Lunch: Happy Returns
There’s no need to sacrifice quality for quantity at these tempting midday smorgasbords.
When a restaurant’s lunch feast is so beloved by patrons that the owners scratch the dinner service, you know something special is being offered. That’s long been the case at this Turkish spot that buffet aficionados still call their little secret. Garlic hummus with well-stocked warm pita, tabouli, bean salads, and lentil soup make for a good start. But tender kebabs, gyros, and some of the best falafel in town have gilded Mediterrano’s reputation—and make it worth repeat visits to see what has been added.
How Much? $13 weekdays, $15 weekends
5941 E. 86th St., 595-0399
Light, not-too-spicy curries, chicken and pork stir-fries, and crisp vegetable dishes help the lineup at this sleek, jazz–themed Thai restaurant avoid the heft of most overstocked steam tables. And the brisk lunchtime business means noodle dishes, including favorites like pad Thai, Pork Pad See Ew, and fried rice are as fresh as they might be if you ordered from the menu. The additional soup-and-salad offerings make this one of the best deals in the city.
How Much? $9.99.
225 E. Ohio St., 632-9000
Vegetarians—especially vegans—are often left ordering the one meatless offering on the menu or begging the chef for a vegetable plate. That’s not the case at this oft-renamed Indian draw tucked into an international market. Rice dishes, eggplant, and cabbage—some with Indo-Chinese influences—make for filling fare that satisfies even omnivores. The fresh garlic naan and excellent dosas, not to mention a nice selection of honey-sweetened desserts, ensure you don’t go back to work hungry.
How Much? $7.99 weekdays, $9.99 weekends
4225 Lafayette Rd., 299-2127
Served on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the surprisingly generous spread at this humble, colorful lunch counter in front of Castleton Square Mall gives a great introduction to Afghani cuisine, with nearly every item pulled from the restaurant’s regular menu. Lamb and chicken stews, rich rice dishes, hummus, and tender stuffed dumplings teem with exotic flavors you won’t find anywhere else in Indy.
How Much? $9.99
6066 E. 82nd St., 577-9610
For just three hours every Friday, the spacious and smartly renovated Haughville storefront operated by Army vet Judge Smith becomes ground zero for westside powerbrokers tearing into succulent ribs, chicken wings, and some of the juiciest pulled pork and chicken around. The beans, custardy mac ’n’ cheese, and slices of sheet cake will draw you back up for seconds.
How Much? $11.95
2104 W. Michigan St., 631-0340
After 18 holes at the on-grounds golf course or a stroll around Fort Harrison State Park, the daily lunch buffet at this former U.S. Army base recalls the smorgasbords of your childhood. Salads such as tangy marinated couscous are nice surprises, but piles of fried chicken, breaded fish, ribs, and comforting sides, like redskin mashed potatoes and extra-creamy macaroni and cheese, will remind you of when lunch was the highlight of the school day.
How Much? $10.49
5830 N. Post Rd., 638-6000
Indian buffets abound around the city, fueling debates over which tikka masala or vindaloo is the best. But these lively spots set the standard, with a classic, consistent spread. From golden pakora and samosas to indulgent bowls of honey-dipped gulab jamun, India Garden has been doing it right since the local international options in the city were slender.
How Much? $7.80
207 N. Delaware St., 634-6060; 830 Broad Ripple Ave., 253-6060
This article appeared in the September 2015 Issue.