Best Of – Downtown Indianapolis Lunch

Good morning!  I’m starting a series this year called “Best of”.  This will be a Top-10 sort of list based on a random subject of my choosing.  I’m open to suggestions or requests so if there’s something you want me to cover feel free to post a comment below.

This time I’m going to focus on the weekday lunch in Downtown Indianapolis.  None of these are fancy but they’ve proven to be consistently good and are locked into the rotation of places I go on a regular basis (with the exception of one that just got added).  These are in no particular order and it’s certainly not a complete list.

Shapiro’s Deli

Often called an Indianapolis Institution this cafeteria style establishment turns out some of the best pastrami sandwiches around.  Their house made rye bread is a great complement to the tender and smoky meat piled high inside.  Prices are on the higher end of the spectrum and the staff can be a little abrasive, especially during the lunch rush.  This is a place that’s nice to visit once in a while for a filling meal and a little people watching while you eat.

Cluster Truck

This Indianapolis Startup is turning the food delivery business on its head by offering a large selection of favorites from many area restaurants delivered to your door quickly and efficiently.  All of the food is made to order in their central kitchen and delivered only within a 6-minute radius to help ensure your food is hot and fresh when you get it.  My only complaint, and it’s not just Cluster Truck, is the bicycle delivery riders are some of the most unsafe riders I’ve ever seen.  Running red lights, riding against traffic on one-way streets, and constant close calls with pedestrians in crosswalks.   It gives recreational cyclists a bad name with motorists and make it’s unsafe for everyone.

Hoagies and Hops

Only about a year old this place is located inside the Flat 12 brewery on Dorman Street (near east side).   They specialize in “Authentic Pennsylvania Hoagies”.  I’ve had many Cheesesteak Hoagies here and they’re legit.  From the house made shaved Top Round to the bread shipped straight from PA this place makes a mean sandwich.  It’s been known to cause me to want to take an afternoon nap on occasion.

Ralph’s Great Divide

Ralph’s, like a lot of hole in the wall places, is a little rough on the outside and you’re not going to know what to expect on your first visit.  The building has no windows and the parking is a little tricky because of the one-way street the building is saddled up against.  They have an outstanding version of creamy potato soup, a hamburger club sandwich,  and one of the best slices of coconut cream pie you can get in the city.  Service is always fast and friendly and it’s reasonably priced.

Sahm’s

The first Sahm’s restaurant opened  at 116th and Allisonville in 1986 and they have continued to grow over the past 30+ years.  I’ll always remember them for the pasta salad and coffee cake of which only the coffee cake is still on the menu.  They have several locations around central Indiana as well as a few spinoff locations called Rockstone and Big Lug a pizza and brewery respectively.  The Sahm’s location downtown, just north of the One America parking garage, includes a Rockstone menu and does a great lunch business.

Pearl Street Pizza

If someone didn’t tell you about Pearl Street Pizza you’d probably miss it as it’s in an alley, aptly named Pearl Street, that’s just south of Washington between Meridian and Pennsylvania.  Their lunch special of a speciality pizza slice, salad and drink is one of my go to lunches when the weather is nice for a little walk from the circle.   You can be in and out for under $8 in about 15 minutes if you’re pressed for time.  As I’m writing this post I learned Pearl Street will be opening a Fishers location in the coming months.  I hope they have the same lunch specials as they do downtown!

Subito

Truth be told I’ve only been to Subito once but it was a very good experience.  It’s a SMALL place with a loyal following.  On my visit the owner, Chuck, was taking each order and knew a lot of the customers by name.  He was super helpful and you could tell he was putting a LOT of effort to make it not only a good experience but a memorable one.  They have a rotating soup selection that I hear is really good.  On my visit I had a Cuban sandwich with a side of Macaroni Salad.  Both were outstanding.  Unfortunately the weather turned cold and I have not ventured down to Virginia Street since.  Another visit needs to happen soon because I’m craving that macaroni salad.

Wildwood

I’ve reviewed Wildwood before and it remains one of my top lunch spots downtown.  If I could figure out how to open one of these in Fishers I would.  They feature a different sandwich daily and I’m not aware of them EVER repeating a combination in the 2+ years I’ve gone there.  This is a place I have to hop in the car to get to at lunch but it’s worth it for the food, not to mention the cool little market with a great variety of speciality items.  I’ve made my share of impulse purchases to take back to the office.  View their daily sandwich creations on Instagram.

Fast Burrito

When I’m craving a Mission Style Burrito or the cheesiest Chicken Quesadilla you could ever imagine I hit the first floor of the Salesforce Tower and pop into Fast Burrito.  The food is fresh, the portions are huge, and the prices are reasonable.  This is a true alternative to the other fast casual burrito chains.  Their daily specials draw a steady crowd every day.

Pot Belly

This chain of sandwich shops has a premier location on the east side of Monument Circle.  It’s a very popular place at lunch time often with a line 20+ deep to the front door.  They have a decent selection of customizable sandwiches and salads at a mid-level price.  A bonus for the location is plenty of outside seating around the Solders and Sailors Monument, especially when the weather is cooperating.

Honorable Mention – Jimmy John’s

I’m not a fan of big chains but when I need something to eat and I need it quickly It’s hard to go wrong with an occasional sandwich from JJ’s.  The downtown location can typically deliver a sandwich in less time than it would take for me to walk to the location 3-blocks away.  Like I mentioned above regarding Cluster Truck JJ’s delivery cyclists can be reckless and downright dangerous at times so heads up if you’re near Meridian and Washington.

So that’s the first of what I hope to be many “Best Of” lists to be published this year.  It was actually kind of hard to narrow the list down to what I did as there are a LOT of great places to eat lunch downtown.  I already have a few drafts I’m working on that cover such things as Coffee Shops, Pizza Shops, and Grocery Stores.  Look for those in the coming months.  Enjoy your week!

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