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Vida

The Lockerbie neighborhood scored a major victory when Cunningham Restaurant Group opened this cutting-edge stunner in the former Amici’s Italian Restaurant over the winter. The structure itself is like nothing Indy has ever seen, with high ceilings and walls of windows that call to mind some kind of funky Scandinavian bungalow that we want to move into. The entry features a lively pass-through to the kitchen and an entire wall that serves as executive chef Layton Roberts’s hydroponic garden. The menu follows the same innovative theme, with impeccably plated marvels like gossamer-skinned shrimp dumplings set in pork consomme, housemade white-fish kielbasa, and a silken puck of short-rib tartare scooped off the plate with bits of fried sweetbreads.

TIP: Decision-averse diners can opt for the five-course tastings presentation, concluding with pastry chef Hattie McDaniel’s daily take on outlandish sweets.

DON’T MISS: Any salad composed of leaves plucked from the kitchen garden and gussied up with the likes of roasted plums, parsnips, and McDaniel’s brioche croutons.

601 E. New York St., 420-2323, vida-restaurant.com

See all 25 Best Restaurants here.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.
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