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We’re cruisin’ the race capitol of the world –  Indianapolis. But there’s more than just fast cars in the Hoosier capitol. National restaurant guide Zagat calls Indy one of the hottest food cities in America. So bring your appetite!

From St. Elmo’s Steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis to colorful watering holes like Thunderbird serving the tenderest fried chicken anywhere, you’ll take a hankering to the sizzlin’ restaurant scene in the capitol city where food reap the bounty of the Indiana heartland.

“We have so many awesome farmers and producers and what we really get is a bunch of chef’s that are just trying to work with the awesome ingredients that they have presented to them,” said Thunderbird’s executive chef Kristen York.

The hip Fountain Square neighborhood is where the Thunderbird, a former recording studio and rockabilly club, serves up fresh-fruit Tiki drinks with over proof rum.

Hungry patrons scarf down Braunschweiger pork liver sausage “Pop Tarts” with red-wine onion marmalade and whole grain mustard glaze.

It’s an east side classic: grilled tenderloin sandwiches as big as your plate at the throwback Rock Cola Cafe, a 50s style diner with juicy burgers, Philly’s & Reuben’s.

‘Warsh’ it all down with an Indy original, Choc-Ola, a sweet and chocolaty drink.

And for the hardiest breakfast in Central Indiana order the “trailer park” platter with eggs, green peppers, grilled onions,  ham and hash browns.  Or upgrade to a “double wide” with home-made sausage gravy.

“Most people will take one of these meals, cut it in half, box it up and take it home for later,” said Sam Iaria from Rock Cola Cafe.

Now onto the West Side of Indianapolis.

Chef Mohammad Jiallo learned to cook back home in West Africa. Now he’s dazzling food lovers with his African Caribbean cuisine.

From spicy Jerk chicken to beef kabobs served with sweet plantains and beans on a bed of rice, Chef Jiallo says, “I have something for everybody. We have Oxtail. We have Red Snapper. We have Tilapia.”

The beautiful view is the thing northwest of downtown Indy at Rick’s Café Boatyard.

The Eagle Creek Reservoir gets you in the mood with fresh seafood flown in from the coasts.

“I had Maryland crab cakes and they were delicious. Nobody in Indiana makes crab cakes like this,” said food lover Anne Lewis.

The gleaming canal walk and upscale hotels make Indiana’s capitol a major attraction. But see how the natives live east of downtown in Chatham Arch.

“Chatham Arch is a historic neighborhood.  And within that is Mass Ave.  Which is a cultural district where really, all the locals go,” said Leesa Smith.

Smith operates the comfortable Nestle Inn  built in 1896 and now beautifully rehabbed into a modern B & B. Each room with a private bath  free wi-fi and self check-in, so you arrive on your own schedule.

In the morning, just a short walk away, savor a butter scotch latte with fresh orange peel.

“We have flexible breakfast options.  We give you a voucher when you check in and you can go and get breakfast when you want.”

Take your voucher to the historic Athanaeum and lively Coat Check Coffee shoe-horned into the theater’s old coat-check room.

The home-made quiche, fresh & flaky is the best you’ve ever tasted.

In the evening embrace the German hospitality at the Rathskeller  one of the city’s oldest restaurants.

The authentic ‘Biergarten’ and spirited conversation is the delicious ending to your culinary adventure.


Visit Indiana
(800) 677-9800

Nestle Inn
637 East Street

1127 Shelby Street

Rock Cola 50’s Café
5730 S Brookville Road

Jiallo’s African-Caribbean Cuisine
5130 38th Street

The Rathskeller
401 E. Michigan Street

Coat Check Coffee (in the Athenaeum)
401 E. Michigan Street

Rick’s Café Boatyard
4050 Dandy Trail