Indy north: SoBro
Garuda Indonesian Restaurant, 653 E. 52nd St., garudadine.com. Indiana’s only Indonesian restaurant was opened earlier this year by Dutch transplant and restaurateur Peter Oomkes and his son, Helger. The tiny place, named for Indonesia’s national symbol, is getting buzz for its abundantly spicy buffet (cool it down with the delicious pink yogurt drink). For dessert, try the Pisang Goreng, coconut milk and rice flour-battered, fried plantains served with coconut ice cream and drizzled with Nutella and white chocolate sauce. Lunch, dinner.
Good Morning Mama’s Cafe, 1001 E. 54th St., (317) 255-3800. Mama Carolla herself opened this cheery, retro-inspired breakfast/lunch joint in late 2009, next to her iconic Italian restaurant. Go for delicious standards like biscuits and gravy or breakfast burritos, or brave the “1940s” omelet featuring fried Spam and Cheese Whiz. Breakfast, lunch.
Locally Grown Gardens, 1050 E. 54th St., locallygrowngardens.com. Ron Harris, a former New York chef, started with weekend pork roasts to complement his expansive seasonal produce store. But his food quickly became popular enough that he began doing weeknight dinners and lunches, with homemade ice cream for dessert. Harris borrows his business philosophy from Ice Cube, who advised young, ambitious musicians: “Be hot on your block first.” Lunch, dinner.
Sam’s Gyros, 5404 N. College Ave., (317) 251-8503. Sam’s feels like an American diner interpreted by a Middle Eastern short-order cook. No-frills tables and booths, arranged simply, and a smattering of hookahs and art establish a casual atmosphere. Lunch, dinner.
Taste Café & Marketplace, 5164 N. College Ave., tastecafeandmarketplace.com. With its pretty, modern California-style interior, you expect West Coast prices, too. But most everything on the breakfast/lunch menu falls under $8, whether you’re ordering iced cinnamon buns or the b.a.l.t. (bacon, avocado, basil aioli, tomato) sandwich. Breakfast, lunch (dinner Wednesday/Thursday only).
Yats, 5363 N. College Ave., yatscajuncreole.com. New Orleans native Joe Vuskovich fell in love with Indy on an overnight visit and decided to set up shop here. Now, there are four locations, but the Broad Ripple Yats is the only one that hosts the annual standing-room-only Fat Tuesday party. At $7 (including drink), Yats dishes — jambalaya, chili cheese etoufee, gumbo — are the perfect storm of high quality and low cost. Lunch, dinner.
Zest! Exciting Food Creations, 1134 E. 54th St., zestexcitingfood.com. Test this theory: Show up for a Hair of the Dog breakfast at Zest! in your jammies and no one will bat an eye. Like its owner, Valerie Vanderpool, Zest is casual and artsy in spirit. The menu twists and turns through all kinds of interesting dishes, from crème brulee French toast to fish tacos with chipotle slaw. Dinner is served with a side !of candlelight, jazz and patio breezes. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.