Downtown Restaurant & Bar Review Hub
Posted by rodoubleb

I would like to continue this thread from the old forum, so consider it migrated.

organized: Sun, Oct 11 2015 12:45 PM

Let's try to keep reviews focused on recent (2015) dining and drinking experiences. 

I've been here nine years in a row. Did a Thursday lunch. Line was out the door, but we were lucky to snag a table in the bar without waiting. I find the Ram's food to be in line with big box pub grub (think Applebees). Edible but not remarkable. For me the Ram is more about the atmosphere than the food. Never ending story was on the big screen and the place was decked out, as usual, by Privateer Press. I enjoy most of what they brew. I believe I stuck with their Belgium Wit which is always pleasing to me. Staff was clearly having a hard time keeping up, and service was slow. I've come to expect this at the Ram. Average price point. After finding a couple of new places this year, I think next years return is in question. 

I was at Scotty's Thursday night and Friday night. This has been an annual stop since they partnered with Paizo. I really enjoy seeing the placed decked out with Pathfinder posters and banners. Pathfinder has been my jam for many years now, so I will try to remain impartial. Again line out the door, and again we got lucky immediate bar seating (both nights). Like the Ram the menu seems to flirt with big box pub grub, but I find the cuisine to be one notch better. Fresh piping hot pretzels are divine with a solid selection of local brews on tap. I stuck with something local but can't recall the make or model. Average price point. I did hear you could order the same meals from their regular menu at a cheaper cost than the 'Pathfinder' themed menu. Apparently you don't get the free dice in that case. I did not confirm this. Service was quick enough in the bar area. I'll be back as long as they are getting sponsored by Paizo, but it helps that I find their food to be slightly above average. 

Loughmillers Pub & Eatery 
First time experience. Conveniently located in the rear side of the Westin building, we practically had the place to ourselves for lunch just a little before noon on Saturday. Burger with beer cheese was way above average for pub food. Beer cheese tasted homemade and unpasteurized (yum yum). I have no idea if that was actually the case. Excellent array of brew on tap. Happy to see my local favorite 3 Floyds represented. Friendly staff. Came back that night around 10:30 pm. Jam style band was playing live, but there were no seats. Had to move on. Average price point. I could see returning in 2016 to see if the home made taste is a rule or exception. 

Claddagh Irish Pub 
First time experience. Drank here with friends waiting for the Beiber crowd to exit the city. Very close to the Crown. You could clearly see the dividing line where Gencon stopped and regular city nightlife began cutting right down the sidewalk. No wait to get in. We didn't eat but I found a new favorite beer here (Torpedo). Finally an IPA that I really really love. Not too crowded, pretty good service. It was dark, but they had no problem with us playing Ale & Iron which gets at least mildly obnoxious at times. Crowd was a mix of gamers and non-gamer locals. Average price point. Any other time I prefer a dark bar, but I would pass next time for something with more game accommodating light. Still, I would have no problem returning if elbow room was top priority. 

Coaches Tavern 
First time experience. I thought this was another Irish Pub, but unless there was a name change google maps calls it Coaches tavern and Street View looks exactly right. Late Saturday night Scotty's looked like it was busting at the seams, and group was looking for something more relaxed. Coaches was nearby and totally fit the bill. We sat on comfy couches for a few hours of eating, drinking, and playing games. Pub food again but this time fresh and excellent. Pulled pork sliders were amazing. Everyone's food looked way better than the average pub offerings. Like they got their food from a market and prepared it instead of it coming out of boxes delivered by Gordon Food Supply. Far superior to the Ram and even Scotties at the same price point. Beer selection pleased me. Another place with 3 Floyds, but no Southern Comfort, really? I'm not sure how common or not these are, but jute box claimed to play any song in the world. I didn't test that claim with anything completely obscure, but I was tickled to be able to play a few of my favorite deep cuts that were all available. Seemed like it was mostly local non-convention going patrons. No complaints on service, it was neither fast or slow. Average price point. Will visit again. 

Penn Station East Coast Subs 
First time experience. Located on the other side of the mall. I wasn't impressed. AC was broke or inefficient. Looked to be staffed by a skeleton crew who was working hard to keep up, but too far outnumbered by the long regenerating line. Probably worth noting that I was tagging along with group and still feeling content from the Beer cheese burger so this review is based on the physical experience of heat and line. My lemonade was refreshing. No one commented on the food being either good or bad, but probably not worth the 20 minute round trip walk. Inexpensive price point. I'll skip this one and meet the group later next time. 

The one in the Hyatt lower level. Hit this up for breakfast Friday morning. Subway is Subway. They toasted my sub even though I said not to. Didn't notice till I say down and the line was out the door. Like Penn Station it seems like their staff situation is always 2-3 employees VS an ever replenishing line of dozens. I didn't want to give the overworked minimum wage employees any grief so I just dealt with my hot $5 foot long. It was fine for the (inexpensive) price (point) and relative convenience. I'll return. It's the only inexpensive breakfast option out there that I am aware of. I did notice some other locations not even a full block away that did not seem to be suffering from extreme con related line bloat. 

In closing I am apparently not very picky about drinks, and any respectable establishment should have something for everyone on tap in this golden age of craft brewing. 

So lots of pub food for me in 2015. A few dry meals in the hotel room. No food trucks and no fine dining to report on. That's not always the case but I would prefer to share recent experiences. No rude service, and outside of the two sandwich places with the overworked minimum wage earners, they were all downright friendly.

Jobeth66: Sun, Oct 11 2015 4:12 PMGeorgia Reese - We went here for Sunday Brunch last year, it was billed as a 'jazz brunch', but it was just one singer with backup playing an electric keyboard, singing covers (and not all of them jazz).  We didn't realize we couldn't order off the menu until after we'd been there a bit, and the brunch was sort of meh.  On top of being seated right next to the stage, we were underwhelmed and likely won't return next year.  $$$Yard House - This was our go-to place for the whole con.  Excellent selection of beers and pub grub, and very welcoming for gamers.  You could go cheap or expensive, your choice.  This was their first year, so they weren't very crowded.  I expect that to change next year. The Ram - We were here a few times, and were incredibly underwhelmed with both the service and the product, every time.  We went on Monday for lunch, and it was very slow - and it was very empty.  We went on Wednesday for KFG and hung out at the bar while waiting for our game to start, and the service was ridiculously slow.  Nothing to write home about, and while we'll return for KFG, we likely won't go back for anything else. Claddagh - Great food and atmosphere, service is really good.  Prices are reasonable, good selection, we'll be back here. California Pizza Kitchen - Same as every other CPK we've been to, nothing special, but ok.  Service here was also slow, even though it was dead.Colts Grille - This was a solid choice.  Very busy, food was good, they messed up my drink order but they got everything else right and were very responsive.  It was packed, but we were happy with the atmosphere here. Panera - We hit the Panera by the Embassy Suites multiple times, this was a 'we're exhausted and just want to go back to the room' stop a few nights.  Like CPK, nothing special, but absolutely just what we needed on those nights.  Very inexpensive, good quality, no real wait any time we popped in.Patachou - Best place we ate by far the entire week.  Even though Embassy Suites has complimentary breakfast, we went to Patachou instead.  Medium pricing, I think - not incredibly expensive, but not cheap, but everything we had there was amazing.  We'll be back here many, many times next year. 

soulcatcher78: Sun, Oct 11 2015 8:01 PM
  RAM - tradition for our first stop of the convention.  The earlier you visit the more likely you are to enjoy your food and not have to hear 'sorry, we ran out of that yesterday".Yardhouse - wide selection fo beers on tap, fast service, and a relaxed atmosphere.  While this year was their first GenCon they did a good job of keeping up with the customers.  The servers and management were enthused to see us and that made me enjoy it all the more. Vampire Tacos were amazing, definitely give them a try.  Maybe they'll get the "gamer fever" next year and partner with someone but I'll be back in any event. Georgia Reese's - Southern cooking, great staff, "grown up" atmosphere, and not far from monument circle (less than a block).  This was a nice break from "pub food" that makes up most of our diet during the Con.  The mac n cheese was good enough that I thought I was going to get stabbed when trying to sample some off of my wife's plate. 

NJSeahawksFan: Tue, Oct 20 2015 8:27 AM
  Scotty's Brewhouse -- After hitting up Scotty's every day in 2014 and collecting all the dice, our group was fully prepared to do it again in 2015.  Unfortunately, the server on Wed was not aware that the dice started on Wed so we missed out on that.  Coupled with a change in policy that said you had to order an entree off of the Pathfinder menu in order to get dice meant that we bailed on Scotty's for the remainder of the con.  The service was prompt, the food and beer was delicious but the change in policy meant instead of getting our lunch business every day, they got it once.  We will absolutely return on Wed before the Con in 2016, but we'll try other places after that. Colts Grille -- Good food, fun nerd themed drinks and solid service made the Colts Grille a definite add to our Con rotation. RAM -- After hearing nothing but good things we tried the RAM this year and were really disppointed ... poor service, mediochre food and running out of many items on menu = no repeat business from our group.  The only bad dining experience we had. We also ate a place right next to Chammps over by the mall and it was quite good.  I forget the name, when I remember I"ll edit this post. 

[email protected]: Fri, Oct 23 2015 4:18 PM
We went to RAM Wednesday and we're pretty excited about based on preivous years' reviews. Unfortantely, it was a complete disappointment. The service was incredible slow and the food didn't arrive until a little over an hour after we had ordered. This can be easily overlooked/forgiven due to how busy they were everyone was at the time. However, when the food arrived, it was cold with barely a hint of warmth. The manager on duty, when alerted, quickly brought out new food which was hot. However, the food was nothing remarkable and definitely not worth the wait.

Chance Gardener:  Sun, Oct 25 2015 10:05 AM
 For all the love The Ram gets by Con goers, I have to say that the quality of the food and the service does not match that love.

I've tried it 3 times in 3 years and each year the food is mediocre to bad. The service is not good - the servers for the most part ARE good but they are overwhelmed by the volume and so can't offset the late to the table service that seems to be the hallmark the experiences I've had.There are better and more enjoyable places, some of which have already been mentioned. In 2016 I plan to explore more of such places and see if they can't become the new "place" to be. 

Steve Spikes:  Sun, Nov 1 2015 4:11 PM
 I've been to the Claddagh twice in as many years.  The food is very good.  This past year, I will add that the service was beyond exceptional.  The waitress, whose name escapes me at the moment, took care of us.  She was on loan from another Claddagh.  We got to talking.  I mentioned she should transfer to the Downtown location.  She replied, she would love to.  The manager on duty at the time joined in, and acknowledged the praise we gave to our waitress, and she also agreed that she would love to have our waitress on her team.  I will be back.  I've added the Claddagh to our rotation.Gen Con 2015 was the first time a few friends and I made it to the Colts Grill, mainly for the Wednesday (General Trivia) and Friday (STAR WARS Trivia) evening events held there, hosted by a local game store, SALTIRE GAMES.  The food was quite good.  The service was also good.  Again, I was mainly there for the trivia events.  I will have to go back withot all the Gen Con distractions.I always make Scotty's Brewhouse my go-to place on Saturday night, when my friends from Star Wars Indiana hang out and "troop".  I was too busy to make it there during Gen Con 2015.  I will return, for sure, for Gen Con 2016.The Subway in the Hyatt Regengecy is my go-to breakfast spot.  I've lost interest in going to Steak & Shake, mainly because of the wait, and the relative inability to maneuver my wheelchair between the seats.  I would head out from The Westin to the Hyatt for breakfast at Subway.  My favorite breakfast would have to be a Steak, Egg, and Cheese; with spinach, onion, and mayo on a flatbread with a side of hash browns and orange juice.On Sunday, we would stay in-house at The Westin, and eat breakfast in the Shula's Steakhouse/No Name Lounge.  We would get the buffet, and relax since we go our separate ways, until the next year, soon thereafter.

Buddah: Sun, Dec 6 2015 3:47 PM
 Ram:  Yeah the Ram definitely underwhelmed this past year.  In past years on a Saturday night, it was practically standing room only in the bar.  Last year, on a Saturday night, it was actually kinda dead.  Plenty of open tables.  Service and food was no better than average.  And probaby the biggest reason for going there, the movies, seems to be stuck in this eternal rut.  Despite having a rather lengthy thread last year about movie suggestions, they somehow ended up with an 80's night on either Friday or Saturday.  Yes there's lots of good 80's movies, but the ones they played weren't sci-fi/fantasy and seemed out of touch with the atmosphere of the con.Friday's (next to the JW):  We stayed at the JW so ate here for a lunch.  The ribs were tasty and the service was great.  Worth checking out if you're in the area, but it is a little off the beaten path. 

Posted by steffles

Palomino - We ate here twice, mainly because there was no wait either night and everything else seemed to have hour plus wait times.  My family really enjoyed the food.  I found it over-priced and underwhelming.  My daughter really liked the steak frites and I was happy with the martinis.  Service was good but I'm going to try to steer clear next summer.

Cafe Patachou on N. Pennsyvania St. (on the way to convention center from Embassy Suites)- We love this place for breakfast/brunch.  There is always a wait but the food is always really good.  They have great gluten free options.  Every year we go here at least once.

Falafel Truck/Middle Eastern truck - So to save a little time and money, we got one dinner from the trucks.  It was pretty expensive and not that much food.  We were disappointed.  I cannot remember the name of the truck but it was middle eastern food.  The food was pretty tasty, but there wasn't nearly enough and it was expensive for what little we got.  Everyone was hungry.

Barcelona Tapas -okay we didn't actual eat here this past summer, but have every other Gencon we've attended.  It's a favorite, typically has a wait, but the food is so good and the atmosphere is so festive.  We skipped it this year because we have felt in the past that we've spent too much time eating.

Posted by jhs

Buca di Beppo: a "family style" Italian restaurant, a few blocks north of the ICC and quite close to the embassy suites.  I am a big fan, my friends and I have a group dinner here, now for probably close to a decade, with almost 20 people.  It is a great restaurant to bring a group, with good food and reasonably priced.  It can be tricky for a small group as the entrees are for 2-4 people, so you get less variety, but I like it enough that I have eaten at the bar a few times by myself over the years.  Pro tip: if you are alone or a pair and don't want to wait somewhere for an hour, eat at the bar.  It is hidden away, and serves dinner.  I have never waited there.

Posted by jhs

Actually, one more: PF Changs.  I have been lucky enough to live near big Chinese populations most of my life, so never considered eating there, but my wife insisted one year in a desperate bid for vegetables.  It is very good, and definitely more healthy than most.  It has gotten crazy crowded in recent years, though, mostly a non con crowd.

Posted by daybreaker

Tomlinson Tap Room - inside the Indianapolis City Market. They close at 9pm, so it can be tough to get out there with all the late night Gen Con stuff going on, but if you're a craft beer nerd, make time for it. Great selection of local beers. On E. Market St just a few blocks east of Monument Circle.

Tastings - Wine Bar just 2 blocks from the convention center. It was ok, but they had a sign out saying Sunday nights were half price bottles, and our group of 8 may have taken decent advantage of that.

Posted by roundtop

It has been a few years (since 2010), but Fogo De Chao was pretty good when I was there. We got a large group together ahead of time on the forums and did a group booking. Service was decent, food was good, and for gen con, it wasn't to crazy.

Overall I find that the more expensive the restaurant there the easier it is to get a table. If it is cheap/"fast" it will have a line out the door.

Posted by lanefan

RAM - the time to hit the RAM is Tuesday night if you're there early; it's not packed and thus the service is way better (and friendlier, they're not as stressed!) and they still have lots of everything.  Last year I spent most of Tuesday evening there and greatly enjoyed it, then went back on Wednesday night and wasn't nearly as impressed.  Whatever beer I was drinking was pretty good, though.

Scotty's - stopped by here on Wednesday last year and got the first GenCon mug they sold - the staff weren't aware the mugs were available for sale yet but when I asked again they pulled one out of a still-packed box and sold it to me - very nice!  Later in the Con I tried to stop in again but the lineup wasn't worth it.  The beer was, well, beer...neither good enough nor bad enough to stick out in my mind 6 months later. :)

Tilted Kilt - this place for whatever reason just doesn't do it for me...maybe because it cost about a dollar more for a pint than at the other two pubs above and I don't find it as good to drink.  Still, it's sometimes possible to find a seat there when everywhere else is full.

Steak'n'Shake - my go-to place for inexpensive food.  The lineups may look imposing but most of the time they move reasonably well; though if you're a group of more than about three you'll maybe wait a long time.  The staff are always friendly even though they're being run off their feet - tip 'em well, they're earning it!  The only annoyance is sometimes having to wait in line again to get out; their payment set-up is quite inefficient when they're really busy.


Posted by chickd19

My group loves Loughmillers Pub & Eatery. Last year was the first year we didn't eat there and that was because one of our friends wasn't 21. They have good food and shot list.

The Ram's mudlside is wonderful. This past year the staffing seemed a overwhelmed.

Another fave of my group is Indy All Night, fantastic food, service and they deliver. You can call and order or they have an app.

Posted by dlcyrus

St.Elmo's Steakhouse:

Very pricey, but a must try if you can justify the cost. Order the shrimp cocktail and enjoy delicious agony from the mounds of fresh horseradish that's piled into the cocktail sauce. For additional fun, watch other guest's faces as they take a bite of the shrimp cocktail and react as if they're being punched in the nose. The steaks are juicy and everything you expect in a fifty dollar plus steak. For desert, unbutton the top button on your pants and order the bread pudding.

You're looking to spend about 70 dollars a person, but if you can afford it, this is well known and quite famous establishment.

Posted by aldctjoc

Late to this thread.

The Ram is just "eh". Tolerable, but there are better options. Honestly, I think it's only popular due to how conveniently located it is to the Con. 

For the price of what I consider a short walk, Rock Bottom Brewery is a better place. Don't get me wrong, you won't turn head-over-heels for it, but I personally consider it a cut above the Ram.

Folks should try Adobo Grill, near Fogo de Chao, near the corners of Washington and Pennsylvania. I thought it was pretty decent, and have been there several times over different GenCon visits.

This is a little bit of a trek, for some it's probably better to drive it, but: Bazbeaux pizza (329 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204). Will go again when I get the chance. 

How far out are you willing to range? This is way, wayyy away from the convention center and downtown: It's a breakfast spot called Milktooth ( Drawbacks: It's annoyingly hipsteresque in vibe, is pricey, won't customize orders or deviate from what's on the menu. So why am I mentioning it? Ridiculously thick bacon. When you get a single strip that's almost as thick as a thin pork chop, is seasoned so heavenly, and is meltingly luscious, you remember it. Holy @$#!, I would have that bacon again. 

Back closer to downtown (but still a ways from the convention center): The Rathskeller. If you're into wurst and schnitzel, this is your place.

Posted by grtbrt

I would try Bluebeard on Virginia ave. local produce and meats - very nice , and Three  floyds Gumballhead on draft .
A little north(7 miles ) in broadripple - Bruge brewery. great food ,mussels (.mmmmm) , belgian stylish , also great beers on draft especially if you like sours

Posted by maijstral2 lanefan

lanefan wrote:

Steak'n'Shake - my go-to place for inexpensive food.  The lineups may look imposing but most of the time they move reasonably well; though if you're a group of more than about three you'll maybe wait a long time.  The staff are always friendly even though they're being run off their feet - tip 'em well, they're earning it!  The only annoyance is sometimes having to wait in line again to get out; their payment set-up is quite inefficient when they're really busy.

Last year they set up a side room for takeout, a private room or overflow room or possible a storeroom, they asked anyone who had takeout to wait in there and had a table set up in front of a door straight into the kitchen and it seems to move pretty fast. Although to be fair I was there after midnight but the resturant was still full and there were 8 or 9 people in the takeout room.

Posted by winterpool

Perhaps the single most helpful resource on Indianapolis dining is Erin's Indianapolis Restaurant Scene blog.  She's been to most of the better restaurants in the area.  I found it invaluable when I attended Gen Con in 2014.

Posted by brotherbock

The secret is Noodles and Co.

The super secret is to call in your order ahead of time, then walk over and just pick it up instead of waiting in line :)

Healthy stuff, lots of veggies (helps avoid Con crud).

Posted by brion

For breakfast, Le Peep was excellent. A little out of the way if you're in a connected hotel, but MUCH better than the complimentary hotel breakfasts. First Watch was good, too, but way too busy since it's closer to ICC.

Posted by brotherbock brion

brion wrote:
For breakfast, Le Peep was excellent. A little out of the way if you're in a connected hotel, but MUCH better than the complimentary hotel breakfasts. First Watch was good, too, but way too busy since it's closer to ICC.

First Watch is terrible. Please nobody go there, particular on the mornings I'm going there. You'll hate their delicious assortment of homemade granolas and artisan french toasts and thick cut smoked bacon and the pleasant waitstaff and reasonable prices. Please, just stay away, again, particularly when I'm trying to get a table there. Go to, I dunno...Wendy's or something. Much better. Trust me.

Posted by aldctjoc

Story in Indianapolis newspaper about a new restaurant near the convention center, just a couple of blocks down the road in or right by (can't tell) the Circle Centre Mall:

I don't know if it's any good, but I'm willing to give it a try this August.


Posted by aldctjoc

Another story, this time of restaurants in the eastern part of the city:

Posted by keithbradburn aldctjoc

aldctjoc wrote:
Story in Indianapolis newspaper about a new restaurant near the convention center, just a couple of blocks down the road in or right by (can't tell) the Circle Centre Mall:
I don't know if it's any good, but I'm willing to give it a try this August.
It is just west of Yard House. Almost at the corner of Meridian and Maryland, by the Hampton Inn and Hard Rock cafe.  I will have to eat there tomorrow to see what iti s like.

Posted by keithbradburn keithbradburn

keithbradburn wrote:
aldctjoc wrote:
Story in Indianapolis newspaper about a new restaurant near the convention center, just a couple of blocks down the road in or right by (can't tell) the Circle Centre Mall:
I don't know if it's any good, but I'm willing to give it a try this August.
It is just west of Yard House. Almost at the corner of Meridian and Maryland, by the Hampton Inn and Hard Rock cafe.  I will have to eat there tomorrow to see what iti s like.
I will definitely be going back.  It is more, at least at lunch, street taco fare with a some nice twists.  The chips and salsa, a starter you have to order, are definitely worth it.  the "kreeper" salsa especially.  I had teh Crispy Pork Belly with a fried egg on top with the Nada fries.  So far so good!

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