The Indianapolis food scene is having a moment as new restaurants, brewpubs, and candy stores have opened across the city. We asked Benjamin and Janneane Blevins, co-owners of the PRINTtEXT magazine store in the SoBro neighborhood, to share their best restaurants.
The Blevins Lounge in your shop.
The past decade has shown that Indianapolis has regained its love of handicrafts: beautifully baked bread, smoked cuts of meat, locally picked vegetables and micro-brewed beer. The heartland’s sensitivity and pioneering chefs have resulted in a varied landscape of restaurants located in the corners of the neighborhood, in cultural hotspots and in the heart of the city center. Here are some of our favorites:
Beautiful vanilla bean cake with Tiffany Blue Macarons
The newly opened Cake Bake in Broad Ripple is heavenly, as if great Paris itself descended on Indy. Glass showcases with perfect pastries are topped by white marble and a handmade one Victoria Arduino Espresso machine. Look through the kitchen window and be amazed as Gwendolyn Rogers and her master bakers freeze their famous chocolate cake. After choosing from the delicious menu – cakes, cakelettes, cakes and other desserts – snuggle up in an upholstered bistro seat. Each table has its own outlet so you can curl up and work while enjoying a bowl of cafe au lait or a glass of champagne if that suits your style.
Martha Hoover fainted Hoosiers with her Patachou restaurant, known as the “adult cafeteria,” where fluffy omelets, freshly squeezed orange juice, and slices of cinnamon toast transformed the Indianapolis brunch scene. A few years ago it gave another American staple its signature note: pizza. In the heart of Napolese there are beautiful Neopolitan style pizza ovens. Take a seat at the bar and watch the impressive show while the chefs create some of the most beautiful and delicious cakes in the world. The menu is seasonal with ingredients from the region. Excellent wines, hearty salads and bruschetta are also offered. If you have some space after that, order the dessert in the gelateria next door, Gelo.
The story goes on
Fish tacos at Delicia.
The team behind Delicia took a former video store and turned it into an oasis of Latin American cuisine. These days, the industrial, chic interior shimmers in low light. Start with the Fire & Ice Margarita, which has notes of hibiscus, chilli, and basil and features a standout ice ball. This is definitely a meat oriented place so follow suit with soulful dishes like the beef tamal corn cake. That said, Delicia has some solid vegetarian options, including guacamole with pistachios, salsa fresca, tostones, and sweet plantains. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, sister restaurant La Mulita serves tacos, cemitas, and chilaquiles, and has a full bar!
Saffron rice, roasted cauliflower, crispy roasted eggplant, roasted tomatoes, tomato-cashew cream and tahini cream.
In the busy corridors of the city market is Three Carrots, Janneane’s favorite place for lunch. The vegan menu is full of delicious seasonal foods. A favorite is the “Veg Out Sando” with roasted vegetables, kale, Pepita Romesco and basil pesto on a warm pita. The daily salad menu includes crispy vegetables, dark leafy vegetables, roasted almonds, avocado and even a sriracha balsamic dressing. You can also top off the salad with homemade seitan or fried tofu. On special occasions, Janneane brings back a biscuit cake for Benjamin.
Naturally born juicers
Photo: Make Indy
We met Corey and Laura Beatus from Natural Born Juicers at the Winter Farmers Market. You recently returned to Indiana from New York and brought the best of juicing with you. Natural Born is now thriving with its own store on Massachusetts Avenue and a juice cart. The menu caters to both casual juicers with freshly squeezed mixed juices and smoothies, as well as enthusiasts who love cold-pressed detergents and herbal teas.
We were first dazzled by Neal Brown’s skill with his L’Explorateur seat. The doors of this chapter closed and Brown brought swanky speakeasy-style spirits to downtown Indy via the libertine. Sit at the bar and watch how the elegant gentlemen behind it prepare the perfect cocktail to suit your taste, be it with bitter or bourbon. Between the cocktails or the “snake oil” drinks, order a flight of bacon, devilish eggs or one of the seasonal plates that the cook Erin Till has come up with. Soon the Libertine will be moving from its kitchen area on Washington Street to a speakeasy-style location: the basement of Neals Pizzology on Mass Ave.
Photo: Tony Valainis
In Bluebeard, a book corner in a renovated factory room from 1924, we experience thoughtful, modern Italian cuisine. At this James Beard-nominated restaurant, it all starts with Amelia’s bread (which will soon have its own room next door). Freshly baked semolina slices, country, city and wheat breads are served with a variety of ingredients, including honey and thyme butter, artisanal cheese and sausages. And this is just a warm-up for the next course. The menu is seasonal and from the region. Favorites include the Brussels sprouts agrodolce, prime rib with nettles, and spaghetti with crème fraîche, parsley, lemon, and parmesan. Combine your starter with one of the expertly prepared cocktails, a glass from the carefully selected wine list or a local beer. The ginger beer is a must.
Starting with the interior, every detail is considered in this South Asian hotspot at the gateway to Fountain Square. Rook’s head chef, Carlos Salazar, serves up street food classics of banh mi, dumplings, steamed buns, and ramen – and even serves the occasional fried chicken and miso waffles. The fridge is filled with craft beers, and be sure to start a conversation with co-owner Ed Rudisell, whose enthusiasm for food and modernist cuisine is insightful and adorable.
Gardens grown locally
Cake made from locally grown gardens
In a former auto mechanic shop on the bike-friendly Monon Trail, you’ll find Local Grown Gardens, a year-round bucolic farmers market. The seasonal products are Instagram-compatible and are displayed on rustic tables and boxes. Exotic general store necessities line the walls: Maldon salt, fine white china, Moroccan glass, and gas lanterns. If you get hungry, the menu will satisfy your appetite and sensitivity: there’s an open roast pork sandwich on home-baked bread smothered in barbecue sauce; crispy seared salmon with miso glaze and ginger coleslaw; and caprese salad with thickly sliced mozzarella and tomatoes fresh from the garden. But really, it all comes down to the cake. Please leave space for the cake. Regardless of whether you choose Indiana’s signature sugar cream, apple or one of the other seasonal delicacies, your heart will be delighted.
Goose the market
Photo: goose the market
Chris Eley, the master of the restaurant, has courted Indianapolis and the world with charcuterie, artisanal cheese, and craft beer and wine, all of which you can find in his enoteca. The first thing Janneane would eat if she changed her vegetarian style would be the batali – layers of spicy capicola, soppressata, fresh mozzarella and spicy giardiniera … mmm … but at this meat temple they love to make you a vegetarian version. You have to visit Goose the Market. But if for some reason you can’t, they deliver their delicious meat to local restaurants like Napolese, Libertine, and Bluebeard under the name of Smoking Goose Meatery.
PRINTtEXT is a modern magazine store located at 652 East 52nd Street in Indianapolis.
Photo: The PRINTtext interior
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