827 S East St., 317-964-0744, V $
Every morning, a fresh selection of gourmet doughnuts (rotating from hibiscus-glazed to blueberry cake) appears in the glass case of this funky neighborhood spot playfully furnished with molded chairs, sofas cozied up to a blazing midcentury fireplace, and cartoons projected onto the wall in a loop. A vintage KFC sign references the shop’s latest addition to the menu: fried chicken both by the bucket and layered inside sandwiches, like the corn-buttered Indiana biscuit and the kicky Habanero Honeynut. Sides include hand-cut fries, vegan chili, and a slightly sweet shredded slaw. Do not pass up the ahi Amarillo and hari dipping sauces that are well worth the 50-cent upcharge.
(General American Donut Company is open daily for doughnuts and lunch.)
The Yard at Fishers District, 317-537-2041, $$
The energy is high and the flavors are forward at this Ohio import that debuted in December 2019 in the first wave of business to open at Hamilton County’s The Yard at Fishers District. In a dining room that combines the best parts of a craft brewery and an unfussy family haunt, crowd-pleasing dishes like loaded tater tots, Andouille sausage–spiked shrimp and grits, and brown-buttered pierogies have lots of moving parts, complex but more fun than fancy. A full bar runs parallel to the booths, offering a row of taps and special attention to honeyed meads.
(101 Beer Kitchen is open to in-person dining as well as takeout.)
2960 N. Meridian St., 317-927-6810, V $
The Duos Kitchen, a cafeteria fit for grown-ups, sits right across the street from—of all places—The Children’s Museum. The old-school salad bar bursts with the colors of fresh, local produce, with entrée choices for all sorts of food moods. The balance bowl with spinach, brown rice, black beans, red pepper, egg, scallion, and chipotle aioli satisfies the urge for something healthy, and the scratch oven-fried chicken covers those times nothing will do but comfort food. Variety is the name of the game, with mushroom and tofu stroganoff, lemongrass-ginger-glazed meatballs, and vegan fajitas with pinto beans and seared veggies as exhibits A, B, and C. Owners Becky Hostetter and John Garnier had already built a loyal following for their international, vegetarian-friendly fare when they brought chef Micah Frank on board in 2019, after the former co-owner of Black Market sought a change of pace. The restaurant has two other locations around town with scaled-down versions of that same diverse menu, one at City Market and the other in a gleaming stand-alone structure outside Eskenazi Health.
(Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Duos Kitchen is temporarily closed and will reopen when owners feel it is safe.)
3623 Commercial Dr., 317-293-8888, V $$
Daily dim sum and a deep menu with glimmers of authentic Cantonese cuisine already set this International Marketplace restaurant ahead of the Asian-restaurant pack. A 2020 refresh brightened the large, open dining room furnished with big round tables perfect for families and groups. Some of the day’s seafood options swim in large tanks along the back wall, and metal dim sum carts—bearing baskets of shrimp dumplings, chive pancakes, noodle rolls, and other shareable nibbles—cluster near the kitchen. Pots of hot tea arrive the moment you sit down, and the servers seem to enjoy guiding newbies through the laminated pages of so many rice, noodle, and steamed greens that you can try something different on every visit.
(Taste Restaurant at Lucky Lou is open for takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic and will reopen their dining room once allowed.)