Visiting Indy? 10 Off-the-Beaten Track Spots for Food & Drink that Locals Love.

The Brass Ring Lounge

The Brass Ring Lounge in the daytime with the windows open.

 

Visiting Indianapolis? Here are some local favorite restaurants and bars you may want to visit that you may not have heard about. They're listed in no certain order, because tastes and occasions vary and even Indianapolis food and beverage fans have different favorites on different days. Not a national chain on the list, though, and everything from low to high. If you're in the Circle City for business or pleasure, here are some spots you may want to check out.

1. The Thirsty Scholar— Located downtown on 16th Street, this spot offers light bites, beer, wine, coffee, and tea. The perfect place to daydream, work, unwind. Vintage vibes, excellent beer selection.

2. Santorini Greek Kitchen — Just slightly south of downtown in the historic Fountain Square area, this Greek restaurant is family-owned and operated and will flambé their saganaki appetizer at your very own table. They offer live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays. Love gyros, hummus, souvlaki, and fish kabobs? Check out Santorini.

3. Bluebeard — A gourmet establishment that has gotten very popular among Indy's hipsters, foodies, and cognoscenti. It was a James Beard award finalist in 2013 and features beautifully-plated, locally-sourced menus and libations. It's in an historic building downtown on Virginia Avenue. It even has a courtyard. As a bonus, if you're looking for coffee before or after, Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company is right next door and has excellent coffee (and devotes all profits to good causes, to boot).

4. The Brass Ring — Vintage and eccentric. Open late. Perfect. So much personality. Great little bar just off Fountain Square, downtown.

5. The Oaken Barrel — This one's a brewery and restaurant in Greenwood. 15 minutes from downtown; just take I-65 south to exit 99. Pro tip: try the Gnawbone Pale Ale. The food is swell (check the tenderloin, Ruben, buffalo chicken wrap, or the Korean Quesadilla). Excellent staff: friendly and professional.

6. St. Elmo Steak House — This historic steakhouse isn't cheap. But it's a legend and rightfully so. Get steak. Get the shrimp cocktail appetizer. Tell everyone you've been there. (Have more time? Drive to Bloomington to Little Zagreb's. Equally fantastic steaks, less frills, still pricey but less so. The scent wafting from the building will drive you to your knees and make you weep with happiness.)

7. Edward's Drive-In. — Old-school tenderloins, onion rings, milkshakes. It was featured on Man v. Food for its character and its tenderloin. And there is basically nothing more Indiana than a really great, massively-sized tenderloin sandwich (bonus points if you eat it with only mustard, pickle, and onion.)

8. Maxine's Chicken and Waffles — This is the real deal. Full stop. Chicken and waffles. Home style. Legit. Downtown on East Street. Just get there.

9. Bazbeaux — Artsy pizza spot with crafty cappuccinos, beer, and wine located downtown on historic Massachusetts Avenue. Cool shops nearby, gourmet pizza. What's not to love?

10. Bonge's Tavern. — This one's about an hour (give or take) out of town towards the northeast and is definitely out of the way. But the food is phenomenal, the wine list equally so. Dinner only; closed Sunday and Monday. A hidden treasure in Indiana: great food, great drink, storied restaurant open since 1934. Truly wonderful and one-of-a-kind.

 

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