It’s been a few since I’ve done one of my “Top 5” roundup lists, but I’ve had several on the brain just waiting to get out. These lists probably help me more than you because I get asked (almost on the daily), “Where should I go to eat in Indianapolis?” And then my mind goes blank and all I can think of are the last five places that I visited that I did NOT like and I end up sending everyone to McDonald’s. OK, it’s not quite that bad, but it’s still bad enough that I like to have a list written down so I can remind myself (and others) where to get the best food in Indianapolis.
We have SO MANY choices here! And while wood-fired grills and craft cocktails seem to be the hot ticket right now, sometimes I want to go somewhere a little out of the ordinary for a more unique dining experience. We have so many new restaurants in town that they often run together in my mind with similar vibes and flavors until everyone gets tired of them and they close. So this post is for the classics: the creative places with staying power. Go forth and venture!
- Hollyhock Hill. Frying chicken since 1928, this restaurant really understands what family style should look like. Don’t expect to see anything trendy like truffle mac n’ cheese at this beloved Hoosier stable because you’re getting ALL THE COURSES that involve tomato juice, cottage cheese, beets, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and more. Husband couldn’t eat it all and that is saying quite a lot. I definitely felt like I was stepping back in time during my most recent visit and the packed dining rooms made me think this restaurant will still be around in another 90 years.
- Garcia’s Hot Dogs. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a mash up of people groups and cultures than when I stopped by this hot dog stand at 16th/Emerson in the Family Dollar parking lot. Apparently, Mr. Garcia knows how to bring people together and his ways involve friendly service and delicious dogs.
- Eagle’s Nest. You rotate around the city while eating your meal. And it’s fancy and pretty. Yes, the food could be a bit more creative as it features what I would call “steakhouse staples from the 80’s,” but this restaurant has been around since even before then, so they probably think they’re hip. And did I mention YOU’RE ROTATING AROUND THE CITY? From the top of a tall hotel? Ooh la la, it’s romance time!
- Gregory’s Russian Restaurant. Gregory HIMSELF plays jazz music for you while his wife cooks family recipes from their homeland. You would never expect to taste such flavor and culture from this random spot with red tablecloths in a strip mall by Castleton. Gregory will basically adopt you as part of the family and you get Chicken Kiev. A win win!
- Locally Grown Gardens. This French-country inspired, chef-owned farm stand serves about two menu options per day, depending on what is in season. There’s usually some kind of roasted chicken, smoked pork, or grilled salmon with fresh vegetable sides. If you’re lucky during tomato season, you can get a big plate of fresh tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. You sit outside on picnic tables, drink tea from Bell jars, and forget all about the big city surrounding you. Also: DON’T FORGET TO ORDER PIE.
- The Loft Restaurant & Dairy Bar at Traders Point Creamery. Rotating farm-to-table menu ON A FARM! You hear the cows moo and smell the manure and watch the sunset from the rustic porch of this warm and elegant dining experience. This is a favorite destination for my out-of-town in-laws and a romantic destination for date night.
Well, there you go! How many of these have you been to?