Destination: Dinner

Five quintessentially Indiana restaurants that deserve a road trip.

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1 1875: The Steakhouse

8670 W. S.R. 56, French Lick
812-936-8001

This classy open-kitchen eatery stays perfectly in step with its sumptuous surroundings on the historic French Lick Resort property.

VIBE: White-tablecloth fine dining befitting anniversaries, birthdays and other grand celebrations. Wear something nice.

WHAT TO ORDER: The dreamy, creamy baked lobster mac ’n cheese appetizer followed by the house specialty: dry-aged bone-in rib eye. If you’re on an expense account, go for the 16-ounce Wagyu strip sirloin.

NOTED: “1875” references the year of the inaugural Kentucky Derby. A picture of Aristides, the winning horse, hangs in a place of honor at the restaurant’s entrance.

2 Cerulean

1011 E. Canal St., Winona Lake
574-269-1226

Sleek, chic Cerulean sits pretty in a cedar bungalow along a Winona Lake canal framed by artsy galleries and boutiques.

VIBE: The midcentury-modern interior makes a stylish backdrop for innovated plates of Asian-meets-modern-Midwestern cuisine.

WHAT TO ORDER: Traditional bento box-style lunches filled with a seasonally changing selection of entrees, sides, soups and salads. At dinner, customers can consider forward-thinking farm-to-table fare and a full crudo bar.

NOTED: All the hardwood used for the tables and bartops is indigenous to Indiana. And like the food, the art you see on the walls is locally sourced.

3 Crystal & Jules

709 W. Main St., Madison
812-274-1077

This charming dinner-only establishment in downtown Madison serves up gourmet dishes in refined yet relaxed digs.

VIBE: The stylish interior boasts a monochromatic color palette in shades of gray punctuated with red columns and iron wall decor.

WHAT TO ORDER: The spicy-sweet marinated Costa Rican New York strip, crab cakes and the house-made pasta in whatever form it’s offered. Save room for creme brulee.

NOTED: The restaurant’s name is a thoughtful tribute to the two most important women in chef-owner Andy Richmer’s life: his wife Crystal, and his late mother, Julie.

4 Oyster Bar

1830 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne
260-744-9490

Just a tad south of downtown Fort Wayne, this circa-1888 landmark was a saloon for decades before transitioning into the Oyster Bar in the 1950s.

VIBE: The comfortably broken-in atmosphere honors the building’s storied past with a handsome wood bar, intimate table seating and fishing memorabilia on the walls.

WHAT TO ORDER: Classically prepared fresh market seafood, steaks, BBQ shrimp calamari and, of course, oysters any way you want ’em.

NOTED: The building’s list of former owners includes Hughie Johnston and Neal Barille, members of the world-champion Zollner Pistons softball team.

5 St. Elmo Steak House

127 S. Illinois St., Indianapolis
317-635-0636

Everyone who’s anyone—athletes, actors, rock stars, politicians, IndyCar drivers, business moguls— scribbles a visit to century-old St. Elmo in on the itinerary when in Indy, with good reason.

VIBE: Old-school elegance with stiff cocktails, a stellar wine cellar, expertly cooked steaks and a tuxedoed waitstaff. If these celebrity photo-lined walls could talk…

WHAT TO ORDER: Steel yourself for the first bite of shrimp cocktail so spicy, it’s nearly combustible. No one’s looking if you need to use a napkin to wipe your watering eyes.

NOTED: The James Beard Foundation honored St. Elmo with an America’s Classic Award in 2012.