(photo sources are at the bottom of this post)
This weekend, I took a trip to Indianapolis (high five to Southwest for non-stop flights from KC to Indy!) to visit with two of these lovely ladies. I’ve been there several times and enjoyed it very much, but this was one of the best trips yet.
We started off Friday evening with dinner at Bazbeaux, an enticing pizza place with a great beer selection. For the three of us, a large salad and two ten-inch pizzas was plenty. We tried the BBQ and B.O.T. pizzas. I think everyone preferred the BBQ, which had barbequed chicken prepared with homemade BBQ sauce (no tomato sauce), red onions, green peppers, and cheddar. The B.O.T., with bacon, red onion, fresh tomato, and fresh basil was a nice balance to the sweet barbecue sauce on the other pie.
The three of us had been working or traveling that day, so we settled in early and enjoyed a Chambourcin from Easley Winery—a smooth local wine with rich jam/berry flavor that costs less than $10 per bottle. The last time I was in Indy, we visited their tasting room (thumbs up).
On Saturday morning, we went to Indianapolis’ City Market. After perusing the indoor vendor stalls, which had everything from meat and produce to hand-carved wooden kitchen utensils, we grabbed crepes at 3 Days in Paris. I was thrilled to find that they serve pour-over Intelligentsia coffee, which we sipped while watching the chef make our crepes. I had the Harvest (Ham, Apple, Dried Cranberries, Havarti, Spinach & Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce), perfectly proportioned savory and sweet. I was a little nervous about the raspberry chipotle sauce, but it was more of a sweet warmth than spicy heat, and proved to be the component that took the crepe from good to amazing. My lovely companions enjoyed the Market Street (Mushroom, Onion, Bell Pepper, Sun-Dried Tomato, Celery, Spinach, Choice of Cheese & Sauce) and the Twist (Butter, cinnamon Sugar & Lemon Zest).
Not enjoyed on this trip, but worth mentioning: if you’re up for some soul food, family-owned and operated DeeGusto’s Kitchen is great for lunch (be prepared to roll yourself out after, it’s worth it).
You know you’re on vacation when you’re debating when to switch from coffee to cocktails. That afternoon we visited Fountain Square, an up-and-coming neighborhood right outside of downtown. Our first stop was Hotel Tango, an artisan distillery. I was really impressed by their friendly staff, warm atmosphere, and their GinGin Mule.
While friendly bartenders were whipping up delicious cocktails, Hotel Tango was also hosting a holiday pop-up shop showcasing local artisans, where I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderfully kind and talented Jessie Eskew, who owns and operates No. 18 Paper Co. She specializes in hand-lettering and letter-pressed paper goods, using a refurbished 1920’s letter-press. I purchased an inspiring print for my office, and I look forward to following along as her business grows.
After spending a relaxed afternoon at Hotel Tango, we walked to dinner La Margarita, recommended by our HT bartender. I had the best margarita ever, along with delicious tacos al pastor and chicken fajitas. The restaurant is on the street-level floor of the Murphy Art Center, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic places and currently houses art galleries, artist studios, a concert space, and more. While exploring the building, we came across the offices for People for Urban Progress. Their mission is to “rescue discarded materials, redesigning them for public benefit.” This means improving Indy in many different ways, from taking an abandoned building and turning it into a maker space; to re-purposing the discarded RCA Dome roof into messenger bags, clutches, and wallets—the proceeds of which support local artisans and funds PUP’s projects. I really enjoyed exploring their product line while chatting with Chief Innovator and Founder Michael Bricker—it was an unexpected and fascinating highlight of the trip.
We walked back towards Hotel Tango and visited its across-the-street neighbor, Chilly Water Brewing Company, which specializes in ales and lagers. After sitting down with two coconut porters and a coffee stout, we enjoyed live music by Brad Kleinschmidt and Friends.
We ended the evening with Lick Ice Cream, run by two sisters who make amazing flavors and sell them at the City Market. I can’t remember how I first heard about them, but the last time I was in Indy, I purchased a few scrumptious pints. When we went back to the market and they were there again, I scooped up some more. Check out their flavors:
Earl Grey Peppermint
Gorgonzola and Candied Pecan
French Vanilla Cognac
Chocolate Orange Clovebud
Cedar & Whiskey
Apple Cider Pepita Brittle
Gingersnap Lemon Curd
Salted Caramel & Sage
Spiced Chocolate Marshmallow
While trying to decide, I commented on how bizarre ice cream with Gorgonzola sounded, and their sweet dad (!) told us it was really amazing. We sampled it, and somehow the flavor wasn’t overpowering and actually gave it a buttery, cheesecake-like flavor. We got that and the Cranberry Shortbread. Their ice cream is super-rich, the flavors are complex and delightful, best enjoyed standing at the kitchen counter with your friends, eating out of the carton.
Fun fact: When we were hanging out at the apartment this weekend, we basically lived on Lick Ice Cream, Cuties, and microwave popcorn made with this!
On Sunday, we visited Cafe Patachou for brunch before everyone headed home. I’d heard an interview on Radio Cherry Bombe with Cafe Patachou founder Martha Hoover—how random that it’s a Brooklyn-based show interviewing a restaurateur from Indy, where I was planning to go the next week! Cafe Patachou was doing farm-to-table before it was trendy. Their breakfast sandwiches are supposed to be great, so I tried their bacon and avocado sandwich, which came on a croissant with white cheddar. It was a pretty simple sandwich, but all of the ingredients were prepared so well and were such high-quality, it took the whole sandwich to another level. I will absolutely go back the next time I’m there. They also had a serve-yourself coffee bar, which we were able to enjoy while we waited for a table. I think it’s a brilliant idea—it freed up the wait staff to provide excellent service, even with a packed house.
We were sad to go home, even though I missed Mr. Ellena. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. Even when we’re just handing out in someone’s apartment in sweatpants, I have a wonderful time with my girls. If you’re visiting Indianapolis, I highly recommend exploring Fountain Square neighborhood. Ideally with kind, beautiful, and brilliant friends.