Indy Chefs Share Food Crushes

Local toques dish on their faves.

Seeing our beloved gourmets out of context—digging into food at a dining spot other than their own—might be our own version of a star-sighting. Couple that with the irony that people who work in restaurants rarely get to go out to eat, and we wondered where our top chefs head when they want a good meal.

Dan Dunville, US Foods (formerly of 10-01 Food & Drink)

“I think Steven Oakley at Oakleys Bistro is always spot-on and better than the rest of us. Service is on-point every time, and the food is top notch.”



Carlos Salazar, Rook

“Last year, Bluebeard had a foie gras doughnut on the menu—a seared foie gras, housemade doughnut with red-onion marmalade, bacon, and green onion. They sent me out with one, and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten, by far—a game-changer.”



Abbi Merriss, Bluebeard

Greg Hardesty’s Caesar salad terrine with Caesar-and-gelatin vinaigrette, at Recess.”


Jonathan Brooks, Milktooth

Greg Hardesty at Recess taught me that everything can always be better. A specific dish of his that I crave is spicy hangover chicken soup.”



Regina Mehallick, R Bistro

“I always enjoy Micah Frank’s salads at Black Market.”

Caleb France, Cerulean

Micah Frank’s burger at Black Market. The best.”


Micah Frank, Black Market

Becky Hostetter of Duos was a pioneer for vegetarian-based cooking in Indianapolis way before it was trendy. I’ll take a bowl of Indian lentils and vegetables made with love over
                                  a half-assed–cooked slab of meat
                                  any day.”


Ryan Nelson, Late Harvest Kitchen

Craig Baker at The Local Eatery & Pub is really good at marrying ‘chef food’ with everyday food. He’s also a smart businessman, which I appreciate just as much as what he does with food. His lamb burger is pretty slamming, and so are his fish and chips.”


Ricky Hatfield, Peterson’s

“With his laid-back approach and local-centric, no-fuss menu, Craig Baker at The Local Eatery & Pub is at the top of my list of chefs that I admire the most. His chicken wings, one of my favorite foods, knock it out of the park.”



Layton Roberts, Mesh

“The som tum papaya salad at Siam Square is by far my favorite thing in town. It’s spicy, drippy, and fishy—all the things that I love. Follow it up with some Riesling, red curry, and tofu, and I’m a very happy chef.”



Tyler Herald, Napolese

Eli Anderson’s grilled-shrimp tacos at H2O Restaurant & Sushi Bar are one of my absolute favorites.”



Neal Brown, Pizzology and The Libertine Liquor Bar

“I can’t get enough of Fat Dan’s Italian beef or brisket and a huge mound of crispy fried potatoes. I could sit at that bar, drink beer, and eat meat every day.”


Photos by Tony Valainis; illustration by Katelyn Jamison

This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.