Food & Drink

Bubble Tea
The sweet, milky elixir receives its most whimsical treatment at Greenleaf Sandwich and Bubble Tea. Choose from more than a dozen flavors and then jazz it up with the gummy add-in of your choice: traditional tapioca boba, gummy pearls, or jelly rectangles in melon, berry, or lychee flavor. 10240 W. U.S. 36, Avon, 271-2288

Flaming Sushi Roll
Purists may scoff at the gimmick, but the understated cool of Wild Ginger’s Flaming Dragon roll—rice-wrapped eel topped with a creamy crab salad and brought to the table with flames licking at the sides of its foil cradle—has our unwavering respect. The caramelizing effect of rum lends a sweet-and-tangy barbecued flavor that leaves a lasting impression. 8235 E. 116th St., Fishers, 842-9888

In the pantheon of French confections, macarons—cheery pastel sandwich cookies concocted from egg whites and almond flour—rank as the smallest. They’re hardly a bite. But for intensity of flavor and ethereal lightness, they must surely rate with crepes and croissants. Among local versions, none top the macarons at Circle City Sweets (right), pastry chef Cindy Hawkins’ creative bakery in City Market, for variety (try the “carrot cake” rendition) and for their melting texture with the perfect chewy edge. 222 E. Market St., 632-3644

Beef Jerky
Among all the gorgeous specialty offerings at Joe’s Butcher Shop and Fish Market, it could be easy to miss the small pile of Ziploc bags up near the register. Don’t: They are full of Fritz’s Fresh Beef Jerky, an intriguing blend of sweet and spicy, dry and tender (made from bottom round steak and priced at $23.99 a pound). The recipe, passed down to Fritz, the head butcher, from Fritz’s father, also a butcher, remains a secret. 111 W. Main St., Carmel, 846-8877

Girl Drinks
You might spend the first minutes of girls’ night out enjoying the drink names—the Flying Grasshopper, the Dirty Geisha, the Kimodo Dragon—on the six-page cocktail menu at Bu Da Lounge (right). Then you will be enchanted by the creations themselves. The Fortune Cookie mixes Baileys with vanilla vodka and amaretto. The Lychee martini is a minimalist concoction with a pineapple-stuffed rambutan in place of the olive. And the bartender spares no garnish on the tiki-themed Bu Da Bloody Mary, a compilation of sake, Thai chili, and wasabi served in a luau-worthy mug. 429 Massachusetts Ave., 602-3643

Many shops tout their own recipe for the deeply satisfying Vietnamese noodle soup. Our favorite is at Egg Roll Number One, where the flavorful broth comes with a side plate of fresh herbs, crisp bean sprouts, and peppers. For the works, add meatballs, steak slices, and tripe. 4576 S. Emerson Ave., 787-2225

French Toast
The Nutella French Toast at Tulip Noir crams banana puree between two slabs of chewy brioche, topped with that addictive cocoa-hazelnut spread. 1224 W. 86th St., 848-5252

Philly Cheesesteak
Nearly every place with a hot griddle offers this classic, but it achieves its highest and most gooey expression at Jersey’s Cafe. The giant menu offers a jaw-dropping variety, including the “9th and Passyunk,” an homage to the South Philly intersection where two rival makers have duked it out for decades. This wonder, on a New York–imported roll filled with steak and onions and laden with Cheez Whiz, is as close to the real thing as you’ll find west of the Schuylkill River. 13710 N. Meridian St., Carmel, 846-7760

You’ll have to wait for July or so, of course, but you’ll be glad you did, once you settle in for a bowl of this super-chunky, slightly spicy seasonal soup at Pure Eatery. Proprietor Amy Andrus will only say that she puts “everything” in it, but the flavor is primarily a perfect balance of cucumber, tomato, and zing—white pepper, maybe? The flavor, that is, of summer. 1043 Virginia Ave., 602-5724

Duck Sandwich
Brugge Brasserie takes some liberties in the between-the-bread category. The duck mitraillette comes in a wide, shallow bowl heaped with pommes frites, so it takes some excavating to get to the treasure underneath—an open-face French bread-and-confit sandwich as hearty as it is delicious. The richness of the pulled duck meat is balanced with dried cherry and lambic compote, with fried leeks and a swipe of spicy mustard pulling sweet and savory together. Proof that smart flavors do not need a fancy presentation. 1011 E. Westfield Blvd., 255-0978

Ice Cream Sampler
Located in a former train depot, the Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station (which likes to go by its lowercase acronym, brics) is well worth blowing the benefits of a Monon Trail workout. The shop has a roster of nearly 40 flavors—some with local winks, like Monon Tracks and Broad Ripple Blackberry—that can seem overwhelming. Figure out your favorites by ordering the Tour de brics, a four-scoop sampler. Repeat as necessary. 901 E. 64th St., 257-5757

Grilled Cheese
Mo’s Irish Pub layers a decadently gooey blend of American, cheddar, and Swiss cheeses on top of bacon and avocado and serves it with, yes, a steaming cup of tomato soup—a version that perfects Mom’s classic without sending it over the top. 13193 Levinson Lane, Noblesville, 770-9020

Octopus Salad
Take a minute, before diving in, to marvel at the architectural wonder of the octopus salad at Naked Tchopstix: the cascade of delicate noodle-like strips of daikon radish spilling from the martini glass; the artfully piled tendrils. Then appreciate the refreshing—and yes, challenging—blend of textures and flavors. Sweetly sour ponzu dressing binds the pretty nest of meat with tangy pickled cucumber. 6253 N. College Ave., 252-5555; 3855 E. 96th St., 569-6444

Soft Pretzels
A Taste of Philly turns out hand-formed twists, braids, sticks, and nuggets of chewy goodness in salted, unsalted, cinnamon-sugar, and “everything” varieties. For an extra charge, you can grab a tub of cheese, chocolate sauce, or Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but purists will want to belly up to the free mustard bar. 670 E. 42nd St., 828-6753

User-Friendly Wine List
Euphoria’s wine list boasts around 70 eclectic choices. Luckily it is easy to navigate. Whites are divided into “Coach” (under $25), “First Class” (under $40), and “Private Jet” (over $40), while reds are given real-estate terms (“Starter Home,” “Family Estate,” and “Sell the Farm”). A tiny wine-glass icon denotes wines available by the glass, most priced at $8, meaning all of your brainpower can be used to decide between a 2008 Raw Power Shiraz and the 2007 Relativity Quantum Reserve—and not on calculating the bill. 337 W. 11th St., 955-2389

Po’ Boy
No place in Indy elevates the lowly po’ boy quite like Papa Roux (left), which whips up nearly a dozen versions in fresh-baked French bread with plenty of mayo-based Vouxdoux sauce (the eatery’s version of remoulade) and creamy slaw. You can’t go wrong with a yummy Gulf shrimp version, but the roast pork po’ boy will make a rich man of you—especially when the deal comes with free unlimited sides and iced tea if you dine in. 8950 E. 10th St., 603-9861

Pickle Slices
The goodie-laden deli case at Taste Cafe & Marketplace holds many temptations. Among the most modest: sweet pickle chips sliced laser-thin and bathed to a dull crunch in a brine flecked with herbs, peppercorns, and whole cloves. Get a little pile on the side for lunch, and you might have trouble staying focused on your sandwich. 5164 N. College Ave., 925 2233

The espresso jockeys at Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company (right) like you. They really, really like you. As if it weren’t enough that they remember your college major, your work schedule, and whether you prefer a pumpkin chocolate-chip muffin or a raspberry bar, they also donate 100 percent of their tips to a different charity each month. 615 Virginia Ave., 423-9697

Old-Time Cocktail
Leave it to one of the city’s newest hotspots to master a classic cocktail. And true to its retrofitted pre-Prohibition cocktail-lounge decor, The Ball & Biscuit’s version of the Sazerac—the pre–Civil War New Orleans concoction—is at once fresh and authentic. Rye and orange bitters in an Absinthe-glazed tumbler, served with orange-peel garnish, is about as basic as whiskey mixes get. But ever-cantankerous bartender and co-owner Zach Wilks has recently taken to using a special shagbark hickory syrup from Southern Indiana to add an extra-warm finish. 331 Massachusetts Ave., 636-0539

Cheese Shop
“We’re lucky here in the United States,” says Fred Roesner, cheese specialist at Vine & Table. “In France, you get French cheese. In Italy, you get Italian cheese. But here, we get everything.” At this fancy food emporium, if they don’t carry everything, they’re close: Roesner has laid in more than 300 varieties, from the pungent, transcendent Roquefort Le Papillon ($34.99 per pound) to modest American cheddars suitable for cubing. He’s tried almost all of them and can suggest pairings with wine and beer and, well, just about anything in the world. 313 E. Carmel Dr., Carmel, 817-9473

Fro Yo
At Huddles Frozen Yogurt, the soft serve is just part of the attraction. With 10 flavors of yogurt (plus swirl options) and a toppings bar that includes such sprinkles as pomegranate seeds and red velvet cake, Huddles satisfies all the required accoutrements of a serve-yourself-and-pay-by-the-ounce joint. 1356 E. 86th St., 587-1499

Osso Bucco
You’ll come for a cocktail but stay for The Usual Suspects’ osso bucco, a tender slab of fall-off-the-bone pancetta-wrapped pork shank, cradled in a bed of rich truffled risotto and flanked with large chunks of root vegetables, all swimming in an herbed red-wine sauce. The portions of this ultimate comfort food are huge, and they taste even better reheated the following day. 6319 Guilford Ave., 251-3138

Beer Floats
Creation Cafe offers some thoughtful interpretations of this don’t-knock-it-till-you-try-it trend that combines the bitterness of beer with the sweetness of ice cream. A scoop of vanilla gelato brings out the pure floral notes of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, while chocolate gelato plays off the bittersweet essence of Left Hand Milk Stout. Having sipped/spooned a frosty glass of Blue Moon and orange sorbet encrusted in sweet, boozy ice crystals, we’ll never settle for a measly orange-slice garnish again. 337 W. 11th St., 955-2389

The buttered-baking-dish genre is often the butt of family pitch-in and church-basement jokes, but diners who have discovered the crawfish casserole at Mudbugs Cajun Cafe are getting the last laugh. Sweet crustacean tails mingle with sauteed onion, peppers, celery, and mushrooms—all bound together with rice, cheese, and breadcrumbs, like a fragrant seafood stuffing. 20 W. Main St., Carmel, 843-8380

Grown-Up Junk Food 
Until Aubree Daily, the pastry chef at the new Blu Moon Cafe, came along, indulging in our favorite childhood treats involved taking a walk of shame down the grocery store snack-cake aisle. But now that Daily whips up housemade Ding Dongs (topped with chocolate ganache), Pink Ladies (red velvet cake with raspberry preserves and white chocolate), and preserve-filled Pop Tarts as part of the cafe’s daily offerings, we can find our guilty pleasures at one of the most sophisticated little eateries in town. 200 S. Range Line Rd., Carmel, 844-8310

Matzo-Ball Soup
Among the homestyle treats that have made her a favorite at the Traders Point Creamery farmers market, Wendy the Food Fairy offers frozen portions of traditional matzo-ball soup that’s as close to Bubbe’s as we have ever had. The balls float in a clear, golden broth, rich with a chicken flavor that only comes from scratch cooking. Find her stuff in the freezers at Lilly Orchard through December or at the market (look for the pink sign and pink garland)—and buy an extra for when you get the sniffles. 281-6666

Fish Tacos
Balancing the delicate flavors of fresh seafood with the bold spices in a fish taco is a science, and Adobo Grill has it down pat. The kitchen starts with Negra Modelo–battered tilapia and then piles the base high with fresh pico de gallo, chipotle salsa with a creamy mayonnaise base, and—here’s the kicker—pickled cabbage for a punch of tartness. 110 E. Washington St., 822-9990

Shrimp & Grits
In less swanky settings, this dish might be served as a simple fisherman’s breakfast. Meridian gives the entree a luscious upgrade without compromising its low-country sensibilities. Rich, creamy, slow-cooked grits are topped with three fat, tail-on shrimp over a well of tasso-and-tomato gravy that imparts a lovely smoky flavor into every bite. 5694 N. Meridian St., 466-1111

Bar Menu
From 4 to 6 p.m., check out the $2 menu of stunners from the kitchen at Mesh. Short-rib sliders garnished with caramelized onion look like tiny soup bread bowls on the plate, and the soft white-corn tacos are expertly trimmed with cabbage and aioli. If you’re still hungry, munch on kettle-crisp sweet-potato chips and warm flatbread topped with grilled shrimp. 725 Massachusetts Ave., 955-9600