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FoxGardin Kitchen & Ale

Of all the unexpected places Indy’s ever-expanding food scene took us this year, we never figured on Main Street Fortville as the location for a rollicking comfort-food pub with a lighthearted yet sophisticated soul. But when a high-end steakhouse chef returns to his old stomping grounds and pairs up with his college buddy to renovate a decades-old storefront, the locals, long starved for a better dining alternative, will definitely come. And so they have, causing such long waits that the partners, Jake Burgess and Toby Shelton, now take Open Table reservations. Burgess applies local honey to sticky, crackling wings and channels his high-school cafeteria in a chili full of steak tips, served with a side of peanut butter. Somewhat more upscale fare comes in the form of hand-cut filets available in portions from six ounces up to the hulking 14-ounce “Eddie,” named after one of the regulars.

TIP: Live music several nights a week features colorful local acts, and in the upstairs lounge, it’s BYO vinyl for the record player.

DON’T MISS: Made-from-scratch pies baked by the owner’s mother, including a gooey, decadent bourbon-pecan version topped with vanilla ice cream, of course. 

215 S. Main St., Fortville, 485-4085, foxgardin.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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