If you’ve got wanderlust leftover from spring break, but no time or budget for a weekend getaway, check out these dining spots in the area, where you and your friends can get your fix of a vacation vibe. Some are less than 10 minutes away, some an hour away, but you don’t want to graduate without checking out these prime spots for food, fellowship and fun.
Public Greens – Broadripple, IN
If the weather is warm, this restaurant and location will make you feel like you’re on a boardwalk near the beach. I recently brought a few friends here from out of town, and one friend actually said “this has such a beachy vibe.” That’s a true accomplishment for the middle of Indiana.
There’s outdoor seating and delicious fresh food with tons of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. I personally recommend the fried cauliflower dish. The café also boasts Stumptown coffees originating from Portland, Oregon, so if you want a West Coast experience this weekend, be sure to check it out. The restaurant is run by the same owners of Café Patachou in Fishers, if that gives you any idea of the quality and creativity of the dishes. If that isn’t enough to convince you to visit: all of the profits generated by Public Greens go to the Patachou Foundation, which was established to fight hunger and homelessness affecting children.
Ninja of Japan – Anderson, IN (38th Street)
This restaurant opened within the past couple years and has quickly become an Anderson favorite among AU students. If you’ve only got an hour for dinner with friends, stop by Ninja of Japan for delicious sushi and an inviting ambience. If you don’t like sushi I recommend trying it. Still afraid? You can get hibachi rice and meat dishes, udon noodles and even Chinese takeout classics like sesame chicken. The menu boasts miso soup, and in my opinion one of Anderson’s best salads, the avocado salad, which comes with ginger dressing to top it. Stop by for a local break from the monotony of dorm cuisine.
Milktooth – Indianapolis, IN (Virginia Ave.)
This brunch spot is nearly always busy. It may seem impossible to get a table during the prime brunch hours, but even if you can’t, I beg you to order a coffee to go. The espresso is caramelly, fruity and flavorful. It is a wonderful spot for carefully crafted dishes and coffee drinks, and if you’ve never had good espresso, this is a great place to start. The brunch dishes are creative and artisanal, so it may not be the best spot for an unadventurous palette, but try it anyway. The ambience is all that a hip downtown brunch spot should be, with outdoor seating in warmer weather and great lighting for diners to photograph their beautifully-prepared brunches and espressos.
Cake Bake Shop – Broadripple, IN
If you haven’t heard of it, you must not be on Instagram, because there are surely thousands of posts of this spot’s decadent interior. It is every 5-year-old girl’s dream. However, the cutesy decorative flair of Cake Bake is not the highlight: the treats are. Even haters of the color pink can enjoy the delicious desserts and creative coffee drinks, punches and teas the shop has to offer. I recently had the tiramisu cake, and it was perfect. The frosting is the right balance of sugary and fluffy, with a level of sweetness that won’t make you feel sick. The baked goods, including lemon bars, brownies, macaroons and more, are covered in edible sparkles. It can be hard to snag a seat at one of the indoor petite marble tables on a Friday or Saturday night, but with the warmer weather it is much easier since outdoor seating has been opened up. Try to get out of here without snapping a few photos: it’s impossible.
India Sizzling – Fishers, IN
If you haven’t partaken in an Indian meal, you are sorely missing out. I’ve tried several Indian restaurants around the Indianapolis area, including in Anderson, Broadripple, Fishers, Muncie, and the heart of the city, and this is my consistent favorite. Indian food offers many vegetarian options while also having the savory tastes typically reserved for meat dishes. The spice level of Indian dishes is something to note, however, and an Indian “hot” or “10” is not something to mess around with. Start off mild. Indian food includes some of the most flavorful dishes, in my opinion, and my favorites are chana masala, aloo gobi, and navrathan korma. I will say, though, that the absolute best dish to get from India Sizzling is the fried cauliflower appetizer. It is a vegetarian’s dream, and each time I go, I consider just ordering this appetizer as my full meal. But watch out, because it’s spicy.
The Nile – Anderson, IN
An Anderson classic, this mediterranean lunch and dinner spot is within walking distance of campus, which means, even if you don’t have a car, you can make it. If you haven’t tried The Nile, take a couple of hours for a weeknight getaway to go, sit and enjoy dinner and dessert. This small restaurant has a nice, relaxing ambience with mediterranean flair. The dishes range from lamb kabobs to lentil soup to spanakopita, and there are many options for vegetarians. The hummus appetizer is delectable and filling, and you can tell that it’s fresh. Most of all, I love the lentil soup. I cannot praise the lentil soup enough, and even for dinner, the lentil soup and a salad will be enough to satisfy me, because it is that delicious. Stick around for dessert if you have the time, becauase the after-dinner coffee options are quite nice as well, and you can get your hands on a yummy baklava to try.
Bangkok Thai Restaurant – Indianapolis, IN
This restaurant has the perfect dinner-date ambience. The food is delicious if you’re into thai, and the live jazz on Saturday nights provides an even classier feel for diners. A highlight is the calamari appetizer in a sweet chili sauce, if you’re brave enough to try it. It tends to not be very busy, so getting a table won’t take long even on a Friday or Saturday night. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into La La Land, with the decorative interior and jazz background music. Thai food offers many options for vegetarians, as well, since you can get tofu in mostly any dish.