Restaurants & Bars To Check Out During The Month Long NCAA Tourney In Indy
I get the question a lot.
"Joey! Going to be in Indy for ____________. What's a good spot to grab some drinks?"
It works out a lot like the NCAA tournament bracket itself. There's four main neighborhoods or "regions" in this instance that you can go to for good drinks, good food, and a good time. As you see above @BarstoolIndy and I put together this bracket with 64 (!) options all within 15 minutes of each other for you to venture to when traveling to Indy this month...or hopefully when the Barstool Sportsbook comes here in the months following.
Let's get started with Mass Ave:
Mass Ave is very much an arts district of the city. It's one long avenue that starts near the heart of town and heads northeast setting up the perfect view of downtown Indy along the way while finding a spot or spots to eat and drink.
It's a good variety of everything. A few sports bars. Some breweries. Great day drinking spots. A really good taco joint. My typical night on Mass Ave starts at either The Tap or World Of Beer and goes one of two ways. Both are solid starting points that have a wide menu to munch on plus some really good craft beers if you're into that sort of thing. Plenty of TVs so games will be on to hangout and watch until you figure out your next move.
Plan 1: Start at The Tap. A quaint outside area with couches and one of those marble gas fires. Their loaded tots and pretzel sticks with beer cheese are real nice. Same with their calamari. From there if the patio bar is open across the street I recommend The Eagle. A lot of good standing room and seats outside with a cool little bar to grab drinks from to get the social evening going. Please try the black raspberry lemonade vodka if you go there.
After The Eagle is when you start to make a block walk farther down Mass Ave towards The Rathskeller. Again, if the weather is close to being nice, the outside Biergarten out back is the spot of spots. It's huge. Every one will typically be there or the place I'll get to in my second plan. Usually live music playing. Giant ass beers. People of all ages and sizes. It's a great time. Plus, it's right across the street from GoodFellas pizza so once you've wrapped up the evening you can head there for a delicious New York slice.
Plan 2: Start at World of Beer. Same story as The Tap. Games will be on. Really good pub food with a wide selection of beers and drinks to start the night. From there head southwest on Mass Ave towards the corner of New York and Delaware. This is where you'll find Bakersfield. It's a taco joint but it has superb margaritas and guac. A nice stop off before heading across Delaware Street to 16-Bit. It's a giant arcade bar with ski-ball, classic games from the 80's, even stations to play Mario Kart. Not a lot (barely any) food options at 16-Bit so be sure to get plenty of grub at World of Beer or Bakersfield before you come because 16-Bit is strictly a drinking scene. This and Rathskeller are by far the two spots to be along Mass Ave.
And if you're just looking for a one stop place to get some tasty grub, drinks, and a place to hang you always have Fat Dan's right across the street from Rathskeller or Bazbeaux Pizza for some pies and breadsticks. Go further down on Mass Ave from the Rathskeller and you'll run into Ralstons. Classic pub hangout with darts, pool, etc.
Meridian - Georgia Street
So Meridian is the street that runs through the central of our city. Hop on it on the southside of downtown, keep riding it, and it'll take you around Monument Circle all the way up to Broad Ripple and beyond. But let's just say you're leaving or heading to Lucas Oil Stadium / Bankers Life Fieldhouse and want to stay in that area. No problem at all.
It is more of the younger crowd typically. And it's more of the crowd where you'll see shit like this:
Which is OK if you're into that sorta thing but for me I'm good on girls pulling the hair and faded jean wearing dudes with Ed Hardy shirts on. Brothers is huge, obviously, both inside and outside with an entire patio the size of most bars right outside. Kilroys is another classic sports bar popular especially amongst the IU folks. I give the tip of the cap to Brothers over Kilroys simply because of the larger outdoor area and you can not only get the sports bar feel but also a little dancing in if you're feeling like hitting the floor.
Across the street is where shit gets real weird. Patron Saint is below ground and yes it screams everything you think of when you hear underground bar. Low ceilings, incredibly dark, and probably the best place in town to do drugs. More house music / EDM type of feel in there because, well, everyone is on something. The District Tap resides right across the street from Kilroys along Georgia Street which will be blocked off for the entirety of the tournament I believe so you don't have to worry about cars plunking you there. That's more of a place to just sit, watch games, and drink a lot of beverages.
Walk north east on Meridian and you'll hit my personal favorite spot Tin Roof on the corner of Washington and Pennsylvania. Live music, DJs, cheap beer. Hopping scene every weekend. Annnd if you're with a group of buddies who is feeling like a cigar and whisky kind of night then stay north on Meridian until you run into Burn By Rocky Patel. It's the perfect mix of cigar bar and sports bar to where if you wanna sit in a corner and sip a cocktail while smoking a cigar you can feel like the Rat Pack without also feeling old as shit. Great spot.
Fountain Square is on the southwest side of downtown and extends across the interstate with an overpass going over I-65. It's the flipped version of Mass Ave. My favorite spot there, and probably in the whole city, is The Dugout. It's just the epitome when you think "pub". They've made renovations over the last year, too, that really gave it a nice uplift. It's tucked away on a little corner at an intersection so you'd probably walk right by it, but they do have a solid sized outdoor area with seating and usually live music depending on the weather of course.
If you're thinking brewery then Fountain Square has my favorite one in town in Upland. It was just put up a couple years ago so it's got the new garage type feel with a walkup bar from their outside area. Tenderloin is phenomenal there. Beer battered fries. Super good stuff. After Upland or The Dugout if you're feeling a cocktail and cool spot to lounge then head to Hotel Tango. It's a distillery right on the corner before you cross the bridge to the other side of Fountain Square. Don't head there if you're reeeeally wanting to watch a game, though.
"BRip" is about 10-15 minutes north of downtown Indianapolis. It's a college neighborhood feel that is typically the go-to for Butler and Marian students on Thursday nights and the weekends. They also have a Brothers and Kilroys, but if you're wanting to try something that's more local to that area then I suggest Old Pro's Table (OPT's) or Broad Ripple Tavern. Both are along the main strip Broad Ripple Avenue. Same booze and pub food but more of the local townie feel (in a good way).
From there like I said earlier you got Brothers and Kilroys that are caddy corner from each other, but Rock Lobster gives you more of the club feel while Brick House Dueling Pianos is on the other side of Kilroys and has plenty of live music and obviously…it's a piano bar.
I love my home town. Contrary to the trendy thoughts on Twitter and shit like that there's plenty of fun to be had at some really great spots all over town.
I can't wait for you to join us here the rest of the month for the tournament. Feel free to DM me any other questions on Twitter regarding places to go and things to do around the city.