On the second-story balcony of a century-old brick building, diners at Tavern On South find their meals illuminated by a blend of moonlight and the glowing Indianapolis skyline. The tavern might also be within walking distance of Lucas Oil Stadium?100 feet, to be exact?but its upscale ambiance and seasonal menu subverts what you'd expect from your typical sports bar.
A Dining Room with a View
As noted by Indianapolis Monthly in 2011, the interior's wooden accents and iconic photos of the city "lend the tavern a timeless patina." It's a somewhat modern, toned-down take on a typical pub look, with granite bartops and exposed brick. When the weather's balmy, a meal on the patio offers unmatched views of the skyline.
Seasonal ingredients and creative flavors give Tavern on South's traditional offerings unexpected twists. Buffalo wings are made from Maple Leaf Farms duck rather than chicken, and hefty burgers are crafted from house-smoked bison. Even the meatloaf is made from prime rib.
Craft Beer and Cocktails At the bar, the craft beers on draft change with what's available from local breweries, but patrons can also find favorites from Flat 12 and Sun King Osiris by the bottle. The tavern's habit of bucking tradition also carries over to signature cocktails, such as the Cucumber Collins and a mai tai made with spiced rum.
Situated within blocks of the speedway, Kelly’s Pub Too celebrates the history of the asphalt loop by plastering their sports bar with all sorts of racing memorabilia, ranging from go-karts to NASCAR. Between sips of beer or shots at one of 10 pool tables, bar-goers fill up on a menu of classic bites, splitting baskets of wings and potato skins or tearing into a spicy Cajun blue cheese burger all on their own. The kitchen also turns out 14-inch pizzas topped with chicken, veggies, and sausage, as well as baskets of crispy fish and chips. A wide stage hosts live music acts throughout the week against a speedway mural that shows the track, stands, and a grand marshal questioning his place in the world now that the race has started.
In an interior that blends the aura of a club with that of a good friend?s living room, minimalist geometric paintings reminiscent of Rothko?s work hang alongside classical portraiture on the walls. Beneath the swaths of color, patrons direct their own tasting experiences with self-serve Enomatic machines, which draw from dozens of bottles to dispense servings of 1?6 ounces of red or white wines. More than 30 domestic and international wines star on the wine list, from sweet rieslings to cabernet sauvignons to the deep red of a rebellious bull?s Camaro. Sharable plates, including baked brie with apricot compote and flatbreads topped with steak and Stilton blue cheese, fuel conversation.
Nominated as one of Metromix's best bars in 2011, Taps & Dolls matches a medley of appetizers, sandwiches, and pizza with more than 44 draft beers, including craft brews and big-brewery ales. As bartenders loosen the taps, a line of flickering flat-screen TVs above the bar lets patrons cheer on their favorite sports teams or bellicose cartoon animals while they quaff PBR or Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. In addition to the 2-D entertainment, pool tables and arcade games—including Golden Tee and Silver Strike Bowling —keep fingers busy in between bites of chicken wings or fries, and a dance floor pulses with the beats of an all-request DJ Thursday–Saturday.
Inside The Pub Indianapolis, 20 high-definition televisions broadcast college football, stock-car races, and baseball games, casting a flickering glow on sports fans just arrived from nearby Lucas Oil Stadium or Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The bar’s taps spout unsolicited coaching advice and imported brews, such as Stella Artois and Guinness, as servers deliver platters of pub fare, including juicy burgers and lean Reubens. The laid-back watering hole also summons carousing crowds with weekly events, including live DJs, karaoke, and slow-motion replays of the workweek.
Nestled on the corner of West Vermont Street and Indiana Avenue, Bourbon Street Distillery beckons Louisiana enthusiasts with its French Quarter-inspired exterior and authentic Cajun cuisine, such as shrimp po' boys and crawfish pasta. During colder days, guests can dine within the restaurant's brick walls while bathing in the light of far-reaching windows and a flat-screen TV.