Oaken Barrel Brewing Company

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The south suburbs get a bad rap for not having a lot of independent eateries. Oaken Barrel—one of the oldest breweries in Central Indiana—is often overlooked. But the families who pack the dining room can attest that there’s more to the place than beer (though the Gnaw Bone pale ale, an old favorite, still holds up against Indy’s many newcomers). Nothing about the menu surprises—it’s something-for-everyone casual—although Oaken Barrel does the standards well. Gooey pizza with chewy, hand-tossed dough. From-scratch potato chips with creamy bacon-cheddar dip. Warm ballpark pretzels with house-blended, right-between-the-eyes mustard. Diet-busting handmade tortellini in Alfredo sauce. But meat-and-potato entrees steal the show, like a thick-cut, gorgeously grilled pork chop marinated in hoisin sauce, and eye-popping racks of mesquite-smoked ribs that are fall-off-the-bone tender.

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