Best Restaurants 2022: Special Occasions


THERE’S LITTLE about Cunningham Restaurant Group’s Italian flagship on the ground level of The Alexander that screams trattoria or ristorante. Indeed, just about everything, from the exterior wood to the plush palette of interior browns to the scaled-back menu featuring short ribs, swordfish, and a beet salad is more in character with the polished Cunningham brand than a fancy spaghetti haunt. Which is what makes a meal there all the more delightful when your arancini, cacio e pepe, and osso buco have the quality-over-quantity appeal of something you might eat on a trip to the Adriatic. Even the service is more buttoned-up and French-inflected, with tightly plated dishes arriving all at once, seemingly with the entire staff to deliver them. One of the few chances to get a little messy comes with the dessert course’s bombolino, what used to be labeled simply “ricotta donuts.” Split an order of the crisp, sweet, richly satisfying fried nuggets, and don’t worry if you end up with a little bit of lemon curd on your face. 339 S. Delaware St., 317-643-7400,

sushi from Hinata


AN EXPERTLY executed education in a traditional kaiseki meal awaits inside owner Nobu Nakajima’s sophisticated house of sushi in the heart of downtown. Every detail of the minimal decor, from the sleek stone counter and bar to the warm wooden tabletops to the grand dinnerware, was designed to ease guests into an elegant progression of modern Japanese dining. Familiar staples of sashimi, tempura, and cold soba noodles await, but so too does a multicoursed exploration of first-class
seafood united with Midwestern ingredients. This is showcased in dishes like grilled sea bass in a savory soup and Hokkaido scallops and shrimp with Indiana summer vegetables. Along the way, there are small plates of steamed egg custard and soft Prime filet atop simmered eggplant. Aiding in this odyssey of disciplined dining are wines crafted to accompany Japanese flavors, as well as a sizable sake menu. Give in, relinquish control, and allow yourself to be swept away at this distinctive destination.
130 E. Washington St., 317-672-4929,

Anthony’s Chophouse

EVEN IF you’re not celebrating a special occasion, Anthony Lazzara’s modern take on the buttoned-up steakhouse will make you feel like a well-fed guest of honor. Vegas has nothing on the showy presentation (pistachio-crusted rack of lamb, A5 tartare, and Manhattans smoked tableside by a spiffy server in black)—the only way to do chef Aziz Mountassar’s work justice. So go ahead and live your best life with a seafood tower, a flight of beef, and a bourbon-forward cocktail. 201 W. Main St., Carmel, 317-740-0900,

Scallops from Monterey Coastal

Monterey Coastal Cuisine

MONTEREY’S DREAMY, under-the-sea artwork and flair reference the rugged left bank from which this far-north seafood and sushi house takes its name. It’s also one of the reasons why its Monon Trail–side location can be a stand-in for people hungering for the shore—or, at least, some shoreside cuisine. The bar area just inside the portholed front door manages to be both dramatic and cozy, dark and welcoming. The dining room beyond houses a long sushi bar assembling pretty little Cabo rolls with sliced-lime halos, inventive Monterey Street Tacos with battered halibut in crispy nori shells, and sweet arrangements of tuna and yellowtail sashimi roses. Monterey quickly spawned a Cali-themed spinoff, Tiburon Coastal Cuisine, expected to open sometime this year. 110 W. Main St., Carmel, 317-853-2280,



RESTAURANTEUR Vinita Singh had a big footprint to fill a year and a half ago, when she moved into the spacious Fletcher Place building that once housed Asian-fusion rock star Rook. Her luxe Indian dining room, a tastefully unadorned arrangement where tables are spread with vibrant curries and paneers, colorful yogurt lassis, and top-shelf spirits, proved itself a worthy replacement right out of the gate. We immediately fell madly in love with her dramatic interpretations of familiar tikka masala and butter chicken, as well as his breathtaking paneer pasanda and fragrant mutton dish, bhuna gosht. Within the first year, Singh had opened a second Aroma, just as deliciously mind-blowing, in SoBro (coincidentally replacing yet another fallen hero, Ukiyo). And she isn’t finished. Stay tuned for more concepts under Aroma’s Indian fine-dining brand, including a third location coming soon. 501 Virginia Ave., 317-602-7117; 4907 N. College Ave., 317-737-2290;

For 20 other Best Restaurants of 2022, click here.