While it's not quite winter yet, it will be soon and you'll want to find a nice cozy and comfortable place to curl up with some comforting food and a drink or two or three or four. Luckily Indianapolis is filled with places that fit just this criteria that will be getting much more foot traffic over the coming days.
The interior of this place is so welcoming when you’re walking in in snow boots; it’s wood from head to toe and whether you’re sitting at the large, inviting bar or in one of the comfortable booths, it truly is one of the most warming rooms in the city. They always have a great selection of craft beers to warm up with and their menu is another one that is filled with plenty of comfort food. One thing many people don’t realize is just how good their pizza is (they used to be owners of Union Jack’s) and there’s something nice about a hot slice of pizza in the wintertime.
5212 N. College Ave., 317-283-7388, aristocratpub.com
The coziest place in this Broad Ripple staple is aptly titled the pub snug; it’s a self-serve area by the bar and it is a nice area to tuck yourself away with a hand-pulled cask beer and one of the brewpub's British-style fare like fish and chips or bangers and mash. They specialize in classic English beers whose malt-forward profiles truly work like a beer coat against the cold.
842 E. 65th St., 317-253-2739, broadripplebrewpub.com
Most people know Moe and Johnny’s as a place to drink and get a bite to eat, especially during Butler games, but this little coffee shop and bar is hidden in the back of the place and it’s an incredible spot to tuck in and read, write or chat during the winter. They have a large array of books for you to borrow and read over a cup of coffee, or if you prefer something stronger, they have a full bar available as well. If you’re needing some sustenance they also serve the full Moe and Johnny’s menu all day long.
651 E. 54th St., 317-726-1360, moeandjohnnys.com/cornerstone/
Not only do they make some incredible local spirits that have won multiple awards, but they also happen to have one of the most comfortable tasting rooms you’ll ever find. The handmade stone fireplace is the centerpiece and in the cold winter months there is no better deterrent to the winter winds than sitting fireside and sipping one of the craft cocktails (it’s especially nice when they have warm drinks like spiked apple cider). It’s like relaxing in a ski lodge after a long day on the slopes.
702 Virginia Ave., 317-653-1806, hoteltangowhiskey.com
Jazz and winter have always gone hand and hand in my mind. When snow is falling there is undoubtedly some jazz playing through my headphones and while that is nice, there is no substitute for a live jazz performance. The dark room is always filled with a comforting hum from the crowd until the band strikes their first chords. The Cajun-inspired food is warming and goes perfectly with an adult beverage or two, helping deter your mind from the cold outside.
5377 N. College Ave, 317-253-4900, www.thejazzkitchen.com
It was hard to decide whether this should go in the new restaurant article or in this one, because it is new, but it’s also so darn comfy. As you can see, it made it to the comfortable area, and it’s because the people behind Kaffeine have created a truly comforting space to serve ridiculously good coffee in. After years of serving Indy out of their food truck, these folks opened a brick-and-mortar spot and now you have no reason not to get your caffeine fix here every day.
707 Fulton St., 317-201-4882, kaffeinecoffee.com
This is proof that you can be cozy and high-end at the same time. Despite being in a strip mall at Keystone at the Crossing, Late Harvest has one of the best kitchens in the city and their bar program is just as high-caliber. Their menu is always kept seasonal and interesting, utilizing ingredients that are local to create dishes that fit the weather. Chef Ryan Nelson makes sure this is more than just a comfortable place to eat comfort food; it is a comfortable place to eat an intriguing and thoughtful meal that happens to be comforting.
8605 River Crossing, 317-663-8063, lateharvestkitchen.com
This place is made for the colder months; the food is so comforting on its own and the added warmth of the dining room makes it a must-stop during the winter. For years The Legend has been serving homemade comfort food and there is no better way to spend a winter’s day than enjoying a healthy helping of their Not-Your-Mom’s Meatloaf and a few glasses of dark red wine. It truly makes for a magical evening when there is snow fluttering down onto the sidewalk out front.
5614 E. Washington St., 317-536-2028, legendirvingtoncafe.com
There is something about the old world Italian charm of this place and its food that helps take that coldness out of your bones during the winter. It truly is one of the most romantic places in the city and it definitely lends itself to that romantic idea of winter and snow and wrapping up in a warm blanket by the fire that films, songs and stories tell us; it helps us forget just how terrible it is to drive in the snow and walk in the snow. Let Mama coddle you into that sense of winter whimsy.
1031 E. 54th St., 317-259-9412, mamacarollas.com
The Red Key is the quintessential neighborhood drinking hole and its old-school charm makes it easily one of the best bars in town. It doesn’t get much better than sitting in one of the well-worn chairs and listening to the crooners on the antique jukebox while drinking a beer or two and watching the snow drift down outside. Add to this the always enjoyable and friendly crowd and you’ve got the makings for a warm winter's eve.
5170 N. College Ave.; 317-283-4601; redkeytavern.com
Pioneer is a place that could be on a hundred different lists because it's so good in so many ways. After years of seeing this space on Fountain Square boarded up, it is nice to be able to walk in on a cold winter night, order a beer, get a massive plate of house-made sausage and enjoy the dark coziness of the place. If they happen to have a live band that night, even better.
1110 Shelby St., 317-986-6761, pioneerindy.com
This little neighborhood bar is as classic as they come. During winter they light the place at night with string lights and the crowd is always jovial. The couch in the corner can be a comfortable spot to sip on a beer or cocktail. They always have their in-house infused vodkas to choose from and in the winter it doesn’t get much better than their peppermint or coffee vodka options. It’s hard to describe exactly why it feels so comfy in the winter, but when you step through the door you’ll understand.
2602 E. 10th St., 317-634-8625
This little spot in Broad Ripple may just be my favorite bar, especially during the week when it’s slower and quiet. The dark, polished wood details in the small, warm room make this easily one of the most comfortable places to grab a drink in the city. Sit in the window well near the front, order one of their well-made cocktails and enjoy a quiet, convivial night with a few friends by the fireplace. If it is a busier night, I suggest heading downstairs where there is a good chance you’ll find a live folk band playing some tunes to a small crowd.
6331 Guilford Ave., 317-255-5159, cornerwinebar.com