Restaurant Guide Update: March 2020

Ellison Brewing Co.

Tony Valainis

Black Market ★★★

922 Massachusetts Ave., 317-822-6757

After eight years of pioneering perfect plates of seasonal, locavore comfort cuisine, this Mass Ave original changed gears in the summer of 2019 with a cantina menu recalling the rich flavors of Mexico City. But classically trained chef Esteban Rosas and his all-star staff are as exacting as their forebears, grinding corn by hand for their tortillas and concocting a beguiling mole from nearly 50 ingredients. Slow-braised lamb barbacoa is a mainstay of the menu, as are fish and al pastor tacos, pork-cheek tamales, and especially fresh ceviche. And playful favorites of the restored lunch service, such as ultra-light potato flautas and tortas with spicy fried chicken or broccoli rabe and fried plantains, are worth skipping out of work. The restaurant’s secluded patio pergola makes summertime downtown dining especially nice. V $$$

Ellison Brewing Co. ★★

501 Madison Ave., 317-390-4291

This Lansing, Michigan, brewery arrived in downtown in late 2019, breathing new life into the former home of Tow Yard Brewing on South Madison. But pale ales and craft spirits are only part of the draw when former CharBlue chef Ricky Hatfield is in the house pairing some pretty sophisticated and hearty plates with the suds. Pretzel nuggets and lush cheese dip spiked with house beer are predictably addictive, but fresh, fragrant crab dip with grilled corn is a lighter and equally satisfying starter. A Greek salad dressed up with artisan salami and pepperoncini is also far from brewpub fodder, and fish and chips with unusual thin-cut steak fries rival some of the best in town. A wood oven allows Hatfield to produce top-notch chewy-crust pizzas such as the Goat Hollow with cheddar-ale sauce, roasted fig, and prosciutto. Colts fans will want to up their pre-game ritual at this casual spot just blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium. $$

Don Juan Taqueria

3915 Madison Ave., 317-384-1728

It’s all about the trompo at this standard Mexican strip-mall eatery near the University of Indianapolis. The vertical spit slow-roasting pork for tacos al pastor isn’t easy to find because the classic dry-rubbed, spice-reddened, pineapple-sweetened meat preparation is time-consuming. But it’s fitting here, because the whole restaurant is a labor of love for southsider Juan Carlos, a native of Jalisco, Mexico, who aims to bring authentic flavors to his part of town. The menu of staples is tighter than the average taqueria, but Carlos supplements with a winning salsa bar. Call ahead to see if the trompo is spinning that day for some of the freshest al pastor in town. V $

Ford’s Garage

Hamilton Town Center, Noblesville, 317-878-3673

Automotive antiques abound at Indiana’s first outpost of this Fort Myers–based burger and beer emporium that would do its namesake, Henry Ford, proud. A full-sized early model Ford hangs above the bar, where it lets out a plume of colored exhaust every few minutes, and waitstaff make sure to mention the cheeky restrooms, where sinks are rigged with old gas nozzles. A full fleet of burgers tops the menu, with as many after-market upgrades as you can imagine, all arriving with the restaurant’s logo branded on the bun. The Distinguished Gentleman is a tastefully modest number, with a simple treatment of baby Swiss, caramelized onions, and garlic aioli. But there’s also a tricked-out half-pound burger made even more massive with brisket, bacon, cheddar, and onion straws. Not-to-miss starters include onion rings served on an actual mechanic’s funnel, and a bubbling batch of seafood mac and cheese loaded with lobster and shrimp. $$