Having spent a fair share of my time at my favorite local eateries, I figured I'd share my wealth of knowledge about the best Mass Ave restaurants here in Indianapolis!
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Wondering where to eat on Mass Ave?
Note: I began this post in May, as a way to support our Mass Ave restaurants reopening after the coronavirus. Subsequently, shortly after reopening, many of the restaurants suffered physical damage, and loss of earnings, in the events of the weekend of May 30. I hope you'll consider supporting these spots as they try to bounce back.
In honor of all my favorite spots opening up, I've decided to share my recommendations in our lovely downtown neighborhood, Mass Ave! Hopefully the first of many posts focusing on Indy, a little closer to home!
Whether it's quick bar bites or a 5-course meal, we've got it all here on Mass Ave! One of Indianapolis's four, main diagonal streets coming off of The Circle, Massachusetts Avenue and the surrounding streets has become the fastest growing neighborhoods in the entire city. Originally "the German" area of town, in the mid-to-late 19th century, you'll still see traces of that Midwestern history on "the Ave," including a personal favorite of mine, The Rathskeller, which celebrates its German heritage, well all the time, but particularly in the fall!
I've thrown in a few coffee selections - we've all needed a pick-me-up after a late night "on the Ave!" So let's explore Mass Ave!
Love exploring Indianapolis? Check out my guide to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail!
Mass Ave Restaurants: Ralston's
While we're discussing the lay-out of Indianapolis, I'd be remiss not to start with Ralston's, named for the city planner who designed Indianapolis in 1821, Alexander Ralston, a disciple of Pierre L'Enfant, of Washington D.C. fame.
A locally-owned, comfortable tavern, with a full bar and a menu that constantly surprises, it's our favorite spot to bring out-of-town guests, to show them that Indy can do a fancy, yet relaxing watering hole just as well as anywhere. For flatbreads, I'll recommend the Peachy Pig, and the Pinkies-Out BLT is my new go-to for sandwiches. Get here early - and don't expect to just waltz onto the patio on a Saturday night at this popular spot!
Mass Ave Restaurants: Union 50
Mass Ave Restaurants: The Rathskeller
If you're familiar with Indianapolis (or the Midwest in general), you'll know we have strong German heritage. This is where thousands of German immigrants settled in the middle of the 19th century, and, here on what was the outskirts of downtown Indy, built Das Deutsche Haus in 1893. Anti-German sentiment led to the name being changed to The Athenaeum, and today you'll hear it referred to by both monikers.
The Rathskeller is a combination of many venues. Historic and huge, it's a sit-down restaurant, a bar, a beer garden, a wedding rental venue, a coffee shop, oh and also home to my gym! Pro tip: ask to be seated in the bar if you stop by for dinner, it's a bit less stuffy.
Extra credit: Coat Check Coffee
Ah yes, the coffee shop I mentioned. In the huge lobby of the Rathskeller, you'll find Coat Check Coffee, a fun, hip coffee shop, with plenty of seating areas under the historic stained glass windows. Try their teas - they're delicious.
Mass Ave Restaurants: LouVino
Mass Ave Restaurants: Tavern at the Point
Another Cunningham creation, Tavern at the Point filled the vacated location of one of Indianapolis's oldest restaurants, the Old Point Tavern. They were big shoes to fill, but unsurprisingly, they rose to the challenge! Also featuring Southern-inspired sandwiches and salads, they're well-known for their massive nachos, a tribute to their predecessor. The unique, "point" location is the result of the intersection of Mass Ave's diagonal turn and other streets, making for an eye-catching, green building!
Extra credit: Commissary
Hip Commissary is a combined coffee shop (with booze!) and barber shop houses in a historic basement that I didn't know existed down there until they renovated it recently. Pop in for a pick-me-up, and while you're there, who among us doesn't need a haircut?
Mass Ave Restaurants: Bazbeaux
If pizza is the name of the game, locally owned Bazbeaux (with several locations throughout the city), is an Indianapolis classic. Though we don't boast our own "type" of pizza here in the Circle City, we have Bazbeaux and we sure do love it. If you're a local, their quarantine take-out was our go to, and our new Friday night mainstay - I'd highly recommend it!
Try the Bazbeaux special.
If it's margaritas you're after, Livery tops my list - and has excellent "rooftop" seating! Bakersfield is the more popular option, but don't try to visit on a sunny Saturday! The line will be out the door!
Mass Ave Restaurants: Vida
I've saved the fanciest for last! Vida is the nicest restaurant on Mass Ave, and one of the best in the entire city. With a creative, innovative menu, and a cocktail selection that cannot be beaten, no matter the season, Vida is a must-see for anyone visiting Indianapolis to celebrate a special occasion!
Extra Credit: Stout's Shoes
While you're in the area, please stop by family-run Stout's Shoes, the oldest shoe store in the US built in 1886, which, in addition to facing a challenging market in general, was heavily damaged at the end of May.
They have a parrot.
What more do you need to know?
Thanks for stopping by!
Thank you *so much* for taking time to read about our local eateries. Please spend lots of money and enjoy your time on historic Mass Ave! You won't regret it!
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