Unique Restaurants in Indiana: 12 Coolest Places to Eat

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Indiana
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Are you on the hunt for the quirkiest places to eat in Indiana? From the charming lanes of Bloomington to the bustling streets of Indianapolis, here are 12 of Indiana’s most extraordinary restaurants.

If you’re anything like me, finding unique places to eat in Indiana is at the top of your to-do list when exploring this vibrant state. Trust me, Indiana is a goldmine for foodies looking for something out of the ordinary. Think Ethiopian flavors served in a communal setting, Jamaican vibes with live sports, and classic American dishes that take you back in time.

We’re about to explore spots where the setting is as intriguing as the menu. Imagine enjoying German cuisine in a traditional beer garden atmosphere, or finding a tavern hidden away in the countryside. There’s even a place where Tibetan traditions meet Midwestern hospitality!

Prepare to be wowed on this exploration of flavor and fun. Indiana’s best restaurants, both undiscovered and beloved, are set to reveal their unique charm. If you’re hunting for the coolest places to eat in Indiana, you’ve hit the jackpot. Let’s begin!

The top restaurants to visit in Indiana right now

Indiana’s Most Unusual Restaurants

Eager to explore Indiana’s coolest places to eat? Come along as we embark on a journey through a landscape rich in culinary wonders, from high-end dining gems to quaint, hidden gems. Let’s discover the most unique places to eat in Indiana—a beautiful spot in the state.

Ever imagined feasting in a historic tavern or savoring dishes in a traditional Tibetan restaurant? Indiana’s dining scene is as varied and vibrant as its cultural heritage. Here’s your ultimate guide to the most unique restaurants in Indiana. Prepare to turn your dining moments into memorable adventures—a reflection of the state’s charm as one of the top places to live and visit in the USA.

1. Axum Ethiopian Restaurant

If you’re wandering through Indianapolis and craving something authentically exotic, Axum Ethiopian Restaurant is your go-to spot. This place offers a wonderful dining experience. Here, traditional Ethiopian dishes are crafted with the freshest ingredients, each bite bursting with flavors that transport you straight to Ethiopia.

At Axum, forget the forks and knives. It’s all about Injera, the soft, spongy Ethiopian bread that’s not just your plate but also your primary eating utensil. Tear off a piece, scoop up the vibrant stews and salads, and enjoy the unique experience of eating with your hands. It’s fun, it’s communal, and it’s how Ethiopian food is meant to be savored.

This restaurant is a standout for its commitment to authenticity and its warm, inviting atmosphere. If you’re a seasoned fan of Ethiopian cuisine or trying it for the first time, Axum offers a journey into the heart of Ethiopia’s rich culinary culture. Trust me, it’s one the best restaurants in Indianapolis and one you won’t forget in a hurry.

 Axum Ethiopian Restaurant is one of the unique restaurants in Indiana.
Axum Ethiopian Restaurant offers an authentic taste of Ethiopia with traditional dishes and a wonderful dining experience.

2. Jamaican Breeze Sports Bar & Grill

Next up on our list of Indiana’s unique restaurants is Jamaican Breeze Sports Bar & Grill. This place is a slice of Jamaica right in Indiana. It’s where families gather, sports fans cheer, and everyone enjoys the laid-back, tropical atmosphere.

Jamaican Breeze is all about authentic Jamaican cuisine. Think jerk chicken with just the right kick, savory curries, and flavors that are as sunny and warm as the island itself. The vibe here? It’s chilled, friendly, and absolutely inviting. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto the streets of Kingston, with a sports twist.

What I love about this spot is how it blends the love for good food with the love for good times. It’s a place to relax, enjoy amazing flavors, and soak in the joyful Jamaican spirit. Whether you’re here for the food, the sports, or just the fun atmosphere, Jamaican Breeze is one of those fun places to eat in Indiana that you just can’t miss.

Jamaican Breeze Sports Bar & Grill is a slice of Jamaica where families gather, sports fans cheer, and everyone enjoy.
Jamaican Breeze Sports Bar & Grill is a slice of Jamaica where families gather, sports fans cheer, and everyone enjoy. | Image Source: https://jamaicanbreezeindy.com/

3. Mayberry Cafe

Imagine stepping into a scene from “The Andy Griffith Show” – that’s exactly what you get at the Mayberry Café in Danville, Hendricks County. Owned by Christine and Brad Born since 1989, this café is a heartfelt tribute to the beloved TV program and a cozy spot right across from the County Courthouse.

The Mayberry Café is a slice of nostalgia. Brad’s passion for the show is evident in every corner, filled with memorabilia that’ll transport you straight to the streets of Mayberry. It’s not just the décor that’s special, though. The café has welcomed several original cast members over the years, adding to its authenticity.

Now, let’s talk food. Brad begins each day with fresh ingredients, crafting home-cooked meals like meatloaf and homemade sauces that are simply delicious. The portions? Generous and satisfying. The service? Warm and personal, just like you’d expect in Mayberry.

Before you leave, don’t forget to snap a photo with the Ford Galaxie squad car parked outside. Take it from me, the Mayberry Café is one of the best places to eat in Indiana where good food, fun atmosphere, and a dash of nostalgia come together perfectly.

Experience "The Andy Griffith Show" at Danville's Mayberry Café.
Experience “The Andy Griffith Show” at Danville’s Mayberry Café.

4. Heidelberg Haus

Let me take you on a little European escapade, right in the heart of Indianapolis. Welcome to Heidelberg Haus, a quaint corner that’s a delightful mash-up of a café, bakery, and a German gift shop. It’s like stepping into a charming scene from Old World Germany!

Every nook of Heidelberg Haus is a storybook page. The decor? Authentic German antiques that make you feel like you’ve time-traveled. And the tables? They’re just like those in a cozy French café, perfect for a relaxed sit-down with a steaming coffee and a slice of heavenly German cake.

Here’s the fun part – if you find all seats taken, why not embrace the European custom of sharing a table? It’s a fantastic way to meet new people and exchange stories over some of the best pastries you’ll find in Indiana.

Since 1968, this place has been more than just a bakery. It’s a slice of Germany in Indiana, offering everything from mouth-watering wedding cakes to a treasure trove of imported German goodies. A visit to Heidelberg Haus is a must for anyone seeking the best food in Indiana, offering a unique experience that’s like a short, delightful trip to Europe, right here in the Hoosier State.

Heidelberg Haus is one of the unique restaurants in Indiana.
Heidelberg Haus is a delightful blend of café, bakery, and German gift shop.

5. Bonge’s Tavern

Ever heard of a restaurant where the pre-dinner tailgate is as epic as the meal? That’s Bonge’s Tavern in Perkinsville for you. A short drive from Indianapolis, and you’re in a world where food and fun collide. Here, the parking lot turns into a lively hangout spot. Imagine chilling with friends, new and old, in a festive, laid-back atmosphere, all while waiting for a table.

Once you step inside, the magic continues. The menu at Bonge’s is a daily surprise. I highly recommend the Perkinsville Pork – it’s legendary. It’s a flavor-packed, home-style masterpiece that’ll have you planning your next visit before you’ve even left. The vibe inside is cozy, welcoming, and utterly unique – a perfect blend of Indiana’s down-to-earth charm and culinary creativity.

Bonge’s Tavern is one of those rare finds that turns dining into an adventure. It’s not just about great food. It’s about the experience, the people, and those unforgettable Indiana evenings. Believe me, this place is a must-visit for anyone looking for the quirkiest restaurants in Indiana.

Bonge’s Tavern offers a unique dining experience with an epic pre-dinner tailgate and a festive, laid-back atmosphere.
Bonge’s Tavern offers a unique dining experience with an epic pre-dinner tailgate and a festive, laid-back atmosphere.

6. Story Inn

Let’s talk about a dining experience that’s like a hidden chapter in Indiana’s food scene. Welcome to the Story Inn, a historic gem in the village of Story, dating back to 1851. Here, the 5-7 Course Prix Fixe Dinner, priced between $70-100, is an epicurean journey. And for an extra $25-40, the wine pairings transform each course into a celebration.

The Story Inn is more than its ever-evolving menu, inspired by the freshest local produce and their own garden. It’s a place where history lingers in the air, whispered by the famed “Blue Lady” ghost. Dining here is like stepping into a storybook, where past and present merge deliciously.

The Story Inn, one of the most unique Indiana restaurants, marries tradition with innovation in a way that’s absolutely captivating. Each visit here feels like a personal journey through the best of Hoosier hospitality. And remember, you might just feel the presence of the “Blue Lady” as you dine!

Experience tradition and innovation at The Story Inn, one of Indiana's most unique restaurants.
Experience tradition and innovation at The Story Inn, one of Indiana’s most unique restaurants.

7. Payne’s Restaurant

Who knew you could find a slice of Britain in Gas City, Indiana? Payne’s Restaurant is a delightful surprise, especially if you’re a fan of classic fish and chips. Driving through Indiana, it’s not what you’d expect, but trust me, it’s a stop worth making.

Picture this: you’re cruising down the highway, and a billboard for fish and chips catches your eye. That’s how I stumbled upon Payne’s. It’s like finding a hidden British gem in the heart of the Midwest. The moment you step in, the cozy and quaint atmosphere welcomes you, setting the stage for a memorable meal.

Their cod and chips? Absolutely spot on – crispy, golden, and just how you’d get it across the pond. But Payne’s isn’t just about fish and chips. The fattoush and soup are equally delicious, making you contemplate sticking around for dinner. The service is as friendly as it gets, adding to the charm of this cute eatery.

Next time you’re near Gas City and craving some authentic British fare, remember Payne’s Restaurant. It’s one of the coolest places to eat in Indiana where you’ll leave planning your next visit.

Discover a slice of Britain at Payne's Restaurant—a delightful surprise, especially for fans of classic fish and chips.
Discover a slice of Britain at Payne’s Restaurant—a delightful surprise, especially for fans of classic fish and chips.

8. Little Tibet Restaurant

Imagine finding a slice of Tibet in Bloomington, Indiana. That’s exactly what you get at Anyetsang’s Little Tibet Restaurant. Here, Pema Wangchen, with a journey as rich as the flavors he serves, brings a piece of his homeland to life. The moment you see the yak-painted sign and step inside, you’re in for a treat.

This cozy spot on Fourth Street is a vibrant mix of cultures. Tibetan momos, Thai spices, and Indian aromas fill the air. It’s like a mini world tour for your taste buds. Wangchen’s warm welcome makes you feel right at home, ready to dive into an authentic dining experience.

The place is more than a restaurant. It’s a tribute to Wangchen’s journey from Tibet to Indiana. The walls, adorned with tributes to the Dalai Lama, tell a tale of reverence and resilience. And let’s not forget, Wangchen once had the honor of being the Dalai Lama’s luggage carrier – how cool is that?

At Anyetsang’s Little Tibet, every dish is a celebration of tradition and Wangchen’s personal journey. It’s one of those fun restaurants in Indiana where you come for the food and stay for the stories. Hands down, it’s one of my favorite places to eat in the entire state.

Explore a slice of Tibet at Anyetsang's Little Tibet Restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana.
Explore a slice of Tibet at Anyetsang’s Little Tibet Restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana.

9. Samira Restaurant

Let me take you on a little adventure right in the heart of downtown Bloomington, one of the top places to live and visit in Indiana. Picture this: a place where the aromas of rich spices and sizzling kebabs fill the air. Welcome to my go-to spot for Afghan cuisine that’s all about bold flavors and hearty dishes. Samira Restaurant is an Indiana gem that lights up Bloomington with its authentic Rack of Lamb, Manto, and an array of vegetarian options that even meat lovers can’t resist.

Every visit here feels like a mini getaway to Afghanistan. I mean, where else can you dive into a plate of perfectly grilled kebabs or savor the delicate layers of Manto in Indiana? The vibe is as inviting as the food, making every meal a cozy gathering among friends.

And let’s talk about the Rack of Lamb for a second – it’s a masterpiece. Cooked to tender perfection, it’s a dish that makes me look forward to every visit. Whether you’re a fan of bold flavors or looking for something new to try, this restaurant has you covered.

Dining here is an experience that transports you to the heart of Afghanistan, no passport needed. Believe me, it’s one of those unique places in Indiana to eat where you’ll leave planning your next visit before you’ve even left.

Samira Restaurant offers bold flavors and hearty dishes, a go-to spot for Afghan cuisine.
Samira Restaurant offers bold flavors and hearty dishes, a go-to spot for Afghan cuisine.

10. Schnitzelbank

The Schnitzelbank Restaurant, located in Jasper, Indiana, started its story in 1961. Fast forward to today, and it’s not only a restaurant but a landmark that’s all about sharing the warmth of German hospitality and hearty local fare.

This place is a treasure trove of flavors, from the Wunderbar Salad Bar to those jaw-dropping 2″ chops. Let’s not forget the full bar and the enchanting Glockenspiel that chimes in to make your dining experience truly unique, either. It’s no wonder Schnitzelbank ranks among the top 10 restaurants in Indiana.

What I love most about Schnitzelbank is not just the food, which is always spot-on, but the atmosphere that transports you straight to Germany. The restaurant’s commitment to quality and community shines through, from the locally sourced ingredients to the friendly faces that greet you every time.

If you’re ever in Indiana, make sure to stop by Schnitzelbank Restaurant. Dining here is like hitting the jackpot in a flavor casino. You’ll want to keep coming back for more, not just for the food but for the sheer joy of the experience.

The Schnitzelbank Restaurant has become a landmark, blending German hospitality with hearty local fare.
The Schnitzelbank Restaurant has become a landmark, blending German hospitality with hearty local fare.

11. Ivanhoe’s

Next up on our list of unusual restaurants in Indiana is Ivanhoe’s. This place is a legend for its mind-blowing selection of 100 shakes and 100 sundaes. Imagine stepping into a world where the biggest dilemma is choosing which flavor to dive into next!

But Ivanhoe’s isn’t just about the ice cream. Their hamburgers, chicken salad, fruit salad, and tenderloin sandwiches? Absolutely delicious. It’s the kind of food that makes you understand why there’s always a line out the door. And what a crowd it draws! From families to motorcyclists and everyone in between, it’s like a mini-festival outside Ivanhoe’s every lunchtime and summer evening.

I’ve been there more times than I can count, and each visit is a new adventure. Whether I’m in the mood for a classic shake or feeling adventurous with their sundaes, Ivanhoe’s never disappoints. It’s the perfect mix of great food, fun vibes, and the joy of deciding which of the 100 options to try next.

A trip to Ivanhoe’s is an experience you’ll want to relive, not just for the epic ice cream but for the whole vibe. It’s a must-visit spot in Upland, IN, that keeps everyone coming back for more.

Ivanhoe's is known for its legendary selection of 100 shakes and 100 sundaes.
Ivanhoe’s is known for its legendary selection of 100 shakes and 100 sundaes.

12. House of Como in Evansville

Let me clue you in on a secret spot in Evansville, right off Exit 0. At first glance, you might think, “Is this the right place?” With a car auction nearby and buildings that have seen better days, it’s like a scene from a movie where the hero finds a hidden gem in the least expected place. And that gem? House of Como.

Pulling up, you might second-guess if they’re open. With doors only unlocked from 5-8, it’s got that exclusive vibe, like you’re in on a secret not everyone knows about. But trust me, once you’re in, you’re in for some of the best steak your taste buds will ever meet.

The first time I walked in, I half expected a tumbleweed to roll past. But what I found was far better: a steak that set the bar way up high. It’s one of those places that remind you not to judge a book by its cover—or a restaurant by its façade.

House of Como is a quirky restaurant in Indiana that proves sometimes the best flavors are hiding where you least expect them. If you find yourself in Evansville, make sure to carve out time between 5-8. It’s an adventure for steak lovers that’s absolutely worth it.

House of Como is a quirky restaurant that proves the best flavors are found where you least expect them.
House of Como is a quirky restaurant that proves the best flavors are found where you least expect them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Most Unique Restaurants in Indiana

Are you searching for more information about where to eat in Indiana? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about Indiana’s most unique restaurants.

What food is famous in Indiana?

If you’re cruising through Indiana, you’ve got to try the pork tenderloin sandwich. Picture this: a juicy, breaded pork tenderloin, fried to perfection and bigger than the bun it’s served on. It’s crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, and absolutely delicious. And let’s not forget about Indiana’s sweet corn and sugar cream pie, known as the state pie. Your taste buds will thank you!

What is the state dish of Indiana?

While Indiana doesn’t officially have a state dish, if you ask me, the pork tenderloin sandwich would take the crown. It embodies Hoosier hospitality with its generous size and down-to-earth goodness. Another contender? Sugar cream pie. It’s simple, sweet, and screams Indiana. Both are must-tries for anyone wanting a taste of the state’s culinary heart.

Does Guy Fieri have a restaurant in Indiana?

Guy Fieri doesn’t have a restaurant in Indiana. But don’t let that stop you! Indiana is packed with diners, drive-ins, and dives that feel like they’ve jumped straight out of an episode of his show. From mouthwatering BBQ joints to classic American diners serving up those famous pork tenderloin sandwiches, there’s a flavor adventure waiting at every corner.

What are 3 fun facts about Indiana?

  • The Racing Capital of the World: Indiana is home to the Indianapolis 500, the world’s oldest major automobile race.
  • Popcorn Capital: Did you know Indiana is one of the leading producers of popcorn in the United States? If you love snacking on those buttery kernels while watching a movie, you’ve likely enjoyed some Hoosier popcorn.
  • A Musical Note: The iconic song “(Back Home Again in) Indiana” isn’t the state song, but it might as well be. It’s closely associated with the Indy 500 and captures the heartwarming feeling of returning to the Hoosier state.
The top restaurants in Indiana for all types of travelers
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