It takes some diligence to maintain a spot on this list after 17 years. Peterson’s, which has been dishing up elegant surf and turf in its clubby, dark-paneled dining room since the dawn of gourmet mac and cheese, also has a lock on consistency. Throwback starters—like tempura-fried, tail-on lobster “fingers” served with honey mustard and drawn butter, and an elaborate iceberg-wedge nest of Danish blue cheese, Asian pear, and walnuts drizzled with balsamic reduction and red-pepper coulis—never disappoint. Once you get hooked on the delicate, seared Day Boat Diver Scallops, kissed with black truffle oil and arranged on a pad of mushroom risotto between discs of apple tuiles, it’s hard to explore deeper into the menu. But executive chef Ricky Hatfield has other surprises: a mesquite-smoked Tomahawk pork chop with chili-lime cracklings, for example, and rich, coffee-rubbed beef cheeks braised until fork-tender in Flat 12 Bierwerks’s Pogue’s Run Porter.

TIP: The bar—nearly a restaurant unto itself—delivers a dressed-down version of the Peterson’s menu. Snack on Parmesan truffle fries and $4 gourmet bites of blackened prime rib, pork belly, and Wagyu beef.

DON’T MISS: The rosemary-crusted prime rib, served on Fridays and Saturdays. 

PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best Restaurants 2004–2008, 2010–2011, 2013, 2014

7690 E. 96th St., Fishers, 598-8863, petersonsrestaurant.com

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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.