Winter-weary foodies and those worried about the future of the local culinary scene got a bit of a respite this past weekend — as well as a sneak peek into the stunning new food court that will further put Indianapolis on the larger culinary map. The Garage Food Hall (850 Massachusetts Ave., bottleworksdistrict.com/garage) opened its doors for a festive first look and dry run for selected ticket holders, who got to sample a free offering from one of the hall’s diverse dining stalls.
For some, that might have been a taco from legendary fusion taco stand La Chinita Poblana (317-635-4444, lachinitapoblana.com), which current Festiva owner George Munoz operated in the heart of Broad Ripple until 2017. Or it could have been a shredded chicken-stuffed arepa, the national dish of Venezuela, from Azucar Morena, which Venezuelan native Andreina Paredes Angulo opened to showcase the street foods and favorites from home that she’s been whipping up in her kitchen for years.
The event was a test run for the big-city food hall concept, which opens to the full public today as part of the long-awaited Bottleworks complex. The complex has already opened the doors on its striking art-deco Bottleworks Hotel, as well as the eight-screen Living Room Theaters, complete with a lounge and swank café. Its food hall recalls similar concepts in Minneapolis and Columbus, and with over 500 seats in its high-ceilinged, 36,000-square-foot entertainment court, it’s a nice way to dip back into in-person dining, as customers can order and then find a secluded spot to enjoy their meal. (There’s also a giant projected screen and a game area, meaning it’ll be a good place to enjoy the Colts’ upcoming playoff game against the Bills.)
For followers of the local restaurant scene, The Garage’s culinary offerings include a nice mix of returning favorites, food truck conversions, better access spots for local brands, and new concepts. Aside from Munoz’s La Chinita Poblana, the hall offers retro Noblesville favorite Clancy’s burgers (clancyshamburgers.com), popular City Market seafood vendor Poke Guru (https://poke.guru/), and Nashville’s Hard Truth Distilling Co. (hardtruthdistilling.com). The hall will also include stalls from popular Pakistani eatery Chapati (eatchapati.com) and Blupoint Oyster House & Bar (blupointindy.com).
Converted food truck Gaucho’s Fire (gauchosfire.com) is cooking up meaty sandwiches and loaded fries, and frozen favorite Lick Ice Cream (lickicecream.tumblr.com), expanding on its presence at local farmers’ markets and in the Circle City Industrial Complex, has an especially sleek new spot that’s serving up innovative flavors like Earl Grey peppermint, gingersnap lemon curd, and gorgonzola candied pecan. And in addition to Azucar Moreno, first-time food concepts include Abbiocco (abbioccopizzeria.com), offering wood-fired pizzas and pastas, and The Harbour (macnivens.com), a new seafood concept from the owners of the recently closed MacNiven’s. With plentiful parking just off of Massachusetts Ave., The Garage gives Hoosiers a great reason to come back downtown, especially in the warmer months and post-pandemic days ahead.