Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Bowl Restaurant Guide for Indianapolis

Hey Super Bowl fans! If you found me, you probably want to know where to eat in Indianapolis, so here’s the skinny on our local food scene (at least my version anyway).  I would personally be devastated if you come all the way to Indy only to eat at mediocre chains (and trust me, it wouldn’t be hard). Local friends, help me (and our visitors) out and add your additional suggestions in the comments.  Obviously, there are other good places, these are just a few of my favorites.  For the restaurants’ websites with information about location, etc., click on their names below.
Downtown Restaurants 

One Eyed Jack-The Libertine
The Libertine:  This place is a bar with amazing food.  It is small, so if you want to go, you better book it right this very second. (Since it’s a bar, no kids). They are going to be open for lunch throughout the Super weekend as well. Do it, you won’t be sad. My review is here.

R Bistro: This is fine, local dining at its best. Local chef, local ingredients, ever changing menu, cool spot on Massachusetts Avenue.  You want a nice place for dinner, this is your place (not overly formal though). One of my reviews here. (There are more if you look).
Goose the Market: Where to begin? Goose is an amazing place to grab a sandwich for lunch or groceries or have a drink and a snack in the evening downstairs in the enoteca.  Their “Batali” was mentioned by Bon Appetit in an article featuring the best sandwich shops in the country.  And trust me, you will be a happy camper with that sandwich (or any of their other daily specials). Check out my latest review here.
Siam Square: Want something a little different?  Really great Thai food located in one of my favorite downtown neighborhoods, Fountain Square.  It’s hip, and not overly expensive. Love their noodles.  Here’s my reviews. Speaking of which, other charmers in Fountain Square include Mama Irma (Peruvian) and Naisa (Chinese).
Shrimp Po Boy at Mesh
Mesh:  Technically, it is part of a local restaurant group, but Mesh offers up some quality, familiar food at reasonable prices right on Mass Ave, which is a great place to shop, eat and drink.  You can get steaks, sandwiches and pasta dishes along with good drinks in a relaxed, but polished atmosphere. You can check out my posts about Mesh here.
Ball & Biscuit: B&B is another really cool place that while it is mainly a bar, offers great small plates from Indy chef Brad Gates.  If you want a great (non-smoking) bar to enjoy some retro cocktails and some medium sized nosh, check them out.  Or go have a drink after dinner. You will love this place.

St. Elmo: Want a steak?  This is our local Indy legend.  Again, good luck getting in if you don’t already have a reservation, but give it a try if red meat is what you want.  You might get lucky.  And according to locals, you have to try the shrimp cocktail (although, I have to say honestly I am not a huge fan of the insanity-horseradish thing, but that’s just me, apparently.) And here’s my review. If you can’t get in, give Harry & Izzy’s a try—it’s St. Elmo’s more modern little sister (or brother) and you can check them out here.
Sensu: If you want a hip, night clubby feel (this place turns into a night club later in the evening) and good Asian fusion food, Sensu is a good option.  This is also a good place to go if you are looking for a little privacy, as it is dark and has several private-ish booths. We had a very nice meal there and it has been on our list to return to ever since.  Read my full review here.

Ceviche- Black Market
Black Market:  Indy’s gastropub.  Also located in the Mass Ave area, Black Market is one of Indy’s newer restaurants and serves hearty comfort food but with a gourmet twist.   Also a bar though, so don’t bring the kids.
Downtown Lunch
Several of the above restaurants are open for lunch and several are going to be specially open for the Super Bowl weekend, so you can check them out as an option. But if you are looking for a more causal place for lunch (and in some cases dinner as well), here are some of my favorite downtown lunch spots.
City Market: Indy’s City Market has undergone a great transformation over the last few years and now features mainly local foodservice vendors.  This is an amazing place to grab lunch, conveniently located right downtown.  You can get local pizza, Greek food, homemade soups and pastries, Mexican food, French crepes, soft pretzels, ice cream, po boys, and food from one of my favorite local chefs, Brad Gates.  I have done a few reviews of a couple of the places and you can check them out here.
Hoaglin to Go: Back on Mass Ave, if you are looking for a great breakfast or lunch, check out Hoaglin to Go.  It’s a little place with amazing fresh made items like quiche, pancakes, egg dishes and my personal favorite, their egg salad.  I also hear they have a killer grilled cheese. Here’s my review.
Tacos at La Parada
La Parada: In the mood for some cheap Mexican food that is really, really good?  This is a gem of a place where you can get a ton of food for just a few bucks and think, “wow, that was an awesome taco.”  Try the ceviche too. Delicious.  Warning, it’s a bit of a dive, but a charming dive. See what I ordered in my recent post. (Since they don’t have a website, their address is 1638 East New York Street, Indianapolis 46210 and their phone is 317/917-0095).
Workingman’s Friend: This may possibly be the best burger in Indianapolis.  It is an old bar, but on any given day you will see every type of person from blue collar workers to businesspeople in here enjoying a fantastic burger (oh, and get the onion rings, skip the fries).  Here’s my review. (Again, no website, but they are located at 234 N. Belmont Avenue in Indy and their phone number is 317/636-2067).

City Café: This place is a little gem hidden away downtown.  Everything is homemade and the ingredients are top notch. Best steak sandwich I have ever had. Tip: Normally, they are not open on Sundays and are only open for breakfast and lunch, but a little birdie (ha, twitter, get it?) told me they will be serving dinner over Super Bowl weekend as well.  Here’s my review.
Outside of Downtown
If you are willing to venture a little outside of downtown, we have some amazing restaurants in various locations.
Broad Ripple
Just north of downtown is the Broad Ripple area (probably a 10-15minute drive from downtown).  Hit any of these places and you will have a happy belly.

H2O-Tuna Tartare

H2O Sushi:  This is one of my all around favorite restaurants. And don’t let the name fool you. While they do serve spectacular sushi, my favorite things are the daily specials listed down the middle of their menu.  Wonderful noodle dishes and great tacos.  The chefs like to mix it up here, with various Asian influences as well as fun twists on food from other cultures too.  I love this place (read more here).  If you want to check it out, my advice is make a reservation.
Goat Cheese Quesadilla-Room 4
Recess/Room 4: One of Indy’s most prized restaurants is run by local chef Greg Hardesty.  With a new daily menu that is set, you may try some things you wouldn’t normally try, and you will enjoy them all. The focus is on fresh, local ingredients.  If you want to dine at Recess, you need a reservation for sure.  But if you just want to stop in, give Room 4 a try.  Room 4 is the sister restaurant of Recess which is located in the same space, but is more casual, fun, and very approachable a la carte menu. Check out posts on both here. Tip: Both will be open for lunch during Super Bowl week, which is not normally the case.
Taste Café & Marketplace: My favorite lunch spot in the City.  Great for breakfast too (and a tip, they serve dinner a couple of nights a week too).  Favorite item here by far: the BALT sandwich (bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato).  They add dressing to the lettuce and an herby aioli to the bread. Best sandwich ever.  And don’t forget a side of their fabulous frites with basil aioli dip.  A perfect lunch. Read more about it here.
Mussels & Frites- Brugge
Brugge:  A local favorite for mussels and frites and house brewed beer.  Their fries may just be the best in town and with a choice of about a dozen dipping sauces, it’s hard to decide (I like blue cheese, regular garlic aioli and the Sherry vinegar and salt). Check out my review. Open for lunch too!

Pizza- Thr3e Wisemen

Thr3e Wise Men: Currently, Thr3e Wisemen is making one of my favorite pizzas in the City—fresh dough, crispy crust and a great savory tomato sauce.  It’s a straightforward menu with pizzas, sandwiches and salads and they brew their own beer.  Lots of TVs to watch all the coverage. Here’s what I said about it on my last visit. (Also, the same owner has several restaurants throughout the state, including one downtown called Scotty’s Brewhouse.  If you are looking for bar grub, it is a decent local option). Open for lunch and dinner.

Patachou/Napolese:  This is a local group of restaurants where you can enjoy a great breakfast or lunch.  Basic food, but extremeley fresh and high quality ingredients. Good egg dishes, really nice salads. Napolese is their own Neopolitan pizza restaurant that is quite charming as well.  Petite Chou is their French bistro version. I have done reviews of nearly all their concepts in my blog as well if you want further information. And they do have downtown locations.
Pizzology: Up in Carmel (about 30 minutes from downtown), there’s a great local pizza place owned by the same people who own The Libertine downtown.  It is Neopolitan-style pizza cooked in a wood fired oven.  Great salads and pastas too. Tip:  try the fritters. Delicious.  They don’t take reservations so if you don’t mind a potential wait, you should be able to get a table here. Here’s my latest post.
Squealers: my current top choice for barbeque in Indy (although the quest is ongoing).  Great ribs and those fried biscuits…well, they are things dreams are made of…Here’s my post on them.

Oakley’s Bistro:  About 25 minutes drive from downtown, Oakley’s is a great slightly higher end dining option using seasonal ingredients and a seasonally changing menu.  There’s a little something for everyone here. Here’s my latest review.


Papa Roux: A little bit of New Orleans in Indy.  I personally love the shrimp po boy, but Indy people may tell you to get the pork po boy (also available in the City Market downtown). And here's my review.
Brozinni’s: Ok, really this is my favorite pizza, but sadly, I don’t live close enough to have gotten to go more than a few times.  Huge, delicious New York style slices and amazing garlic knuckles.  If you are on the Southside, this is a must. Check out my post here.
Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
Ok, you may or may not be aware that the sort of "unofficial sandwich of Indiana" is the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.  We’re talking a piece of pork tenderloin that is pounded, sometimes very thin and sometimes not, breaded or battered and deep fried.  You will see them everywhere, seriously, but clearly some are better than others.  Here’s a few I can recommend (I have to admit I am relying on friends for a little bit of help on this one, as I haven’t yet sampled every pork tenderloin in town).  The top three are my personal choices and are reviewed in my blog.  The others are from trusted friends.  Also, there is another local person who does an entire blog called “All Tenderloins, All The time” just about tenderloins if you really want to hear about A LOT of different places.

Muldoon's Tenderloin

Muldoon’s:  In an Irish themed bar in Carmel (about 35 minutes north of downtown).
 111 West Main Street, Suite 100
Carmel, IN 46032

Pawn Shop Tenderloin
Pawn Shop: in a somewhat smoky bar about 15-20 minutes from downtown.
2222 East 54th Street
Indianapolis, IN  46262

Chatham Tap: good version I picked mainly because they have a downtown location (no kids downtown though). Also a location in Fishers, about 35 minutes northeast of downtown.
719 Massachusetts Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204

8211 East 116th Street
Fishers, IN  46038

Steer-In: This place was featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, and I have been told has a great tenderloin.
5130 East 10th Street
Indianapolis, IN

Sahm’s: Several people have mentioned Sahm’s has a great tenderloin, and they have several locations including one downtown.
433 North Capitol (check out their website for all their locations around Indy)
Indianapolis, IN

Jimmy B’s : in a little strip mall north about 25-30 minutes from downtown
10598 North College Ave
Indianapolis, IN  46280


Finally, Indy has quite a thriving craft beer loving population and there are some great places to drink quality beer (much of it brewed locally) downtown and in Broad Ripple (as well as other places).  This is not my area of expertise for sure, but I know a lot of people love their beer, so I wanted to give you a good place to look to find out the best places to drink.  Check out the Hoosier Beer Geek blog, particularly this page which gives you the run down on different areas and places to check out.  Cheers!

I would love to hear feedback from out of towners about places they visit and their overall Indy experience! And don’t hesitate to email me personally for any other specific recommendations at


  1. i see we have some eating to do . . . we've eaten at several you've listed but there are also several we've not checked out BECAUSE we are pretty particular and didn't have reviews . . . . great list Erin!!

  2. Erin, thanks for taking the time to compile such a great list of local winners. If you spare even one soul the pain of Seasons 52, you will have done a great culinary service indeed. I noticed you did not have any Patachou or Napolese locations on the post. Although I prefer Taste or Hoaglin's for breakfast, Patachou is consistently tasty and I like the pizza at Napolese a lot. Also, I would be remiss if I did not suggest a trip to Cork and Cracker to see the cute, knowledgable blonde there and to buy one's Super Bowl wine. You sure don't want to be caught serving grocery store swill.

  3. Yes, great list! (I only wish I'd had this when we moved here... it would have saved us some unfortunate meals.)

    My only addition would be grabbing a lunch sandwich at <a href=">Goose the Market</a> -- a bit of a hike for pedestrians from downtown, but great for those renting places in Fall Creek.

  4. In the spirit of the great sporting event that is occurring, I would suggest King David Dogs to visitors. I'm sure there will be plenty of hot dog vendors spread throughout the city but searching out King David's will be worth it for the difference of quality in the actual dog and toppings.

  5. Broad Ripple:
    Yats (also a downtown location on Mass Ave)
    Ripple Bagel and Deli
    India Garden
    Mama Carolla's
    Morning Mama's
    Sinking Ship (smoking establishment)

    Downtown - Fountain Square
    Pure Eatery
    La Margarita
    La Revolucion
    Siam Square
    End of the Line

    Hubbard & Cravens
    Henry's on East
    Calvin Fletcher's
    Monon Coffee
    Cornerstone Coffee

    Nickel Plate for the tenderloin

  6. Would also just mention that Neal Brown will have a tent where he will be serving Smoking Goose brats and a limited release Sun King. Not sure if he will be setting it up in front of Libertine, or somewhere else. Should be memorable "haute tailgating."

  7. Erin, you really hit one out of the park with this list. The ICVA should include it on their page! I'm really happy to see Workingman's Friend on here! Such a great Indianapolis staple that is often overlooked. Would have liked to see at least one other restaurant from Fountain Square listed, though.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  8. Don't forget the new addition of Chef Joseph's. Lunch has been awesome and the atmosphere is very warm and inviting.

  9. For a tenderloin I would like to give a shout out to the Bourbon Street Distillery and for a burger Bearcat's is a must.

    Both are conveniently located downtown.

  10. Erin

    Let's not forget the higher end non-chain restaurants to show some of the best food in town: Meridian Restaurant (5694 N. Meridian); Oakley's Bistro (86th & Ditch); Peterson's (96th & I-69); and Amalfi's (1351 W. 86th). Dress nicely and enjoy a great meal.

  11. Jessica in NoblesvilleJanuary 23, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Great list, Erin!

    Downtown for lunch I'd add Shapiro's Deli ( for killer Reubens.

    For North Side/Hamilton County, I'll add The Local ( for great locally-sourced burgers made with elk, goat and turkey, as well as a changing weekly menu and tasty goat cheese cheesecake. For a more casual lunch/dinner place, Sahm's is an old reliable with several locations ( and top-notch fried mushrooms, really good steak specials and a rich clam chowder. For the best Sunday Brunch in Hamilton County, check out Kelties in Westfield (

  12. Thanks for the link to Hoosier Beer Geek, Erin. This week, we'll be adding lists of good beer-drinking spots for downtown and Broad Ripple, so stay tuned.

  13. I want to throw on another rec, for a place that just opened yesterday. The chef from Ripple Inn has opened Coal Pizza Company downtown on Washington, right next to Libertine. It's pizza in the style of Pizzology or Napolese (I guess Napoli style pizza?) and I dont think any other pizza spots are making that kind of pizza in central downtown (although I could be wrong).
    I tried 2 of the pizzas, the margherita would have benefited from more basil and a touch of salt. However the pizza with bacon, onion and gruyere was really good.

  14. Great list. I'd add Milano Inn at 231 South College. I know you're not a huge fan of Indy's Italian offerings, but we love it. Get soup instead of salad with your meal (no extra charge) and the sausage tortellini soup is fantastic.

    Also, the End of the Line Public House in Fountain Square has 10 local beers on tap and good burgers and pizza.

  15. Hello,
    I grew up in Indianapolis [live in Philly now] and, to be honest, the restaurant scene is pathetic.

    But...there are a few great things.
    1) All Patachou restaurants (as some have mentioned). Go to the original at 49th and Penn for breakfast.
    2) I've traveled all around the US and gone to lots of good Mexican restaurants, but, strangely, the best, at least as far as the quality of the food if you're into good authentic Mexican is still in Indianapolis at El Sol on East Washington Street...this place has truly excellent food. Full Disclosure, the surrounding area is not exactly going to win any safety there and lock your car.
    3) On the other hand, if you're less of a foodie and just want a fun really old-school Mexican place, Acapulco's Joe's downtown is a winner. Oldest Mexican restaurant (possibly oldest "ethnic restaurant" in the city?)
    4) Yats is good
    5) If you're not a midwesterner, and like Fast Food, and haven't been...go to a Steak n Shake. It's good.
    6) Monon Coffee Shop in Broad Ripple is a wonderful place. Go there and chill out.


  16. Thanks everyone for the support for the list AND for all your suggestions! Obviously, I have not eaten everywhere (although it seems like it sometimes) and not everyone is going to agree on a list like this, so glad to let people know about other options as well. Keep em coming!


  17. And to Jeremy, Obviously I disagree with your "pathetic" comment. And if you haven't been here in awhile, I think you are maybe just ignorant of everything that has happened in Indy in the last couple of years. I also respectfully disagree with your Acapulco Joe's recommendation. Just because it is old, doesn't make it worthy in my mind.

    But thanks for the feedback!

  18. Have you tried the new Sobro Cafe just around the corner from Taste cafe just south of Broad Ripple.

    They have a full international menu with healthy made from scratch foods and the best home made Chai I've ever had.

    Sobro Cafe is definitely my superbowl restaurant recommendation!

    Located at 653 E 52nd Street (52nd & College Ave)


  19. Love the list. Very well thought out as always. I'd offer a few more. In Broad Ripple: Usual Suspects (I am just finishing up an order of the Osso Bucco as I type this... Amazing! ) Monon Food Co (best fish taco in town), and the Cuban Sandwich for lunch at Northside Kitchenette. Downtown for lunch check out Miguel's on Delaware and for dinner we tried Lorenzo's last week for outstanding Italian in a very cool environment

  20. I think Jeremy needs to leave the East Coast and return to his roots. Perhaps he'll have a different world view than whatever garbage they're feeding him in Philadelphia. He may have left a chain city, but he'll be oh so happy to learn that's not the case any longer.

    Paul W.

  21. Jersey Cafe - Been there numerous times. The chicken salad sandwich, made with peas for sweetness and sprouts on top, is a favorite. Also, they are one of the only places you can buy Tasty Cakes, the East Coast answer to Hostess cupcakes. If you are from near Jersey, you can sign a large poster in the back hallway. they can be a bit slow at times.

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