Best Of Indy 2021: Personal Bests

A woman with her hand on her head

A woman with her hand on her head
Photo by Heather Stern

Ashley C. Ford

The New York Times best-selling author moved back to Indy from New York last year, and has been rediscovering the city where she spent her 20s. As told to Ebony Chappel

When I lived in Indianapolis before, I was poor and relied on public transit to get around. I had just enough funds to have tacos and beers with my friends, and we hung out a lot in Irvington, where I lived at the time. I’m glad that some investment is being made in public transit here—the Red Line and the coming Purple and Blue Lines. In fact, the need for that was one of the last things I wrote about for Indianapolis Monthly before moving to New York. As much as I love this city, it’s different when you have a car and money. You get to see more of what the place has to offer.

Back in the day, I would treat myself once a week to a sandwich from Goose the Market (2503 N. Delaware St., 317-924-4944). I still enjoy going there now. When I’m not writing, I take walks near Indy’s waterways and bridges. Fall Creek Place is great for that. And I really enjoyed the BUTTER Fine Arts Fair. That experience—good food, music, and beautiful art—affirmed my decision to come back to Indy.

Checking out local music is something I get to do more of this time around at places like the Old National Centre (502 N. New Jersey St., 317-231-0000) and the new TCU Amphitheatre (801 W. Washington St., 317-776-8161). And as we get into the holiday season, I’m looking forward to seeing all of the festive decor on Monument Circle and throughout the city. One of the things Indy does well is decorate for the holidays. Every year, I grab some coffee from a Starbucks drive-thru, crank up the Christmas music on the radio, and drive around to see how people have decked out their homes and businesses. 

Charly Arnolt

The former Fox 59 reporter and current ESPN broadcaster takes her look—and the local places that help her keep it—seriously. As told to Dawn Olsen

Health and fitness are part of my everyday life. Personally, I love lifting weights. There’s this misconception that women who lift weights look masculine or bulky, but I have most of my curves because I do so. When I lived in Indy, I generally worked out at the LA Fitness (6160 N. Keystone Ave., 317-254-8977) in Broad Ripple. My parents still live near there, and after not being able to visit since September 2019, I was super excited to come back this August and host the Make-A-Wish gala at the JW Marriott. Reis-Nichols (3535 E. 86th St., 317-255-4467) loaned me some jewelry for the event, and it was nice to see they’re keeping up with the trends.

Just down the road from Reis-Nichols is CoreLife Eatery (4335 E. 82nd St., 317-537-9815), which is really health-conscious. They have a lot of quick, easy options—salads, rice bowls, smoothies. It’s nice to grab something healthy and continue going about your day.

When I was in Indy, one of my go-to places for makeup was Ulta Beauty (8487 Union Chapel Rd., 317-251-0920). But ooh, Sephora (The Fashion Mall, 317-587-0000). I’ve always had the highest level of customer loyalty there. I was at Nordstrom (The Fashion Mall, 317-810-9809) a lot, too. I visited the MAC counter at Nordstrom like it was my job. I also pressure myself to keep up with my skin care routine. I primarily use Fresh skin care products, which you can buy at Sephora. There are so many different steps in my routine that it’s like giving my face a little workout. But taking care of your skin is very important; if you don’t start, you’re going to pay the price later.

Kelsey Murphy

After winning the top prize on MasterChef, the Fishers resident is looking to move into the culinary field. Here are some of her favorite spots in Indy to eat when she’s not cooking for herself. As told to Dawn Olsen

I’ve only lived in Indy for about four years. With two of those years lost to COVID-19, there are still plenty of restaurants I need to try. I do frequent RIZE (9705 Fishers District Dr., 317-516-4838) and Ruth’s Café (3443 E. 86th St.,317-757-8006) for breakfast, though. And I love going to Garden Table (908 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-737-2531) in Broad Ripple for lunch. Regardless of the meal, I could eat appetizers all day. My favorites are the empanadas at Livery (720 N. College Ave., 317-383-0330) and basically all of the apps at The Eagle (310 Massachusetts Ave., 317-929-1799).

If I were to open my own restaurant, I would want it to bring something new in terms of flavor, plating, and service. I think one restaurant that does a great job of that is Vida (601 E. New York St., 317-420-2323). HC Kitchen + Tavern (9709 E. 116th St., 317-530-4242) is excellent, too. Actually, the best meal my husband and I have had in Indy was at HC Kitchen. He had the pork chop with chipotle peach chutney and I had the fish tacos and elotes. We sat in a large, round bar booth and had an amazing server who let us sample different bourbons. It was just one of those nights where everything fell into place.

For our first nice meal after moving to Fishers, we went to Tony’s (110 W. Washington St., 317-638-8669). Coming from Chicago, I know good steakhouses. And Tony’s hit it out of the park. I always judge a steakhouse by its vodka martini. No vermouth, no olive juice. They have nowhere to hide.

A man sittingSean (Oreo) Jones

The local musician, who is one-third of the new hip-hop supergroup 81355, shares his favorite sources for secondhand style. As told to Dawn Olsen 

If someone asked me, “What’s your style?” I would probably say “truck-stop chic.” I’m a product of the ’90s, so that has been my thing since I was a kid. I think thrifting has changed over the years, though. You used to go to a Value World or a similar place, dig through a bunch of stuff, and take your time. Now, you go to places that are already curated. But some great thrift stores remain here. Naptown Thrift (2174 E. 54th St., 317-602-5639) is my favorite, hands down. They have T-shirts, patterned shirts, crew necks, jackets, good brims—great stuff for people like me. I also love Zodiac Vintage (1060 Virginia Ave., 317-306-9600) in Fountain Square and Nap or Nothing (3919 Lafayette Rd.), which my homie Maxie runs. It’s in Lafayette Square Mall and has excellent athletic wear. It’s all locally made and Black-owned. If you’re an athlete, musician, or just a person who bleeds Indy, you have to go to Nap or Nothing. You should check out Cargo (1336 Shelby St.), too. It started out as a pop-up and is super dope. They were nomadic for a while, before they figured out their shipping container thing in Fountain Square. Another dude I’m super stoked about is ByMichaelAngelo (5719 Lawton Loop Dr., 317-502-3432). He’s straight-up cut-and-sew, and it’s all sustainable. He takes recycled clothing and makes different pieces from it, like shorts out of a football jersey or vests out of old jeans.

In general, it has been really cool to see the growing number of people here doing their own thing and making clothing. I feel like the internet has definitely made it easier to find your lane.