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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
I’m always looking for something different for lunch when working downtown. One of the many things I love about Indy are all the dining options. It seems like a new one comes online every week so it’s fun scoping them out and adding to them to the rotation. I had lunch with a foodie friend in Fountain Square a couple of months ago. While driving up Virginia Ave, on our way back downtown, we spotted Wildwood Market and had to stop.
If you’re familiar with Locally Grown Gardens in SoBro you should have an idea what to expect at Wildwood. It’s a similar concept where an old Service Station type building has been repurposed as a neighborhood mini-market. What makes these places different from the chain stores (7-11 or Village Pantry) is they specialize in locally sourced items and products with ingredients you can pronounce.
From a sheer number of items, and variety, this place is amazing. Dry goods, meats, cheeses, frozen items, and fresh bread, this place is a MUST VISIT to get all the goodies for your next picnic. Also a good place to pickup holiday treats for the foodies in your life.
A short while back Wildwood started offering a rotating sandwich and salad of the day for lunch. Priced at around $8.00 each and full of all kinds of interesting flavor combinations it was an immediate hit for me! In fact I’m going out there at least once a week to grab a sandwich and eat it on site (several seating options) or back at the office when things are hectic. Wildwood Market posts today’s specials on their Facebook Page every day around 11am so you have something to think about for the next hour.
Today’s Lunch Sandwich: Pastrami, Peppered Smoking Goose Bacon, Cabot Extra Sharp White Cheddar, Roasted Poblano, Creamy Red Pepper Vinaigrette, Mixed Greens On Rye Bread.
Pair that with a bag of McClure’s Spicy Pickle potato chips and an Oatmeal Pecan Carmel Cookie for dessert you have a great meal for around $12.50 (enough to split with a friend if you’re a light eater).
A word of warning. The sandwiches and salads are first-come first-served and when they’re gone they’re gone. I always try to get there by 12:30pm and have yet to walk out empty handed. I really need to start trying the salads as they have some great combinations as well but I can’t quote get over how good those sandwiches are!
Wildwood is open Mon – Sat 10AM – 8PM. They do a special breakfast dish as well as lunch on Saturday.
Have you been here? What did you think? Post your feedback below.
This was the first time I’d tried Goose for lunch & they had a pretty steady lunch crowd. Each sandwich is made to order and the bread is pressed and toasted. After getting my order in I was told it would take about 15 minutes. Just enough time to wander around the market and check out all of the unique and seasonal products.
Within about 10 minutes my name was called and I was handed a warm little bundle wrapped in brown butcher paper.
Goose the Market was named as one of the Top 10 Sandwich Shops by Bon Appetite with good reason. The Batali (named after Mario Batali’s father) is a fresh and chewy baguette stuffed full of spicy coppa, soppressata, capocolla, provolone, tomato preserves, hot giardinara, marinated red onion, mayo, romaine. It’s big, messy and unbelievably delicious. In fact, letting the sandwich sit for a while only helps because the bread absorbs some of the mess and the flavors have a little time to meld.
The Batali reminds me of the Pressed Picnic Sandwich I’m very fond of and it’s a lot less work to get! At $7.85 it’s a great deal and one that I’ll be adding to my lunch rotation. In fact since starting this post a few weeks ago I’ve already returned and had the sandwich again. It was just as amazing as the first time.
When I think about comfort food Chinese take-out is on the short list. Although I consider myself a decent cook this is one cuisine I just can’t seem to do very well.
There are a limited number of options in the immediate area of my office and the other day I suddenly got the craving for Pork Fried Rice. Having passed the Happy Dragon on E 71st street several times I decided to give it a shot (and write a brief review in the process).
Happy Dragon is located in the standard strip mall setting, has the usual walk up counter, and seating for about 20 people. Per the norm for any place like this the counter is complete with a 4-inch high stack of 11×17 menus and take-away boxes stapled to the wall indicating the size options. Nothing unusual here.
Already knowing what I wanted I just glanced at the menu. Thinking back on it I’m not sure what I was looking for because I think these menus are the same in every Chinese take-out establishment.
I had come in for Pork Fried Rice and that’s what I was going to leave with (I’m stubborn that way). After placing my order, around $4.75 for a small container, I took a seat. Like clockwork my order was ready in about 4 minutes with its cardboard cube packed so tightly that it weighed much more than you would expect given it’s size.
I grabbed a few packets of assorted sauces and went on my way. I forgot how truly awful packaged soy-sauce is. It has no flavor and if you’re not careful you’ll end up wearing some of it when the stubborn packet decides to pop open in the midst of your 3rd attempt at opening it. What I failed to do is take advantage of the bottle of Kikkoman soy that was sitting on a side table. It’s not my favorite soy (that honor goes to San-J) but it’s guaranteed to have some flavor to it.
Back at the office I was ready to dive in after smelling the fried rice in the car for the last 5-minutes. Per the norm, the box was packed tightly and little pieces of rice fell all over my desk as I carefully opened the top. I had to dig around a little with a fork to loosen things up. I was pleased with the amount of pork in the dish as well as the overall preparation, nicely cooked rice and just a bit of that char that’s all but impossible to replicate in the home kitchen. This dish was exactly what I wanted and had craved just a short time before.
I’m glad I ordered the small size because I almost couldn’t finish the order. I tried a few packets of soy (yuck) as well as duck sauce and spicy mustard. All of the other condiments tasted great. Happy Dragon also has hot sauce which was pretty good on the fried rice.
The Pork Fried Rice from Happy Dragon was a solid dish. Compared to other alternatives in the area it’s inexpensive, filling and quick to obtain. I’m going to have to add this place to my rotation of lunch spots in the area. I’m also going to take a closer look at the menu next time to see if there’s anything on there that lures me away from the ever favorite Fried Rice.