Indy’s Great Steakhouses: Sullivan’s Steakhouse
Part of the Texas-based Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Indy’s version of this steakhouse chain opened by The Fashion Mall in 1996 as a cigar-chomping, martini-shaking kind of place with a flashy neon marquee and a valet station. At the time, the Deco-chic bar and plush dining room at Sullivan’s Steakhouse had a retro-decadent quality that appealed to all the young professionals with BMW key fobs and a taste for Cosmos and Macanudos. Though Sullivan’s has lost some of its luster over the years (oh, haven’t we all?), the place still means business.
Its low-lit tables fill up with couples dressed for date night and networking businessmen wearing their company-logo polo shirts, primed for a luxurious splurge in a dining room that can teeter on madhouse—getting up from your booth on a main aisle is “like stepping onto a freeway,” as one diner put it. A dramatic glassed-in wine closet spans an entire wall, like a Barney’s display window, and the female servers wear hemlines well above the knee. The menu offers equally distracting frills, like ahi steak with cucumber noodles, roasted rack of lamb, and sticky-sweet bananas Foster bread pudding that goes vertical with both ice cream and whipped cream on top. The steaks don’t have to try nearly as hard for your attention. The dry-aged New York strip, ripened to a full-bodied beefiness and aggressively seasoned for a rich crust, slices off in soft, juicy bites, the hallmark of a well-marbled cut. Even the small filet, which sits up three inches from its warm, parsley-flecked plate, packs the kind of big, bold flavor that only a fool would beat back with one of the four classic sauce add-ons. Because sometimes, even in the face of this much glorious excess—less is more. 3316 E. 86th St., 317-580-1280, sullivanssteakhouse.com
Price per ounce of the small filet: $4.62
Largest steak on the menu: 26-ounce dry-aged long-bone ribeye
Grade of meat: USDA Choice
Aging process: Dry and wet
Wines by the bottle/glass: about 350/16–18
Most-famous customer: Kevin Costner
We love steak, any way you slice it. In Indianapolis, there’s a steakhouse to cater to every occasion and level of sophistication, and after months of dining like wealthy cavemen, we present them to you here, in juicy detail. A la cartes include a primer on the king cuts (for those who don’t know a porterhouse from a portobello), tips on the best cheap chops in town, a cattle call of beefy terms, and a stab at defining that common condition among steak-lovers—the meat sweats. You want a piece of this? Dig in.