Top 12 Best Restaurants in Indianapolis

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Emily Johnson

The Best Restaurants in Indianapolis

Indianapolis dining delights visitors with much more than just raceday tailgates and steakhouse fare. This Midwestern capital reveals remarkable foodie diversity spanning high-end tasting menus from James Beard-recognized chefs to mom-and-pop ethnic eateries dishing out global flavors. Farm-to-table establishments take full advantage of Indiana’s agricultural bounty while craft cocktail lounges and microbreweries satisfy nightlife cravings.

RestaurantDescription
BluebeardIndustrial chic spot with creative dishes and seasonal ingredients.
MilktoothFamous breakfast and lunch spot with global culinary influences.
Rooster’s KitchenSpecializes in fried chicken with a range of global styles.
BeholderArtful plates and seasonal fare by Chef Jonathan Brooks.
St. Elmo Steak HouseIconic steakhouse known for its shrimp cocktail and prime cuts.
Siam SquareAuthentic Thai cuisine in the Broad Ripple neighborhood.
Good Morning Mama’sSouthern-inspired breakfast and brunch with homestyle dishes.
Shapiro’s DelicatessenFamily-owned deli with housemade meats and traditional dishes.
PatachouSeasonal New American fare across various locations.
LiveryHistoric warehouse setting with a Hoosier harvest-focused menu.
Ailoli Sandwich BistroArtisan sandwiches with global influences.
Fat Dan’sGastropub with a focus on meat and offal, plus vegetarian options.

The following 12 restaurants represent a sampling of Indy’s best tables located downtown and beyond. Foodies find plenty to love about Indianapolis’ diverse culinary landscape marked by creative chef-driven cuisine, neighborhood classics, and ethnic mainstays.

Bluebeard

Name and Location: Bluebeard is located at 653 Virginia Ave in Fountain Square, Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Bluebeard opened in 2009 in a historic building from the early 20th century. Executive chef Abbi Merriss focuses on seasonal, local ingredients.

What to Expect: Creative takes on classic dishes in an intimate setting, as well as an eclectic wine list and craft cocktails.

Visitor Information: Reservations recommended. Closed Mondays.

Helmed by James Beard-nominated chef Abbi Merriss, Bluebeard brings serious dining chops to Indy’s culture-rich Fletcher Place neighborhood. Inside a 19th century warehouse turned modern industrial chic restaurant, creativity reigns in dishes like crispy pig tails in kimchi ranch or drawing inspiration from Abbi’s Korean background. Local ingredients shine in plates like “Indiana chicken” comprised of fried thigh, perfectly cooked breast alongside spoonbread, sour strawberries and chanterelle mushrooms. Knowledgeable staff proudly explain flavors and provenance behind the innovative menu starring seasonal midwestern ingredients intermixing with Korean touches. Save room for the buzzed-about layer cakes in flavors like brown butter peach or chocolate stout continuing Bluebeard’s reputation for standout flavors with ingredient-driven flair.

Milktooth

Name and Location: Milktooth is located at 534 Virginia Ave in Fountain Square, Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Milktooth opened in 2014 under chef Jonathan Brooks, known for its breakfast and brunch dishes.

What to Expect: Inventive morning dishes like croque madames and baked eggs, alongside coffee drinks and fresh-pressed juices.

Visitor Information: Open daily for breakfast and lunch. Expect a wait during peak times.

No national best-of list omits Milktooth, the smash-hit breakfast and lunch spot famed for fusing culinary influences from around the globe into creative morning plates. Helmed by chef Jonathan Brooks, Milktooth’s vibrant dish offerings burst with bright flavors like the signature turmeric loaf stuffed with pork belly, pickle and herb salad. Other greatest hits include Southern shrimp and creamy grits crowned with tomato curry and crispy puffed rice. While known best for out-of-the-box morning fare, Milktooth also draws weekend brunch crowds hungry for treats like their famous chicken and rice waffle topped with red eye gravy and sunny side egg. Thanks to Brooks never-boring flavor profiles prepared with care, Milktooth makes headlines for playfully pleasing palates with international panache.

Rooster’s Kitchen

Name and Location: Rooster’s Kitchen is located at 888 Massachusetts Ave in downtown Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Rooster’s Kitchen opened in 2016 with a menu focused on chicken and waffles. Known for its casual, counter-service atmosphere.

What to Expect: Crispy fried chicken, chicken and waffles, sandwiches, salads and sides with a soul food influence.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. Counter-service so no reservations.

Fried chicken achieves masterpiece status at this laidback dining den in Indy’s historic Meridian Park neighborhood. Rooster’s dedicates an entire menu section to “chicken fried right” available in styles including classic Southern, hot and spicy Korean, chili crisp Chinese garlic and their famous Nashville-style served drenched in hot oil. Chef Danielle Culp changes up sides seasonally from bacon fat rice pilaf, to expertly cooked greens, fluffy spoonbread and savory chicken gravy for topping. While poultry plates headline here, Culp also whips up tempting small plates like fried green tomatoes, fried oysters, and goat cheese billi bi tartines ideal for sharing alongside rotating local brews and creative cocktails like spiked horchata. For indulging crispy chicken cravings with global accents Rooster’s talented kitchen makes for a hot table south of downtown.

Beholder

Name and Location: Beholder is located at 1844 E 10th St in Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Beholder opened in 2015 under husband and wife chefs Jonathan and Ashley Brooks. Focused on an ever-changing tasting menu.

What to Expect: Intimate fine dining experience with a tasting menu reflects local, seasonal ingredients. Complex, creative dishes in a cozy atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Reservations essential, booking a month or more in advance recommended. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Visionary chef Jonathan Brooks of Milktooth fame first wowed Indy diners with artfully plated seasonal fare focused on quality ingredients and skillful cooking technique long before opening his genre-bending breakfast hub. Tasting menus change frequently at his intimate farmhouse restaurant Beholder nestled in Indy’s Fletcher Place neighborhood. Dishes dazzle not just in flavor but through visually stunning presentations like pastel towers of tuna tartare interspersed with green apple fluid gels, or iridescent cubes of sunchoke and Parmesan panna cotta atop caper berry puree shimmering under black walnut crumble glitter. Wine director Crystal Swift provides exceptional pairings to match the cuisine’s colorful complexity. For an impressive fine dining experience melding flavor, artistry and hospitality in an unstuffy date-night environment, Beholder charms as a premier special occasion destination.

St. Elmo Steak House

Name and Location: St. Elmo Steak House is located at 127 S Illinois St in downtown Indianapolis.

History and Significance: St. Elmo’s first opened in 1902 in an historic Indianapolis building, known for its iconic shrimp cocktail and premium cuts of steak.

What to Expect: A classic steakhouse experience with white tablecloths and dark wood decor, as well as professionally prepared steakhouse cuisine.

Visitor Information: Reservations recommended, business attire recommended. Valet parking available. Open Monday through Saturday for dinner.

No roundup covers iconic Indianapolis restaurants without mentioning 1902 landmark St. Elmo Steak House. Downtown crowds fill this famous expense account destination not just for expertly seared prime cuts from the broiler, but also St. Elmo’s signature sinfully addictive spicy shrimp cocktail drowning in their tangy horseradish sauce. Flip to the back page of the menu dedicated to overflowing cuts of dry aged beef, then watch as white-coated waiters whisk away on creaking floors to return minutes later presenting thick hand-cut chops and steaks cooked exactly to preference under towering silver domes. Don Draper would certainly feel at home sinking into red leather banquettes before loosening Armani ties to devour classic wedge salads and giant baked potatoes smothered in fixings tableside. For old school steakhouse elegance at its finest, St. Elmo hits the sizzling mark for well-heeled meat lovers.

Siam Square

Name and Location: Siam Square is located at 936 Virginia Ave in Fountain Square, Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Family-owned Thai restaurant operating since 2002, known for its authentic Thai dishes.

What to Expect: Signature Thai dishes like tom yum soup, pad thai, and curries in a casual atmosphere. Extensive vegetarian options available.

Visitor Information: Lunch buffet available. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations accepted for large parties.

Ask Indy locals where to find the city’s best Thai food and most direct visitors to Siam Square, specializing in Royal Thai Cuisine hailing from Bangkok. This family owned favorite packs in regulars craving staples like satay chicken skewers sparked with chili powder and grilled onion. Crispy stuffed crab claws deliver rich seafood flavor tucked in crunchy wonton wrappers while crispy half duck gets lacquered in a sweet and spicy tamarind curry. Those knowledgeable about Thai cuisine order off menu for traditional dishes like sour Isaan sausage or incredible homemade Thai ice creams in teasing flavors like durian or coconut sticky rice. For transporting tastes straight from Thailand’s Royal Palace to landlocked Indiana, Siam Square brings Bangkok’s divine cuisine to Broad Ripple’s buzzing restaurant row.

Good Morning Mama’s

Name and Location: Good Morning Mama’s is located at 114 E Main St in downtown Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Quaint, family-owned breakfast restaurant known for its signature sweet potato pancakes and down-home cooking.

What to Expect: Homestyle breakfast classics like pancakes, waffles, eggs and breakfast meats in a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Open daily for breakfast. Cash only. Expect a wait during peak weekend times.

Southern-inspired breakfast and brunch find a homey atmosphere at Good Morning Mamas, a Long’s Bakery offshoot slinging stick-to-your-ribs morning plates. Sit at the retro lunch counter or scattered squares tables for scrumptious homestyle combos like chicken fried steak buried under sausage gravy alongside eggs and cheesy grits. Fluffy pancakes with chocolate chips or sweet blueberries satisfy sweet cravings while biscuits n’ gravy brims with creamy Southern-style pork sausage speckled white gravy. Of course chicken and waffles make frequent menu appearances thanks to the bakery providing fresh waffle stock daily to soak up extra crispy fried bird. For rib-sticking Southern fare in unfussy homey surroundings, Good Morning Mamas fills an Indy niche for down-home daytime comfort.

Shapiro’s Delicatessen

Name and Location: Shapiro’s Delicatessen has two locations at 808 S Meridian St and 337 W 11th St in Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Iconic, family-owned deli since 1905, known for its piled-high sandwiches.

What to Expect: Mile-high sandwiches with corned beef, pastrami and other classic deli meats and Jewish specialties. Casual counter-service ordering.

Visitor Information: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Expect long lines at peak times. No reservations.

Pastrami lovers find nirvana layered high on triple-decker sandwiches at family-owned Shapiro’s Delicatessen downtown. Third-generation owner Brian Shapiro channels his Russian and Lithuanian heritage into curing, smoking and steaming premium housemade meats onsite in traditional deli fashion. Favorites like the Reuben stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing or the Rachel made with house pastrami instead satisfy for lunch or dinner. Daily rotating specials like beer-braised brisket served Fridays keep locals returning as Shapiro experiments blending ethnic influences into familiar deli surroundings. For Midwestern-sized sandwiches starring high-quality heritage meats cured on premises, Shapiro’s time-warp atmosphere channels an authentic Jewish delicatessen straight from the old world.

Patachou

Name and Location: The original Patachou location is at 225 W Washington St in downtown Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Local restaurant group established in 1989 focusing on breakfast cuisine made from high-quality, fresh ingredients.

What to Expect: Farm-fresh breakfast and lunch options like omelets, waffles, sandwiches, salads and fresh juices in an airy, sunshine-filled space.

Visitor Information: Open daily for breakfast and lunch. No reservations needed.

Across various downtown locations, the Patachou restaurant collection serves chef-driven seasonal New American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner in airy, light-filled diners. The signature dish, Patachou’s creamy dreamy scrambled eggs prove worthy of the label “Best Breakfast in Town”. Fluffy curds intermingle with rich mascarpone cheese swirled tableside and served with crunchy multi-grain toast points. At lunch, the croque madame dazzles as crunchy ciabatta piling Black Forest ham, nutty Gruyere fondue, Dijon and cheesy béchamel sauce before being topped with a sunny side egg. Dinner brings plates highlighting quality ingredients, global accents and skillful preparations across pastas, salads, seafood and between bread sandwiches. For ingredient-focused, scratch made fare beautifully presented in a welcoming, euro-chic diner atmosphere, Patachou properties place casually elegant New American fare at the center of Indy’s food scene.

Livery

Name and Location: Livery is located at 720 N College Ave in downtown Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Farm-to-table modern American restaurant opened in 2012 using seasonal, sustainably-sourced ingredients.

What to Expect: Changing seasonal menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner, featuring dishes like wood-fired pizzas, chops, fresh salads and handmade pastas. Extensive craft cocktail menu.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, other dayparts seasonally. Reservations recommended.

Helmed by acclaimed chef Steven Oakley, Livery brings a distinctly Hoosier harvest-focused tasting menu to a historic brick and beam warehouse neighboring Indy’s hot SoBro district. The cozy dining room and inviting bar see guests opting for either an affordable three-course prix fixe or the fully immersive chef’s-choice tasting spotlighting at least seven savory courses artfully presented on custom millwork tabletops. Oakley’s “dirt to table” cooking philosophy unspools with dishes featuring Indiana’s plentiful squash, Amish chicken and famous sweet corn transformed through global techniques into refined plates. December sees Livery’s menu shift fully to celebratory holiday feasts, but its intimate year-round atmosphere maintains a perennial spot among Indy’s top special occasion go-tos focused on whisking local farms straight to urban fine dining tables.

ailoli sandwich bistro

Name and Location: Liloli sandwich bistro is located at 901 E Westfield Blvd in Broad Ripple, Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Lunchtime sandwich shop opened in 2021, featuring build-your-own sandwiches with global flavors.

What to Expect: Create a custom banh mi, falafel wrap, shawarma or other sandwich with a variety of international toppings, spreads and fillings. Soups and salads also available.

Visitor Information: Open weekdays 11am-3pm for lunch. Order at the counter to build sandwiches to your taste.

Tucked away on a near north side side-street, ailoi steps beyond standard sandwich shop expectations by sourcing top-notch artisan ingredients between custom baked breads bearing global influences. The namesake sandwich sees a whole roasted chicken chopped then heaped with garlic confit, herb pesto, Maggi sauce mayo, tomato and greens capturing allium-rich European flavors in an approachable handheld. Other highlights include the Veracruz starring pork belly braised in guajillo chili sauce alongside avocado, red onion and cucumber, or a vegetarian winner featuring cauliflower fried in chickpea batter joined by curry yogurt sauce and rainbow carrots pickled in citrusy sumac. Alongside affordable cuisine and exceptional from-scratch quality, ailoi’s funky yet cozy vibe offers a true neighborhood gem worth seeking out off the beaten path.

Fat Dan’s

Name and Location: Fat Dan’s is located at 545 Massachusetts Ave in downtown Indianapolis.

History and Significance: Chicago-style deli opened in 2014 known for its Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago hot dogs.

What to Expect: Classic Chicago specialties like Italian beef, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian sausage alongside deli sandwiches, wings and sides. Sports bar atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Open daily for lunch and dinner. Counter-serve restaurant, no reservations. Full bar.

Carnivores find heaven at this downtown gastropub destination celebrating meat and offal across globally inspired small plates. Foie toast adorns brioche with generous duck liver beside fruit jam while Korean-style baby back ribs deliver sweet, sticky and spicy finger-lickin’ fare. The signature dirty steak skewers weave top sirloin, chimichurri sauce and crispy pork chicharrones for perfect protein-packed bites while their secret recipe Deer Sausage in mostarda oozes juicy, smoky complexity. Vegetarians still find plenty to love from Fat Dan’s through standout veggie-centric plates like crispy smashed cauliflower piccata and green goddess salad tossing greens and herbs in tangy avocado goddess dressing. For well-crafted shareable small plates focused on quality meats and seasonal ingredients, Fat Dan’s contemporary gastropub pleases big flavor seekers and cocktail enthusiasts.

Conclusion

Beyond just steak, Indianapolis rewards diners with an explosively diverse, chef-driven dining scene not always associated with the Midwest. Food lovers find charm, skill and creativity coursing through restaurants spanning old school establishments to new culinary hot spots specializing in breakfast culture, global cuisine, cocktail mixology and seasonal tasting menus. Indianapolis continues growing its restaurant portfolio and national culinary reputation through dedicated neighborhood spots, unique special occasion venues and returning James Beard-recognized talent focused squarely on pleasing diverse palates.

Leave a Comment