Indianapolis Essentials

Eat, drink, and be merry in all the favorite local spots.

Food and Drink Essentials

WHERE TO BUY BASIC GROCERIES

Aldi
9 locations in the metro area
The German grocery chain has an increasing footprint in Indy. Its emphasis on house brands makes it one of the most economical places to shop for basics -- if your shopping list is flexible, that is: not everything is available all the time. But locals know to stop here in late fall to pick up authentic German stollen and other European holiday treats.

WHERE TO BUY SPECIALTY FOODS

Whole Foods
14598 Clay Terrace Blvd., Carmel, and 1300 E. 86th St., Indianapolis
Whole Foods two northside locations in Indy. They can fix you up with organic goods and high-quality meats and grocery items.

Trader Joe’s
5473 E. 82nd St. and 2902 W. 86th St.
Yes, you can get Two Buck Chuck in Indy, along with all your other favorite TJ’s items.

WHERE TO BUY LOCAL

Indianapolis City Market
222 E. Market St.
There’s been a market on this site since the city was platted in 1821. Although food (including restaurant fare) is available inside the market six days a week, year round, the place really bustles from May through October. That's when the Indianapolis Farmers Market sets up outside on Market Street from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Wednesday.

Broad Ripple Farmers Market
1115 E. Broad Ripple Ave.

Zionsville Farmers Market
Hawthorne and Main streets, Zionsville
Since Indy’s located in the heart of the farm belt, there are seasonal markets all over town. The ones at Broad Ripple Avenue and Zionsville are local favorites. They’re open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, May to October.

Trader’s Point Creamery
9101 Moore Rd., Zionsville
Not only are the milk, ice cream and cheeses made locally, but the creamery sponsors a year-round farmers market -- outdoors during the growing season (when everything’s available) and inside the barn during the winter, when greenhouse-grown salad greens, breads and prepared foods are offered.

Claus’ German Sausage & Meats
1845 S. Shelby St., Indianapolis
Homemade sausage, lunchmeats and fresh and smoked meats are the real deal here. The owner, a master sausage-maker from Frankfurt, Germany, bought the hundred-year-old business from his uncle a few years ago. Hunters love the place: bring in your own boneless wild game meat and have it turned into custom-made sausages and burgers.

WHERE TO INDULGE YOUR SWEET TOOTH

The Best Chocolate in Town
880 Massachusetts Ave.
All the chocolates are handmade and hand-packed right here in Elizabeth Garber’s combination commercial kitchen and retail space in the Mass Ave Cultural District. Don’t miss the buttery caramels!

Also try: South Bend Chocolate Company
3 locations: 20 N. Meridian St. and 6020 E. 82nd St. (in Castleton Square Mall), 1251 US Highway 31 N. (in Greenwood Park Mall), Greenwood
Chocolate-covered-cherry treats are a specialty.

WHERE TO STOP FOR BREAKFAST ON A SATURDAY

Shapiro’s
808 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis, 918 S Rangeline Road, Carmel
Founded in 1905, Shapiro’s opens at 6:30 a.m. at both the original downtown and newer suburban locations to serve the heartiest of appetites with traditional Russian Jewish deli fare.

WHERE TO SPLURGE ON DINNER

R Bistro
888 Massachusetts Ave.
Chef/owner Regina Mehalik features locally grown ingredients on a small but inventive menu that changes weekly. You’ll never have the same thing twice.

WHERE TO EAT SUSHI

Sakura
7201 N. Keystone Ave.
Although flashier Japanese restaurants have arrived on the scene, locals who’ve actually lived in Japan swear by the authenticity of the offerings at Sakura, which also operates a small grocery nearby.

WHERE TO ENJOY A REAL BURGER

96th Street Steakburgers
4715 E. 96th St.
The only items on their menu are steakburgers (not hamburgers), fries and milkshakes. That says it all.

WHERE TO GET A LATTE

Abbey Coffeehouse
825 N. Pennsylvania St., 317-663-4739
Yep, we’ve got Starbucks, but why go for corporate sameness when you can sit and sip at the Abbey, a prototypical coffeehouse.

WHERE TO TAKE THE FAMILY FOR DINNER

Hollyhock Hill Restaurant
8110 N. College Ave.
For generations, Indy residents have been dining family style at this classic purveyor of comfort food. Everybody likes fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans, right?

Nightlife Essentials

WHERE TO GET A BEER

Rathskeller
401 E. Michigan St.
Tucked into the cellar of the historic Das Deutsche Haus in the Mass Ave Cultural District, the Rathskeller is reminiscent of a 19th-century beer hall in a Bavarian inn. Animal heads and princely banners adorn the walls, but the biggest attraction is the brew list full of beers from Germany, the rest of Europe and microbreweries across the United States.

WHERE TO GET A LATE-NIGHT BITE

Red Eye Cafe
250 S. Meridian St.
It’s open 24-7 on the southside of downtown. They serve breakfast all day, as well as lasagna, Reubens, jambalaya, you name it.

WHERE TO DANCE

Indiana Roof Ballroom
140 W. Washington St.
Dancing under the stars is magical, even if the stars are electric. This dance hall -- which looks like the courtyard of a Spanish coastal village complete with a nighttime sky of twinkling stars, clouds and a crescent moon -- has been the site of black-tie events since 1927. The Indiana Roof Ballroom also offers six Sunday evening Big Band dances each year, which are open to the public.

Entertainment Essentials

WHERE TO GET YOUR CULTURE FOR FREE

Indianapolis Museum of Art
4000 Michigan Rd.
After an abortive experiment with paid admission, it’s once again free to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
3000 Meridian St.
Although the museum charges admission, you can take your family and get in free from 4 to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.

WHERE TO MEET PEOPLE

Concerts on the Canal
Indiana History Center
450 W. Ohio St.
Between 6 and 8 p.m. on Thursdays in the summer, Indy residents of all ages mix and mingle at concerts held along the banks of the Central Canal outside the Indiana History Center.

Broad Ripple Arts Fair
820 E. 67th St.
One of a number of festive arts fairs in the city, this one is held the third weekend in May on the grounds of the Artspark surrounding the Indianapolis Art Center.

WHERE YOUNG COUPLES GO

Melody Inn
3826 N. Illinois St.
The Melody Inn, near Butler University, has been catering to a young clientele since 1935. Young couples head here for the latest in punk rock, acid jazz, techno, rockabilly, alternative rock and acoustic rock, plus open-mic nights.

WHERE TO FIND FUNKY LOCAL SHOPS

Broad Ripple Village
This area along Broad Ripple Avenue between College Avenue and White River, is known not only for its shops but also for its nightlife.

Mass Ave
Arts and culture are the focus of this district that stretches along Massachusetts Avenue from Delaware Street northeast to Interstate 70. Some of the best locally owned restaurants are here, too.

WHERE TO TAKE THE KIDS

Pepsi Coliseum
Indiana State Fairgrounds
1202 E. 38th St.
Ice skating is offered in the Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds October through April. Skate rental is available, and there are lessons for all ages.

Outdoor Essentials

WHERE TO TAKE A HIKE

Eagle Creek Park
7840 W. 56th St.
City-owned Eagle Creek Park is an oasis of woodland and water in the northeast corner of Indy. Hiking trails, a beach and paddleboat rentals are just a few of the reasons locals flock here year round.

WHERE TO TAKE FIDO

Broad Ripple Community Park
1550 Broad Ripple Ave.

Eagle Creek Park
7840 W. 56th St.

Paul Ruster Park
11300 E. Prospect St.

Indianapolis has been a pioneer in dog parks (aka “bark parks”). The city has three Canine Companion Zones, which require annual passes for admission for dogs and owners.

WHERE TO GET A FAB VIEW OF THE CITY

Strawberry Hill, Crown Hill Cemetery
700 W. 38th St.
Although strawberries haven’t grown there in many decades, this highest point in Indianapolis still provides the best view in town. James Whitcomb Riley, known as the Hoosier Poet, is buried here in Crown Hill Cemetery. Locals stop by on Oct. 7, the anniversary of Riley’s birth in 1849, to leave a penny in his honor. The money is collected and donated to the children’s hospital in Indianapolis that’s named for him.

Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors' Monument
Monument Circle
Take the small elevator to the top of the monument, erected in 1901 in the center of the city, and step onto the observation deck for a panoramic view of downtown Indy.

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