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Ramen Ray restaurant, Indianapolis, Indiana
Ramen Ray

The best restaurants in Indianapolis

The best restaurants in Indianapolis include everything from historic food halls to James Beard-nominated restaurants

Written by Iona Brannon
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Indianapolis is a city on the rise. Forever linked to the iconic Indy 500, Naptown is waking up, embracing everything from its affordability to a charmingly pedestrian-friendly downtown and more. The riverfront? One of the most picturesque in the US, no less.

The best restaurants in Indianapolis add another string to this blossoming bow, and not a year seems to pass without another of the city’s top chefs gaining critical acclaim across the board. Foodies have plenty to feast on in Indy, from James Beard-nominated magic to convivial markets serving veritable feasts. 

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Indianapolis 

Best restaurants in Indianapolis

One of the restaurants under the Cunningham brand, Livery is a downtown dinner spot that offers Latin American cuisine such as skirt steak paired with Manchego-polenta fry or the corn empanada with truffle and jalapeño crema. Along with its extensive food menu, Livery also offers a variety of tequila and mezcal-based drinks that you can enjoy on its rooftop deck.

For dinner-only Vida, restaurateur Mike Cunningham took a shaky old building in the Lockerbie neighborhood and rebuilt it into the city's only AAA Four Diamond restaurant, one that wins kudos for its wine list and live wall of growing herbs and greens. Vida is helmed by chef Thomas Melvin who was nominated in the Best Chef category for the James Beard Awards in 2022; the chef's tasting menu is available for tables at $105 per person — or splurge with wine pairings for $165.

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Not technically a restaurant, Goose the Market is a local grocer and butcher shop. It's the perfect pit stop if you're heading out for a picnic or a day trip, as they have incredible sandwiches. Wednesday is the best day to stop in, as it's the only day they offer their Muffaletta sandwich stuffed with giardiniera and tapenade. 

For fantastic ramen in Indianapolis, Ramen Ray is the place to go. Jun Kuramoto and his wife Yoko wanted authentic ramen, so they decided to make it themselves. With fresh Sapporo-styled noodles imported from Hokkaido and then aged at the restaurant, their most popular items are the shoyu ramen and spicy miso ramen. The portions are large and cost about $18 per bowl.

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James Beard semifinalist and chef/owner Steven Oakley competed — and won — in 2017 on the Food Network show Beat Bobby Flay with one of his classic appetizers, a shrimp corndog. The whimsical dish has been such a hit that the chef says he can't take it off the menu. The line-up of beautifully plated dishes includes a variety of sharable plates, more traditional soups, salads, sides, and entrees. Don't miss their signature butternut squash maple soup or Stanley's meatloaf– or go for a delicious vegetarian option.

Initially established in 1930 as Naples Grill and then renamed Iozzo's Garden of Italy, the iconic Italian restaurant has set the standard for authentic Italian cuisine in Indianapolis. Tucked in the back, the restaurant's outdoor patio serves as an enchanting backdrop to decadent dishes such as their seared diver scallops and chicken piccata.

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Known for its olive oil tamales and vegan-friendly options, Tlaolli offers classic Mexican fare and contemporary items such as vegan birria tacos and hibiscus flower tacos. Don't miss the top-rated NoNoNo tacos (no meat, no dairy, no gluten), complete with roasted poblanos and soy chorizo over a bed of pureed black beans. Time your visit well, as the shop is only open Thursday through Saturday.

Although Leviathan Bakehouse has only been open since 2020, the bakery has raised the bar for Indianapolis pastry-making. On their menu, you can find fresh-baked bread such as spicy polenta sourdough and seasonal baked goods such as the saag paneer savory danish. Their breakfast sandwich, made on a house-made croissant with Turchetti ham, shallot-baked eggs, and salsa verde, is a breakfast favorite.

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Tucked away inside Saraga International Market, Asian Snack is an authentic taste of traditional Chinese food. The unassuming shop offers classic dishes like mapo tofu, egg and chive pockets, and beef noodle soup. They also have regular favorites such as spicy fish soup and marinated pork ears. 

The city's first public market opened here in 1866, and the Indianapolis City Market today operates as a downtown food hall. You'll find some of the city's best po' boys at Cafe Olivia, the gourmet sandwich shop that's been in the market for more than 15 years. Maxine's Chicken & Waffles serves fresh chicken and waffles topped with peach butter and the southern classic fried green tomatoes, among other comfort food. Visitors can find middle-eastern-inspired drinks and baked desserts at Cath Coffee and Tea House. Many vendors operate in this historic market, and you can even try 19 different local draft brews at the upstairs Tomlinson Tap Room.

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