Four Of The Best Indy Restaurants To Try Right Now

Check out Aroma Experience in Carmel, Bluebeard in Indianapolis, Cooper & Cow in Fishers, and Main and Madison in Franklin.

Every month, Indianapolis Monthly staffers head out across the region, to restaurants both familiar and new. It’s the best way to ensure our restaurant guide (which is also printed in the last pages of every issue) is as current and correct as possible. These four spots were our best discoveries—or rediscoveries—in recent weeks. Know of a spot that deserves a visit? Drop us a line and we’ll check it out.

Founder Vinita Singh built Aroma’s menu around dishes she grew up eating in India. Photo by Tony Valainis

Aroma Experience 
2 stars (out of three)
885 Monon Green Blvd., Ste. 108, Carmel
$20-$30, no reservations

Vinita Singh’s portfolio of restaurants expanded in March, 2024, when she brought a new location of her Aroma mini-chain of restaurants to Carmel City Center. Those who enjoy her Aroma Indian Cuisine and Bar spots in Fountain Square or SoBro will find plenty to like in this glitzy, date-night venue: The other locations’ daily dinner menus of Northern Indian dishes such as tikka masala and kerala-style curry are on offer, as are ambitious entrees including a lehsuni prawn dish that plays notably with Aroma’s coconut and cashew naan. (There’s also a chili garlic naan so engaging that one could enjoy it unaccompanied.) Lunch, which is served daily, is a more concise affair of bowls, rolls, and wraps; there’s also a full bar and some standout, homemade ice cream-based desserts.

Bluebeard’s chop salad remains a favorite. Photo by Tony Valainis

2 stars
653 Virginia Ave.
$20-30, outdoor seating available, no reservations

When it opened in 2012, Tom and Ed Battista’s charming restaurant led the charge in getting Indy’s dining scene on the national radar. A perennial nominee for the prestigious James Beard Awards, with mentions in the likes of The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, and Bon Appétit, Bluebeard—which takes its name from one of native son Kurt Vonnegut’s novels—still delivers on the hype. The menu has settled into a comfortable groove, starting with sharable small plates such as house-frizzled chips and French onion dip, gourmet bar nuts, and grilled bread from sibling bakery Amelia’s served with a flight of slatherings.

Midsized dishes diners have grown to love: chopped salad; fat scallops over celery root puree, topped with pickled apples and jalapeño; and spaghetti tossed with créme fraiche, parmesan, and gremolata. A plate-spanning Faroe Island salmon, beef-and-pork Bolognese, and other larger entrees make for a nice, lingering dinner accompanied by cocktails in a delightfully shabby dining room decorated with shelves of books and Vonnegut-era typewriters.

chocolate cake
Cooper & Cow’s house bourbon chocolate layer cake. Photo by Tony Valainis

Cooper & Cow 
1.5 stars 
8626 E. 116th St., Fishers
$20-$30, reserve online

Louisville-based Endeavor Restaurant Group’s swashbuckling steakhouse in downtown Fishers is perhaps distinguished most by its intimacy and calm, where diners can actually hear their dinner companions across the table. The 4200-square-foot space, which was last an outpost of LouVino, has been transformed with well-appointed décor that recalls the swankier saloons of pre-Prohibition days. And while starters are sometimes a bit heavy, especially a thicker-than-expected crab bisque with little bite of sherry or brandy, surprisingly well-prepared seafood offerings shine just as much as prime aged filets, ribeyes, and wagyu flank steak.

The wine list boasts great vintages but bourbon cocktails such as the “Cooperage” old fashioned are a must, and king salmon with cranberry chutney and scallops with blackberry champagne gel show the kitchen’s skill, despite a somewhat pasty acorn squash puree. A house wagyu burger is more than dinner worthy, and sides such as fried Brussels sprouts with roasted garlic and bresaola are excellent for sharing. Save room for a towering wedge of bourbon-enriched chocolate cake with both dark chocolate ganache and milk chocolate buttercream.

Main & Madison Market Café. Photo by Tony Valainis

Main & Madison Market Cafe
2 stars
100 N. Main St., Franklin
$10-$20, outdoor seating available, no reservations

Franklin’s historic first hospital was reborn as a breakfast and lunch hot spot in 2018, when co-owners and cousins Amy Richardson and Stephanie Northern opened their bakery and cafe just steps from the city’s historic courthouse. With a Brooklyn-cool staff (many are students at nearby Franklin College) but Midwestern friendliness and prices, it’s easy to see why the restaurant attracts long lines for its rotating menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, and baked goods.

Their roasted red pepper and gouda soup is especially satisfying; that it’s served with one of their caramelized onion and goat cheese scones turns it into a special treat. Pastries like a sharable-sized pecan sticky bun or a stuffed peanut butter cookie are a sugar crash waiting to happen, but are more than worth the ride.