Atmosphere and Ambiance – a restaurant guide

“Dining out” is just as much about the experience as it is the taste of the food. My mood usually determines what restaurant I want to eat at. Am I looking for a quiet, romantic evening for a date night out or am I heading out to meet friends and want something vibrant with energy? Here’s a short list of restaurants with various types of ambiance.

The date night, adult-friendly group

Capri Ristorante – An often overlooked restaurant, hidden off of 74th and Keystone Avenue, Capri has some of the best Italian food I have ever tasted. As soon as you walk into Capri, you feel like you are here to enjoy a upscale evening. Choose a table next to the fireplace and bar or in the main dining room where you’ll see the old fashioned copper espresso machine. Capri is quiet, generally kid-free and has wonderful service from staff that take care of you.

Harry & Izzy’s – What is it with restaurants that have more than one level? Eating upstairs is always preferred if the option is available. Escape the lower-level noise of the bar and servers as you cozy up in the large booths inside Harry & Izzy’s. Dress up in your finest suit or dress as you soak up the Prohibition-era decor and enjoy steaks or seafood from the dinner menu. Got a group of 10 or more? Ask for one of the 4 private rooms – you won’t be disappointed!

Flatbread Antipasto Pizza at TastingsTastings – A Wine Experience – Plop into one of the big comfy red chairs and get close with your significant other as you look over the extensive wine list and full dinner menu. Appetizers and small plates are built to share, like the artisanal cheese and charcuterie plates to flatbread pizzas and sweet desserts. Share a bottle of wine and allow yourselves to slump further into the comfy chairs while you watch the busy downtown crowds.

Turn up the tunes and pump up the energy

Twenty Tap – One of my favorite burger joints, Twenty Tap is a two-room restaurant and tap room that is almost always hoppin. Tuesday is pint night, and finding a seat at the bar is usually a bit difficult, so you may end up standing around or choosing to eat dinner so you can grab a table. Twenty Tap is very open and, due to it’s popularity, can be a bit loud, but I’m always running into people I know or I start up a convo with fellow pint drinkers as we chat about the newest local brews to hit the market.

The Jazz Kitchen – Want to find great dining after hours? The Jazz Kitchen has you covered with blackened salmon, paella and New Orleans cuisine that will excite your tastebuds and may even make you brave enough to get out on the dance floor. That’s right, there’s a dance floor smack in the middle of the restaurant where you can watch (or participate in) Latin dancing, hear live jazz music or even late night DJ’s.

Slippery Noodle – It’s been around since 1850 in a variety of fashions, but don’t think Slippery Noodle is stuck in the past when it comes to entertainment. There is fascination in history, which is bursting out of the walls and out of the mouths of the jazz and blues artists that frequent the Inn. Let your worries roll off your shoulders as you let yourself unwind and grab a laugh with the Blues Brothers.

Where the surroundings are just as interesting as the food

FortyFive Degrees – I can’t put my finger on this place, but there’s something that makes me feel like I’m about to eat sushi with George Jetson. Modern, sleek and ultra cool, FortyFive Degrees will have you admiring the surroundings just as much as you will enjoy the food. Sitting on the corner of Mass Ave and College, Forty FiveDegrees looks like it’s jutting into the intersection, leaving the floor plan to be more like a triangle than a standard square room. Make sure you check this place out for lunch and dinner, as the look changes whether the sun is up or down.

Cerulean's NestCerulean Restaurant – This description may make you think I have Cerulean and Eagle’s Nest confused. Cerulean, located inside CityWay, has surroundings that are just as unique as their ever-changing menu. Ask to sit inside “the nest,” which looks like a bird’s nest flipped upside down to protect you while you eat. Then order off the menu and await a culinary surprise, because nothing these chefs create has been done before.

Eagle’s Nest – Dinner at Eagle’s Nest is like eating in a really fancy hot air balloon… that’s enclosed. Enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view of downtown Indianapolis at Eagle’s Nest, which sits inside the Hyatt Regency hotel. Don’t worry about asking the maitre d’ for the best seat in the house – there are booths lined up against the windows so you aren’t cheated out of a good view.

This is only a small portion of the amazing restaurants in Indianapolis that fit these categories. Have one we should mention? Leave a comment below or tweet with the hashtag #diningindy!

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  • Nathan Miller

    Recess/Roomfour is a great place for a date.

    Also Black Market on Mass ave

    • Sara Croft

      Thank you for sharing those places with us!