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A thick grilled cheese, sliced in half and stacked on a plate beside a bowl of chunks of candied sweet potato. The sandwich bursts with collard greens, diced tomato, and cheese
Collard green grilled cheese at His Place Eatery
Marcus Collins

The 36 Essential Indianapolis Restaurants

Where to find gooey melt sandwiches, fluffy chapati, handmade pasta, and chili-cheese etouffee in Indy, the Midwest’s culinary crossroads

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Collard green grilled cheese at His Place Eatery
| Marcus Collins

Over the last 10 years, Indianapolis has established itself as a place for good eats, carving a sizable footprint in a crowded corner of the Midwest between culinary hubs in Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Detroit. With stiff competition all around, the city has always fought for recognition, but its position has also helped Indy live up to the nickname “the crossroads of America,” attracting cooking talent from across the country, food traditions from around the world, and visitors curious about homegrown dining landmarks.

Update, June 2021:

A year ago, no one knew when, or if, diners would ever get back inside their beloved Indianapolis restaurants, and things haven’t gotten much easier since. The Midwestern winter made it challenging for restaurants to pivot with the sorts of outdoor set-ups that helped sustain businesses elsewhere. Despite Indianapolis hosting the 2021 NCAA Men’s March Madness tournament, a COVID-19 bubble for the 68 teams and staff, restricted fan capacity, and lingering dining restrictions prevented restaurants from capitalizing off the moment. Many businesses, some well-loved and some still up and coming, have closed shop. It’s a common story, but one that still feels deeply personal to the restaurant community in a city known for attracting hundreds of thousands of people each year for conventions and events.

Heading into the summer of 2021, the city and surrounding areas have lifted many COVID-19 restrictions. Restaurants are eager to get back into the full swing of things, with indoor and outdoor spaces ready to host guests again. Here are the essential restaurants of Indianapolis — battered by the pandemic and stronger for it — spots that any local or visitor needs to check out.

Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Indiana State Department of Health.

Mike Gillis is a food and lifestyle journalist. He travels through the city of Indianapolis highlighting new restaurants, dishes, and chefs that help shape the city’s food scene.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Cake Bake Shop

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799 Hanover Place, Upper Deck, Hanover Place Suite 260
Carmel, IN 46032
(317) 257-2253
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Enjoy a cup of afternoon tea and a slice of cake at one of the most Instagrammable places in Indianapolis. The Cake Bake Shop serves elegant cakes, pies, and pastries, as well as a full menu with salads, sandwiches, burgers with pomme frites, crab cakes, and a variety of coffee and tea options. The Carmel location, decked out like a palace with all-white everything and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, is great for a special occasion or just an afternoon pick-me-up. Snacking like royalty makes the price tag all worth it.  

An all-white interior with a marble bar and seating, four-tops with large floral centerpieces, chandelier, gold velvet ropes and bright tile flooring
Inside The Cake Bake Shop
Becky Batchelor

2. Sangiovese Ristorante

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9708 District, North St Suite 920
Fishers, IN 46037
(317) 219-6413
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At Sangiovese you might find yourself full after just the starters, with options like bruschetta, mussels, calamari, fried ravioli, and some of the best meatballs you will ever have, made with 100 percent Italian sausage and a small kick of heat. Find room to dig into pasta dishes, ranging from spaghetti and lasagna to seafood options with red sauce, alfredo, and pesto. Sangiovese is equally well-known for their entrees like veal and chicken Parmesan, both for the flavor and portion size. Wrap up your night with a moist piece of tiramisu, with balanced chocolate and coffee notes, or cannolis and coffee. 

A bowl of pasta with toppings on a dark wood table
Find room for pasta
Sangiovese Ristorante [Facebook]

3. Convivio

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11529 Spring Mill Rd
Carmel, IN 46032
(317) 564-4670
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Using some of the latest kitchen machines from Italy, Convivio puts a major focus on fresh pasta made in-house daily, topped with poultry, seafood, and other local and organic ingredients. Try their Nero pasta dish: squid ink spaghetti noodles combined with sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, crab, and lobster in a lobster cream sauce. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always taste the fresh ingredients in the bread, poultry, and seafood options. 

A plate of black noodles with shrimp and lobster chunks visible through the strands, along with herbs and diced vegetables
Nero spaghetti
Mike Gillis

4. Ale Emporium

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8617 Allisonville Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46250
(317) 842-1333
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Maybe it’s the hundreds of televisions playing every possible game that make Ale Emporium’s such an excellent spot to eat top-tier bar food, but some say the place serves the best wings in town. Along with tons of beer on tap, there are a variety of wings, pizza, and burgers flavored with various “Herman sauces” (named for Ale Emporium’s Herman Perryman). It should tell you something that the restaurant trademarked their Hermanaki wings, made with a secret blend of peppers and spices, secret sauce, and teriyaki sauce.

A pile of saucy fried chicken in a takeout container
Hermanaki wings
Mike Gillis

5. Rize

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2721 E 86th St Suite 120
Indianapolis, IN 46240
(317) 843-6101
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Rize is a true farm-to-table breakfast and lunch spot, complete with hydroponically grown produce from their restaurant group’s farmhouse. But what really sets them apart is the selection of breakfast pastries, in particular the gourmet Pop Tarts and huge cinnamon rolls big enough to feed two. Dig into the chicken hash, the most flavorful dish on the menu, which comes on a crispy potato bed with eggs, mushroom, and pesto, all topped with a tomato-basil gravy. Be sure to check out the drinks: fresh-squeezed juice, mimosas, kombucha, and smoothies.

A large glazed cinnamon roll on a plate, rsting on a marble table with a leather banquette in the background
Cinnamon roll
CRG Photography

6. Caplinger's Fresh Catch

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7460 Shadeland Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46250
(317) 288-7263
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Caplinger’s flies in fresh seafood daily. Get your catfish, perch, shrimp, calamari, salmon, or other options cooked the way you want, or have your selection wrapped up to take home and cook it yourself. You can even order your fish as a sandwich or a dinner with some great sides like greens, mashed potatoes, or mac and cheese. Anyone hesitant about ordering their fish fried should rest assured the crew at Caplinger’s knows exactly what they’re doing with the deep fryer. Great fried seafood is all about seasoning, batter, and cooking time. Fish emerges from the kitchen with that perfect golden brown color and crisp texture, and each bite is crunchy and full of flavor.

A plate of fried fish with green beans, waffle fries, hush puppies, and dipping sauce, on a counter beside condiment bottles and a drink
Basa dinner special
Caplinger’s Fresh Catch

7. Petite Chou Bistro & Champagne Bar

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823 E Westfield Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 259-0765
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Martha Hoover owns many establishments in the city, but this bistro and Champagne bar is special, the type of place your rich auntie would frequent on the weekends with her friends. Curated tunes match the French-inspired menu and make meals taste that much better, whether you’re enjoying the crepes and omelettes for brunch or steak frites for dinner. A bottle of Champagne or classic cocktail is just the right touch to round out a meal. 

A bowl of french onion soup with a spoon on a saucer with a martini glass beside
French onion soup
Rachel Enneking

8. Ripple Bagel and Deli

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850 Broad Ripple Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 257-8326
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This small deli on Broad Ripple Avenue slings big sandwiches, soups, and salads, but their specialty steamed bagels keep people coming back for more. For breakfast and lunch, you can top a variety of bagels with bacon, sausage, turkey, roast beef, corned beef, or pastrami. Talk with the staff to customize a bagel to your liking, even if that just means spicing up your turkey bagel with some chipotle cream cheese, or adding multiple meats and additional toppings.

A bagel sandwich absolutely filled with turkey and other ingredients on a metal countertop
The “Indy Style” Bagel with chipotle cream cheese, bacon, turkey, and avocado
Ripple Bagel and Deli [Facebook]

9. Fat Dan's Deli

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5410 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 600-3333
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There’s a location of Fat Dan’s to serve every side of town with outstanding bar food, but the original in Broad Ripple makes an ideal place to watch some sports with your friends. Smoked, then fried chicken wings, home fries with cheese and other toppings, fat burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and more are paired with whatever game is on TV.

Chicken wings on butcher paper with a pile of fries and a paper container of dipping sauce
Smoked wings
Mike Gillis

10. Yats

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5363 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 253-8817
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Yats features New Orleans, Cajun, and Creole-inspired dishes, all served over rice. The chili cheese etouffee — a roux-based sauce, chili seasonings, and crawfish tail meat — is the most popular dish on the menu, but things rotate daily based on location. You can get anything from gumbo to jambalaya, red beans and rice to vegetarian dishes like their B&B (black beans and caramelized corn). Every dish is full of flavor, you can taste each ingredient, and you cannot get a meal like this anywhere else.  

A subdivided takeout container with sections for étoufée, red beans with sausage, and slices of toasted bread
Chicken and chorizo étoufée, with red beans
Mike Gillis

11. Half Liter BBQ & Beer Hall

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5301 Winthrop Ave suite b
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(463) 212-8180
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This is the place to go with your family, friends, neighbors — literally everyone, the dog included. There are a variety of individual meals and platters of barbecue fresh from the smoker, but the best bang for your buck is the Smorgasbord: brisket that’s falling apart, pork butt, tender ribs, hot links, and smoked wings served with pickles, bread, and Fritos. You’re in for a treat if you save room for the Eddie’s Melt sandwich: fresh made collard greens, smoked pork, and pimento cheese stuffed between two pieces of Texas toast. But what’s barbecue without the sides? Half Liter is known for sides that taste homemade, including baked beans, mac and cheese, and even hot honey Brussels sprouts. With huge indoor and outdoor seating areas, and music some nights of the week, Half LIter is a great place to vibe, eat, and drink right off the Monon Trail.

A paper-lined tray on a metal grate outdoor table. The tray is covered with slices of brisket, pork butt, ribs, hot links, wings, pickles, bread, and Fritos
The smorgasbord in all its glory
Mike Gillis

12. Napolese Pizzeria

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114 E 49th St
Indianapolis, IN 46205
(317) 925-0765
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Napolese’s pies are cooked in a brick oven with hand-formed dough and house-made sauces that are light, fresh, and just so good. Choose from the long list of house pizzas, or be bold and build your own from your choice of cheese, meat, veggies, and egg. Be sure to get something with a little meat, which the restaurant sources locally, like the Hamaker’s Corner with Italian sausage, thick slices of pepperoni, provolone, and juicy mushrooms.

A table full of full pizzas, individual slices, asparagus, farro, salads, wine, and dressings
A full spread from Napolese Pizzeria
Rachel Enneking

13. Chapati

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4930 Lafayette Rd G
Indianapolis, IN 46254
(317) 405-9874
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Located on the west side of Indy, right off the expressway, Chapati is the perfect stop for people traveling through the Midwest, but it’s also worth a shorter trip for anyone in town. The restaurant is popular for classics like chicken tikka masala — marinated in house tikka spices for 24 hours, then slow-cooked in creamy red sauce — as well as more unique dishes like goat beets — a stewy combination of dry masala-rubbed beets and marinated goat. There are also many vegetarian options, like eggplant masala and aloo tarkari, while must-have sides include the namesake chapati and the basmati rice.

A stewy tikka masala in a handled aluminum pan topped with sliced onion, herbs, and tomatoes, on a wooden counter
Chicken tikka masala
Chapati [Official]

14. Root & Bone

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4601 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46205
(317) 602-8672
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Chefs Janine Booth of Top Chef fame and three-time James Beard nominee Jeff McInnis each have their own story about how they ended up in Indianapolis. Everyone should just be glad they came together at Root & Bone to serve up amazing fried chicken, brined in sweet tea before being fried to perfection, in the heart of SoBro. Open for brunch and dinner, the restaurant also serves lots of comfort food like biscuits, ribs, deviled eggs, grilled broccolini, mac and cheese, and sweet potato hash. 

Two very high deviled eggs, the whites dyed pink, on a decorative plate with a large meat dish blurred in the background
Deviled eggs
Nicki Kollar, Dune Peak Photography

15. Paco’s Taqueria

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4390 N Keystone Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46205
(317) 377-4132
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Located in a former Taco Bell, Paco’s is home to burritos, enchiladas, arroz con pollo, and sought-after Jalisco-style birria tacos that keep the door revolving from open to close. Many people stick to chicken, steak, and pork tacos, but it’s worth exploring the entire menu for other gems like tripa and lengua. Paco’s is also one of the few Mexican restaurants in town to offer breakfast, when you can find chilaquiles and platters of eggs served up with chorizo, bacon, or ham. 

16. R&R Extreme Wings

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4361 N Keystone Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46205
(317) 377-4490
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A Black-owned staple for chicken wings in the city, with three locations and a food truck, R&R serves up orders of wings and fries topped with plentiful sauce options, like Parmesan garlic and their Founder’s Favorite, reminiscent of a spicy barbecue sauce. Beware, there is always a wait, but it’s worth it.

A squeeze bottle applies sauce to chicken wings i a takeout container, alongside a pile of fires and fixings
Adding the crucial sauce
R&R Extreme Wings [Facebook]

17. Wings & Seafood

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5623 38th St
Indianapolis, IN 46254
(317) 387-3555
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This neighborhood favorite for to-go meals offers a few surprises on its extended menu. You can get fried chicken, fish, Philly cheesesteaks, and burgers — but don’t forget to order the fried rice, an even greater pairing for most dishes than fries. In addition to the traditional fried chicken options, go for the wings, which pair well with their house-made sauces. People drive from all over town to get the special honey lemon pepper garlic wings, doused in a savory and sweet sauce that lives up to the name. Expect to wait after you order for quite some time, but remember your food will be fresh and well worth it.

A takeout container split with paper between a section of herb-dusted fried chicken pieces and shrimp fried rice with egg
Honey garlic pepper fried chicken and shrimp fried rice
Mike Gillis

18. Chef Oya's The Trap

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3355 N Keystone Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46218
(317) 762-6172
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Chef Oya Woodruff offers items like loaded crab legs, shrimp, lobster tail, salmon, and snow crab, all topped with your choice of her famous flavored “buttah,” along with sides like broccoli, potatoes, corn, and boiled eggs. The butter, in flavors like OG herb garlic, yaad jerk, and vegan citrus chive, is rich and flavorful, especially drizzled over your entire tray of food where it combined with the seasoning on each dish to enhance the experience. But the Trap is more than great seafood. The Black-owned business does community work, helping bring relief to Indy’s east side, one of the biggest food deserts in the state, and living up to the motto: “Feed the people, build the community, love the trap.” You can also purchase bottles of the buttah to have at home.

A tin foil-lined takeout container with a piece of salmon, corn on the cob, shrimp, lemon wedge, rice, and herb, all covered in sauce
Salmon and shrimp with OG garlic herb sauce
Mike Gillis

19. His Place Eatery

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6916 E 30th St
Indianapolis, IN 46219
(317) 545-4890
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Have you ever had peach cobbler chicken and waffles? Or fried chicken pot pie? If you would like to correct the answer to either from “no” to “yes,” check out His Place Eatery, where traditional soul food and barbecue dishes are represented, plus a few twists on the classics. Husband and wife duo, chef James “Mackie” Jones and Shawn Jones, periodically add special menu items, like the pot pie: a deconstructed take with fried boneless chicken breast on top of a croissant-like pastry, topped with a creamy gravy studded with peas, carrots, and other vegetables. The couple do the standards well too, with fried chicken, fish, meatloaf, greens, yams, creamed corn, and more that all taste homemade.

A thick grilled cheese, sliced in half and stacked on a plate beside a bowl of chunks of candied sweet potato. The sandwich bursts with collard greens, diced tomato, and cheese
Garden melt with collard greens
Marcus Collins

20. Long's Bakery

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1453 N Tremont St
Indianapolis, IN 46222
(317) 632-3741
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Arguably the best donuts in the world are made right here at Long’s Bakery in Indianapolis. Across two locations, the bakery pumps out thousands of yeast donuts daily, though the moist, soft cake donuts are equally beloved in flavors like blueberry and applesauce, to name a few. Just don’t forget to bring some cash, and don’t let the crowd outside, which gathers early in the morning, deter you from getting your fix. The line is just an expression of the city’s love. 

Rows of chocolate-topped donuts on a paper-lined tray
Chocolate-dipped cake donuts
Dennis Rinehart

21. FortyFive Degrees

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765 Massachusetts Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 634-4545
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This sushi and cocktail bar on Mass Avenue sits at a 45-degree angle, with large glass windows overlooking the street and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, making for excellent people-watching, both inside and out. There are a large variety of specialty rolls on the broad menu, including the popular Playboy Roll, made with spicy tuna, asparagus, jalapeño, and shrimp tempura, topped with salmon, shrimp, and three sauces — and then lit on fire. You can also get all the traditional rolls, nigiri, and sashimi. Stop by on Sunday for half-priced sushi.

From above, two people reach in with chopsticks to sample a creative maki roll, surrounded on a table by other dishes like meat and seafood skewers, grilled tuna, and rice
Sharing a table of food at FortyFive Degrees
FortyFive Degrees [Official]

22. Livery

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720 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 383-0330
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Off the trail of Mass Avenue, this two-story restaurant with a Latin-influenced menu is a must. When the weather is nice, grab a seat on the rooftop, and start off with a margarita and some empanadas, which arrive stuffed with a range of seasonal fillings like corn, steak, chorizo, queso, chicken, and lamb. Then move on to entrees like the paella, a flavor-loaded combo of chorizo rice topped with scallops, shrimp, pickled onion, and house-made sauces. Or go for the red drum paired with sweet plantains and yucca fries in chorizo chutney and chimichurri. No matter how full you feel, don’t stop there. Dessert includes churros, flan, and ice cream. With entrees under $20, Livery provides the best value in town for a nice dinner. 

23. King Dough

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452 N Highland Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 602-7960
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You’ll find traditional pizza options at King Dough, but they also top pizzas with signature sauces like hot honey and source seasonal ingredients from local farmers for specials. When you dine in or on their patio, grab a drink from their huge selection of local beers and wine, or order a cocktail or frozen drink on special.

A table topped with two full pizzas, a burger, toast with dip, avocado salad, sandwich, mussels, and drinks
A full meal at King Dough
King Dough

24. The Eagle

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310 Massachusetts Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 929-1799
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They serve up some of the best fried chicken at the Eagle, and it comes out of a pressure cooker. While the cooking method results in a different bird than you’ll find at most places, the technique has whole chickens selling all day long. You can also order a half or quarter chicken, but on your first visit, try the fried chicken sandwich: a simple formula of breaded chicken breast, topped with coleslaw and pickles, on a toasted bun that lets the bird shine. Be sure to try the hot honey on your chicken, along with sides that include greens, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, fries, specialty spoon bread, and more.  You will not be disappointed.

Pieces of fried chicken in a checkerboard paper-lined paper plate, with a carafe of syrup, on a wood table
Fried chicken
Thunderdome Restaurant Group

25. Prime 47

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47 S Pennsylvania St
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 624-0720
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You just might see a Pacers player cozying up to a prime cut of meat on the white tablecloths at Prime 47 after a game. Options range from dry-aged ribeye to filet mignon and wagyu, and you can enhance your main course with different toppings like crab or truffle butter. Sides are also cooked to perfection, like the extra-cheesy lobster mac and cheese, creamed corn, and grilled asparagus, to name a few. There are also chicken, pork, and fish options on the menu.   

Two cuts of steak, one topped with shrimp and fixings, and the other with asparagus and sauce
Surf and turf
Prime 47 [Facebook]

26. Gallery Pastry Bar

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110 S Pennsylvania St Suite B
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 820-5526
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Call up a few friends for a round of mimosas at Gallery Pastry Bar, which serves great pastries and even greater brunch. Since opening in 2020, they have attracted plenty of attention due to their modern contemporary atmosphere, exposed kitchen and baking area, and fresh food. The bakery is known for amazing macaroons and pastries, but the full restaurant is the place you want to be on the weekends, especially when the kitchen repurposes fresh baked goods for brunch dishes like French toast or biscuits and gravy. Also open for dinner, Gallery has proven to be more than just a place to grab a couple sweets.

From above, a small table filled with brunch plates, including a croissant, an omelet with decorative flourishes, macarons, and a breakfast bowl topped with eggs
Brunch at Gallery Pastry Bar
Alison Keefer / Mikaela Jordan

27. St. Elmo Steak House

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127 Illinois St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
(317) 635-0636
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One of the oldest restaurants in the city serves some of the best steaks, chops, and seafood in Indianapolis. Since 1902, St. Elmo has been cooking up premium cuts of meat in the heart of downtown. For appetizers, get the shrimp cocktail in St. Elmo’s famous signature sauce, popular for its kick from the horseradish. That’s just one of an array of house-made sauces to accompany entrees way beyond A1, with options like creamy horseradish, truffle dijonaise, remoulade, and more. St. Elmo is a must-stop for any visitor to Indianapolis who loves steak or needs to splurge on an elegant white tablecloth dinner. 

A large tomahawk steak, partially eaten, on a plate with a knife. The white-tablecloth covered table also includes asparagus, creamed corn, and a glass of red wine. A hand reaches a fork in from the side of the frame to take a bite of the steak
Dry-aged tomahawk rib-eye
David Pluimer

28. Pier 48 Fish House & Oyster Bar

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130 S Pennsylvania St
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 560-4848
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The best lobster roll in Indy can be found at Pier 48, thanks to the fresh seafood flown in daily and the expertise of East Coaster chef Matthew Ace. The New York native knows how to make traditional Buffalo wings too, which are just as good as any cut of seafood on the menu. The beautiful establishment is in the heart of downtown, right across the street from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. You can enjoy salmon, monkfish, shrimp, and steak, but save room for some of the best lobster mac and cheese in the city and vegetables seasoned so well even kids will eat them. Also check out the weekly specials, based on what has been flown into town.

Takeout containers with steak and asparagus, mac and cheese topped with chunks of lobster, and a bowl of clam chowder
Rib-eye, lobster mac & cheese, clam chowder
Mike Gillis

29. Milktooth

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534 Virginia Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 986-5131
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A line forms outside Milktooth every weekend. The restaurant, nationally famous for its daytime menus, is still at the top of its game, made even more impressive by the kitchen team’s commitment to source ingredients nearby and patronize other small businesses. The menu changes seasonally, but the options always include some type of waffle, Dutch pancakes, grits, and fried chicken. While you wait for your meal, order one of the excellent pastries and something from the creative coffee menu. The open dining room and unique tables, chairs, and utensils make the experience even more fun. Keep an eye out for pop-ups from other local chefs, limited-run menu items, and other creative one-offs from owner Jon Brooks, who has developed some notoriety for experimenting.  

From above, a dutch baby pancake, its crust crackly and singed, on a plate on a wooden table beside a small side plate. The dutch baby is also topped with mascarpone, blackberries, raspberries, and crumble
Berry dutch baby, mascarpone cream, blue corn and thyme sbrisolona
Mike Gillis

30. Bluebeard

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653 Virginia Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 686-1580
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Don’t bother making a reservation, because you can’t. Bluebeard seats parties on a first come, first served basis on their beautiful patio in the spring and summer. If you do snag a seat, start with popular options like the charcuterie board and fresh oysters with cocktail sauce and mignonette. The new American menu has entrees that rotate all the time, from skirt steak with couscous and smoked almond romesco, to beef heart chili cheese dogs, to baby octopus with bagna cauda and semolina. Don’t overlook the sides. The roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are packed with enough flavor to make a full meal, but go for the spaghetti, mixed with a sauce of olive oil and creme fraiche, and topped with Parmesan and gremolata.   

A piece of pie on a plate sliced sideways to reveal gooey peanut butter filling, hefty whipped topping, crumbly crust, and scattered toppings
Peanut butter pie
Lauren Martin

31. Shapiro's Delicatessen

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808 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
(317) 631-4041
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If you have a taste for a traditional corned beef sandwich with mustard on rye, Shapiro’s is the place to get the perfectly shaved meat cut to your liking. The place is famous for their deli sandwiches on fresh bread, but the cafeteria-style restaurant doles out a whole lot more. Get in line and load up your plastic tray with sandwiches, entrees like spaghetti and meatballs, stuffed peppers, soups, salads, and fresh-baked desserts.

Slices of meat on an old fashioned scale, sitting on a counter in front of an open kitchen where a cook works
Perfectly shaved corn beef
Shapiro’s Deli

32. Siam Square

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936 Virginia Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 636-8424
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Siam Square got a remodel just before the pandemic, making it an even better spot to dine on excellent Thai cuisine. Start off with the curry puffs or yum soft shell crab, before jumping into the popular pad thai, drunken noodles, or coconut curry, all doctored to your preferred level of spice. Main dishes are served with freshly fried spring rolls and sweet chili sauce on the side.

A restaurant interior with decorative cane pendant lights and images of Thailand on the walls
Inside Siam Square
Siam Square [Facebook]

33. Chef Tia & Co

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4955 W Washington St ste f
Indianapolis, IN 46241
(317) 300-1411
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Home of the honey hot wings, Chef Tia & Co. is a Black-owned business with a one-of-a-kind menu that spans loaded fries, pasta, lamb chops, and a long list of other special items. Start with your choice of Parmesan truffle, crab, or loaded garlic Buffalo fries. Chef Tia Harrison does what she feels with daily specials, whether that’s Taco Tuesday or Wing Wednesday, but items like shrimp and grits and seafood macaroni and cheese are always available.

A plate of fries topped with bits of crab, herbs, and drizzles of sauce
Crab fries
Brandon Wright

34. La Margarita

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1043 Virginia Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 384-1457
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In the heart of Fountain Square, this corner location is home to Mexican dishes and tasty drinks made from a large selection of tequilas and mezcals. You can’t go wrong with the starters: chili con queso, guacamole with tortilla chips, beer queso (made with Modelo), and nachos. Follow any of them with your choice of tacos, the red wine and chipotle-braised macha (brisket), or the burrito Azteca, which combines Miller Farms chicken and carnitas along with crema, cheese, and guacamole. You can try their original location or find them at Sun King Brewery, where they offer a limited menu.  

A metal tray of nachos pilled with salsa and avocado, beside other blurred out dishes and drinks
Nachos at La Margarita
Emma Knutson

35. Yaso Jamaican Grill

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1501 Prospect St
Indianapolis, IN 46203
(317) 744-0011
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Yaso may be relatively new to the Indianapolis scene, but husband-and-wife owners Jermaine and Ja’Net Dennis have roots that go back in Jamaica. The menu ranges from beef patties to seafood, all cooked with spices and flavors just as they would be in Jamaica. The perfectly smoky jerk chicken is very hard to stop eating, while the incredibly tender oxtails begin to fall apart on you as soon as you pick them up. Try a combo meal where you can choose a couple of meats with rice and beans, cabbage, and sides.

A table full of dishes, takeout containers, and handheld fried items
Jerk chicken, oxtails, ribs, patties, mac & cheese, cabbage, rice and beans
Mike Gillis

36. Kabuto Japanese Steak House

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8719 US-31
Indianapolis, IN 46227
(317) 887-6000
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Head for this local gem on the south side of Indianapolis in Greenwood, where chefs back up flaming showmanship on the grill with a solid menu and ambiance, whether you choose to sit by the action or in a private dining area. Outside of well-seasoned jumbo shrimp, chicken, and juicy steak, Kabuto offers snapper and other seafood options from a fresh sushi bar. Generous portion size and standout fried rice will keep you coming back, especially since the restaurant offers full dinner portions as a lunch special for under $10, one of the best deals in the city.

A takeout container of fried rice topped with slices of steak, shrimp, and vegetables, along with a small container of sauce
Steak and shrimp lunch special
Mike Gillis

1. The Cake Bake Shop

799 Hanover Place, Upper Deck, Hanover Place Suite 260, Carmel, IN 46032
An all-white interior with a marble bar and seating, four-tops with large floral centerpieces, chandelier, gold velvet ropes and bright tile flooring
Inside The Cake Bake Shop
Becky Batchelor

Enjoy a cup of afternoon tea and a slice of cake at one of the most Instagrammable places in Indianapolis. The Cake Bake Shop serves elegant cakes, pies, and pastries, as well as a full menu with salads, sandwiches, burgers with pomme frites, crab cakes, and a variety of coffee and tea options. The Carmel location, decked out like a palace with all-white everything and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, is great for a special occasion or just an afternoon pick-me-up. Snacking like royalty makes the price tag all worth it.  

799 Hanover Place, Upper Deck, Hanover Place Suite 260
Carmel, IN 46032

2. Sangiovese Ristorante

9708 District, North St Suite 920, Fishers, IN 46037
A bowl of pasta with toppings on a dark wood table
Find room for pasta
Sangiovese Ristorante [Facebook]

At Sangiovese you might find yourself full after just the starters, with options like bruschetta, mussels, calamari, fried ravioli, and some of the best meatballs you will ever have, made with 100 percent Italian sausage and a small kick of heat. Find room to dig into pasta dishes, ranging from spaghetti and lasagna to seafood options with red sauce, alfredo, and pesto. Sangiovese is equally well-known for their entrees like veal and chicken Parmesan, both for the flavor and portion size. Wrap up your night with a moist piece of tiramisu, with balanced chocolate and coffee notes, or cannolis and coffee. 

9708 District, North St Suite 920
Fishers, IN 46037

3. Convivio

11529 Spring Mill Rd, Carmel, IN 46032
A plate of black noodles with shrimp and lobster chunks visible through the strands, along with herbs and diced vegetables
Nero spaghetti
Mike Gillis

Using some of the latest kitchen machines from Italy, Convivio puts a major focus on fresh pasta made in-house daily, topped with poultry, seafood, and other local and organic ingredients. Try their Nero pasta dish: squid ink spaghetti noodles combined with sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, crab, and lobster in a lobster cream sauce. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always taste the fresh ingredients in the bread, poultry, and seafood options. 

11529 Spring Mill Rd
Carmel, IN 46032

4. Ale Emporium

8617 Allisonville Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46250
A pile of saucy fried chicken in a takeout container
Hermanaki wings
Mike Gillis

Maybe it’s the hundreds of televisions playing every possible game that make Ale Emporium’s such an excellent spot to eat top-tier bar food, but some say the place serves the best wings in town. Along with tons of beer on tap, there are a variety of wings, pizza, and burgers flavored with various “Herman sauces” (named for Ale Emporium’s Herman Perryman). It should tell you something that the restaurant trademarked their Hermanaki wings, made with a secret blend of peppers and spices, secret sauce, and teriyaki sauce.

8617 Allisonville Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46250

5. Rize

2721 E 86th St Suite 120, Indianapolis, IN 46240
A large glazed cinnamon roll on a plate, rsting on a marble table with a leather banquette in the background
Cinnamon roll
CRG Photography

Rize is a true farm-to-table breakfast and lunch spot, complete with hydroponically grown produce from their restaurant group’s farmhouse. But what really sets them apart is the selection of breakfast pastries, in particular the gourmet Pop Tarts and huge cinnamon rolls big enough to feed two. Dig into the chicken hash, the most flavorful dish on the menu, which comes on a crispy potato bed with eggs, mushroom, and pesto, all topped with a tomato-basil gravy. Be sure to check out the drinks: fresh-squeezed juice, mimosas, kombucha, and smoothies.

2721 E 86th St Suite 120
Indianapolis, IN 46240

6. Caplinger's Fresh Catch

7460 Shadeland Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46250
A plate of fried fish with green beans, waffle fries, hush puppies, and dipping sauce, on a counter beside condiment bottles and a drink
Basa dinner special
Caplinger’s Fresh Catch

Caplinger’s flies in fresh seafood daily. Get your catfish, perch, shrimp, calamari, salmon, or other options cooked the way you want, or have your selection wrapped up to take home and cook it yourself. You can even order your fish as a sandwich or a dinner with some great sides like greens, mashed potatoes, or mac and cheese. Anyone hesitant about ordering their fish fried should rest assured the crew at Caplinger’s knows exactly what they’re doing with the deep fryer. Great fried seafood is all about seasoning, batter, and cooking time. Fish emerges from the kitchen with that perfect golden brown color and crisp texture, and each bite is crunchy and full of flavor.

7460 Shadeland Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46250

7. Petite Chou Bistro & Champagne Bar

823 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220
A bowl of french onion soup with a spoon on a saucer with a martini glass beside
French onion soup
Rachel Enneking

Martha Hoover owns many establishments in the city, but this bistro and Champagne bar is special, the type of place your rich auntie would frequent on the weekends with her friends. Curated tunes match the French-inspired menu and make meals taste that much better, whether you’re enjoying the crepes and omelettes for brunch or steak frites for dinner. A bottle of Champagne or classic cocktail is just the right touch to round out a meal. 

823 E Westfield Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46220

8. Ripple Bagel and Deli

850 Broad Ripple Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220
A bagel sandwich absolutely filled with turkey and other ingredients on a metal countertop
The “Indy Style” Bagel with chipotle cream cheese, bacon, turkey, and avocado
Ripple Bagel and Deli [Facebook]

This small deli on Broad Ripple Avenue slings big sandwiches, soups, and salads, but their specialty steamed bagels keep people coming back for more. For breakfast and lunch, you can top a variety of bagels with bacon, sausage, turkey, roast beef, corned beef, or pastrami. Talk with the staff to customize a bagel to your liking, even if that just means spicing up your turkey bagel with some chipotle cream cheese, or adding multiple meats and additional toppings.

850 Broad Ripple Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220

9. Fat Dan's Deli

5410 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220
Chicken wings on butcher paper with a pile of fries and a paper container of dipping sauce
Smoked wings
Mike Gillis

There’s a location of Fat Dan’s to serve every side of town with outstanding bar food, but the original in Broad Ripple makes an ideal place to watch some sports with your friends. Smoked, then fried chicken wings, home fries with cheese and other toppings, fat burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and more are paired with whatever game is on TV.

5410 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220

10. Yats

5363 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220