The Coolest Places to Eat in Indianapolis

The Indianapolis food scene is having a moment, as new restaurants, brew pubs, and sweet shops have opened around the city. We asked Benjamin and Janneane Blevins, co-owners of the PRINTtEXT periodicals shop in the city’s SoBro neighborhood, to share their top places to eat.

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The Blevins lounge in their shop.

Over the last decade, it’s become apparent that Indianapolis has regained its love for craft: beautifully baked bread, smoked shanks of meat, locally harvested vegetables, and micro-brewed beers. Heartland sensibilities plus pioneering chefs have resulted in a diverse landscape of restaurants, tucked into neighborhood corners, cultural hotspots, and the heart of downtown. Here are a few of our favorites: 

Cake Bake Shop 

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Photo: Facebook

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Beautiful vanilla bean cake topped with Tiffany blue macarons

The newly opened Cake Bake in Broad Ripple is heavenly, as though grand Paris itself has descended on Indy. Glass cases of perfect pastries are crowned by white marble and a handmade Victoria Arduino espresso machine. Peer through the paned kitchen window and marvel as Gwendolyn Rogers and her master bakers frost their famous chocolate cake. After you’ve selected from the delectable menu—cakes, cakelettes, pies, and other desserts—nestle into a pillowed bistro seat. Each table has its own outlet, so you can curl up and work while enjoying a bowl of cafe au lait or a glass of Champagne, if that’s your style.

Napolese 

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Photo: Facebook

Martha Hoover first made Hoosiers swoon with her restaurant Patachou, known as a “cafeteria for adults,” where fluffy omelettes, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and slices of buttery cinnamon toast transformed the Indianapolis brunch scene. A few years ago, she introduced her signature touch to another American staple: pizza. At the heart of Napolese are beautiful Neopolitan-style pizza ovens. Grab a seat at the bar and watch the impressive show as chefs create some of the most beautiful and delicious pies around. The menu is seasonal, with locally sourced ingredients. Excellent wines, hearty salads, and bruschetta are also on offer. If you have a little room afterward, order dessert from their gelateria next door, Gelo. 

Delicia

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Photo: Facebook

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Fish tacos at Delicia.

The team behind Delicia took what was once a video rental shop and transformed it into a haven for Latin cuisine. These days, the industrial chic interior shimmers in the low light. Begin with the Fire & Ice margarita, which has notes of hibiscus, chili, and basil and features a prominent sphere of ice. This is definitely a meat-centric place, so follow it up with soulful dishes like the tamal corn cakes with beef. That said, Delicia does offer some solid veggie options, including pistachio-studded guacamole, salsa fresca, tostones, and sweet plantains. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, their sister restaurant La Mulita dishes up tacos, cemitas, and chilaquiles, and has a full bar!

Three Carrots

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Photo: Facebook

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Saffron rice, roasted cauliflower, crispy roasted eggplant, roasted tomatoes, tomato-cashew cream, and tahini cream.

Tucked inside the busy corridors of City Market is Three Carrots, Janneane’s favorite lunch spot. The vegan menu is full of delicious seasonal food, a favorite being the “Veg Out Sando” with roasted vegetables, kale, pepita Romesco, and basil pesto on a warm pita. The daily salad offerings feature crunchy veggies, dark leafy greens, toasted almonds, avocado, and even a sriracha-balsamic dressing. You can also top off the salad with house-made seitan or pan-fried tofu. On special occasions, Janneane brings back a cookie creme pie for Benjamin.

Natural Born Juicers

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Photo: Doing Indy

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Photo: Facebook

We first met Corey and Laura Beatus of Natural Born Juicers at the Winter Farmers Market. They recently moved back to Indiana from New York, and brought with them the best of juicing. Now with its own brick-and-mortar space on Massachusetts Avenue in addition to a juice truck, Natural Born is flourishing. Its menu caters to both the casual juicers, with fresh-pressed blended juices and smoothies, and enthusiasts who love the cold-pressed cleanses and herbal infusions. 

The Libertine

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Photo: Facebook

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Deviled eggs 

We were first dazzled by Neal Brown’s prowess with his place L’Explorateur. The doors closed on that chapter, and Brown brought swanky, speakeasy-style spirits to downtown Indy by way of the Libertine. Perch at the bar and watch the dapper gents behind it craft the perfect cocktail according to your tastes, be that with bitters or bourbon. In between cocktails,or their “snake oil” drinks, order a bacon flight, deviled eggs, or any of the seasonal plates dreamed up by chef Erin Till. Soon the Libertine will be moving from its galley space on Washington Street to a true speakeasy-style location: the basement of Neal’s Pizzology on Mass Ave. 

Bluebeard 

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Photo: Facebook

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Photo: Tony Valainis

Bluebeard, a bookish nook in a renovated factory space built in 1924, is where we go to experience thoughtful, modern Italian cuisine. At this James Beard-nominated restaurant, it all begins with Amelia’s bread (which will soon have its own space next door). Slices of fresh baked semolina, country, city, and wheat loaves are served with various accoutrements, including honey-thyme butter, artisanal cheeses, and charcuterie. And this is just a warm-up for the next course. The menu is seasonal and locally sourced, and favorites include the Brussels sprouts agrodolce, prime rib with stinging nettles, and spaghetti with crème fraîche, parsley, lemon, and Parmesan. Pair your entree with one of their expertly crafted cocktails, a glass from their carefully selected wine list, or a local beer. The ginger beer is a must-order.

Rook

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Photo: Facebook

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Duck Adobo

Beginning with the interior design, each detail is considered in this South Asian hotspot located at the gateway to Fountain Square. Rook’s chef, Carlos Salazar, elevates street food classics, from banh mi, dumplings, steamed buns, and ramen—even serving up the occasional fried chicken and miso waffles. The fridge is stocked with craft beers, and be sure to strike up a conversation with co-owner Ed Rudisell, whose enthusiasm for food and modernist cuisine is enlightening and endearing. 

Locally Grown Gardens

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Photo: Instagram

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Pies made by Locally Grown Gardens

You’ll find Locally Grown Gardens, a bucolic year-round farmers market, in a former car mechanic’s shop on the bike-friendly Monon Trail. The seasonal produce is Instagram-ready and displayed on rustic tables and crates. Exotic general store necessities line the walls: Maldon salt, fine white china, Moroccan glass, and gas lanterns. If you come hungry, the menu will soothe your appetite as well as your sensibilities: There’s an open-faced roast hog sandwich on house-baked bread smothered in barbecue sauce; crisply-seared salmon with a miso glaze and ginger coleslaw; and Caprese salad with thickly sliced mozzarella and garden fresh tomatoes. But really, it all comes down to the pie. Please leave room for the pie. Whether you choose Indiana’s signature sugar cream, apple, or one of the other seasonal delights, your heart will be happy for it. 

Goose the Market

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Photo: Goose the Market

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Batali Sandwhich

The master of the meatery, Chris Eley has wooed Indianapolis and the world with the cured meat treats, artisanal cheeses, and craft beer and wine you’ll find at his enoteca. The first thing Janneane would eat if she changed her vegetarian ways would be the Batali—layers of spicy capicola, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, and spicy giardiniera… mmm… but in this meat temple, they are happy to make you a veggie version. You must visit Goose the Market. But if for whatever reason you can’t, they supply their delicious meats under the name Smoking Goose Meatery to local restaurants including Napolese, Libertine, and Bluebeard.

PRINTtEXT is a modern periodicals shop located at 652 East 52nd Street in Indianapolis.

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 Photo: The PRINTtext interiors

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