Indianapolis is known for its many steakhouses like St. Elmo’s (locals have been scoring sizzling sirloins there since 1902), but you might be surprised to find that it also has a growing farm-to-table dining scene. Chefs are making names for themselves by offering local, seasonal menus using the bounty of Indiana. So on your next visit (Indy 500, anyone?), check out the following local-loving restaurants.
The newly hip warehouse district of Broad Ripple is where James Beard-nominated and European-trained chef Regina Mehallick wows diners with her weekly changing dinner menus at R Bistro. Expect dishes such as spiced scallops with braised red cabbage and pork loin with a potato-celery root gratin. Indiana native David Letterman, who went to high school in Broad Ripple, is a fan of the bistro.
Don’t Miss: While the menu changes, chicken is popular here—try the roasted chicken leg with walnut sauce, squash, and rice pilaf.
The intimate Recess, with an industrial chic décor comes to us from chef-owner Greg Hardesty, who previously worked with Joachim Splichal and Drew Nieporent. Leg of lamb with balsamic-glazed mushrooms and wild striped bass with roasted fennel are the type of dishes you’ll find on his four-course prix-fixe menus, made daily from scratch. A full wine list and local beers like Mad Anthony IPA are also offered.
Don’t Miss: Fischer Farms beef strip loin with red potatoes and melted leeks along with a cremini mushroom sauce is the perfect comfort food.
Started by former prosecutor Martha Hoover in 1989, Cafe Patachou serves only breakfast/lunch and was one of the city’s organic movement pioneers (there are now several other branches in the city). Free-range Indiana eggs, hormone-free Indiana chicken, bread made from hand-milled flour, and gluten-free salad dressings (the creamy buttermilk herb is divine) are just a sampling of the ingredients used.
Don’t Miss: You can’t go wrong with a three-egg omelet—The Bon Vivant features Nueske’s ham, Swiss, onion and grainy mustard.
Within the city limits is Trader’s Point Creamery, a 300-acre organic dairy farm—its sells milk, cheese, ice cream, and its yogurt is sold at Whole Foods—after a tour of the creamery stick around for a meal at the on-site organic restaurant in a renovated barn where the menu might include locally supplied pork with an apple-bacon-sage chutney and grilled wild salmon slathered in a honey-mustard glaze.
Don’t Miss: The salads and soups are delicious but it’s hard to resist the farm burger—a 100% grass-fed beef patty served on a whole grain bun with red onion and garlic aioli.
This casual and affordable cafe-cum-gallery in Fountain Square owned by Jon and Amy Andrus serves an array of fresh and locally sourced, organic fare including sandwiches, soups, salads and Mexican items—with plenty of vegetarian/vegan selections. A few standouts: bbq chicken pita pizza, gouda-stuffed jalapenos with herb ranch dressing, and the chicken-and-apple quesadilla.
Don’t Miss Dish: The sandwiches are top-sellers. Try the roast beef with arugula, red onion, and a homemade lemon basil aioli on ciabatta bread.
Photo Credits: R Bistro: R Bistro by Edsel Little Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License; Recess: Courtesy of Recess; Cafe Patachou: Cafe Patachou; The Loft: Courtesy of Traders Point Creamery; Pure Eatery: Courtesy of Cafe Patachou