We ate our way through Downtown Indy in 2015 with the addition of some incredible new restaurants: Milktooth, Spoke & Steele, Tinker Street, Georgia Reese’s, Plow & Anchor, Yardhouse and Union 50 – to name a few. 2016 shows no signs of slowing down. Here are a few of the new restaurants and bars I cannot wait to try. Pictured above: The Garden Table.

The Food

Vida
New York Street
Opening Feb. 2
Vida, the Cunningham Group’s latest project, opens in the former Amici’s space in the Lockerbie community. The restaurant brings locally sourced food to another level with their stunning vertical hydroponic green wall. Vida will serve as a test kitchen for the company – a place for its chefs to test and develop recipes. I would be more than happy to volunteer my services as a taste tester for some of Executive Chef Layton Roberts’ recipes.

The soon to be opened restaurant Vida makes charcuterie in house.

Vida makes charcuterie in house.

The Livery
College Avenue
Spring 2016
Another Cunningham Group restaurant – The Livery – will open in a historic building on College Avenue, just blocks from Mass Ave. CEO Mike Cunningham is planning a Latin/ethnic-inspired menu with a rooftop bar and a huge garage door entrance that will open up to the outside in warmer weather.

Nada
Circle Centre Mall
Early 2016
Who could complain about an 8,500 square foot Mexican restaurant featuring a modern twist on south-of-the-border fare: poached-shrimp tacos, Mexican mac ‘n’ cheese, creme brulee-battered French toast for brunch and a glowing tequila wall packed full with 200+ bottles. Indianapolis’ first Nada restaurant (also located in Cincinnati and Columbus) will open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

The Queso at Nada: cheesy goodness + habanero + pico de gallo + black bean purée

The Queso at Nada: cheesy goodness + habanero + pico de gallo + black bean purée.

Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
Illinois Building (Illinois and Market Streets)
Summer 2016
Indianapolis loves its steakhouses. With the opening of Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse this year, there will be nine upscale steak restaurants Downtown alone. Along with Giordano’s pizzeria, Hyde Park will breathe new life into the long-vacant Illinois Building when it opens. Expect large street front windows, private rooms with great views and an open kitchen. Some of the restaurant’s best sellers include Oscar-Style Filet Mignon, bone-in 22 oz ribeye and lobster mashed potatoes. The restaurant has been looking at Downtown Indy on and off for over 18 years. Sounds like it will be worth the wait.

A rendering of Hyde Park Steak House.

A rendering of Hyde Park Steakhouse.

The Garden Table
Mass Ave
Summer 2016
One of my favorite Indianapolis restaurants – the Garden Table – will be making its way to Mass Ave’s Marott Center. The Broad Ripple restaurant, known for seasonally influenced and locally sourced food and cold pressed juice, plans an expanded second location with more lunch options, a grab-and-go area and a full service to-go espresso bar with rotating pastries and superfood snacks. Their Downtown location will also be open for dinner, serving small plates and craft beers and craft cocktails made with the restaurant’s signature cold-pressed juices (think fresh cold pressed juice and muddled herbs with liquor). According to owner Jessie Kelley, “We plan on expanding the breakfast/brunch menu to accommodate early morning meetings for Downtown business men and women, as well as incorporating some epic sandwiches into the lunch menu.”

I love brunching at the Garden Table on Sunday afternoons. Their Granola Gangster is perfection in a bowl.

I love brunching at the Garden Table on Sunday afternoons. Their Granola Gangster is an epic amount of goodness in a bowl.

Rook
Virginia Avenue
First week of February (they hope!)
During my first visit to Rook, I ordered a bowl filled with rice, pickled vegetables, a huge egg, curry sauce and purple tofu. I had little knowledge of the food I was eating but I knew one thing – I loved every bite. Downtown residents have seriously missed the Asian-inspired dishes from Rook since they closed last summer to prepare for a re-opening in the Slate building. In its larger home, Rook will serve an expanded menu of contemporary Asian foods with a myriad of flavors. Think: the flavors of Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, India, Thailand and Laos in one menu. They will also offer a full cocktail menu and 75-bottle wine list with a focus on the Pacific Northwest.

Rook rocks the ramen world.

Rook rocks the ramen world.

Tappers Arcade Bar
Virginia Ave
Early spring
Tappers Arcade Bar will combine one of the best parts of childhood – video games – with adulthood – craft beer. Tappers will be located in the Slate building and feature retro arcade games from the 80s and 90s, local craft beer and snack food. Expect more than 35 free games including Frogger, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, WWF WrestleFest, Donkey Kong and Joust, four pinball machines and 12 taps. According to Jeff Moulton, one of the owners, “Aaron, Austin and I are all from Indianapolis and we love this city. We wanted to really give something cool to this city that we grew up in, and Downtown just seemed like the right fit for us.” We’re geeking out over this one!

Throw back! Take yourself back in time to your best friend's basement in 1981 when you step in Tappers Arcade Bar.

Throw back! Take yourself back in time to your best friend’s basement in 1981 when you visit Tappers Arcade Bar.

Punch Bowl Social
Circle Centre Mall
May 2016
I love the “eatertainment” trend we are seeing in restaurants – an approach that adds games to the bar-restaurant model. When Punch Bowl Social opens in Circle Centre Mall this year, you will be able to enjoy a “gastro-diner” menu and play ping pong, shuffleboard, ski ball, Ms. Pacman and even go bowling. The Denver-based Punch Bowl is part restaurant, part bar, part bowling alley and part barcade. The decor – described as “dirty modern” – blends mid-century modern, industrial, Victorian and mountain lodge styles into one room. Game on!

Local beers & spirits, classic punches and old school games at Punch Bowl Social.

Local beers & spirits, classic punches and old school games at Punch Bowl Social.

The Drinks

Metazoa Brewing Company
College Avenue
Early spring
Animal lovers rejoice. The upcoming Metazoa Brewing Company – to be located near Fountain Square – will give 5% of their profits to animal sanctuaries. The pet-friendly brewery allows dogs (and brave cats) to enjoy the outdoor patio, indoor seating, a shaded dog park, plus plenty of water and treats will be on hand. Our 8-month-old Chocolate Lab and I cannot wait. As for the beers? Owners Dave Worthington and Rand Wilson also founded the Brewery Tours of Indianapolis so it’s safe to say they know the ins and outs of the brewery industry. Metazoa will feature between 18 – 26 beers and a dedicated cider line to accommodate people with allergies.

Metazoa Brewing Company will donate 5% of its profits to animal and wildlife organizations.

Metazoa Brewing Company will donate 5% of its profits to animal and wildlife organizations.

Centerpoint Brewing Company
Circle City Industrial Complex
May 2016
Home brewers Jonathan Robinson, Peter Argiris and Jeff Ready have teamed up to open a massive brewery and tasting room in the Circle City Industrial Complex (more than 17,000 square feet to be exact). Production will focus on four signature beers plus specialty and seasonal selections. Part of their approach is to brew well-balanced beer that appeals to both beer geeks and casual beer drinkers. Their golden ale, Centerpoint Gold 52, won the gold medal at the Indiana’s Brewers Cup in 2014. “It’s not overly malty or super hoppy, but it is a clean, refreshing brew,” said Katie (Lineweaver) Robinson, Director of Communications. “We want someone who only drinks Miller, Bud or Coors to give the Centerpoint Gold 52 a try and enjoy it as well as the beer-geek who never drinks American Macros.”

Broken Beaker Distillery
Mass Ave
Early 2016
Science meets spirits at the upcoming Broken Beaker. Husband and wife team Thomas Wysocki and Heather Finfrock will make and serve everything from liqueurs to brandies at Indy’s newest craft distillery. He is a chemist, she an engineer. Expect cocktails with scientific names (I’ll take a “Mitosis Brandy,” please) plus traditional bar fare including sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads. Can’t decide on a cocktail? Tastings of signature spirits and seasonally infused variations will be served in beakers and glass test tubes. At the end of the night, you will leave Mass Ave a little smarter: on the backs of bottles, coasters and other items, find funny and obscure scientific facts.

Broken Beaker's periodic table shelving unit behind the bar.

Cocktails and science? It’s a no-brainer. Broken Beaker’s periodic table shelving unit behind the bar.

And that’s not all! Other openings to look forward to this year: Fat Dan’s Deli and Chop House, both in the Millikan on Mass apartment complex, Red, the Steakhouse on Maryland Street, 8th Day Distillery in the Circle City Industrial Complex and restaurateur Peter George’s yet-to-be-named Italian restaurant on 16th Street.