Downtown Indianapolis has looked a lot different during the COVID-19 pandemic with office workers and convention crowds noticeably absent for months on end, decreasing foot traffic and taking a serious toll on the local economy.
But as restrictions ease, case counts drop, and crowds return downtown, they will find some new restaurants to explore.
Although the restaurant industry was among the hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic effects — leading to huge business losses and even closures — several new downtown eateries have opened their doors in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
As you head around downtown for work, errands or leisure, here are some of the new food and drink options you may stumble upon.
Mori Sushi (Fletcher Place)
231 S. College Ave. Suite 200, https://morisushi-japaneserestaurant.business.site/
When it opened: March 2020
What they serve: The Japanese restaurant, which launched just as the COVID-19 pandemic began, forcing restaurants into take-out- and delivery-only models, offers ramen, udon, sashimi, bubble tea and hand rolls, among other Japanese dishes.
401 S. College Ave., https://ambersoncoffee.com/
When it opened: June 2020
What they serve: The coffee shop and grocer’s menu features an assortment of coffee and tea beverages, baked goods and snacks. The specialty shop also sells groceries, including deli meats, cheeses, organic milk and breads.
1101 N. College Ave., https://www.leviathanbakehouse.com/
When it opened: July 2020
What they serve: The bakery, which officially opened its doors in July 2020 and slowly expanded its hours and staff over the following months, sells breads, pastries, cookies, cake, sandwiches, soups, salads, coffee, and more.
906 Carrollton Ave., https://www.garageindy.com/
When it opened: January 2021
What they serve: The Garage Food Hall, part of the newly constructed downtown Bottleworks District complex, hosts more than a dozen local food vendors and offers communal seating for patrons. The food options span the gamut and include things like poke bowls, fish and chips, burgers, coffee, reheatable vegan meals, Brazilian food, Pakistani-Indian food and ice cream.
115 W. Market St. (inside the William H. Block Building), https://www.theblockbistro.com/
When it opened: February 2021
What they serve: The Block Bistro is a family, casual-dining restaurant with a private cocktail lounge. Its menu includes wings, sandwiches, salmon, salads, steak, lamb and more.
850 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 110, https://www.modita.com/
When it opened: March 2021
What they serve: Modita is an Asian-inspired restaurant, with a menu featuring dim sum, rice and noodle dishes, sushi and robata-grilled meats and seafood. The restaurant also serves dessert, cocktails, beer, wine, sakè and spirits.
323 N. Delaware St., Suite B, https://www.theoakmontindy.com/
When it opened: April 2021
What they serve: The new bar and restaurant offers a variety of cocktails, as well as food options including (but not limited to) steak, salmon, salads, burgers, tacos and chicken. The Oakmont also offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, with menu items such as steak and eggs, French toast, a breakfast Buddha bowl and biscuits and gravy.
1220 Waterway Blvd., https://theampindy.com/
When it opened: June 2021
What they serve: The Artisan Marketplace and Food Hall, or AMP, is another recently opened multi-vendor, communal food hall with a variety of options. The hall includes around 20 vendors selling all kinds of food, ranging from peanut butter and jelly to cheesesteaks.
Aside from the totally new additions to the downtown area, a number of existing central Indiana restaurants added locations downtown or relocated to a different spot.
In July 2020, the team responsible for the SoBro-based Gallery Pastry Shop opened Gallery Pastry Bar in the Wholesale District, a spinoff dessert lounge located at 110 S. Pennsylvania St. The downtown shop serves coffee, pastries, brunch, dinner and cocktails.
Slapfish, a California-based fast-casual seafood franchise, established a downtown footprint in July 2020 as well. The location at 345 Massachusetts Ave. — which serves lobster rolls, chowder fries, healthy power bowls and more — is the second in Indiana, joining a location in Noblesville.
On the western side of downtown, a new Peppy Grill location appeared in June 2020, at the Avenue apartment building on 910 W. 10th St. A few doors down, a new I Heart Mac & Cheese location opened in January, becoming the second central Indiana location.
In the spring, Plainfield-based Brew Link Brewing came to downtown Indy, opening a new location at 714 N. Capitol Ave.
A second Hoagies and Hops location opened in Fletcher Place this March. The restaurant, whose original location is based in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, serves Philly-style hoagies made with ingredients shipped from Pennsylvania. The new, 21+ location at 719 Virginia Ave is located inside Chilly Water Brewing Company.
Also in March, Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles relocated to the first floor of City Market at 222 E. Market St. from its old location at 132 N. East St. The soul food restaurant pivoted to counter service rather than table service when it made the move.
IndyStar reporters Cheryl Jackson and Liz Biro, and Pulliam Fellow Lilly St. Angelo contributed to this report.
Contact Asha Prihar at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AshaPrihar.