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It takes its name from a book by an Indiana author. (The Indiana author.) But Bluebeard’s Kurt Vonnegut connection isn’t the only Hoosier reference that endeared us to Fletcher Place’s original edgy charmer when it opened in 2012. Diners sit at tables made from slabs of shellacked timber, sip boozy cocktails from coupe glasses, and order salt-of-the-earth delicacies—chef Abbi Merriss’s lowbrow/highbrow concept of a menu drifts between fancy bar snacks (grilled bread slathered in anchovy butter), grungy gourmet (fried quail with caramelized turnip sauce), and Granny redux (molten buttermilk bread pudding and vanilla-bean chess pie as sticky-dense as a wedge of warm brie). It’s food that encourages lingering, to nurse crushes on the servers, to covet the dog-eared decor that includes vintage typewriters and mismatched lab stools, and to feel generally grateful for snagging a table in the first place. Because amid all the Midwest-is-best chest-thumping going on right now, this is still the place we want to be.

TIP: The check arrives in the due-date pocket of an old library book. Flip through to read comments left by previous diners—and (it’s okay) leave your own.

DON’T MISS: Roasted cauliflower tossed with sunflower seeds, with the salty tang of capers, anchovy, and ribbons of shaved Parmesan.

PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best New Restaurants 2012, Best Restaurants 2013, Best Restaurants 2014

653 Virginia Ave., 686-1580,

See all 25 Best Restaurants here.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.