Top Restaurants In Lafayette, Indiana

Meat with kale and other vegetables
Meat with kale and other vegetables | Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on Unsplash
Jessica Dawdy

Not to be confused with the city of the same name in Louisiana, Lafayette, Indiana, offers the kind of down-to-earth charm you expect from towns in the Hoosier State. Here are the most exciting restaurants to discover.

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South Street Smokehouse

The South Street Smokehouse serves hand-rubbed, smoked hickory meats in a casual setting. The menu features cuts and sandwiches inspired by famous barbecue regions across the US. Try the slow-cooked brisket, served Carolina-style with coleslaw on top or Kansas City-style with onion rings and a slice of provolone. Order at the counter and then find a seat at one of the restaurant’s simple tables. After picking up your order, you’ll find pumps stocked with a variety of sauces, from sweet to spicy, to complement your dish.

El Chicano

Located in an unassuming strip mall, El Chicano is a low-key restaurant specializing in Mexican fare. The restaurant’s interior is simple and comfortable. Diners receive a basket of tortilla chips and fresh salsa to enjoy while looking over the menu, which features a standard line-up of burritos, fajitas, and enchiladas, along with some unexpected traditional items like cecina platillo (salted beef) and bistec a la Mexicana platillo (steak grilled and sauteed with jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, and onions). Tacos are offered American-style (with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese) or Mexican-style (with guacamole, onions, and cilantro).

Black Sparrow

The Black Sparrow is one of Lafayette’s trendiest bars, offering upscale pub grub and an ever-changing menu of craft beers, wines, and cocktails. The bar’s eclectic interior features a rotating selection of offbeat artwork, a stone bar, chandeliers, and sleek tables. The menu offers sandwiches, pizzas, salads, pub plates, and small plates such as hummus with Kalamata olives and grilled bread. Most dishes are elevated twists on familiar comfort foods, such as rabbit and truffle pasta or Thai coconut curry pizza. Avant-garde live music performances are often featured.

Mountain Jacks

Open since 1977, Mountain Jacks offers a classic steakhouse experience at an affordable price. The restaurant’s inviting interior features three handsome stone fireplaces along with two private banquet rooms that are available for special events. The menu includes hand-cut steaks, as well as a variety of seafood, chicken, and pork dishes. However, its signature dish is the herb-crusted prime rib, which is slow-roasted overnight and served with ruby port au jus and house-made creamed horseradish sauce. The restaurant is also well-known for its tableside salad bar, called the salad wheel, which lets diners customize their side salads.

D.T. Kirby’s

D.T. Kirby’s is a welcoming bar and grill that serves high-quality pub grub. The restaurant’s simple interior features almost a dozen TVs along with large front windows that can be opened up completely in the warmer months. Most diners immediately notice the quirky door to the washrooms, which resembles the entrance to a portable toilet. The menu includes a good mix of burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and appetizers like fried pickles and shredded onions, all of which are served in generous portions. Try the unusual Pretzel Burger, topped with cream cheese, mustard, and Cheez Whiz and served on a soft pretzel bun. The bar also offers some excellent daily specials.

La Scala

One of Lafayette’s oldest restaurants, La Scala is a family-owned Italian restaurant. This charming restaurant is a popular date night spot, yet it’s casual enough to bring the whole family, too. Seating is offered on the restaurant’s lovely patio in the summer months. The restaurant’s menu features a variety of pastas, risotto, pizza, beef, and veal dishes, as well as fresh seafood. Gluten-free and whole wheat pastas are available, and the restaurant is known for modifying dishes according to diners’ preferences and allergies. La Scala emphasizes fresh, local ingredients, many of which are sourced from the owners’ own farm, Small Wonder.

RedSeven Bar and Grill

Steak dinner

RedSeven Bar and Grill’s sleek decor is the perfect match for its contemporary menu. The restaurant’s interior features large windows overlooking Lafayette’s downtown, bold colors, and wood paneling, as well as a lounge area separated by frosted glass. Seating is available outside on a patio during the summer months. The menu includes pasta, pizza, burgers, steaks, and modern entrées, such as salmon with rock shrimp smother and almond and Parmesan-crusted chicken. Look out for daily specials, including half-prize appetizers or pizza and beer combos.

Bistro 501

Named for its location on Main Street, Bistro 501 offers high-end French cuisine and a fine-dining atmosphere. The restaurant’s provincial interior features romantic lighting and elegant furnishings. The menu changes regularly, taking advantage of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Expect dishes like pan-roasted duck breast with celery root purée and crab and shrimp stuffed cannelloni shells with white wine-tomato sauce. The lunch menu is a little lighter and includes a few American dishes. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list, with many vintages available by the glass. Save room for a dessert from the indulgent patisserie menu.

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