Gen Con may be the “Best Four Days in Gaming,” but in order to experience some of the best food and drink in host city, Indianapolis, you’ll have to step outside of the Convention Center radius. God knows I’ll eat a soft pretzel no matter how old it is, and I definitely have a place in my heart for the occasional Ram Brewery lunch (peanut butter burger!) and the food truck row, but Indy has a wealth of great food if you can pull yourself away from gaming for a meal or two. Here’s the breakdown of what we ate and where.
With a fantastic deli upstairs and a chill “Cellar Enoteca” below, Goose the Market is a great place to grab a fresh sandwich or snack from meat magicians, Smoking Goose Meatery. We cooled off in the cellar with a charcuterie board and a beautiful abomination called Cheese Fort, which is melted cheese odds and ends from whatever is left over upstairs. They have a good selection of beer and wine, and it’s a great place to talk with people who are passionate about food on where to go next. Get some Pig and Fig Terrine on your way out.
Smoking Goose also collabed with Gen Con this year to produce Dragon’s Breath Bacon and Epic Level Andouille sausage, which you can still order online while supplies last.
Located just next door to Goose the Market, The Koelschip serves up some delightfully creative beers from Central State Brewery and friends. We had King Billy, a Farmhouse Ale Brewed w/ Gin Botanicals; Just a Facade, an Oat Farmhouse Pale Ale; Moment of Zen, a Farmhouse Pale Ale with Fresh Lemons & Green Tea; and Pudding Stout, which is a most appropriately named beer.
Make reservations a few days in advance for this 16-seat, dark, hip as hell microbar. It’s cozy, hospitable, and the music is loud. Get ready to spend some time with their excellent cocktail and food menu, beginning with a bright amuse bouche and ending with a potent jello shot for the road. Over the course of 3 hip hop records we had Heirloom Tomatoes with Walnut Cream, Raspberries and Basil, and Eggplant and Chanterelles with Savory Granola and Soft Cured Egg Yolk. Super nice folks, super great food.
Everyone knows about breakfast at Milktooth, and it lives up to the hype. The wait for a table is long, but swing in for some creative pastries to go if you need to get to the Con early. If you have time to sit, get an order of Sorghum Glazed Bacon to share. Also consumed: Ancient Grains Porridge with Coconut Milk, Rhubarb Jam, Flax Seed, and Pistachio; Fried Cheesy Polenta Cake & Shishitos with a Sunny Egg, Pimento Cheese, Pickled Peach & Radish Pod; Beet, Olive & Parmesan Scone; Desayuno de los Campeones Michelada with a raw oyster and viking lamb “slim jim.”
A dog-friendly brewery that consistently churns out quality beers with a fun spin. They also donate 5% of profits to animal and wildlife organizations! Bonus points for cute beer names like Kitten Slumber Party (Chocolate Milk Stout).
Rook is a modern Asian/Mexican fusion restaurant with classic 90s hip-hop memorabilia in the restrooms. Fun! Grab some Avocado Steam Buns and a cocktail from Rook before hitting up Tapper’s Arcade Bar next door.
Love Handle explores odd meats with surprising combinations. I can’t get enough of this place. Gizzards, sweetbreads, tongue, pork belly…I’m in heaven. If you go to one place, go here. We had: Waffles topped with Pork Belly and an Egg; Biscuit Slider with Sweetbreads and Pickled Peaches; Crispy Chicken Skins with Tomatoes, Lemon and Parmesan.
I need one cupcake every year from either Scouts or Flying Cupcake food truck. This year was the Butterbeer from Flying Cupcake – a butterscotch chip cupcake with root beer icing and a Slytherin ring, because nerds.
The Sun King Beer Garden just outside the Con is a pretty great place for a good, cold, cheap beer. 16oz cans for $5! The brewery itself – which is just a 25 minute walk from the Con – is another place to get some awesome Smoking Goose meats, sandwiches and appetizers. This year’s Gen Con brew was the Everlasting Gamer, an American Amber Ale. Other highlights included Pear Dragon’s Delight, a Belgian Strong Golden Ale; Small Batch Chocolate Cake (Nitro) Porter; and the sour Cherry Busey.
Stop in New Day when spending time in the Fountain Square neighborhood. All the meads and ciders are worth a try, even if you don’t favor sweeter drinks, and they make up some great cocktails with their brews too.
I love spending time in this tiki bar. The patio out back is delightfully kitchy and the perfect place to try all of the highly garnished, often flaming, always quality tiki drinks. Favorites include the Jet Pilot, Caipirinha, 3 Dots and a Dash, and Missionary’s Downfall. Get a giant plate of nachos and try all of the sauces, especially the White Hot Money Shot.
I love Coat Check Coffee’s Pig in a Blanket and lattes, but we decided to check out the new cafe from Coat Check Co. for breakfast on our way out of town. The Pistachio Latte with rosewater, rimmed with an orange rind, was a great start, but they were still in soft-open mode and didn’t have a full menu at the time.
…so back to Love Handle. Life is hard. This time we had Chicken Gizzard Sweet Potato Hash, with a Duck Egg and Cheese Toast, and Spicy Eggplant Biscuits and Gravy. Three thumbs up.
Words & Photos: Tracey Obenour