Five Indy Coffee Destinations You Can’t Miss

Sip, Savor, and Kick Back at One of These must-try Coffee Shops in Indianapolis

I set out on a mission to find the best cup of joe in Indianapolis and let me tell you the competition in Indy is stiff. Here are a few of our favorites for you to check out: 

The Casa Blanca Latte from Mansion Society

My first stop is housed within the historic Central State Mansion. The door reads “una mansión para todos,” which both underscores the message nicely and points to the fact that it’s Latina-owned.

I ordered a decadent Casa Blanca latte, which combined spiced banana-nut-bread and mocha flavors. The Instagram-worthy mid-century chic decor, with a Frida Kahlo throw pillow, mosaic tile floor, and houseplants everywhere, make it a perfect study spot.

The Rose Syrup Iced Latte from Blue Mind Coffee

I strolled in on a Friday morning. The cafe was bright, airy, and had immaculate vibes. The barista preparing my drink wore board shorts, a Van’s t-shirt, and a corduroy hat which was on brand for Blue Mind Coffee.

The place was packed, and I soon learned why: I ordered a rose syrup iced latte. I’m a sucker for a good floral coffee, but I can say without exaggeration, this was the best I’ve ever had. The way the java blended with the more delicate, florid notes showcased the utmost care they take to prepare a flawless drink.

The Almond Croissant from Neidhammer 

I popped into Neidhammer last. I ordered the lavender vanilla latte, hoping to recreate the flower-power java bliss I experienced at Blue Mind. I paired my drink with the crispy, buttery almond croissant, which was to die for. 

Another plus is that Neidhammer has room to spread out. The spacious yet intimate atmosphere, featuring white-washed brick walls and Edison lights, makes it a great spot for productivity, with affordable prices to boot.

To solidify my caffeine-powered thoughts on coffee, I needed an expert to weigh in. So, I swung by a “Coffee Brewing 101” class offered at the Michigan Road branch of the public library. Scott Soltys-Curry, an industry expert who founded The Indianapolis Coffee Guide, led the free seminar.

Despite his credentials, Soltys-Curry doesn’t consider himself a coffee expert. 

“I definitely consider myself a professional coffee customer,” he quipped to open the class. 

But as he expounded on the merits of the Aeropress, burr grinders, and the supply chain of local roasters, he could’ve fooled me. I marveled at his knowledge of the production process as he described how Tinker, a local roaster, uses single-source, ethical trade practices. These are the people defining the Indianapolis coffee scene, which is alive and well, even for home brewers. 

“People always ask me what my favorite drink is,” Soltys-Curry said. “That doesn’t matter…ultimately, we all have different tastes. Coffee is very personal.”

That’s all the permission I needed. I’m free to use whichever rating system suits my mood.

We will do our best not to judge if you still occasionally stop by Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or mid-tier corporate coffee shops. But if you choose a basic coffee from a boring chain despite Indianapolis’ multitude of options, it’s your loss. 

Honorable mentions: 

Tinker: I picked up a cup of Ethiopian drip-coffee at the airport. What can I say? They’re Indy’s most popular roasters for a reason. Their cafe is no different.

Coat Check Coffee: Nestled in the iconic downtown Athenaeum, their sales also support creative programming and community services. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

 



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Good Food, Good People: A Celebration of 3 Classic Indy Eateries

Do you ever just want a good bite to eat, relatively fast, and relatively cheap? Maybe you're the type of person who doesn't want elaborate culinary plating, you just want delicious. 

A recent night out with colleagues highlighted this type of person perfectly. When our server took our drink orders, a high-falutin sales guy started. He ordered an Old Fashioned, explaining that every bar has a different take on the drink—some sweet, others smoky, etc. He added, "But the really important thing is to have a single ball of ice, not cubes." 

The waitress smiled politely and said she’d check, though it wasn’t the most hoity-toity place. The next guy? He ordered a Coors Light. When the Old Fashioned connoisseur gave him a startled glance, he shrugged and shot him a sheepish grin.

"I’m just a dude," he said.

At the risk of sounding uncultured, there has to be room in a food scene for “just dudes,” the kind of people who want no-frills and aren't bothered by the presentation of a dish or a restaurant’s atmosphere.

If you ask me, three joints in Indy fit this bill perfectly. 

Gil Tacos: A Hidden Gem

My first visit to Gil Tacos came at the recommendation of a friend, Jackie, a restaurant maven in her own right. She described it as a “hidden gem” on the west side. 

At lunch hour, though, the place was standing-room only, so I ordered to-go. Back at my office, I warned Jackie that the secret was out on her favorite lunch haunt. Then, I carried my chorizo taco salad and mango-flavored coconut milk to a picnic table to dig in. The portion size was phenomenal, and hand to heaven, my mouth is watering as I type this. It was that good. I’ll certainly be back.

The Patio: Unadorned Excellence

Next on my list, is The Patio. If “unadorned” were a restaurant, it’d be this. A quick bite is consistently tasty, hot, and made to order, though, so it’s been a mainstay for me for years. I nabbed an Italian Sausage with all the fix-ins and some piping hot french fries. It was as satisfying as the first time.

The Workingman’s Friend: A Century of Flavor

But the greatest treat came in my visit to The Workingman’s Friend, a blue-collar pub and lunch spot. The place has been around for over 100 years, so they must be doing something right. And I found out that was the understatement of the month. It’s 21+ and cash-only, so caveat emptor, but as the waitress assured me, “I promise it’s worth it.”

With its glass block bar, neon lights, and old (out of use) cigarette dispenser, the decor is quirky and classic Americana. I chose the double-cheeseburger, a fan favorite. Not only was the hot-off-the-griddle burger the perfect blend of savory and salty, I had the privilege of chatting with Becky Stamatkin, the third-generation owner of The Workingman’s Friend. She’s owned the place since 2008 but has worked there since 14-years-old. 

“I worked in the kitchen, dressing the hamburger buns,” she said, before quickly adding: “If the shitter needed plunged, I’d plunge the shitter. I did a little of everything.” 

The secret to her restaurant’s staying power? 

“Keeping everything the same,” she explained. “Don’t buy the cheap stuff. Keep everything consistent.” 

I can’t argue with the results, and the place was filled with patrons munching on salami on rye or the Big John Special. A few at the bar sipped from the aptly named “goldfish bowls,” 32-ounce goblets filled with Budweiser. And those patrons are regulars, Stamatkin assured me. 

”I see the same people twice a week,” she said. “I’ve been seeing these people for 40 years.”