This review is a tricky one, friends, because the restaurant is in my neighborhood AND it has beautified a very dilapidated street corner. The reconstruction has been in the works for months, so I have driven by many, MANY times and watched piece by piece as the old building was repaired and the new restaurant was opened. Sadly, even a pretty building can’t get my vote. Read on for more.
Next Door American Eatery is another one of Kimbal Musk’s real food ventures and is the seventh of this chain restaurant concept in the United States. Similar to Hedge Row, he hopes to bring fresh, local (when possible) ingredients to help people make healthier eating choices. I applaud all of this. While Hedge Row leans towards the hip, classy weekend crowd, Next Door is more of an every day spot with pretty basic menu options, casual seating, and unpretentious service. Lunch and dinner are served daily with sandwich, salad, soup, and snack options. Many dishes can be prepared to fit a vegan or gluten-free lifestyle. A huge outdoor patio features bright orange Adirondack chairs and cornhole stations to bring a festive atmosphere to the block.
I’ve visited twice now and it definitely feels like a party! Long wait times mean this restaurant is hopping and the loud music combined with busy street noise make it challenging to talk to your friends without yelling. I don’t mind a loud meal every once in a while, though, and it’s nice to see my neighbors out soaking up the nice weather and celebrating the weekend.
With so many good things to offer, it’s hard to complain, but I’m going to anyway. Service has been spotty both times I’ve visited. They have been multiple empty tables (I counted five at my last visit), but still a long (45 minute) wait because no one was able to clean them yet. They were out of several options during my first visit, which I understand since it’s a new restaurant, but still… I ended up with a Miller Amish Grilled Chicken sandwich ($10), which was incredibly boring and lacked flavor. The side of “chips and simple salad” was much too small for my preference. I get that a healthy restaurant might limit the chips, but don’t cut back on the salad too! My mom ordered the Greek Salad ($11) topped with grilled salmon ($9). It looked and tasted incredibly bland. Like I know a Greek salad isn’t the most original idea, but I thought they would do SOMETHING to have their own take on it.
I went back again last week for drinks with friends. I tried the Pink Drink ($10), which tasted like a melted popsicle, but that’s probably my fault for ordering something called the “Pink Drink.” I shared some Salt n’ Pepper Chicken Bites ($9) and Loaded Smashers ($12) with my friends. Again, very little spice or seasoning. I was happy I gave the restaurant another chance with my second visit, but was disappointed that my food experience again lacked flavor or flair.
In summary? I’m thankful that Next Door has added some bright color and cheer to my neighborhood. It seems that all of SoBro was desperate for a new lunch spot since filling seats does not seem to be a problem. They also offer a happy hour, but the dates and kale chips offered do not make me feel very happy. Also, NO DESSERT! Only vanilla ice-cream! Since I prefer a little stronger experience for my test buds and a bit more creativity in my dishes, so I think I’ll continue to look for other restaurant doors to enter.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Next Door American Eatery
4573 N. College Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Open everyday: 11AM-close