Restaurant Guide Update: July 2018

A tour of the city’s best dining. New and updated: Conner’s Kitchen + Bar, Nook: A Paleo Influenced Diner, Tinker Street, and Rize

Conner’s Kitchen + Bar
Close proximity to the Indiana Convention Center means a good chunk of the business at this luxe, relaxed restaurant inside the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown probably comes from out of town. Locals should take full advantage of the dark metro location, though, with its glowing wall of alcohol separating the dining room from the bar, and the deep, all-seasons sofas made for lounging on the sidewalk-side patio. Art-directed cocktails, like the Prickly Pear Marg and the Peppered Paloma, elevate after-work drinks, and a simple upscale-casual menu focuses on chopped salads and basic dishes done well, like a grilled
five-cheese sandwich, a roasted-chicken sandwich called Mother Clucker, and a little pail of black-truffle potato chips that are too addictively light and crispy to share. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 350 W. Maryland St., 317-405-6100

Nook: A Paleo Influenced Diner
Banking on the continued popularity of recent health trends, restaurateur Johnny Vassallo retooled his former steakhouse downtown in early 2018 into a low-carb, high-protein “diner” with fresh, tasty options for followers of paleo, keto, and Whole30 diets. Guacamole with thick-cut bacon “chips,” as well as tacos in almond-flour tortillas, are among his more purist takes on paleo cuisine, but plenty of salads, entrées, and pizzas hardly seem like diet food at all. Chef Matthew Mohler, who spent much of the last 20 years working in resorts in Russia, lends his global palate to dishes such as a pizza topped with minced lamb, cashews, and Greek yogurt (on a traditional or gluten-free crust), as well as a knockout Africa-meets-Asia curry chicken with his special spice blend, “angry” sauce, and cauliflower rice. Kombucha cocktails and desserts with a restrained sweetness complete a meal that will impress both your dietician and your trainer. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. 15 E. Maryland St., 317-759-3554

Tinker Street
Braedon Kellner gets risky with his daily changing lineup of painstakingly constructed dishes and gilded Midwestern standards that have ranged from squash noodle pad thai to a lamb loin with white-bean ragout and rosemary jus. The tiny dining room that helped spur the 16th Street renaissance can barely contain the crush of diners and the bustle of the staff. Tables on the enclosed porch offer a little more elbow room and a fine place to linger year-round over a glass of wine until that elaborate pouf of berry-stuffed Pavlova arrives for dessert. Dinner Tues.–Sat. 402 E. 16th St., 317-925-5000

Hotel brunch spots rarely have as much style and personality as Cunningham Restaurant Group’s recent addition to the steampunk-chic Ironworks Hotel on 86th Street. Chalk that up to chef Natalie Wall’s vibrant menu of hearty salads, breakfast bowls, and pastries, such as her plate-sized cinnamon roll and her not-to-be-missed take on a classic Pop Tart with a banana cinnamon filling. Less decadent options include a fruit-topped chia seed pudding bowl and Rize toasts dressed with everything from smoked salmon to figs and brie. Wall’s innovation shines in a revisionist quiche “egg tart” with seasonal roasted vegetables, pickled onions, and bracing hibiscus mustard. And her house burger on an English muffin and chicken-and-bacon croissant make stopping in late a good option. Brunch daily. 2721 E. 86th St., 317-843-6101