Indy Like a Local: Ed Rudisell, Carlos Salazar, and Eli Sanchez

Who is Ed?

Restaurateur Ed Rudisell has shaped Indy’s restaurant scene with his mini dining empire that includes Black Market, Rook, Siam Square, and, most recently, The Inferno Room.

Who is Eli?

You can find Eli Sanchez shaking up creative cocktails behind the bar at Rook and lending his expertise to the menu at The Inferno Room.

Who is Carlos?

Ever since Rook opened, chef and co-owner Carlos Salazar has expanded diners’ palates with his inventive takes on Asian street food. He also helped shape the menu at The Inferno Room.

For an extended interview with Ed, listen to this episode of the THE DRINK CULTURE Podcast:


Q. What directions do you see the Indianapolis restaurant market moving in? What do you predict we’ll see trend-wise in the next few years? 

Carlos: I see it just continuing to get better. I think fine dining will be coming back with more people willing to spend money on good food. The Indianapolis restaurant scene has been getting a ton of national love in recent years.

Q. Why now?

Ed: I think the media just slept on our dining scene for far too long. This city has some truly amazing people running exciting restaurants. We’re in the Midwest, you can leave downtown Indianapolis in a car and be on a farm in less than 20 minutes. That’s pretty exciting, particularly for those of us who work closely with our farmers. 

Q. How would you characterize Indy’s current dining scene? What are we overrun with, and what do we need more of?

Carlos: Our dining scene is good, but we’re not where we want to be yet. More restaurants like Rook (pictured), Beholder, Bluebeard, Love Handle, Black Market, and Ukiyo are opening up and putting out great food. We need more independent restaurants doing great food that’s not just steak and potatoes.

Rook

Q. What should we expect to see happening in the Indianapolis cocktail community in coming years? 

Eli: There seems to be a return to the old classic cocktails. We’re seeing those a lot on menus around town. I think people are really getting back into stuff like Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds, daiquiris, and gimlets. Craft cocktails are poised to make a big comeback. 

Q. What’s on tap trend-wise for the Indianapolis restaurant community in the next few years?

Ed: More well-curated wine lists. I’m noticing more restaurants bringing sommeliers back into the fold. Wine’s been seen as this snobby, elitist thing for so long, and sure, it’s a deep rabbit hole for the truly obsessed. But for most of us, that’s not the case. We need some help. A good sommelier or wine director is always happy to introduce someone to a wine that makes dinner taste better or is as refreshing to drink on a hot patio day as any craft beer. 

Q. What do you think our local restaurant market does particularly well?

Ed: Indiana chefs have really hit their stride in the last decade, and our culinary scene has found its voice. We have an incredibly diverse range of restaurants around the city. Our Burmese population has grown exponentially in recent years, and the south side is now home to dozens of fantastic Burmese and Chin restaurants. Bloomington is home to the largest Tibetan population outside of Tibet. It makes it really exciting to travel around and find the restaurants off the beaten path. 

Q. How would you describe your own personal cooking style? What do you like to cook at home?

Carlos: I’m someone who rolls with the punches. I enjoy combining flavors and ingredients that shouldn’t work together, but somehow they do. I don’t like to follow the “rules” of cooking. I cook quick and easy at home so I can spend more time with my #lildumplings (kids) and my wife. 

Q. What’s your favorite spirit to play around with?

Eli: I’m really liking aquavit right now. I was at a competition a year or two ago in Vegas where I met a guy from Minneapolis who’s writing a book about aquavit, and I got to sample a bunch of it. It’s a little bit like gin, but more versatile. We’ll have some at The Inferno Room (pictured). 

Inferno Room

Q. Where do you go for drinks when you’re not mixing them?

Eli: The Dugout or Thunderbird. I usually order gin and tonics.

Q. What local restaurants do you enjoy visiting? 

Ed: I don’t get out too often. I still really love cooking at home if I’m not eating a meal prepared by one of our own chefs. That said, Love Handle is across the street from Black Market, and the owners are some of my favorite people in Indianapolis. The biscuits and gravy are ridiculous. Honestly, I could drink that gravy. It’s so deep. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. My wife just recently discovered El Sabor Catracho, a Honduran place on the east side of town in a strip mall on Pendleton Pike. Everything is made to order, so be prepared to wait for a table and for your meal. I need a no-frills burger at least once a week, and Workingman’s Friend (pictured) has been doing it forever. You’d think it’d be impossible to fry those burgers so thin on the edges that they become lacy without turning the whole thing into a hockey puck. It’s an art. And Perillo’s Pizzeria is 100 percent worth the drive to North Salem. The owner is originally from Palermo. His dedication to properly made pizza is unmatched. 

Eli: Love Handle for their pork belly sliders and waffles. I like Duke’s for fried chicken. 

Carlos: I take out of town guests to Bluebeard and Love Handle for food. To me, that’s what Indy is about on a very high level. Meat-heavy dishes most Indy diners would be familiar with. 

Workingmans Friend

Q. Every visitor to Indy must ¬_____.

A. Carlos: Make sure to visit Fountain Square, go to any of our museums, and walk or ride the Cultural Trail.

Ed: Rent a bike and ride the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. I wish every city had one. You really get to see all the great neighborhoods in Indy and don’t have to worry about sharing the street with cars. Follow the trail from the zoo, through the university, down Massachusetts Avenue, through Fountain Square, right through the middle of downtown, and next to Lucas Oil Stadium.

Eli: Go to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s such a historic place, and the race really generates a lot of business for us. And Speedway itself with the new breweries and everything that’s happening on Main Street is awesome. 

 


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