Indianapolis' Great Restaurants: Local Eats and Fine Dining

Indian Masala
Indian Masala | Photo by kabir cheema on Unsplash
Chloe Hay

With a huge number of restaurants priding themselves on using sustainably sourced ingredients from local farmers, dining in Indianapolis is a multicultural yet regionally rooted affair, with Cajun cooking and juicy steaks featured on menus both in side-street cafes and in gourmet establishments. Eating Out in Indianapolis: 10 Must-Try Cultural Restaurants has been updated to include some exciting new eateries: these are the 10 best dining venues in Indianapolis. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Cerulean

Restaurant, American

Cerulean

In a bid to make dinner a communal, social experience, Cerulean decided to venture beyond the traditional concept of a serving: similar to a tapas bar, the menu is filled with differently sized dishes and platters perfect for sharing with companions. Dishes not to be missed include the mangalitsa pork, the sea scallops and the sitka black cod. For special occasions, the nine-course chef’s tasting menu is a real treat. Upon opening Cerulean in 2013, chef Caleb France’s venture immediately attracted a lot of interest due to his decision to use only the highest quality ingredients and to wade away from the generic three-course dinner menu.

Cafe, Restaurant, Turkish
Specialising in Turkish cuisine taking influences from both Mediterranean and Asia tastes, Istanbul Café offers diners the chance to sample a selection of beautifully presented, colourful dishes bursting with delicious flavours. Using traditional cooking methods the chefs prepare an abundance of kebabs, grills, seafood and mezes fresh to order, all of which are delivered to the table complete with a basket of pitta bread. Be sure to ask what the current specials are as they often include mouth-watering meat and fish dishes such as lamb chops, red snapper and grilled shrimp. Istanbul Café also has an extensive wine and cocktail menu.

High Velocity

Sports fans don’t have to be staying at the JW Marriott to enjoy all that High Velocity has to offer. Set to become Indianapolis’ best sports bar, High Velocity boasts a multi-dimensional media wall, high definition TVs and an up-to-the-second sports ticker alongside an excellent American grill menu and selection of beers and cocktails. No matter what team guests support or what sport they favour, High Velocity has everything needed to suit their entertainment needs. The bar-style menu includes all the classics such as chicken wings, sliders and cheese fries and the restaurant also features a series of private banquet rooms for groups wishing to watch a game in private whilst enjoying some good old American grub.

Late Harvest Kitchen

Restaurant, American, $$
Timelessly classic in style, the Late Harvest Kitchen is a neighbourhood-style restaurant boasting a menu worthy of a much higher-end eatery. The perfect choice restaurant on a warm summer’s evening, it also has an outdoor courtyard dining space, making it one of the most pleasant al fresco spots in the city. Tuck into some home-cooked dishes such as braised lamb neck served with sheep’s milk polenta or a succulent rib eye burger served with a béarnaise sauce. For a restaurant suitable to couples, families and groups of friends, Late Harvest Kitchen is an ideal choice which has guests returning again and again. Image courtesy of Mama Carolla’s

Mama Carolla’s Old Italian Restaurant

Restaurant, Italian, $

Mama Carolla’s, Indianapolis

To experience the huge pleasure of eating real home-cooked Italian dishes, there’s no place in Indianapolis that can quite live up to Mama Carolla’s. Having opened in 1997, this restaurant feels more like an extension of the home rather than a formal dining room. Expect hearty portions of ravioli, puttanesca, meatballs and rigatoni cooked with the same love and warmth that would go into big family dinners gathered around the kitchen table in the tiniest Tuscan villages in Italy. Mama Carolla’s has won many awards for its delicious dishes and is often thought to be one of the finest restaurants in Indianapolis.

Oakley’s Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, American, $$

Oakleys Bistro, Indianapolis

Owned by the highly praised Chef Steven J. Oakley, Oakley’s Bistro features a constantly evolving menu of creative dishes and delights. Try the white bean artichoke hummus, the spinach parfait and the lobster truffles to get a taste of the delicious uniqueness of this restaurant’s cuisine. Aspiring chefs can even sign up to step behind the scenes and become a chef for the day to learn from Chef Oakley himself before stepping back into the restaurant to enjoy a three-course meal for two after a day’s work. Wine tasting and wine pairing events are also regular occurrences at Oakley’s, and those interested should call ahead to discover when the next event is taking place.

Siam Square

Restaurant, Thai, Seafood, $

Siam Square, Indianapolis

Although not as central as most of the restaurants listed here, it’s well worth the journey out to Siam Square to sample some truly scrumptious Thai dishes. As well as the usual noodle and rice dishes, fish and seafood also feature heavily on the menu here, with the catfish curry a must-try dish, and the soft shell crab curry a tender, gourmet delicacy. Transporting its visitors from Indianapolis to the beautiful sanctuary of Thailand seven days a week, Siam Square takes great care to create dishes that burst with authentic flavours rich in chillies, lime, coconut and pineapple.

Santorini Greek Kitchen

Bar, Diner, Restaurant, Mediterranean, Greek, Vegetarian, $
An independently owned and family-run restaurant, Santorini Greek Kitchen is a hugely popular, award-winning eatery on the outskirts of downtown Indianapolis. Preparing fresh dishes daily to satisfy even the most difficult of palates, Santorini also features a full bar with an extensive Greek wine list. Specialities for meat lovers include the lamb plate made up of a small rack of lamb, a lamb chop and lamb souvlaki; fish kabobs; and a mixed grill of beef, chicken, pork souvlaki and a lamb chop. All dishes are served with a Greek salad, green beans, rice pilaf and potatoes, while every Friday and Saturday night live Greek music and belly dancers entertain the diners.

St. Elmo Steak House

Bar, Restaurant, Steakhouse, Seafood, $$$
A steakhouse since 1902, St. Elmo’s has a national reputation for serving the finest steaks, seafood and chops with impeccable service. The open kitchen allows diners to watch the fabulous chefs at work from the bar, while the award-winning wine cellar houses several thousands of carefully curated bottles. Diners can take their pick between a succulent steak, yellowfin seared tuna, lobster tails, pork chops, lamb or a three-course Sunday dinner. The 1933 Lounge is also a great spot to enjoy a signature cocktail with a bar snack in an almost regal setting.

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