Need some suggestions on where to dine al fresco? Start with this list of restaurants with knockout outdoor spaces.
You’re in double-luck with this place. Not only did they just turn over a ton of new menu items, but they can be counted on for one of Sunday’s greatest rituals: their DIY Bloody Mary Bar. Combine all of that with a gorgeous patio, and Flatwater is the obvious choice for a great spot to have a nice Sunday Funday. Situated as close to the canal as you can get, Flatwater does a lot of live entertainment throughout the week, and has an outdoor bar to keep traffic flowing inside. Not only do the Flatwater folks know how to put together a nearly-perfect outdoor dining spot, they’re also magicians with pork.
832 E Westfield Blvd, 257-5466; flatwaterbroadripple.com
As part of the Patachou family of restaurants, Public Greens is turning out the fresh, thoughtful fare that Martha Hoover’s family of restaurants is known for. There’s a twist though: all of the profits from the restaurant will go to fund their charitable Patachou Foundation, which feeds meals to food-insecure kids around the city. The self-service location has a staff farmer and sources from their micro farm just across the Monon from the restaurant. The location also has a knockout patio, which will be used for live music and seating in the warmer months. But no matter what you order on the menu or from the beer taps (yes, it has those, too), you’ll be helping feed hungry central Indiana kids.
64th & Monon Trail in Broad Ripple, 202-0765; publicgreensurbankitchen.com
There’s Italian food, and then there’s Mama Carolla’s Italian food. It has garnered praise from NUVO’s Best Of voters as well as the culinary community. But the only thing that could make this spot even better is their fountain-strewn, lush little garden. As if glorious plates of pasta and house-made ravioli weren’t enough, their garden by moonlight is enough to make you feel like you’ve been put under some kind of love spell. It’s one of the most sublime ways to spend a warm night, so get a bottle of wine instead of a glass and stay awhile.
1031 E 54th St, 259-9412; mamacarollas.com
North End BBQ
A sister restaurant to Late Harvest Kitchen, this new northside barbecue joint brings everything from smoked meat and fish, to homestyle plates with johnny cakes and pimento spread. It’s halfway between a southern backyard barbecue and a sophisticated, high-end eatery. Don’t be put off by it’s location among a sea of stripmalls: they’re not serving freezer-to-fryer Sam’s Club appetizers, but big plates of Texas brisket at baby back ribs. The best part is North End is the Switzerland of barbecue sauce traditions, offering four different varieties from mustard to molasses-based. Jolene reviewed their perfectly-cooked ribs and found the place to be worthy of a second visit.
1250 E. 86th St., 317-614-7427; thenorthendbbq.com
Monon Food Company
On the opposite end of the spectrum from some of the more upscale green restaurants in town, Monon Food Company offers organically-grown foods right off of the eponymous trail in their relaxed, no-frills dining room The walk-up counter is one part of their dressed-down service, and the food is always knockout good, with everything from burgers to tacos. If you’re thirsty or five-o’clock thirsty, you’re covered, as Monon serves beer and wine as well as soft drinks. They’re pet friendly too, so take the dog or the kids or just yourself and enjoy some healthy, organic, easy food.
6420 N. Cornell Ave., 317-722-0176; mononfood.com
Its name derived from a Vonnegut novel, Bluebeard is bedecked with antique typewriters, including one that is reputed to be a replica of the machine Vonnegut used to write his book. But the restaurant is really like a museum of found objects, including a rail from the old Virginia Avenue trolley line that co-owner Tom Battista has managed to incorporate into the design of the bar. Its offerings include an impressive variety of locally-sourced dishes, including all manner of yeast-based goods baked up at its neighbor (the similarly Battista-owned) Amelia's Bakery.
653 Virginia Ave., 317-686-1508; bluebeardindy.com
Fat Dan’s Chicago Style Deli
As the name suggests, Fat Dan’s cuts right to the chase with their food, not even bothering with plates. The thick, delicious sandwiches and hand-cut, totally irregular fries come served on a square of brown paper: no frills, no apologies. And if you’ve ever had Fat Dan’s, you know that they could probably spike the whole meal on the ground and all hungover patrons would hit the deck face-first after it. Some people really hate that the fries look like misshapen fry factory rejects, but it’s a central part of Fat Dan’s dedication to really delicious handmade food. For a real treat, head into Fat Dan’s on a Wednesday and try their smoked meatloaf. It is exactly as wonderful as it sounds: all the filling homey goodness like mom made, plus the badass addition of that smokey, hardwood goodness soaking through every morse. Take a second, breathe, and then put it in your calendar.
815 Broad Ripple Ave., or 5410 N. College Ave., 317-600-3333; fatdansdeli.com