I might be biased, but Indy is one of the best food cities in the U.S. and I’m lucky enough to call one of Indy’s best neighborhoods my home. Food & Wine recently named Indy one of “America’s Favorite Food Cities” and Conde Nast Traveler said Indy is one of “America’s Most Underrated Food Cities.” These accolades are well-deserved, and I am so proud to live here.
The majority of the restaurants being touted as the best are conveniently located along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and located in my neighborhood, Fletcher Place. As a result, it only made sense for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to create an Ultimate Foodie Tour for the public to experience downtown Indy neighborhoods via the Trail.
I was lucky enough to take a tour test run this past weekend with my Cultural Trail sidekick, Nick, and my fellow YP Board members. The tour was the perfect afternoon activity and lasted from 1-3, so it allowed for plenty of time to sample the food and walk the neighborhood. We visited all of our Fletcher Place favorites: Amelia’s Bakery, 12.05 Distillery, Rook, Tortas, and Milktooth. Our host was local food writer Jolene Ketzenberger and she did an amazing job of keeping the group on track.
While Nick and I had been to all of the restaurants on the list (with the exception of Tortas for Nick), we still learned something new at each stop. We started our tour at Amelia’s Bakery, where building owner Tom Battista shared the inspiration for Amelia’s. He and his wife had visited a bakery in Louisville and realized that Indy was lacking a good bakery. He created Amelia’s and sent his employees to CA to learn all they could about the bread making process.
All of their bread varieties consist of three ingredients (seeds and spices added here and there too), which explains why all of their bread tastes so fresh. We each received a cookie before heading out the door and as someone that bakes, I can never pass up an Amelia’s cookie. This is not your run of the mill store bought cookie – this is special.
Our next stop was Repeal. The tour description was a little misleading because we did not expect to receive beverages. However, things quickly escalated as we entered Repeal’s 12.05 Distillery. We each received three liquor samples of our choice. Their gin seemed to be the group favorite. It didn’t smell pine-soley, which might be why non-gin drinkers suddenly wanted to convert.
With a new-found spring in our step, we skipped on down the Trail to Milktooth. I don’t need to elaborate here since Milktooth is well known at this point, but we received a cheddar cherry scone and a side of their thick cut maple syrupy bacon. I’d had the bacon before, but always with utensils. We just had to go for it and rip it apart with our teeth.
With sticky teeth and almost full bellies, we soldiered on towards Rook. Festive cocktails with flowers awaited us at the bar. Bartender Eli let us know that is was a gin (more gin!) and pineapple concoction. A steamed bun, which is what they’re famous for, accompanied the drink. I gave Nick my bun because to be honest, it’s not my favorite and he lives for them. Rook is the brains behind the soon-to-be-open Inferno Room in Fountain Square. It’s worth driving by just to see the cool sign out front.
Our last stop (and at this point we were all at full belly capacity) was Tortas. This cute taco joint is a hidden gem. I work within a hop, skip, and a jump, so I’ve had my share of their tacos, but I think it’s easy to miss among the choices on Virginia Ave. The staff is so kind, and it was one of the best welcomes we received on the tour. We tasted their Megan Fox torta (sandwich), which has chicken chorizo, mozzarella, and avocados. All of their tortas are named for celebrities and the food is really reasonably priced. We also had a vegetarian in our group and every restaurant was accommodating and made sure she had a sample without meat.
The tour concluded, and I was ready for a long nap (after my friend Ryu stopped by for a Nigel hug or two). I’d highly recommend signing up for a tour when they’re open to the public next month. Even if you’re already familiar with the neighborhood, you’re still going to learn something new and try a menu item that you would’ve never ordered. It also helps support the Cultural Trail and you can’t beat that.
Visit the ICT’s website here to sign up for more information.
XO, Libby (Nigel too)