Indy's Top 25 Local Restaurants

Indy was named the most ‘Underrated Food City in America’ by Condé Nast Traveler, and for good reason. Indy’s culinary scene is booming, from tried-and-true eateries to some newcomer favorites. And because we know every memorable trip begins and ends with a great meal, we asked locals to vote for 25 locally owned restaurants across five categories that best represent Indianapolis. The results are listed below.

YOU KNOW 'EM AND YOU LOVE 'EM - CLASSIC INDY ORIGINALS

St. Elmo Steak House

 

St. Elmo Steak House is Indy’s award-winning classic style restaurant that proves great service and classic cooking methods make for a timeless menu worth visiting again and again. 

  • Known for: World Famous Shrimp Cocktail with spicy, signature cocktail sauce, traditional steak cuts or chicken and seafood paired with potatoes or classic sides.
  • Drink menu: Equally weighted wine and beer menus next to classic martinis, mules, and their signature cocktail, the Elmo Colas.
  • Atmosphere: Early 20th-century decor inside the bar, large room, and private dining areas features wood paneled and brick walls with carefully curated art and photos. Pro tip: Go upstairs for pre or post-dinner cocktails in the 1933 Lounge.
  • Open for: Dinner

Shapiro's Deli 

 

Shapiro’s Delicatessen has served sandwiches, soups, and Jewish favorites in downtown Indy since 1905.

  • Known for: Corned beef and pastrami on rye, matzo ball soup, apricot rugelach, and bagels.
  • Drink menu: Canned Dr. Brown’s soda, including Cel-Ray.
  • Atmosphere: Shapiro’s large and open dining room hosts a bakery and grocery store, an old-school service line, and windows that allow people watching in this busy downtown district.
  • Open for: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Bazbeaux Pizza

 

Since 1986, Bazbeaux has served dozens of signature pizzas with traditional and exotic toppings on handcrafted crusts alongside salads and sandwiches. 

  • Known for: The Pizza All Quatrro Formaggio is their signature pie and features rich dollops of ricotta cheese, as well as cheddar, mozzarella, bacon, and mushroom. Their house-made creamy basil dressing is a must for any salad. 
  • Drink menu: Several wine and local beer options.
  • Atmosphere: Both the downtown and Broad Ripple locations offer vibrant colors indoors and outdoor seating. Be part of the Mass Ave buzz downtown or enjoy the views of the canal through the heart of Broad Ripple. 
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner 

The Rathskeller

 

The Rathskeller is Indy’s authentic German restaurant and bier garden located inside the historic Athenaeum on Mass Ave.

  • Known for: Family-style portions of pork schnitzel, sauerbraten, rouladen, and German potato salad, along with steaks, seafood, and pasta worth grabbing a take-out container for.
  • Drink menu: Dozens of German beers on draft or in cans and bottles, local beer, and American wines.
  • Atmosphere: Private banquet spaces for parties and special occasions, dining rooms, and a bar seating area all in 19th-century style architecture designed by Bernard Vonnegut, Kurt's grandfather. The Rathskeller biergarten is one of Indy's favorite community gathering spaces for live music and fellowship.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Workingman's Friend

 

Workingman’s Friend is a cash-only, 21+ establishment that caters to your fried food needs. You may be surprised that the clientele is a mix of downtown businessmen and neighborhood locals, all looking to escape into a plate of onion rings or fries.

  • Known for: It's a toss up between a classic double cheese burger and their breaded tenderloin, a Hoosier favorite. Just be sure to order the side of onion rings.
  • Drink menu: Full bar with domestic beers on tap. Cold drafts out of a giant chalice is the drink of choice for locals.
  • Atmosphere: One-room dive bar with a century worth of character and charm.
  • Open for: Lunch 

PACK YOUR PASSPORT - GLOBAL FLAVORS

The New York Times once named Indianapolis “where the world comes to eat” as Indy is home to such a diverse culinary community. The restaurants on this list represent the top five voted ethnic eateries that are locally-owned. 

Yats

 

Yats keeps Indy’s food scene alive and spicy with fast Cajun and Creole dishes that rotate on and off a daily menu. 

  • Known for: Crawfish étouffée, gumbo, the B&B, all served on rice and ordered with or without cheese, onions, and sour cream. If two items are calling your name, go half and half. And always get more bread.
  • Drink menu: Soft drinks, beer, and wine.
  • Atmosphere: Walk into any Yats location and prepare for a punch of bright colors and New Orleans-style decor, often adorned with restaurant accolades and Indy-centric memorabilia.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Livery 

 

Horse stable turned Latin-inspired restaurant, Livery relies on bright colors and dark furniture to transform your Indy dining night out into a southwest culinary experience.

  • Known for: One-plate entrees like paella or the skirt steak with chipotle dry rub and chipotle butter, or bring friends to share yucca fries and six types of empanadas.
  • Drink menu: Dozens of tequilas fill the drink menu that you can enjoy straight or as a cocktail, amongst other spirits, wines, and beers. 
  • Atmosphere: You might not see tumbleweeds, but you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to another part of the nation inside this restaurant. Two-story seating and an open rooftop allow each visit to show a new view.
  • Open for: Dinner

Iozzo's Garden of Italy

 

Originally established in 1930, Iozzo's Garden of Italy resurfaced onto Indy's culinary scene in 2009, inviting residents and visitors alike to enjoy a classic Italian meal in an old-world environment.

  • Known for: Classic Southern Italian recipes such as lasagne bolognese and pistachio crusted salmon. 
  • Drink menu: Signature cocktails and extensive wine list.
  • Atmosphere: The interior immerses visitors in exposed brick and historic family photos and the charming outdoor patio is one of Indy's hidden treasures.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Iaria's Italian Restaurant

 

Time hop back to the 1950s at this family-owned Italian restaurant nestled in the Fletcher Place neighborhood. 

  • Known for: Authentic Italian cuisine that includes all your favorites, especially the chicken tortellini and thin crust pizza.
  • Drink menu: Refreshing martinis, a traditional and classic wine selection, and energizing bar seating.
  • Atmosphere: This neighborhood gem offers booths and tables for everyone in the family. Traditional and idyllic, it is the perfect place to find your inner Italian. Best to make reservations, especially on weekends. 
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

The Tamale Place

 

A fast staple with locations on Indy's westside, The Tamale Place takes the hard work out of making masa and wrapping tamales in corn husks. 

  • Known for: Tamale varieties of slow-cooked chicken, beef, pork, and veggie with red and green sauces full of intense flavors should be ordered alongside tacos and nachos with house-made chips.
  • Drink menu: Jarritos and fountain drinks.
  • Atmosphere: The small, busy dining room tends to fill quickly and you might consider placing an advance order if you're hoping for a specific tamale as they do sell out.
  • Open for: Lunch 

PICK ME UP AT 7 - PERFECT SPOTS FOR DATE NIGHT

 

Mama Carolla’s is a Broad Ripple bungalow turned restaurant that serves classic, hearty Italian dishes in a relaxed dining experience that feels like being at your Italian grandmother’s home.

  • Known for: Start withe their wedding soup, followed by the stacked traditional beef lasagna and creamy tomato bolognese mains, and end with cannoli’s and Holly’s Homemade Ricotta Cake. 
  • Drink menu: You can’t go wrong with a wine from “The Don’s” list, local beer, and house cocktails.
  • Atmosphere: Relax and enjoy yourself in cozy dining rooms or, during the summer months, try the open patio that overlooks a busy section of The Monon Trail.
  • Open for: Dinner

Harry & Izzy's 

 

Harry & Izzy’s is the casual version of its sister restaurant St. Elmo that bridges steakhouse with modern American cuisine.

  • Known for: Classically cooked steak and seafood entrees along with pizzas, sandwiches, and sliders that offer more options for a variety of eaters.
  • Drink menu: Hundreds of bottles of wines from all over the world with staff ready to recommend them.
  • Atmosphere: The large space is close and comfortable with a circular bar in view upon walking in before being escorted through stairs and rooms that lead to your table. Both the downtown and northside restaurants have a wine cellar that makes its appearance throughout the restaurant.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Rick's Cafe Boatyard

 

Rick's Cafe Boatyard specializes in seafood, prime steaks, and pastas with inside and outdoor dining overlooking Eagle Creek Reservoir.

  • Known for: Sipping cocktails and watching sailboats and native birds as your overlook the water. 
  • Drink menu: Local craft beer, wine, and signature, classic, and tiki cocktails.
  • Atmosphere: Nested right on the Eagle Creek Reservoir, the restaurant is ideal for outdoor dining in warmer weather. Rick’s has both outdoor and indoor dining and cocktail bars, but wherever you sit, you’ll still see the lovely view of the water.
  • Open for: Brunch, lunch, and dinner 

Bluebeard

 

Indy’s oldest neighborhood is home to a daily rotating menu crafted by Chef Abbi Merris and derived from local farms at Bluebeard, named after a Kurt Vonnegut novel. 

  • Known for: Afternoon or cocktail snacks of pickles and cheese, lemon spaghetti, or mains like roasted cauliflower or pierogi.
  • Atmosphere: Step off the Indianapolis Cultural Trail into a renovated 1924 warehouse with wood floors, brick walls, large windows, and vintage typewriters that connect Bluebeard back to the legacy of Vonnegut. 
  • Drink menu: House-crafted libations, sommelier-selected wine, and local beer.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Union 50

 

East Street’s Union 50 is a restaurant and bar fancy enough for date night and casual enough for game night with a group of friends. 

  • Known for: Too upscale to be called “bar food,” Union 50’s menu offers plates for one or more to share like beef tartar and poutine, or complete entrees like steamed mussels and beef tenderloin.
  • Drink menu: Local craft beer, wine, house cocktails, and a page of American whiskeys will have you pondering your spirit choice while you soak in the light from the illuminated bar.
  • Atmosphere: Late-night live music, skee ball, and shuffleboard juxtapose with open seating areas that offer a lounge-like experience.
  • Open for: Dinner and late-night dining

SUNNY SIDE UP - MEALS TO START YOUR DAY

Gallery Pastry Shop 

 

Gallery Pastry Shop’s European inspired pastries are great no matter the time of day.

  • Known for: Their stunning French macarons that are made fresh and have new flavors added on a regular basis. Diners also enjoy fresh local ingredients showcased in hashes and omelets.
  • Drink menu: Mimosas, rotating IPA beer, house sodas, fruit juice, house specialties, and coffee.
  • Atmosphere: Gallery Pastry Shop is the OG SoBro location of the family. On a warm day, you’ll find the garage doors open with a bustling brunch scene overflowing onto the patio. Note: Newer locations include Gallery Pastry Bar (open for dinner!) and Gallery on 16th.
  • Open for: Brunch and lunch 

Cafe Patachou 

 

Martha Hoover’s Cafe Patachou is a must visit for both the farm-to-table sustainable menu and the impact of food and social change in Indianapolis. The Patachou Foundation pays a pivotal role in tackling childhood hunger throughout Indianapolis.

  • Known for: Cinnamon toast, farm-fresh omelets, or vegan Cuban breakfast. Locals will tell you the Patachou chicken salad is a lunch must.
  • Drink menu: Five types of mimosa and prosecco cocktails, self-serve coffee bar, yogurt smoothies, and juices.
  • Atmosphere: Multiple locations across the city have many things in common, such as the clean lines and fresh white walls that allow the light to focus on the bright and fresh plates.
  • Open for: Breakfast and lunch

The Garden Table

 

A farm-to-table restaurant offering inventive dishes along with freshly pressed juices.

  • Known for: The cold pressed juice flight. Get any four fresh juices of your choice. The menu is built on acai bowls, salads, and healthy plates using Indiana farm-raised ingredients.
  • Drink menu: Mimosas, wine, beer, coffee, tea, and of course – juice.
  • Atmosphere: Order at the counter at their fast-casual spot in Broad Ripple or enjoy a more tradiitonal, full service brunch at their downtown location on Mass Ave.  Both are equally charming.
  • Open for: Brunch and lunch

Milktooth

 

Milktooth, named one of the "best restaurants in the world" by Conde Nast Traveler, is a unique brunch, coffee bar, and cocktail spot that’s worth the wait for a table.

  • Known for: Apple Dutch baby pancake, sorghum glazed bacon, spicy miso soup, and a seasonally rotating menu.
  • Atmosphere: This garage turned restaurant is best enjoyed both while sitting at the kitchen bar to watch the chefs cook your order or while hanging outside on the patio to enjoy the Fletcher Place neighborhood vibes.
  • Drink menu: Home to Indy’s own ModBar espresso machine, handcrafted coffee drinks, house-made cocktails and liquors.
  • Open for: Breakfast and brunch

Good Morning Mama's Cafe

 

This SoBro brunch favorite is the perfect place to start your day. 

  • Known for: Original omelets and scrumptious French toast. Also try the Mexican Breakfast Tacos or Pasta Mama – spaghetti with eggs and pancetta bacon.
  • Drink menu: Mimosas, Bloody Marys, other cocktails, fruit juice, and of course – coffee.
  • Atmosphere: No matter how early in the morning you arrive, you’ll quickly wake up when you walk in the door. Brightly painted walls, colorful plates, and an energizing staff help you start your morning right. Be sure to get there with plenty of time – seating is at a first come, first serve basis.
  • Open for: Brunch and lunch

NO FORK REQUIRED - EVERYDAY FAVORITES 

Ale Emporium

 

With an endless number of TVs, live music, and all your favorite comfort food, Ale Emporium is the perfect place to watch a big game.

  • Known for: The Ale's signature Hermanki wings are legendary and the pan style pizzas are layered and hearty.
  • Drink menu: full bar with domestic, local, and craft beers on tap.
  • Atmosphere: Join your friends and family as you watch your favorite team on one of the many TVs, enjoy the weather on the patio, and eat great bar food, all while listening to live music performed by a local band.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

BRU Burger Bar

 

Bru Burger Bar’s chef style and classic burgers, sandwiches, and salads were crafted with bold flavors to satisfy any burger enthusiast’s craving.

  • Known for: The BBQ nachos are a go-to splittable app before you bite into gourmet beef, lamb, turkey and veggie burgers with toppings like sweet chili mayo and cucumber slaw or habanero hot sauce and havarti.
  • Drink menu: 16 rotating craft bottles and draft options and over two dozen bourbons and whiskeys to drink straight or in a cocktail.
  • Atmosphere: Sleek granite countertop bar with seating, brick walls, and wooden tables give an intimate and comfortable dining experience. In the warm months, enjoy the patio while soaking in the hustle and bustle along Mass Ave.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Dawson's on Main

 

A family-owned restaurant located directly across from the most famous racetrack in the world.

  • Known for: Their breaded tenderloin, a Hoosier favorite where the bun is 1/4 the size of the tenderloin.
  • Drink menu: Fountain drinks, beer, and wine.
  • Atmosphere: Located on the newly renovated Main Street, this family-owned restaurant is a staple in the community, just across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza

 

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza is a family-friendly neighborhood pizza place that caters to all appetites.

  • Known for: Slaughterhouse Five (named after the Vonnegut novel) with five meats for carnivores, and the Jockamo Special with pesto, artichoke, tomato, cheese, and a balsamic reduction for vegetarians.
  • Drink menu: Wine, local draft, and bottled beer.
  • Atmosphere: Walls adorned with works by local artists, Jockamo is an open and inviting restaurant that feels like one big family dining room.
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Caplingers Fresh Catch 

 

This family-owned business has more than 125 years of experience in the seafood business and serves a variety of fish sandwiches - both grilled and fried - as well as lobster, octopus, calamari, scallops, and soulful sides. 

  • Known for: Fresh seafood delivered daily, carrying almost everything that swims! Lunch sandwiches are an Indy favorite and carryout orders can be placed online ahead of time.
  • Drink menu: Fountain drinks, bottled sodas, and fresh brewed iced tea.
  • Atmosphere: Casual, no frills spot to dine-in or take to-go. 
  • Open for: Lunch and dinner

Archive:

Top 25 Local Restaurants 2020-2021

Top 25 Local Restaurants 2019

Top 25 Local Restaurants 2018

Top 25 Local Restaurants 2017

Top 25 Local Restaurants 2016

Top 25 Local Restaurants 2015

Top 25 Local Restaurants 2014

 

Trip Ideas for Indy's Top 25 Local Restaurants