Five Indy hot spots that offer great food and a great time:
Hoosiers have it made in the shade of Lucas Oil Field, where, at the corner of South and Delaware streets, Caleb France serves up ultra mod renditions of hearty American cooking with global appeal at his praiseworthy Cerulean. At midday, it’s quiet in the intimate bar area; grab a table in the corner by the windows and get comfy on the leather couch. Ordering the one-price bento box affair for lunch (we recommend the skirt steak dressed in tangy chimichurri sauce). Dinner offers more of the same, only elevated and a la carte, and because Cerulean is cool-as-can-be tucked into swanky boutique hotel, The Alexander, we say toast your have-arrived status with a whiskey flight.
339 S. Delaware St., Indianapolis, 317.870.1320
Head to the Wholesale District for a stop at this self-titled "sports bar"—but despite the televisions broadcasting the latest news courtside, we'd gamely label this rustic-chic bar in the historic Omni Severin Hotel more vintage-hip than Pacers-enthusiast. Start with bartender Adam Seger's take on a pre-Prohibition-era cocktail, like the Sherry Cobbler, and then move on to a Manhattan made with Bulleit Rye, sweet vermouth and cherry bitters. A tamer evening can be had working through the list of Indiana ales—and what pairs better with that than the Severin's signature bacon "Picks" slathered in bourbon-maple glaze? Next up: the addicting cheese dip, deviled eggs with bacon, and the too-good-to-be-true burger tucked into a pretzel roll and topped with cheddar, onion rings, and more bacon, because, well, why not.
40 W. Jackson Place, Indianapolis, 317.634.6664
Pick up the well-marked Indianapolis Cultural Trail and head in the direction of Fountain Square. You won’t have traveled far before coming upon a pretty, vintage-style sign painted graffiti-like on the side of a buttercream brick building. Despite the overt homage to one of Indy’s best restaurants Bluebeard, it is easy to overlook the entrance (to the right). But do find it and you’ll be rewarded with a delightful noshing experience from chef Abbi Adams, who sources hyper-local ingredients. Try the creative charcuterie (Delaware fireball, anyone?), mussels with bacon, and spaghetti with meatballs. J.B. Andrews’ bar features stiff bourbon and gin-based craft cocktails, as well as few ones made from the house’s-own ginger beer.
653 Virginia Ave., Indianapolis, 317.686.1580
Sink into a velvety chair in the bar room at local darling Napolese on South Meridian—not only will your posterior thank you, your palate will, once it gets a taste of the Neapolitan-style artisan pizza being fired in the kitchen. Hand-formed crust serves as the base for the Fuzzy's Pie (braised trip-tip, oven-roasted tomatoes, arugula and house-made ricotta) and Casanova's Delight (prosciutto, taleggio). But if you're up for a delicious challenge, try your hand at freestyling one with toppings like spiced white cheddar, quail eggs, tuna conserva, pickled scallions and new potatoes. Sip as you go on a Triton Fieldhouse wheat ale, or wash it down after with a nonalcoholic chocolate cremosa.
30 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis, 317.635.0765
A honky-tonk-hip vibe pervades this year-old addition to Indy's Mass Ave arts district, and Bakersfield doesn't disappoint with its take on authentic Mexican street food. We simply love the tacos, all eight styles of them, but favorites include the tacos al pastor with its chili-marinated pork and pineapple, and the spicy-citrusy-crispy mahi fish. Belly up to the bar for 64-ounce pitcher of the house's signature agave-nectar margarita, or, if you're feeling a little more adventurous (yes, more adventurous than a 64-ounce margarita!) sip from the extensive premium tequila and whiskey selection, Bakersfield's specialty.
334 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, 317.635.6962