One of Indy’s premier shopping districts when it opened in 1968, Lafayette Square has faced an era of decline. But enterprising restaurateurs have revitalized the neighborhood’s once-closed storefronts, making it our most international culinary destination. Here’s a field guide to the best spots on the map.
Hai Sizzling Wok
Popular among westsiders for its Chinese takeout, this standout offers a classic primer on Vietnamese staples. For a perfect introduction to the flavors of Southeast Asia, order a noodle-bowl combo with lemongrass chicken and slices of crispy spring roll. 4351 Lafayette Rd., 317-297-3441
King Wok has long been applauded by Vietnamese-food aficionados for its flavorful sauces and made-to-order service. Few dishes impress more than the grilled pork chop with an undertone of lemongrass served with shrimp and an egg “pie.” 4150 Lafayette Rd., 317-295-8090
El Puerto de San Blas
A bustling eatery in a former Captain D’s, El Puerto de San Blas offers all of the seafood salads, soups, and platters popular in the owner’s native Pacific Coast state of Nayarit. 3564 Lafayette Rd., 317-291-2800
El Sazon de Mama
This charmer features a steam table with hearty daily specials such as chicken mole, chiles rellenos, and menudo. Mama herself oversees the tiny kitchen. Be sure to get the slow-cooked beef barbacoa when it’s available. 3712 Lafayette Rd., 317-347-1155
Call it by its former names, Udupi Cafe and Passage to India, and you will easily
find Indy’s only fully vegetarian buffet tucked into a plaza with an international grocery. Buffet must-gets include korma and chana masala (when available). 4225 Lafayette Rd., 317-299-2127
In the battle for best Indian buffets, this one wins for largest, offering plentifully stuffed samosas, fiery lamb curry, and a textbook chicken tikka masala great for beginners or longtime subcontinental food–lovers. 4213 Lafayette Rd., 317-298-0773
Banh mi headline at this spiffy deli. And a full menu of stir-fried dishes, soups, and boba teas help make K&T a destination for more than just lunch. Ask for the addictive salty-sweet fish-sauce chicken wings. 3738 Lafayette Rd., 317-602-2416
Recent renovations make this surprisingly elegant spot look less like the kart-racing facility it once was. An expanded menu lists staples such as Cantonese roasted duck and daily dim sum, and the eatery was among our 25 Best Restaurants in May. 3649 Lafayette Rd., 317-328-2888
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the October 2013 issue.