There’s more to eating out in Indianapolis than the local Cajun cuisine, but it’s a great place to start. Once you’ve done spicy, then try some of the other food on offer, from New American to Asian fusion, Here are 10 of our favorite restaurants to try in Indianapolis.
Oakleys Bistro, Indianapolis | Image courtesy of Oakley’s
Chef and proprietor Steven J. Oakley has risen from an unpaid kitchen hand to a highly praised and affable chef with a string of head chef positions under his belt and, now, his own restaurant. The restaurant, Oakley’s Bistro, is an honest, taste-driven delight, which prides itself on a constantly evolving menu and clear presentation: white bean artichoke hummus, lobster truffles and artichoke spinach parfait on toasted pitta bread, for example, combines classic flavours in a simple yet tantalising arrangement. It’s also possible to become ‘a chef for a day’ with the chance to go behind-the-scenes in the Oakley’s Bistro kitchen and enjoy a three-course meal for two to finish off the experience. Wine-tasting or wine-pairing special events are organised on a regular basis.
A passion for gastronomy is best shared with those who appreciate it, and this is exactly what happens with the food and fresh produce at Locally Grown Gardens. A mixture between a garden or market and a restaurant, the venue guarantees that owner and chef Ron will always know where exactly each ingredient came from, and will be able to explain how he cooked it before it reached the plate. Seasonal changes are regular and green fingers are also in for a treat, with a fine selection of plants and flowers adorning the dining room.
Siam Square, Indianapolis | Image courtesy of Siam Square
An authentic Thai cuisine full of aromatic and enticing spices can be found at this restaurant. Using the freshest ingredients possible, the restaurant has created a predominantly fish and seafood-based menu on top of the typical noodle and rice dishes. The catfish curry is an exceedingly popular choice and is worth the wait for a seat in the modest-sized Siam Square.
Mama Carolla's, Indianapolis | Image courtesy of Mama Carolla’s
Mama Carolla sought the advice of the small Italian restaurants in her native Nebraska before opening up her kitchen to the public in 1997. They told her to cook for her guests as she would for her family. So it is that the Italian family cooking served all day long at Mama Carolla’s Old Italian Restaurant (be it ravioli, puttanesca, meatballs or rigatoni) comes only from the warmest of hearths and the heartiest of ovens. Mama Carolla’s has been recognized with many awards and in many publications as being one of the finest restaurants in Indianapolis.
Izzy Style Strip | Image courtesy of Harry and Izzy's
Harry & Izzy’s‘ menus might vary, but the astronomical portions and the intense flavors of the house specials stay the same thorough its three local venues. The World Famous St Elmo Shrimp Cocktail and Izzy Style New York Strip are still absolute favourites. Sliders are also offered, but in a way befitting the stylish polished interior of the three locations, and the brasserie-style settings.
The unofficial Little Havana of Indianapolis can be found in this sandwich restaurant, where a father and daughter team came up with what they claim to be the best Cuban sandwich available in Indianapolis. They’ve sourced the ingredients, furthered their passion for pork, and tried a myriad possible combinations and fine-tuning to come up with their special sandwich. Finish off with a slice of homemade Cuban flan.
The seemingly perfunctory name and culinary combination of Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles could throw some potential diners off, as the mixture is not a universally recognised dish. However, Maxine and her team really do serve up chicken and waffles, and much more besides. House favourites are comforting traditional dishes (with the addition of chicken and waffles) all with a similar soul food grounding.
Eating at Papa Roux is a memorable experience. The Cajun-inspired menu is a colourful blackboard of intriguing choices, including po-boys and jambalaya, all served up by the Croux, which is the name given to the house waiting staff. The choice is easy, as the menu is incredibly flexible and allows guests to choose their favourite bread, fillings and additional sides, ranging from crusty bread with fried sausage links and a side of crawfish jambalaya, to a wrap with breaded oysters and breaded pickle chips.
Cerulean has attracted praise for its use of top-quality ingredients and its thirst for culinary communion and interaction. The dinner menu isn’t comprised of courses as such, but varying sizes and styles of plates, encouraging sharing and exchange between diners. The desserts, though not explicitly stated as sharing platters, merit a few forkful swaps for sheer deliciousness. The ambience is clean and crisp and the love of heritage ingredients is a fresh breath of innovation on Indianapolis’ dining scene.
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This restaurant boasts one of the most pleasant courtyard dining spaces in Indianapolis, opening up the restaurant when clement weather permits it. Inside Late Harvest Kitchen serves quality all-American food in a beautiful setting, full of reclaimed wood. Although LHK describes itself as a ‘neighbourhood restaurant’, the menu is carefully thought-through; braised lamb neck is served in a delicious arrangement with sheep’s milk polenta, tarragon, mint and fresh horseradish, while the classic and succulent rib eye burger gets its taste from maitre d’ butter, smoked salt and a masterful béarnaise.