Five quintessentially Indiana restaurants that deserve a road trip.
8670 W. S.R. 56, French Lick812-936-8001
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.
1011 E. Canal St., Winona Lake574-269-1226
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.
709 W. Main St., Madison812-274-1077
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.
1830 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne260-744-9490
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.
127 S. Illinois St., Indianapolis317-635-0636
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.