Watch ‘More Than Race,’ our mini-documentary on the Indy 500
The Indianapolis 500. AJ Foyt once said, “If it wasn’t for the Indianapolis 500, none of you would have heard of me.” The same can be said about Indianapolis.
Jenna Watson, Indianapolis Star
The options are in: Locals, visitors and critics agree that there is something special about the Circle City.
Several Indianapolis hotels, restaurants and attractions won awards and made best of lists in travel forums and publications last year. Places like The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Zoo and other downtown areas are some of the places to hit, on sites like Yelp and Reader’s Digest.
Here are some of the highlights:
An award-winning restaurant in Indianapolis
Bluebeard: 653 Virginia Ave., bluebeardindy.com
Hailed as a place for customers with a “lust to travel,” according to its website, Bluebeard is a farm-to-table restaurant with a menu that changes frequently. The restaurant is helmed by chef Abbi Merris, who was named the winner of this year’s James Beard Awards honoring the best chef in the Great Lakes region.
Best of Indy: These 2 Indy chefs make the James Beard list
Bluebeard’s menu changes daily and features a selection of soups, salads, sides and full plates for lunch and dinner. The signature fried bread and charcuterie board are available as snacks, and entrees include beef tartare, a hummus plate, shrimp toast and more — at least, among the modern items.
Vida: 601 New York St., vida-restaurant.com
Coming in at No. 37 on Yelp’s Top 100 US Restaurants 2023 list is Vida, an Indy restaurant known for its diverse menu. The restaurant opened in 2016 and has received AAA’s Four Diamond award every year since then.
Vida offers a four-course dinner and six appetizers, with seasonal dishes and wines to suit everyone. The restaurant sources local ingredients such as duck breast and wagyu ribeye, and its indoor hydroponic vegetable garden produces red onions, beets, apples and more for use in a variety of dishes.
Tomorrow: Vida chef Thomas Melvin won the James Beard Awards as the best chef
Livery: 720 N. College Ave, livery-restaurant.com/Indianapolis
Another respected Yelp restaurant, the Latin American inspired Livery made the cut at No. 91. Livery’s menu includes starters like yuca fries, Spanish olive tapenade and sweet plantain, second courses like skirt steak and paella and a variety of specialty tacos. The Indianapolis location is a renovated horse stable from the 1890s that spans two stories and is acknowledged by a mural that takes up the entire building.
Best food in Indianapolis
Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza: 5646 E. Washington St. and 9165 Otis Ave., jockamopizza.com
The best pizza in the state is Circle City’s, according to Reader’s Digest. The magazine named Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza the top spot in Indiana on its list of the best pizza places in every state.
The perfect pie: Reader’s Digest lists the best pizza in all 50 states. This is Indiana
Jockamo offers starters, salads and sandwiches to complement its specialty pizza. The restaurant includes breakfast items such as eggs and potatoes, and healthy options include homemade carrot cake and key lime pie.
Greek pizzeria: Multiple locations, greekpizzeria.com
We asked, you answered: According to IndyStar’s Pizza Bracket Challenge, Greek’s Pizzeria has the best bracket in the city.
The best part of the city: The IndyStar Pizza Bracket Challenge names the city’s favorite pizza
Greek’s is well known for its unique pizzas, which combine a variety of ingredients and are topped with one of our house-made toppings. Chief among the pies is the Greek’s Special, which combines the store’s signature sauce with cheese, Italian sausage, Spanish onions, green bell peppers, cured meats, house mushrooms and pepperoni.
Bro Burger Bar: 410 Massachusetts Ave. and 8711 River Crossing Blvd., Suite 150, bruburgerbar.com
Reader’s Digest’s favorite Indiana burger joint, Bru Burger Bar, has also pulled out a winner in IndyStar’s 2020 “Best Things” survey – earning the “best burgers” among readers.
The best burger: Bru Burger Bar is home to Indiana’s best burger, according to Reader’s Digest
The burger joint combines chuck, sirloin and brisket in its signature and uses local produce to complement it. Reader’s Digest mentioned the garlic-three cheeseburger – with Swiss, mozzarella and American cheese, roasted garlic and truffle aioli – as a highlight, but other popular options include Bourbon (bacon, peppercorn-bourbon glaze, horseradish Havarti cheese), Mexicali. BBQ (queso, pickled jalapeño, guacamole, fried onions, chipotle barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato) and common Bru Burger (taleggio cheese, bacon, tomato jam, caramelized onions, lettuce, mayo).
The best bakery in Indianapolis
Rise’n Roll Bakery: 107 E. New York St. and 6311 E. Westfield Blvd., risenroll.com
Rise’n Roll opened its first location in 2004, when the original Amish family took their brick-and-mortar patio grilling business. The bakery has grown to 16 locations across Indiana.
The Underground Donut Tour earned Rise’n Roll Bakery top honors in its America’s Best Donut competition this year. The bakery walked away with nine titles, including the biggest cinnamon donut (cinnamon caramel donut), cream-filled donut (Boston cream) and all the fan favorites.
Tomorrow: Which Indiana bakery has the best donuts in America? Voters said ‘Yes’.
Signature donuts like the Bismarck crunch and peanut butter-filled donuts are full of bakery treats, but that’s not all they have to offer. Rise’n Roll also sells deli sandwiches, wraps and salads as well as Amish goods and homemade candy.
Great place to stay in Indianapolis
Bottleworks Hotel: 850 Massachusetts Ave., bottleworkshotel.com
Bottleworks Hotel – named by Yelp as the best place to stay in the US – is timeless. Located on the site of what used to be the world’s largest bottling plant for Coca-Cola, the hotel combines modern and contemporary art and architecture built over the years.
Each room at Bottleworks is decorated with art-inspired pieces and luxurious furnishings. The hotel’s top floor, the Pemberton Penthouse, has a billiards table, a dry bar and a wrap-around veranda overlooking Carlton Avenue.
Best places to stay in Indiana: Bottleworks Hotel tops Yelp’s list of best places to stay in the US
The Ironworks Hotel: Second Indy hotel to make Yelp’s list, 27thTh The best places to live in the US are inspired by 19th century architecture.
Ironworks Hotel Indy is at the intersection of luxury and comfort, according to its website. Each room features brick, wood and other industrial-era features, and luxury suites offer dual TVs and balconies with fireplaces.
Popular places in Indianapolis
Indianapolis Children’s Museum: 3000 N. Meridian St., childrensmuseum.org
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has been praised by several publications over the past decade, including the New York Times, Associated Press and Time for Kids. Recently, Parents, an online forum led by a panel of reviewers of doctors, teachers and other parenting experts named the best children’s museum in the US.
The museum is the largest children’s museum in the world, covering 482,950 square feet and containing more than 130,00 objects, according to its website. It was founded in 1925 and has grown to a 29-acre site that welcomes more than a million visitors each year.
Plan your trip: Here are six things you should know about the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis
Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 4750 W. 16th St., indianapolismotorspeedway.com
Ranked as the second favorite race track in the US among TripAdvisor users, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a must-see.
Open since 1909, IMS occupies 506 acres and hosts the famous Indianapolis 500 (which draws more than 300,000 fans each year) and other races in the NASCAR and IndyCar series. Despite the days without engines restarting, the speedway is still open for business.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, located inside the track, offers several tours that take visitors back in time, including the Kiss Bricks Tour that includes a loop around the track and the View From The Top tour that ends at the top of the 153-foot-tall Pagoda. The museum, which houses artifacts and memorabilia from years of racing, welcomes visitors every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Indianapolis Zoo: 1200 W. Washington St., indianapoliszoo.com
Lions, tigers, bears and nearly 200 other species make the Indianapolis Zoo one of the best zoos in the country, according to US News and World Report. The publication recently honored it in its list of the best zoos in the US, placing it among the top zoos in cities like San Diego, Seattle and Philadelphia. The zoo was known for its family-friendly exhibits as well as its conservation and research activities.
Contact Pulliam Fellow Heather Bushman at HBushman@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @hmb_1013.