How to Eat Like a Local in Indianapolis

Emily Taylor
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Eating like a local in Indianapolis is all about, well, eating local.

Indy, partially because of its location in the center of Indiana farmland, is drawn to locally sourced ingredients. While sustainability is a fairly new demand when it comes to the food scene, foodies are taking it on with a feverish demand. Nearly every bit of fine dining, pub food or casual lunch menu has at least some kind of connection to locally grown ingredients. So here is a look at the best spots to gather your taste of local faire in Indy.

For the vegetarians and vegans

Indiana is known for being a meat and potatoes crowd. That being said, there is a surge of vegan and vegetarian menu options, local meal prep services, and restaurants to satiate plant-eaters out there.

Three Carrots, currently a lunch and dinner location housed in Indianapolis’ original farmers market, holds its title as Indy’s only all vegan menu. With homemade seitan, local breads, and fresh produce, meat eaters won’t miss a thing. They plan to open a brick and mortar location in Fountain Square, Indy’s arts district, by mid fall. Based on their pop-up, multi-coursed and sold-out ticketed meals, this will be a huge hit.

Though not they are not entirely vegan, Indy’s restaurants do have a few other options when it comes to veg heavy menus. Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe is what people really mean when they say farm-to-table. Much of their produce comes from a farm that they run just minutes from the restaurant. The menu is almost entirely raw and vegan, aside from honey. Go early, they are only open until 3 p.m.

There are also a handful of locations who have great vegan options like Broad Ripple Brewpub, Twenty Tap, Tinker Street, Public Greens, and many others. One of the best gems is Pogue’s Run Grocery. It’s a small co-op grocery store on the near Eastside with a killer sandwich set up at the deli counter with vegan goodness.

For the fine diners

Indianapolis was tapped as one of the up and coming cities when it comes to producing culinary talent. To give you a quick insider history lesson, most of that talent came from working the line at Greg Hardesty’s various kitchens. He has since stepped away from the culinary world, but before he did he ran H2O Sushi, Elements, Room 4 and Recess. He helped train and raise a slew of Indy’s most well known chefs who now curate the menus of Bluebeard, Stella, Milktooth and more.

One of the most intimate fine dining experiences you can have in Indy is at Tinker Street. The restaurant is set in a small house that blends right into the 16th and New Jersey neighborhood, and you are treated like you are right at home. Your meal starts with a welcome toast of champagne, and expect a blanket to be offered if you’re sitting outside and it’s on the chilly side. Tinker Street also made a name for itself as a wine lover’s gem, this place will make you a believer in rosés and ports.

For the low key bite

Indy might not feel like the heartland when walking around downtown, but it’s the mellow atmosphere and friendly people who bring that charm to the city. In addition to Indy’s many craft breweries, who are picking up national attention by the way, there are plenty of options for diners who want a low key, filling, pub style experience when they are out to eat.

Broad Ripple Brewpub is home to Indy’s oldest brewery and has a well developed menu because of it. They hold down staples like burgers and pizza but make sure and try their fish and pub chips (they have a vegan version too).

Brugge Brasserie just a few blocks away is similar in style, mostly because it was opened by the former brewer. Brugge focuses on Belgian style brews and food. Try the tripel de ripple, it’s a belgian tripel (you are only allowed to order two because of the high ABV). Their menu has killer fries, mussels, and crepes.

Twenty Tap, a creation of a long time Broad Ripple couple, is a brewery, tap house and dinner spot all in one. The menu is built off Fischer Farms (local) meats and crave able veggie combinations. This is a neighborhood bar, so expect to see familiar faces if you go more than once. It won’t take long to get acquainted at feel right at home in Indy’s local food scene.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 20, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Emily Taylor

Emily is a freelancer writer based in the Midwest.
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