincinnatibased eatdrinkery on Mass Ave. The drinks are as potent as they are fun, but The Eagle had us at whole-bird fried chicken—which you may drizzle with spicy honey and pair with mashed potatoes drenched in white gravy or sweetcorn spoonbread, if you like. (And yes, you do want the whole bird.) We’re smitten with the friendly staff, the large and wildly embellished Bloody Marys, and the mini cast-iron skillets. 310 Massachusetts Ave., 317-929-1799,

The Eagle’s Nest

The circular restaurant sitting atop downtown’s PNC building affords a stunning 360-degree view of the city as it spins in a slow full rotation over the course of a nice three-course meal. That skyline eye candy—and not the basic high-end hotel food along the lines of

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