Indy Like a Local: Joe Hamgeri

Who is Joe?

Co-owner of Three Days in Paris and co-founder of Deck’d Out

Q. You have your hands in several entities in the city, from being a co-founder of a social-good organization to a co-owner of a foodie hot spot. What makes Indy a good market to be an entrepreneur? Why did you choose Indy as your home base to start these endeavors?

A. One of the reasons Indy is a good market for entrepreneurs is because of the growth that’s been taking place over the last several years. Meaning, all sorts of new housing and commercial developments and new businesses – from restaurants to tech companies – have popped up over the last few years. You have groups like Launch Fishers and the Speakeasy that support new businesses by providing various resources for startups and entrepreneurs. Indy has this friendly environment that is fairly receptive to new ideas and concepts and that makes it a good space to attempt something new. 

Q. You enjoy music and food in Indy. So, what’s the best show you’ve ever seen in Indy and what’s the best dish you’ve ever eaten in Indy? 

A. The best show I’ve ever seen in Indy is probably a tie between Bon Iver in 2011 at the Murat Theatre and Sufjan Stevens in 2010 at the Hilbert Theatre. There are many other great shows.

Q. Your social endeavor with Deck’d Out allows Hoosiers to connect with causes in a natural way, build meaningful connections and inspire a culture of social good in Indy. What organizations do you see doing really unique and progressive things to move Indy forward as a place to live, work, and play?

A. IndyHub is undoubtedly doing excellent work in this space. With its signature programs and events such as Passport to the Arts, Hello Neighbor!, The Dinner Series, IndyHub gets twenty- and thirty-somethings connected to organizations and introduced to the neighborhoods of Indy. And I must mention the Central Indiana Community Foundation. CICF has been around for 20 years, improving Indianapolis through its initiatives, making it an attractive place for people and business to stay in and invest their time and money.

Q. What are your top restaurants in Indianapolis, and why?

A. I like to go to Bluebeard in Fletcher Place. I love the atmosphere. It’s like a 1924 warehouse that was made into a restaurant. I love sitting at the bar. I prefer that over sitting at a table. It’s a great place to have a conversation. It’s got a really comfortable vibe, and obviously the food is awesome. Abbi Merriss does a great job of corralling local produce and local meats and cheese from purveyors like Big City Farms, Farm Indy, and Traders Point Creamery. There’s a sense of partnering with local people. I like to share food with people, and that’s in the spirit of what they’re doing.

Rook – I love Asian food so that’s the inspiration for the dishes there. I’m addicted to rice, so my most awesome ordered thing is the Karaage Rice Bowl. It’s just so good, with slightly fried chicken thighs with basil and mint and rice and a 63-degree egg. I think Carlos Salazar has done a really good job with that spot. 

Milktooth – I’ve been there easily at least 30 times. It’s like the Saturday morning breakfast. It’s got a fine diner feel, but it’s a really family-friendly vibe and very open and bright. I don’t mind going on a Saturday and having to wait an hour to get seated. I just grab a coffee and a delicious pastry. I feel like [chef] Jonathan Brooks never fails to keep it interesting. The best I’ve ever had there was a peppery squid dish with ham and broccoli. We talk about it still to this day. It was so good. 

The Loft at Traders Point – that’s probably where I’ve had the best food experience. Nick Traeger [now at Public Greens] used to be sous chef there. He took us on a tour; it was so cool. I don’t think I’d ever thought that much about where food comes from and how it gets to your plate. It impacted how I think about food. 

Delicia, because it’s Latin American food; it’s Brazilian; it’s Mexican. You get these different flavors in one area. The space is really nice. Their brunch is amazing, so I tell people to go there for brunch if they’ve never checked it out. The savory shooter opens up your palate. 

Q. Where do you like to go for a nightcap?

A. It’s the Libertine. People ask me, why do you go there so much? I’m there at least once a week. They have classic cocktails, interesting cocktails, and there’s just a care to what they do, from everything to the ice to the temperature to how long they stir things. 

Q. Favorite shops?

A. For men’s clothes, I go to James Dant in Irvington. There's just a lot of really good clothing there. When you walk in, it smells like your grandpa's barbershop. They do sell beard oil and shaving soap. If you're a guy and thinking of a local place where you can find stuff to make you dress well, James Dant is the place to check out. For gifts, Homespun: Modern Homemade is the place I go the most. They support makers. They just sell really cool handmade goods, and I like the concept. And I like People for Urban Progress on the second floor of the Murphy Building. I like the concept and the mission with salvaged goods. They make commuter bags, travel bags, and wallets. Sometimes I tell people about it and they think maybe salvaged stuff won’t look that good, but they find a way to make it super sexy.

Q. What are your top outdoor spots in Indy?

A. I'd say the canal. The Canal Walk is unlike any other place in Indy. It’s beautiful. It’s a long walk, so I try to do the whole thing. There are little offshoots and streets and restaurants off the canal. My favorite patio is at Black Market. It’s really beautiful and cool looking, especially in the evening. The ruins at Holliday Park are definitely something people should check out, and 100 Acres at the IMA. It's just cool to see art and nature in the same place. That’s definitely a place I’ll go and take walks and catch up with people.

Q. Where do you like to take out-of-town guests?

A. For places, Eagle Creek Park. It’s one of the top 10 largest city parks. There’s a lot to explore there and it’s unique within Indy. As far as food, Tinker Street for sure, and then BRU Burger, probably the best burger you can get in Indy. I like to take people to New Day Craft, partially because I like their stuff, but it's unique if you’ve never had it.

Q. What new spots have you discovered recently?

A. At the top of the list is Rene's Bakery in Broad Ripple. It's only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They have different macaroons, croissants, and other baked goods. Dorman Street: It's just got a lot of good local beer on tap and good food. It's kind of tucked away. You run into people you know, but it's off the beaten path a little bit, and I like that. Marrow for their globally inspired soul food. It's not just mac and cheese, but an Indian mac and cheese or Indian fried chicken. It’s stuff you’re familiar with, but it’s globally inspired. GADCO [General American Donut Company] is really good. They've got maple bacon and craft doughnuts. It's a cool space, and I think sometimes they show movies there. And they have good coffee from Stumptown

Q. What about an entertainment venue for concerts?

A. Definitely The Hi-Fi. I go to a lot of concerts, so I'm at The Hi-Fi quite often. They've got a great bar and put on a ton of good shows.

Q. What are your must-attend events in Indy?

A. I would say first off, Dig IN, which is basically the taste of Indy. Different chefs from Indy will come out and craft up something delicious to try. There's breweries and wineries and food trucks. The Microbrewers Festival: I always go to the winter one, especially if people from out of town are in town. There are tons of brewers, everyone from Indy and then some. You can try a ton of beer and have a good time. The film series at the IMA, either outside or in the Toby [Theater]. Those are super-fun. It’s more fun than going to see a movie at the theater. First Friday at the Murphy Building. It's cool to see what art is out there and connect with artists. 

Q. What are a couple of lesser-known places here in town?

A. Holcomb Gardens on Butler's campus. I think Crown Hill Cemetery is a cool area to check out. It’s very peaceful and there's a beautiful view of the Indy skyline. As far as restaurants, La Chinita Poblana is a taco place in Broad Ripple. I think they have the best tacos. Eggshell Bistro in Carmel has a cool space. The food is will blow your mind. 

Wellington's in the basement of Corner Wine Bar is a cool wood-paneled bar to check out. It's tucked away a little bit. They have bluegrass nights there. Locally Grown Gardens has the best pie in Indy. They only have a few things on the menu, but it's a great place to get pie and some local produce. 

Q. What one thing would you recommend visitors do or see while in Indianapolis?

A. It has to be the Cultural Trail. There's so much to explore and it’s walkable. You’re outside, you get to walk along a ton of restaurants, bars, and shops. I feel like it's a very comprehensive experience of what Indy has to offer. The second thing I recommend is that they move to Indy. 

Q. How would you spend your ideal day in Indy?

A. I would get brunch at Milktooth, and then I would probably go to the Thirsty Scholar and grab some tea. Make a quick stop at Goose the Market for groceries, produce, and meats. I love to do a bike ride through Herron-Morton Place and the Old Northside. I love the houses and trees. I'd probably go for a walk along the Cultural Trail and stop in some shops. Probably stroll through City Market, especially if there’s a farmers market going on. I'd probably get a crepe from 3 Days in Paris, dinner at Bluebeard, and see a concert at The Hi-Fi and a nightcap at Libertine.


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