Black Eye Takeout
The owners of General American Donut Co. operate this carryout spot with a Tokyo rock-star theme (white-balloon ceiling, blinking red Plexiglas floor, rising-sun motif). The kitchen focuses on utilitarian rice bowls and creative bánh mì like Swedish meatball, Japanese sloppy Joe, and lemongrass tofu. But the grab-and-go ramen is the salty, slurpy headline act. There is no seating in the ship, but the soup’s precision packaging—the hot pork-and-chicken stock in a separate container, with chopsticks and an Asian soup spoon thrown in for utensils—make it easy to tote back to the office. Lunch and dinner daily. 1006 Virginia Ave.
Sun King Spirits
Indy’s Sun King Brewing Company takes over some prime real estate in Carmel with its two-story, open-concept dining (and drinking) hall. Diners claim their first-come, first-served tables and then fan out for food at kiosks operated by local vendors Oca (elevated charcuterie from Goose the Market), Pi Indy Pizza (wood-fired perfection), La Margarita (cantina fare), and FoxGardin Kitchen (modern comfort). The buzzy location is just as inviting to families as it is to those who come for the full bar and cocktail list featuring libations from Sun King’s new distillery line. Launch and dinner daily. 351 Monon Trail, Carmel, 317-843-6250
This colorful party central on Broad Ripple’s main drag delivers all of the village essentials—garage doors that pull back for open-air seating, mural-covered walls, buddy servers, a fast-pour bar—all in a convenient tortilla wrapper. The vibrant Ohio-based chain offers a paper menu of build-your-own taco options, from tortilla to sauces. Customers fill in the dots next to their preferred fixings, like the Firecracker hard shell, the house-made chorizo, and the Thai chili tofu. If that all sounds overwhelming, the other half of the menu lays out house creations like the Ooey Gooey (with roasted chicken) and the Dutch Dragon (all veggies in a tortilla-wrapped shell). Margaritas and sangria dominate the drinks menu and, of course, come in pitcher form. Brunch introduces the delicious option of cheesy grits inside a taco. Who knew? Lunch and dinner daily. 838 Broad Ripple Ave., 463-206-2768
Restaurant owner Eddie Sahm dreamed of opening a Bavarian-themed spot for a while and finally got his chance when Bent Rail vacated this building near the Monon Trail. He remodeled the wide-open concrete space, added intimate booths, dark wood, vintage European-themed prints, and hired chef John Adams to create locally sourced, German-inspired dishes. Order the house pretzels with beer cheese fondue and pimento cheese as soon as you sit down, and then peruse the ever-changing menu, which might include cornwurst (think corn dog, but with pulled pork inside), or melon salad with pork crackling and sorghum-sesame vinaigrette. (Psst … there’s a secret menu of random chef favorites. Ask nicely.) Sahm is adding a two-story beer garden and pavilion with a barbecue pit this fall. Lunch and dinner daily. 5301 Winthrop Ave., 463-221-2800
A short list of long drinks (artful elixirs perfect for patio sipping) joins Coat Check Coffee’s expert espresso-bar offerings at this stylishly appointed coffee-and-liquor lounge on East 16th Street. Pastry chef Jess Marvel’s decadent, buttery croissants (snag an almond one before they run out!) and salt-flecked chocolate-chip cookies arrive fresh every morning. Creative, beautifully presented sandwiches are now offered throughout the day, alongside daily quiches and house granola. If it’s on the menu when you stop in, try the cleverly named Rubano (a fusion of a classic Reuben with the pressed Cuban) with tasty local pastrami. Or opt for a flavor-forward bánh mì, equally good in the veggie version or with ginger-scented shredded pork and lamb. Housed in the historic Tinker House building just steps from the Monon Trail, this spacious yet cozy destination with outdoor seating under a custom-made pergola is the perfect place to find free Wi-Fi and get your buzz (caffeine or otherwise) on any time of the day. Lunch and dinner daily. 1101 E. 16th St., 317-550-5685