If there's one thing Hoosiers know how to do and do well, it's eat great food. These 10 restaurants are the essential Indiana flavors with some fusion thrown in for good measure. Order up!
Since 1902, St. Elmo's has been an Indianapolis institution. The longest-standing steakhouse in Indiana, St. Elmo's still warms its original location that was originally a gentlemen's retreat. Already famed for their superb steak and seafood dishes, St. Elmo's is now famed for its legacy as a professional, well-oiled machine, and a fusion of old and new that gives honor to the immediately-post-Victorian beginnings while bringing in the trendy crowds that have just spend a day at nearby Circle Center Mall and wish for a more modern fare. Many restaurants come and go, but St. Elmo's has stood the test of time.
If you're in Indiana and you have a hankering for pizza, there is no question—you must try Pizza King. Indiana has been very selfish with our Royal Feast … Pizza King is considered a chain restaurant, but every single location is in northeast central Indiana. When they say a large pizza, they mean a large pizza, and it … is … loaded. The Royal Feast, Pizza King's signature “everything” pizza, is unbelievably heavy and chock full of their own blend of pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. The unique feature of Pizza King pizza, besides the minced ingredients that allow for the perfect bite every time, is the square cut of the pie. Two-inch squares make the consumption much easier, and allow you to eat ten pieces of pizza without feeling guilty. Patrons come literally from across the nation for Pizza King pizza. It's an Indiana institution that you'll only get in the Hoosier State.
According to Yelp.com, Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, said that the Mississippi Belle was one of his favorite restaurants. Southern soul food is served in its full glory, fresh every day. The sweet tea is sweet, the mac-and-cheese is real, and the fried chicken rivals the Colonel's. You're not coming for the décor and atmosphere, you're coming for the out-of-this-world food and the endearing charm of the wait staff. Patrons have recalled catching a glimpse into the kitchen and seeing a tiny little grandma stirring a pot that was almost as big as she was. For comfort food of the Southern soul flavor, Mississippi Belle is the place to be.
For higher-end Irish-American fare, Murphy's @ Flynn's is the place. Although ownership, name, and location has changed four times since 1958, the quality and homecoming feel have not changed. It's not a bargain basement by any stretch of the imagination, but the food is well worth the price. Steak, seafood, gourmet salads, and expertly crafted side dishes (such as real onion rings battered in what else … Irish beer!) make for a hearty meal that'll stick to ye ribs!
It's definitely on the ritzy side, but that sort of happens when you're the only rooftop revolving restaurant in the state! The Eagle's Nest, a restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, is a fine dining restaurant and lounge only open for dinner service. Named by OpenTable as one of the “Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America” and “Top 100 Scenic View Restaurants in America” for 2013 and 2014, the Eagle's Nest is both an intimate dinner-for-two atmosphere and a very upscale gathering place for private parties. Catering is available. It may be connected to the hotel, but there's no eating in your pajamas in this dining room, so dress business casual. Reservations only!
Chopsticks ready … your chef at the Fujiyama Steak House of Japan is not just a chef, he's an entertainer. Who doesn't love pulling your chair up to a table whose centerpiece is a hibachi with a culinary acrobat who can crack an egg on the side of his spatula? This is not your typical Oriental takeout house, it's much more. You're surrounded by the atmosphere of fusion between ancient and modern Japan, the aroma of fresh cooking in the kitchen-dining room, and the excited gasps and laughs as the chef prepares your meal in masterful artistry. If you love Japanese cuisine, you'll love Fujiyama Steak House of Japan.
Located in the Sheraton on Monument Circle of Indianapolis, Alexander's is a ritzier version of “burgers and beer.” The casual atmosphere paired with the rich dark wood and mood lighting provides an intimate hotel dining experience for one or several. They prepare everything fresh daily and offer some unique fare that isn't often seen on Midwest menus, namely the Southwest Bison Burger, cod, and prawns. They don't have an official website or Facebook page, but it's the only one in Indiana. Find the Monument Circle Sheraton and you'll find Alexander's.
Formerly Welliver's, Willie and Red's Smorgasbord in Hagerstown, Indiana, is an atmospheric restaurant with a feast for your eyes as well as your stomach. Buffet-style bars of comfort food paired with more modern fare combines with the charming interior for a truly unique meal. The newly-renovated Smorgasbord sports the Mill Room, a dining room featuring a working water wheel, as well as samples of visual art giving splashes of color to the warm blonde wood planking that clothes the walls. The restaurant affectionately known by its long-time patrons as “the Hagerstown Smorgasbord” is an east-central Indiana community fixture that continues to win over the hearts of its diners.
Looking for something edgy, unique, trendy, and delicious? Pangea Kitchen in the southern tip of the state features the freshest local, seasonal ingredients to prepare “clean” meals that actually don't taste like cardboard spritzed with grass-infused vinegar. Pasta is prepared fresh in-house as is the freshest of mozzarella for their elegantly simple pizza pies and light-and-bright options. This “Global Soul Food Market” is an innovation in fusion cuisine that, as the name suggests, brings all continents together onto one plate for an altogether out-of-this-world dining experience.
The former roadside inn (we're talking horse-and-buggy era) has been redressed inside and out, with a charming garden in back complete with a stone fountain and lush moss. The interior is both quaint and luxurious, with rich 19th century decorating accented by period art, antiques, and period-style furniture. Nooks and crannies have been built into the interior of the restaurant and stocked with curio to give your eyes something to find while you dine on the absolutely delicious meal brought to you by period-dressed servers. The Kopper Kettle is more than a family-style hole-in-the-wall … it's an upscale dining experience warmed by the charm of a cozy bed and breakfast. Located on the historic Route 52 leading to the great West, the Kopper Kettle is on the national gourmet map for a very delicious reason!