Editor’s Note, April 2016: 25 Best Restaurants

An explanation of our thoroughly reported ranking of the city’s top places to eat.
Rankings are controversial, and ultimately subjective. A lifelong Saturday Night Live acolyte, I had strong words for Rolling Stone when they relegated Cheri Oteri toward the back of their best-cast-member list. Arianna, the Spartan cheerleader? Rita DelVecchio, the neighborhood gossip? C’mon.

And yet for this month’s 25 Best Restaurants story, the Indianapolis Monthly dining team of Julia Spalding, Taylor Ellis, and Terry Kirts attempted to quantify their (well-fed) opinions like never before. We’re talking score sheets and point systems, people. The trio traveled across the metro area to assess and reassess, often dining out together so they could compare notes. The three each then filled out a separate scorecard, giving points based on flavor, service, creativity, presentation, aesthetics, and innovation, with the total number of points available weighted toward those first two categories. Did the dishes have execution errors? Points off. Was the staff unprofessional or bumbling? Points off. Was there only a sad attempt at decor? Points off. And so on.

Complicated? Maybe. But that degree of critique means you can be sure these 25 restaurants are the total package: outstanding taste, one-of-a-kind menus, delightful and informed servers, gorgeous spaces. These are places that are putting Indianapolis on the culinary map—making us a foodie destination finally getting a little national love. Just as I was finishing this note, Bon Appetit published a story by a writer who, hat in hand, had to admit his thesis of Indy being a knockoff Brooklyn was misguided. Our city is its own animal, our chefs their own beasts, with a particular Midwestern viewpoint. But the fact this is even a debate to be had means our local dining scene has come a long way in a short time.

Still, you may disagree with IM’s exhaustive research, just like I pooh-poohed poor Cheri Oteri’s placement. And in that case, we welcome the debate at IndianapolisMonthly.com.

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A native of Inman, South Carolina, Amanda Heckert graduated from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina and began her career in journalism as an intern at Atlanta magazine. She then edited Newcomer magazine, a monthly covering Atlanta real estate, entertainment, arts, dining, and education, and helped launch a sister publication, Atlanta School Guide.In 2006, Heckert returned to Atlanta magazine and worked her way up from associate editor covering fashion and lifestyle to senior editor. In that position, she edited and wrote features on topics such as Dasani bottled water and The Real Housewives of Atlanta; contributed to and edited the front-of-book; and edited service and non-service packages, including the September 2011 Hollywood Issue, nominated for a City and Regional Magazine Association Award.Heckert joined Indianapolis Monthly in February 2012 and enjoys getting to know the Circle City with her husband, writer Justin Heckert, and their dog, Cooper.