Eating vegan and vegetarian in Indianapolis 

Making life a little healthier with veg-friendly fare in Indy

click to enlarge Tinker Street's vegan Pad Thai - TINKER STREET INSTAGRAM
  • Tinker Street's vegan Pad Thai
  • Tinker Street Instagram
There is no better time than the warm summer months, when all of the best, vibrant fruits and vegetables are in season, to take the leap into being mindful of the food you eat. As much as I love eating locally-sourced meat, I think it is ignorant to dismiss the importance of a diet high in fruits, vegetables,  grains, legumes, and all of those non-animal cuisine options. 

In fact, something that has become increasingly popular (if you're unwilling to convert to a purely vegetarian or vegan diet) is eating one of those diets three or four days a week. It helps you feel better, it cuts back on resource consumption, it will save you money, and (if you're a person that cooks at home) it will push you out of your comfort zone and allow you to get more creative with your recipes.

While cooking veg-friendly dishes at home can be a lot of fun, here are some options around Indianapolis for you to veg-out. 


3 Sisters Café
There are any number of reasons to love this Broad Ripple staple. The location is great, the staff is friendly and the food is always good. In particular, vegetarians and vegans will find plenty to eat at this charming and affordable Victorian home converted into a restaurant. The only thing that's changed in the past few decades? The address.
6223 Guilford Ave., 317-257-5556, 3sisters.in

DUOS Kitchen
The delicious vegetarian creations that come out of this kitchen (which began as a food truck that is still buzzing around town) are nothing short of culinary genius. The NUVO crew finds themselves here a lot, with their freestanding kitchen only a couple of blocks down the street from our own HQ, and former editor Jim Poyser can often be found holding a sort of court on the outdoor patio. The “slow food fast” motto means all their dishes, meatless and meaty alike, are jam-packed with lots of flavor and freshness, plus they have the best damn salad bar in the city.
2960 N. Meridian St., 317-508-8614, duosindy.com

click to enlarge Ezra's Enlightened Cafe - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Ezra's Enlightened Cafe
  • Submitted Photo
Ezra’s Enlightened Café
Smoothies, shots, bowls — a veritable rainbow of health-food goodies designed to spread the veg-only raw-food gospel to cooked-meat-loving Indy. Here’s a place that offers eats that taste good and make you feel good on top of it. The Nacho Mama bowl is the truth.
6516 Ferguson St., 317-255-3972, ezrasenlightenedcafe.com

The Garden Table
This juicery and eatery in the heart of Broad Ripple Village features locally-sourced (if slightly pricey) dishes that are, frankly, worth the sticker. We’re talking FRESH, and the caps are warranted. The juices are stellar and the website has some pretty great info on cleanses to boot.
908 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-737-2531, thegardentable.com

Indianapolis City Market
The original market and still the place to go for produce downtown. While it has become more of a spot for people to grab a lunch during their breaks, it still has a weekly farmer’s market on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. (May-Oct.) and with more than fifty vendors to choose from you should be able to cover all of your fresh produce needs.
222 E. Market St., 317-634-9266, indycm.com

click to enlarge Heirloom tomatoes - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Submitted photo
Locally Grown Gardens
We could tell you that this place sells more than just pie, and that they’re a once-stop shop for produce, kitchen supplies and linens, but that would be burying the lead. The point is that this place sells a sugar cream pie that will take you to a whole new kind of pie place. Like Heaven, but up a little higher and more beautiful. Bringing one of these home guarantees you to be the favorite cousin. If you’re trying to be healthier, this is the perfect place to greab some fresh, local produce to take home and prepare. If you’re in no mood to cook, but still want fresh produce, their Indiana tomato plates are so fresh and so good.
1050 E. 54th St, 317-255-8555; locallygrowngardens.com

Natural Born Juicers
Whether you’re fighting cold season or starting a tough morning after a long night out, believe in the power of cold-pressed juice made by hand. Specifically, made by the experienced hands who craft Natural Born Juicer’s elixers. They honed their craft in New York City, and have brought a bunch of delicious recipes back home to Indiana. It’s definitely worth the trip whether you’re a whole foods aficionado or just want a non-coffee perk up.
865 Massachusetts Ave, 317-797-4254; naturalbornjuicers.com

Patachou
Good God, the omelettes! The toast with toppings! The endless coffee! You’ve probably got one of these Indy staples for breakfast and lunch close to you, and lucky you for that. Martha Hoover’s empire began at 49th and Penn with a “student union for adults,” and now her holdings include Napolese pizza, Petite Chou and Public Greens.
4901 N. Pennsylvania St., 317-925-2823; 8697 River Crossing Blvd., 317-815-0765; 225 W. Washington St., 317-632-0765; 4733 126th St. (Carmel), 317-569-0965; 14390 Clay Terrace Blvd. (Carmel), 317-566-0765; cafepatachou.com

Pogue’s Run Grocer
Right across the street from Love Handle is another one of Indy’s best little sandwich shops. Of course, you can get a lot more than that at this grocery store, but their prepared foods (especially the vegan offerings) are better than some well-subscribed fancy lunch joints in town. Looking for an easy foray into the vegan-way? Check out their Rambo, it's a vegan version of the Reuben and it's pretty damn good. This is a great place to stop when you need healthy, flavorful and fast food without the grease.
2828 East 10th Street, 317-426-4963; poguesrungrocer.org

Public Greens
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.
Monon Trail in Broad Ripple, 317-202-0765, publicgreensurbankitchen.com

click to enlarge shoefly_2013_009.jpg
Shoefly
Shoefly Public House serves as neighborhood pub to an area that lacks any real dining scene. With a focus on simple yet quality ingredients, including locally sourced meat and flatbreads from Pat’s Philly Pretzel, Shoefly offers a menu full of gussied-up pub food. Unique selections include walleye tacos, yucca fries and the Hoosier burger, a pork patty topped with apple, arugula, smoked gouda and hickory dijon. Unlike perhaps your typical pub, Shoefly boasts an excellent list of made-from-scratch desserts including, of course, their very own shoefly pie. Shoefly is the perfect place for a lunch break but with an extensive craft beer and wine list, it also makes for a satisfying late-night stop.
122 E. 22nd St., 317-283-5007, shoeflypublichouse.com

Sinking Ship
Not all vegetarian and vegan food is healthy and if you're looking for the chance to try the best vegan junk food, look no further than this hockey bar and hipster haven. The first step is to order a beer, preferably local, but a PBR will do. Next get some vegan seitan wings in asshole sauce (Yes, that's it's name. Yes, it's spicy and delicious. No, they aren't exactly like chicken wings, but they're good in their own right) Then pair that with a side of one of their Mad Mac's like their Chili Mac, which has vegan chili and vegan cheddar. Finally, get a cinnamon-y, sugary, sack of balls to take home for dessert. 
Sometimes it's good to be bad. 
4923 N. College Ave., 317-920-7999, sinkingshipindy.com

SoBro Café
We at NUVO love this sweet little spot that serves up variety of choices for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike, across a variety of ethnic food backgrounds. We highly recommend it for lunch.
653 E. 52nd St., 317-920-8121, sobrocafe.com

Spice Box
Yes, the Indian food truck you love so much is taking over the former Rook space. Spice heads, start your stomachs. Doling out dishes for carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike they have something for everyone. If you’re looking for that fresh veggie option, get the Aloo Spice Wrap with a Mango Lassi.
719 Virginia Ave., 317-759-5828; spiceboxindy.com

Thai Spice
This just happens to be the one I've found to have my favorite Thai Dish, but I easily could have substituted this with Siam Square, Sawasdee, Bangkok Restaurant and Jazz, the list goes on. The fact is Thai restaurants almost always have flavor-filled vegetarian options. But, out of all of the dishes I've had, my go to is the Laad Nar at Thai Spice with tofu, it is spicy, and savory, and umami, so good. 
2220 E. County Line Road (Greenwood), 317-881-2243, thaispiceindy.com

Three Carrots 
click to enlarge Rich Girl from Three Carrots - JOLENE KETZENBERGER
  • Rich Girl from Three Carrots
  • Jolene Ketzenberger
Since opening in City Market — and almost immediately picking up a positive review from Jolene Ketzenberger — this veggie-heavy stand has developed a loyal following (including carnivores.). As Ketzenberger put it, “There’s plenty to try at Three Carrots, more than its small space would indicate.” With dishes like their vegan biscuits and gravy, to their vegan play on a Po’ Boy, aptly named the Rich Girl, there is no lack of flavorful vegan options to choose from.
Indianapolis City Market, 222 E. Market St., 317-634-9266, threecarrotsindy.com

Tinker Street

Andrew Luck likes it, and so do we. Not only is the menu creative, but this is where you’ll get some of the very best service in town. From the complimentary prosecco to start your meal, to the offering of shaws when the weather is a little chilly, Tinker Streets owner, an Indy restaurant legend, Peter George makes sure each and every customer feels at home. Make sure you peep the thoughtful wine list and get lots of recs from this highly-trained staff. The menu is packed full of locally-sourced vegan and gluten-free options and the kitchen is happy to accommodate most any food restriction. Even the heaviest meals here will leave you feeling satisfied and not overtly stuffed, and many times that’s all we need.
402 E. 16th St., 317-925-5000, tinkerstreetindy.com

Tlaolli
This unassuming Mexican restaurant is the place to go if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to the majority of Mexican cuisine. Instead of the common use of lard for their tamales, they use olive oil. They also clearly mark their vegan and vegetarian options and if you’re worried about the flavor suffering from the changes, I can assure you they don’t. The freshness of the food is apparent and it makes for an enjoyable Mexican meal that you don’t have to feel so bad about if you’re trying to eat healthier, or just lighter.
2830 E. Washington St., 317-410-9507, tlaolli.com

WB Pizza
Have no fear, just because you're eating veg-friendly doesn't mean you have to miss out on those little circles of love called pizza. W.B. Pizza specializes in vegan pizzas and they mark their menu to help you build the perfect meat and dairy-free pie. But, as an expert in these matters, I (much like Ben Wyatt) would suggest getting a calzone and coating it in their vegan garlic butter. It's a "portable, delicious meal."
6165 Allisonville Road, 317-205-5555, wbpizza.com

click to enlarge Local, in-season, and delicious - WILDWOOD MARKET
  • Local, in-season, and delicious
  • Wildwood Market
Wildwood Market
The quick and easy way to do this market is to order their daily sandwich and a cold brew coffee out of their fridge. But they also have some of the best local produce available and the incredible amount of options for groceries makes it the perfect place to stop in and shop local and eat local. Finally, the best part is the cheese selection, it’s not huge, but the owner used to work at Trader’s Point Creamery, and he knows his cheese.
1015 Virginia Ave., 317-737-2653, wildwoodmarket.com

BONUS:

If you're vegan or vegetarian and sadly haven't been able to go to one of the incredible Chefs' Night Off dinners, the one on June 12 is completely vegan

Who:
Ian Phillips/3 Carrots, Audrey Barron/Ezra’s Cafe, Joshua Henson/Fermenti Artisan and Matt Ward/Garden Table

What:
4 Courses and passed appetizers prepared by 4 extremely talented chefs. All local, all 100% vegan. No honey or other products used. 1 Growler glass so you can fill it and take home some delicious beer from Bent Rail. $45 adults/$12 kids (10 and under). Passed appetizers and social hour 6:30-7:30. Seated 4 courses at 7:30.

When:
Sunday, June 12, 2016 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM (EDT)

Where:
Bent Rail Restaurant & Brewery – 5301 Winthrop Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46220

Get your tickets before it sells out, these are one of the most popular and well-run food events in this city. 

*Don't see your favorite vegan or vegetarian restaurant on here? E-mail your suggestion to cmcginsie@nuvo.net. Thanks!

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Cavan McGinsie

Cavan McGinsie

Bio:
I travel. I eat. I drink. I meet. I record. I'm the Food & Drink Editor here at NUVO and I'm always happy to chat with people about anything over a coffee, beer, or meal. Let me know your thoughts on Indianapolis.

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