Looking for restaurants in downtown Indianapolis? Here are the best restaurants from two local foodies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks!
Looking for restaurants in downtown Indianapolis? Take it from us: this city has never had more going on in food! I’m Sonja, and my husband Alex and I are food bloggers and cookbook authors who’ve lived in Indianapolis for the past 15 years. When we moved here, the food scene was just getting started. Today, Indy has exploded into a renaissance of farm-to-table restaurants, hipster coffee shops, trendy bars, and local breweries. It’s been a thrill to see Indianapolis claim a food culture that’s all its own. If you’re looking to navigate the many eateries Indy has to offer, here are all our favorite restaurants in downtown Indianapolis: including bars and best places to grab a drink!
Related: Best Broad Ripple Restaurants
What’s on this restaurants in downtown Indianapolis list?
So, what are the best restaurants in downtown Indianapolis? It’s a tough question. Just like determining the best of anything, it’s difficult to give just one answer. Because everything about the answer depends on the situation: are you looking for brunch? Lunch? Breakfast? A fancy night out? Dinner with kids? Drinks with the gals? Since there are so many different occasions, we’ve broken down this list to our favorites in each.
There’s a wide variety of Indianapolis restaurants: some a little more formal, some more causal. We’ve tried to note the vibe for each restaurant or bar below! On the whole, the vibe for downtown Indianapolis is a little more hip than other neighborhoods in Indy (for example, Broad Ripple is super casual). However, Indiana as a whole is pretty casual: so if you’re traveling here from out of state, you can truly get away with wearing anything for a night out.
Alex and I have lived in Indianapolis for 15 years, so we’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants in downtown Indianapolis. HOWEVER: we have not eaten at every single new place that pops up, so this is just a list of the restaurants that we’ve been to and enjoy. (Of course if own a restaurant in downtown Indianapolis and want us to stop by: please drop us a line!)
And if you live in the area and there’s a downtown Indianapolis restaurant or bar missing on this list that you think we should try, give us a shout in the comments!
Restaurants in downtown Indianapolis: Dinner
There are so many restaurants in downtown Indianapolis it’s hard to keep track! Here are some of our fast favorites of places to eat in our city. Again, we’ve mentioned restaurants that fit various occasions. Because best Indianapolis restaurants means the best restaurant for the occasion: be it lunch, girls night, date night, or drinks!
Dinner / drinks: Perfect for date night or a night on the town, Bluebeard is one of our Indy faves, serving up sophisticated Italian inspired small and large plates. In its first year, Bluebeard was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant. Named after a book by Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut, and the dining room showcases a variety of books and typewriters to fit with the literary theme. The cocktails are great (their gin and tonic is my favorite in the city) and the revolving menu of seasonal inspired dishes is always spot on.
Dinner: Vida is an upscale spot perfect for a night out, with a 4-course tasting menu that changes seasonally. You can also order a la carte. Think courses like Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower with apricot and pumpkin seed dukkah, and Sea Bass with curry emulsion and Thai basil. It’s got a great bar and elegant dining room.
Dinner: Tinker Street is another great spot for a night out. Enjoy sophisticated, farm to table food in a cozy urban cottage. The dinner menu is always inspired and excellent.
Brunch / lunch / dinner: Nada is a fun, colorfully designed space to enjoy gourmet Mexican downtown. Their habanero “kreeper” salsa is to die for (if you like a little spice), as is the queso. They’ve got delicious tacos and large plates; a great spot for dinner with family, or a night out.
Shoefly Public House
Dinner: Shoefly Public House has a super casual atmosphere with great food, perfect for a family dinner or a night out. The menu is always changing, but we love their sweet potato fries with various tosses, and their vegan meatloaf with gravy is very tasty. Think comfort food, with lots of veggie options.
Dinner or lunch: Napolese has truly great artisan pizza and fresh, inventive seasonal salads. It’s a perfect place for a date night, out with friends, or even to bring the kids. You can eat outside in the summer (our favorite). For a starter, get the baked goat cheese. Split a few of the salads and pizzas among the table: the Margherita pizza with quail egg is a must. It’s one of our favorite inspired Italian restaurants in Indianapolis.
Taste it: Our Baked Goat Cheese with Fire Roasted Tomatoes recipe inspired by Napolese!
Dinner: Rook offers up street food inspired contemporary Asian fusion, and it’s over the top delicious. It’s perfect for a date night or night on the town. Think fried avocado steamed buns, glass noodle salad, and curry ramen.
Related: Our Easy Vegetarian Ramen inspired by Rook!
Dinner: King Dough offers up super high quality pizza in a trendy-casual atmosphere and a whole lot of personality! Think flavors like Destroyer, Pork & Pine (Canadian bacon & pineapple), R&B (ricotta and basil), and Stinky Pete. They’ve also got burgers, starters (the patatas bravas were fun!), and cocktails.
Restaurants in downtown Indianapolis: Breakfast & lunch
Coffee / lunch: Provider is our favorite place to grab a drink on the way to downtown Indianapolis. It’s quickly made a name for itself as a coffee shop and bar, but they also have a light menu. We’ve tried a vegan banh mi that was very tasty, and their cocktails are fabulous. The atmosphere is trendy but laid back: the perfect place for working meetings, settling in with a laptop, or meeting a friend for a drink.
Lunch / Casual dinner: Broad Ripple restaurant Public Greens is super casual fresh, delicious food served cafeteria style. What we love about Public Greens is it offers veggie forward, delicious food without a big wait. It’s right next to the Monon Trail, so the patio is perfect in warm weather. The menu is constantly changing and it’s perfect for families. Some of our favorites: fries, the vegan chili, and their many salads. Public Greens dedicates its profits to The Patachou Foundation, which feeds at-risk and food insecure children in the Indianapolis community.
Related: Our Quinoa Black Bean Vegan Chili recipe inspired by Public Greens!
The Garden Table
Breakfast / lunch / dinner: The Garden Table’s downtown Indianapolis location is picture perfect for Instagram, and we love the menu selection! It’s full of fresh squeezed juices and healthy vegan and vegetarian options set off by meatier comfort foods. It’s perfect for weekend brunch: and the downtown location also offers dinner. It has the best acai bowl in town.
Related: Our Homemade Acai Bowl recipe!
Brunch / lunch: Milktooth immediately attracted national attention for its inventive brunch menu. This fine diner has become one of the most lauded restaurants in downtown Indianapolis! It’s brunchy comfort food served up in a quaint old gas station. Think massive sourdough waffles and inventive takes like deconstructed Chicago dog risotto.
Goose The Market
Lunch: A lovely lunch spot and gourmet grocery, Goose The Market has locally cured meats and an extensive cheese counter, as well as lots of local Indiana products. Head to the basement and you’ll find an assortment of wines. For lunch, order a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich and wash it down with a glass of white wine. Oh and there’s gelato!
Where to get a drink (bars & restaurants)
Here’s a list of places we like get a drink in downtown Indianapolis — many of these also have great food, too!
- Spoke & Steele is our favorite place to get a drink: the cozy, luxe interior is perfect for a night out. They also have a full menu — which we still haven’t tried!
- Union 50 is also a great place for a drink; the dinner menu is great as well. It’s got a trendy atmosphere and live music events (see their website).
- Bakersfield is where to go for pitchers of margaritas! And they have great tacos too.
- Hotel Tango is a local distillery with a cozy tasting room. (Every time we’ve tried to go it’s been closed, so we’ll report back!)
- Libertine is super cool and trendy, with fantastic cocktails.
- Bluebeard (featured above) is great for a drink at the bar (our favorite: the gin and tonic).
- La Revolucion has a great patio for sipping pina coladas, margaritas, tequila or mezcal: accessorize it with tacos and guac.
- Ball & Biscuit, Thunderbird — a few places we haven’t been yet, but need to review!
Things to do in downtown Indianapolis
Of course, there are many things to do in downtown Indianapolis other than eat! Here are some of our favorite things to do in downtown Indy:
- Walk the Circle: It’s always festive to stroll around the Soldiers & Sailors monument.
- The Canal & White River Park: This is and always has been our FAVORITE part of Indy! Rent a surrey bike (so fun!), gondola, or Segue and explore the beautiful downtown Indianapolis waterways. It’s a gorgeous park and essential Indy. (Seriously, those surrey bikes are the most fun!)
- Walk on Mass Ave: Make sure to stop by Silver in the City and Homespun (and look for our cookbook on the shelf, Pretty Simple Cooking!). Maybe grab a juice at Natural Born Juicers.
- Walk or bike the Cultural Trail: It connects downtown Indianapolis and is so much fun to stroll on.
- Take a walking tour in Lockerbie: Lockerbie is the cutest historic neighborhood; there are some fun walking tours like this or this.
- Head to City Market: it’s full of delicious eatery vendors!
- Go to the Symphony: Hilbert Square Theater is right on the circle downtown and makes for a fun night out.
- Go to the Zoo: It’s great for kids, and has beautiful grounds.
- Go to the Children’s Museum: If you’ve got kiddos, this one is one of the best in the nation. If you’re near there, stop by Duos Kitchen for a fantastic breakfast or lunch with lots of veggie-friendly options.
What bars & restaurants in downtown Indianapolis are we missing?
Let us know in the comments below!
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About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.