8 restaurants outside greater Indianapolis worth the drive this spring break

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2022. It has been updated and republished as part of our dining coverage.

The Indianapolis area is blessed to have a nationally-recognized dining scene.

Visitors laud our steakhouses, brunch spots and burger joints.

But there are gems that are a Sunday afternoon drive away as well, serving up the best beef, sweets and overall experiences a Hoosier can have.

If you've got some time to hit the road with the kids out of school for spring break, here are a handful that are worth the one- to two-hour drive. (IndyStar calculated drive times from the Wholesale District in downtown Indianapolis.)

Start planning your next day trip with these restaurants in mind.

Best Indianapolis road trip restaurants

Nick's Kitchen

506 N. Jefferson St., Huntington


About two-hour drive

Breaded tenderloin at Nick’s Kitchen.
Breaded tenderloin at Nick’s Kitchen.

Alright, some of us have wondered why breaded pork tenderloin is such a thing here. Honestly, it can be quite dry and is too often unremarkable.

Nick’s shows us how it should be done ‒ moist, flavorful, with a crunchy coating ($8.99).

Makes sense. They claim to have originated the breaded pork tenderloin.

And while they don’t claim ownership of the sugar cream pie, Nick’s version with its flaky crust, firm but creamy custard and spiced top is perfect. Lots of other pies are available; and if you can't decide on one (really, the sugar cream should be your one) you can order a flight of three for $6.99.

The throw-back diner with a train theme decor also sells other foods befitting the era, including root beer floats and hand-dipped shakes ($4.99) and all-you-can-eat fish dinner specials ($13.99).

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Joseph Decuis

191 N. Main St., Roanoke


About two-hour drive

Wagyu beef served at Joseph Decuis.
Wagyu beef served at Joseph Decuis.

This place serves up serious farm-to-table cuisine. It owns a farm minutes away that produces intricately-marbled Wagyu beef. Founder Pete Eshelman is a former president of the American Wagyu Association, so you know this place is serious about its quality.

And the restaurant has hosted notables from the realms of politics, sports and culinary greatness.

A private upstairs dining room is a tribute to Eshelman's passions, with dozens of American flags in various sizes; U.S. military uniforms, journals and memorabilia; and a life-size New York Yankees statue and dozens of baseball bats. Eshelman was drafted as a pitcher in 1976 by the Yankees before founding American Specialty Insurance & Risk Services specializing in entertainment and sports insurance.

The New Orleans-inspired Joseph Decuis restaurant was started in 1996 and named for Eshelman's ancestor, a planter in Louisiana. A produce farm came later; and then in 2008, Eshelman bought Wagyu cattle from a breeder in Japan.

There are only nine filets per cow, so you might not get the cut you have your heart set on; but every piece of meat is cut-with-a-fork tender and flavorful. Each guest selects a Wagyu knife from a box presented tableside.

Also, Joseph Decuis makes its own butter to serve with perfectly toasted sourdough. One recent offering was made with chicken fat. Game over.

A couple of doors down is a sandwich shop that sells packaged meats, wine, leather goods and animal hides.

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Bridges Craft Pizza & Wine Bar

19 N. Indiana St., Greencastle


About one-hour drive

Bacon-wrapped prawns at Bridges Craft Pizza & Wine Bar.
Bacon-wrapped prawns at Bridges Craft Pizza & Wine Bar.

At this Italian restaurant, you can go low or high; but you can’t go wrong with the magic the chefs serve up – from large juicy Smoking Goose bacon-wrapped prawns with polenta ($12) to braised beef pasta, enjoyed from the private cellar dining/wine room, the rooftop patio with views of Putnam County or on the main floor which is attached to a performance space with live music courtesy of DePauw University.

Delicious jarred desserts (think German chocolate cake) come from a sister bakery on the same street.

The Farmhouse at Fair Oaks Farms

856 N. 600 East, Fair Oaks


About two-hour drive

If you've traveled along I-65 North to Chicago, you've likely wondered about this restaurant on the dairy farm. It's definitely worth the time to stop in even if you don't want to do the tour.

In addition to the Cowfe, a busy shop that features cheese, chocolate and ice cream made with the farm’s products, there is also an on-site restaurant.

The Farmhouse restaurant at Fair Oaks Farms.
The Farmhouse restaurant at Fair Oaks Farms.

In the large airy Farmhouse restaurant, the classic fried chicken is gloriously juicy and crispy; and the bacon-wrapped meatloaf ($22), chicken pot pie ($18), steaks, ribs and stone pizza are popular.

A bar serves specialty drinks, including a house old-fashioned, a seasonal sangria, a gimlet and a rum punch.

Attached to a hotel and conference center, it's open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

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Mountain Jack’s

4211 State Road 26 E., Lafayette


About one-hour drive

Those who appreciate an old-school steakhouse will enjoy Mountain Jack’s. It’s the last one standing from the 1970s-80s chain. The Lafayette location opened in 1977.

Prime rib is king there.

Steaks are cut in-house daily, with owner Ed Fauble making his way in back to do the honors.

It's been able to keep the recipes and some traditions because Fauble ran the district in the chain’s heyday.

The restaurant still boasts one of the most unique salad presentations – a tableside salad bar with stellar service.

Dressings and sauces are made in-house.

Bonge's Tavern

9830 W. 280 North, Anderson


About one-hour drive

Crab cake at Borge's Tavern.
Crab cake at Borge's Tavern.

Luckily the once common four-hour wait for seatings on weekends is a thing of the past. The small family-owned tavern moved to the Open Table reservations platform at the beginning of the pandemic, providing customers guaranteed spots for its signature Perkinsville Pork, stuffed duck, New York strip and the like.

Don’t let the outside – with its gravel lot and worn picnic tables, year-round Christmas bulb lights and framed 60s-era high school basketball teams photo – fool you. The kitchen is scratch and high-quality. The crab cakes here are made with crab meat flown in from Maryland.

You'll find the menu written on a chalkboard above the bar. Specials might include Norwegian sea trout ($27), or Applewood-smoked prime rib ($28-$34).


108 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington


About one-hour drive

Chef Daniel Orr at FARMbloomington.
Chef Daniel Orr at FARMbloomington.

Chef Daniel Orr, a James Beard Award semifinalist, is still innovating at this farm-to-table restaurant he opened after returning to Indiana from New York.

Recently (late July) the crew added more delish vegan dishes, including a baba ghanoush of roasted eggplant and tahini, and house-made pita chips ($8.50); and a grilled purple cauliflower steak with mushrooms, micro greens and whole cashews.

There’s a pork and applesauce take of moist roasted pork loin served with sauce made with apple butter, on a bed of buttery pureed potatoes and green beans with tiny pieces of strip bacon ($28).

The cocktail program features drinks themed for films and movie genres and are switched out often. The Dirty Dancing ($10) is made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Hotel Tango limoncello; orange juice, blackberry puree and ginger ale.

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Of course, there are classic cocktails, and draft and bottled beers, along with upscale non-alcoholic cocktails and delightfully tart lemonade drinks.

But, let's talk bourbon. The bar stocks hundreds of selections. Guests can choose from about 100 tequilas, as well.

The main dining room furniture uses patterns from the '50s and '60s. The walls carry framed autographed menus and photos of legends who have dined on Orr's creations – Mick Jagger, classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz and actors Sidney Poitier, Tony Randall and Gene Wilder among them.

Work off dinner with a trip down the stairs to the subterranean speakeasy bar with dance music and vintage license plates. Nothing goes to waste there. Theater seating and old beer cans are part of the decor.

Muhammara at C3 Bar in Bloomington.
Muhammara at C3 Bar in Bloomington.

C3 Bar

1505 S. Piazza Dr., Bloomington


About one-hour drive

Tucked away in a newish residential development is this spot with hand-crafted cocktails and chef-driven cuisine, including Yang-Yang Crispy Beef in an orange sweet chili glaze ($14) and the spicy red pepper-walnut muhammara dip ($12) with flatbread and crudités.

The bar has the classics, a selection $10 zero-alcohol cocktails, and a spring and summer focus on margaritas.

Look for the Psycho Monkey with Irish whiskey, Venezuelan rums, banana, mango, and chocolate mole bitters or the Tribal Council made with mezcal, ginger-hibiscus, lemon and dry vermouth ($12).

Contact IndyStar reporter Cheryl V. Jackson at cheryl.jackson@indystar.com or 317-444-6264. Follow her on Twitter: @cherylvjackson.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indianapolis spring break: 8 restaurants worth the drive from Indy