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Carmel, Indiana

I can't believe that anyone ever recommended Mangia on here, as it was awful. I'd much prefer to eat at one of those chains the proud citizens of Indianapolis were so quick to say we were awash in. So many more local options now. The idea that this poster didn't want to "go into Indy" is really sad.

Feb 07, 2013
indypoetchef in Great Lakes

Vegan In Indianapolis

A friend had a fantastic vegan vegetable curry last night at Black Market.

Feb 07, 2013
indypoetchef in Great Lakes

Good Mexican Restaurants in Indianapolis?

There's so much new and good Mexican food in Indianapolis over the last couple of years. I would second all of the recommendations here so far, especially Guanajuato III, but there are others. Guanajuato II (31st and Shadeland) may still be my favorite taqueria, and the lines there for lunch bear that out. I am surprised that no one has recommended El Sol de Tala on East Washington, an Indianapolis standard. Not everything here is great, but the pork dishes, the plantains, the beans, and their famous guacamole are definitely worth it. 3-in-1 is a Salvadoran, Mexican, and barbecue joint on the near Westside that has a limited menu, but it's good. I love the fried tamale, as well as the sweet ones, and I love the pupusas. Taqueria el Maguey on West 38th in the old Kroger plaza is very good, and it's one of the few places to get tacos al pastor. Just make sure you order the Mexican guac here--the other is pureed. One recent trend that is really taking off is the torta, and Tortas Guicho Dominguez y El Cubanito in Fountain Square has some great ones, all named after Latin pop stars. The Cuban is HUGE. I may actually like the ones at Super Torta at 10th & Main in Speedway a bit better though. They's a litte moister in terms of their fillings, and the bread is crisper. But both are good. I also like the seafood dishes at El Puerto de San Blas. These just scratch the surface of the Mexican options available in the city. Just beware of the places that bring chips and have frozen margaritas and such.

El Sol
507 4th Ave, Rochelle, IL 61068

El Puerto
4955 S Emerson Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203

Nov 26, 2010
indypoetchef in Great Lakes

Impress me Indy!*~

In addition to the really great restaurants that others have mentioned, Indy has some growing culinary neighborhoods where there are groups of international restaurants in one area. Most people don't account for this and think that everything is horribly spread out. Indy *does* require driving, but it's infinitely explorable. West 86th has a wealth of places: Oakleys (perennially the best restaurant in Indy), Cafe Istanbul, Russia House, Ocean World, Sawasdee, and Sesame Chinese. Lafayette Road from about 30th Street to 56th Street north has Cairo Café (Egyptian), Guatelinda (a much-improved Guatemalan place), Great Garden, Saraga Market, Saigon, Sizzling Wok, King Wok, Taadka, and India Palace. West of there on 38th is Machu Picchu and Abyssinia. Northeast of town on Pendleton Pike, you can get some really good Korean at MaMa's, Hisago, and Bando, and Sandra Rice and Noodles is our newest and best Vietnamese. Café Heidelberg is a long-time pastry favorite. In the Keystone area, try Shanghai Lil for dim sum or dinner, Adobo Grill for Mexican, and Patachou or Kebab Corner for lunch (the latter has excellent soup and kebabs--it used to be a great Afghani restaurant called Kabul).

Good luck, and report back on what you eat when you're here!

Indianapolis - "The Journey" ( where?)

Yes, Sandra Rice & Noodle is definitely open for lunch on Saturdays. Not sure about Sundays, but their information is as follows:

10625 Pendleton Pike
Indianapolis 46236

Let me know what you think!

Indianapolis - "The Journey" ( where?)

Thanks for the quick response. I did my grad work in Bloomington and have a good deal of affection for the city--it's where I first encountered a lot of great world cuisines and became the foodie that I am. It's just that Indianapolis gets bashed time and time again with little evidence on this site. Every time I put Indianapolis into a search, I find a thread disparaging the food scene here--often with only evidence from the worst of takeouts and chains. Sorry that I felt the need to chastise back. I just really wish that people would take the time to discover some of the really fine ethnic eateries and innovative spots up here. It really amuses me that such a big deal is being made about FARM when Regina Mehallick at R Bistro was several years ahead of even Restaurant Tallent in putting largely local products on the table, and Neal Brown, Greg Hardesty, Steven Oakley, and many other chefs have huge farm connections in this city. If you haven't been to Goose the Market yet, it's a jewel of a place that any city could be proud of. Mostly local meats, many cured in house, local gelatos and baked goods, local cheeses and dairy products--and it's a very spiffy and elegant place with super nice owners. Bloomington's Farmers Market also gets so much attention outside of this state when Indy has something like 15 running markets in the summer and a winter market at Traders Point Creamery. Today, someone just told me about a meat and fish market in City Market that has mostly local products. Edibles at the marketplace at Snips in Irvington has products from all over the state and local baked goods. We've got so much of this stuff going on, but it doesn't get national press--just grief. So, I invite anyone to come to Indianapolis and see what's going on. And to visit Bloomington and celebrate it for the great foodie town that it is too!

Indianapolis - "The Journey" ( where?)

Sandra Rice and Noodles is on the Northeast side of Indy, just north of 56th Street on Pendleton Pike. The fresh spring rolls, a very pristine but aromatic pho, the pepper pork, the chicken curry, the beef salad, and the lemongrass pork chop are all extremely good, and the presentation is especially nice here. And the owners are extremely nice. Definitely worth a trip. Does Bloomington even have a Vietnamese restaurant? I would highly recommend Asian Spice at Emerson and I-465. It's closer to Bloomington, but it's as good as any Thai food I've had in Bloomington, definitely.

Indianapolis - "The Journey" ( where?)

India Garden, Barcelona Tapas, Bazbeaux, Amici's, Patachou on the Park (until 2 p.m.), Shapiro's, The Bosphorus

Indianapolis - "The Journey" ( where?)

Once again the myth of the primacy of Bloomington within Indiana is perpetuated on these pages. Which is truly sad, given how much great Asian food can be had here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but are there even more than about 5 or 6 Asian restaurants in total in Bloomington aside from buffets and Asian takeouts? Enumerate them please. Here, we have a host of Vietnamese places that are really quite wonderful, including the new Sandra Rice and Noodles--arguably one of the best restaurants in the entire city with its refined, aromatic dishes--, Saigon, Sizzling Wok, and King Wok. Shanghai Lil has excellent dim sum and superb Taiwanese/Chinese favorites, as well as great sushi. Shen Yang, Great Garden, Sesame, and a host of other neighborhood Chinese spots serve excellent authentic fare and wouldn't begin to consider a buffet. Mama's, Bando, and Hisago are all quite respectable Korean restaurants. Sawasdee, Thai Taste, Asian Spice, Thai Spice, and Jasmine Thai are all good Thai restaurants, each with slightly different character--and only Thai Taste, I believe, has an occasional buffet. I could go on like this for quite some time. . .

The point is not that Bloomington doesn't have good restaurants--or that it doesn't have a couple of really superior restaurants (but so does Indy). But the idea that one would simply dismiss the restaurants of Indianapolis and call provincial Bloomington "another world" so out of hand as though it's impossible to believe how anyone could even think about living in such a dispicable place as Indianapolis is so small-minded that it offends basic logic, let alone the reality of this city's good food.

Sing Bloomington's praises all you want. Crow about the specifc restaurants that you love. Invite us to the tables of Bloomington's great eateries. But don't dismiss another city unless you've had enough firsthand experience to understand that some people might actually *prefer* to live here--and that we're actually very well fed here, and not merely at the hands of corporate buffets. The number of international markets, the places one can go where not a lick of English is spoken, the variety of farmers markets (not just one big one), the neighborhoods that have upwards of a dozen interesting ethnic eateries--there's much to like, even prefer about Indianapolis. It's truly distressing when one comes here and finds a supposedly articulate and sensible food writer/blogger completely dismissing a city and its food scene. One should come here to find the best food possible--not to hear that the city they live in is too awful to imagine being or living or eating in. That's the reason I'm a food writer--to get people to the best food where they are. Not to prove anything about the cultural supremacy of one Midwestern city over another nor to make myself feel better about living in the "superior" place where only people of good taste live. At least if I *were* to do those things, I would have the good sense to have evidence to back it up rather than taking the opportunity of the description of a bombastic and horrible feed wagon of a Chinese buffet (which could be in any city) to cluck one's tongue at Indy yet again. It's really quite petty, and it makes me sad to be a food writer in this state when I know that others have such attitudes.

Is there a decent chinese place to eat in Indianapolis?

Shanghai Lil. Shanghai Lil, Shanghai Lil, Shanghai Lil.

Nov 02, 2007
indypoetchef in Great Lakes

Good Spots in Indianapolis (Downtown, plus...)

With R Bistro, you have to go in expecting that the food will taste like its ingredients. No overpowering garlic or cloying sauces. Very pure. A very refined version of the seasonal food I grew up with. Sawasdee, Thai Taste, Asian Spice, and Thai Spice all trump Thai Café for quality of dishes. Brugge *can* be good, but it's wildly inconsistent. Oh Yumm. . .oh boy. Totally overblown. L'Explorateur is the most innovative, Peterson's perhaps the most consistent, Elements very good, The Oceanaire definitely best service and a total bet for great seafood, and many, many more.

Recommendations for Indianapolis south 'burbs

This is probably too late, but the Southside of Indy is not quite so bereft as people imagine.

Thai Spice in Greenwood is quite good--and lives up to its name.
Ruchi Royal Indian isn't the best, but it has some quite passable Indian eats.
Asian Spice at I-465 and Emerson has to be the best Asian takeout to open in the last year, and it has great pad Thai and curries.
Ichiban could be better, but there is some decent sushi here.
Fountain Square is a *bit* bar, but it has Shelbi Street Cafe, Santorini Greek Kitchen, Gusto!, and a few others.
I really hope that henry66 didn't have to eat at Max & Erma's!

indianapolis eats - need info asap!


I'm 4 years late in reading your post, but I just wanted to thank you for not joining the chorus of voices bashing this city.

Did you read the article in the New York Times this summer about our orchestra?

Thank you, and come back and visit any time!


authentic Italian in Indianapolis

The idea of "authenticity" here is so ridiculous and the idea that a person's having been to Italy allows him/her to make such horrible proclamations about the Italian food scene in an American city is such snobbery that this hardly deserves comment. I mean, just read a bit of Macella Hazan, and she'll tell you that what's "authentic" to one kitchen in Italy is completely different in another. The idea that ALL Italian food is the same and that any variations make it awful is just dispicable. Furthermore, I had some of Tony's food at Tavola di Tosa, and you people are confusing the fact that it wasn't "typical American" Italian food with the fact that it was "the only edible Italian food ever to come through Indianapolis." His gnocchi were so mushy that they became potato soup in the bowl. Another dish of pasta with sausage had a sauce almost entirely of reconstituted tomato paste--and I found the recipe that he said was his own house recipe on the web. Furthermore, most of the stuff in the blessed culinary meccas of the coast is messed with and isn't "authentic" either. The menu at Babbo has sweet potatoes, a New World ingredient, on it. Guess Batali guess an F for authenticity too. Maybe he should come cook in Indianapolis.

There is a lot of good "Italian" food in Indianapolis; you just have to look for certain dishes at certain restaurants, not to walk into a place and say, "Oh, my this isn't what a restaurant looks like in Italy. This city is AWFUL" (And the the person who said that there were choice few foodies in Indianapolis, he/she is simply wrong.) I'm sure that the original poster here would take issue with the amount of cheese on the chicken Botticelli at Amici's. Who cares--it's delicious! What about the pesto mac & cheese at Oakley's? Isn't it "Italian"? Tastes great. As does the lobster mac & cheese at Capitol Grille. How about the duck ravioli at Dunaway's? The veal chop is quite good at Ambrosia. I'll bet the risotto with diver scallops at Peterson's would be disqualified by knielson2 because it's got an apple relish on it and the scallops are from (gasp) Maine. I'll be glad to eat what knielson doesn't eat! The grilled and marinated eggplant antipasto at Amalfi is excellent. A pretty good pasta can be had at Agio, in fact, though I wouldn't ever order veal or seafood there. Neal Brown has two Italian-inspired dishes on his menu at L'Explorateur: Pan-roasted duck with pancetta and porcini and butternut squash ravioli with sage and wilted kale. Oakleys Bistro also now has chicken meatballs with preserved lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, garlic chips, and a bleu-cheese fondue. Sure, it's not "authentic," but I'll bet it's good too. I had a great pizza at Gusto! in Fountain Square the other day that, while not maybe as good as the one I had in Florence, sure hit the spot and wan't just smothered in toppings. And I could eat the balsamic vinegar ice cream at H2O Sushi every night of the week.

Okay, I could go on like this for a long time, but I think my point has been made. It's just amazing how much Indianapolis gets bashed by the posters on this site. Most often it seems more to the point of making the poster look culturally superior than to the point of actually allowing that this city might have some edible food and that some people know where to find it.

TJ's Frozen Scallops-What am I doing wrong?

The truth is--something like 99% of all grocery store scallops that are sold as "fresh" have been frozen at one point. Just because they aren't frozen when you buy them at your local grocery doesn't mean they weren't frozen at one time. Are people going down to the dock and buying them off a boat or what? I have found frozen scallops to be quite fine in texture, nothing like bad squid (though good squid can be quite tender).

Dec 31, 2006
indypoetchef in Home Cooking

Ok..I have to get this out in 2006..I HATE TRADER JOES

I am generally a fan of Trader Joe's. In the Midwest, it's one of the few places to get certain gourmet items. But it's still a big corporation aimed at making a buck. The thing that drives me nuts is how they eliminate the bottom 10% of underperforming items with some frequency. So, don't get attached to a favorite ingredient. They'll also change the packaging when certain things don't sell well enough. I mean, I fell in love with a very un-obscure item: aged cheddar potato chips. Soon enough, they were gone. Thankfully, scallops are back, though they aren't the same proportion as before. Truthfully, though, the best rule is to find as much stuff locally as possible and only rely on a place like Trader Joe's to round out your pantry.

Dec 30, 2006
indypoetchef in Chains

TJ's Frozen Scallops-What am I doing wrong?

Those scallops aren't "jumbo" enough to require slicing in half. So keep them whole, do as others have said with the defrosting, get the pan lightning hot, and don't go more than 2 minutes a side. Just when you see some color, take them off. If you want a great recipe for scallops that won't overcook go to the January issue of Food & Wine for a celery root and chestnut soup with Spanish chorizo. You put slices of raw scallops at the bottom of the bowls, and they poach in the hot soup. They're perfect!

Dec 30, 2006
indypoetchef in Home Cooking


The idea that Indianapolis is any more overrun by chains than any other city in the Midwest is absolutely a myth. Just drive across West 86th Street or down Lafayette Road or through Broad Ripple, and you'll see dozens of signs for restaurants unique to our city--many of them very good. Sure, we have our share of coporate eateries, but that TGI Friday's in Times Square does a pretty brisk business as well (and the diners aren't all tourists).

Visit to see a listing of over 750 international restaurants in Indianapolis, only a few of them chains. The website lists ethnicities from Turkish to Somali to Ethiopian to Korean to Iraqi to Belgian.

Among excellent local upscale eateries, try Oakleys, L'Explorateur, R Bistro, Elements, Shanghai Lil, Mikado, Peterson's, Danielli, 14 West, just to name a few. Dozens of quaint little Hoosier places as well.

I have lived here for 11 years and have probably eaten at chain restaurants less than 1% of the time--and I dine out at least 3 times a week.

Hope you can find time for all of our local eateries.

Oct 27, 2006
indypoetchef in Great Lakes