We all have our favorite restaurants, and the south side serves up plenty of dining options, ranging from to-go lunch spots to date night. But it’s spring, the perfect time of year to shake up old routines. Here, four new places to
take the kids, watch the game or add to your girls night out rotation.
By Jennifer Uhl
Hops & Fire Craft Tap House
1259 N. State Road 135, Greenwood, hopsandfire.com
Just when we thought the popularity of craft beer and brewpubs had plateaued, another too-good southside tap house opened right before the new year. Independently owned Hops & Fire has earned rave reviews, not only for its 44 lines of craft beer (most of them Indiana-made), but for an exceptionally accommodating menu as well. It’s no secret that the meat-and-potatoes Midwest isn’t the easiest place to grab a beef-less bite, but here you’ll find vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menus, with honest-to-goodness, stick-to-your ribs options. (Southwest nachos! A charcuterie plate! A tofu melt!) The kids menu alone has nine entrees and a separate selection of appetizers. Such a menu attracts a lot of different diners, says Rebecca Smith, general manager. “We have a really good variety of people who come in. We have an amazing beer selection; that’s probably our biggest draw, and a lot of the regular menu items have been changed to accommodate our vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menus. Everything is made in-house.” The restaurant’s strip mall location on the corner of County Line Road and State Road 135 is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention, but savvy foodies haven’t minded having to enter the address into their phone’s maps app, especially with the promise of the popular pulled pork nachos at the end or the stout pork belly BLT — a choice Smith touts as “absolutely amazing.”
Mucky Duck Grill & Bar
2800 S. State Road 135, Greenwood
When the spring soccer season begins, families who used to celebrate goals at now-defunct Louie’s will have a new post-game lunch hangout in the Mucky Duck Grill & Bar. The independently owned restaurant, which opened in mid-October, is much more family-friendly than its Southport Road location — even going so far as to feature a kids room complete with a play mat and blocks. “Mom and dad can hang out and watch the Indiana game while the kids play,” says Dylan James, assistant general manager. And there are plenty of places to watch the big game: large flat screens fill the restaurant, including the newly extended bar, a banquet room and the outdoor patio. The food is family-oriented, too, with pizzas James dubs “killer,” and a large selection of “smashburgers” that bring to mind a certain famous milkshake chain’s griddle-top flat burgers. Wine and beer dinners are in the works, as is a menu revamp. “We’ve got all your American food — chicken tenders, wings, flatbreads,” James says, “but the people in our kitchen really want to step it up,” adding that steaks and pasta dishes will soon be available.
Kumo Japanese Steakhouse
1251 N. U.S. 31, Greenwood
First things first: This Greenwood Park Mall newcomer isn’t kin — not even so much as a third cousin twice removed — to the Franklin restaurant of the same name. Both serve traditional Japanese fare — sashimi, hibachi, sake — but that’s where the similarities end. While most stateside Japanese restaurants feature Far East-themed decor, Kumo lives up to its New York City-based roots with a contemporary vibe. A sea green bubbling water fixture backs the hostess stand; inside, soaring ceilings and stripes of hot pink neon hover above the long bar. Its arrival was a long time in coming (the space formerly occupied by Stir Crazy was vacant for almost three years), but southside sushi lovers are sure to make up for lost time. Kumo’s extensive menu is especially friendly to those who’d prefer that their entree wasn’t swimming fat and sassy the day before, with more than 20 cooked sushi options and enough hibachi combinations — including filet mignon — to ensure there’s something for everyone. And best of all, the flashy surroundings don’t translate to higher prices: A simple avocado cucumber roll (one of our personal quickie lunch favorites) is just as inexpensive ($3.75) as those we’ve enjoyed at smaller sushi spots around town.
1251 U.S. 31, Greenwood, barlouie.com
Another newcomer to the stretch of lifestyle shops outside Greenwood Park Mall, Bar Louie follows the adage about books: Don’t judge the inside by the cover, or in this case, the large neon martini glass above the restaurant’s entrance. Bar Louie, which opened in a whirl just a week before Christmas, does have an extensive drink menu consisting of the four M’s (margaritas, mojitos, martinis and mixed drinks), a wine list and even a few non-alcoholic cocktails. The interior features mosaic-tiled walls and plush round booths, an upscale setting but with a casual atmosphere. Louie is most definitely family-friendly, with a kids menu and all-ages seating until 10 p.m. every night. Menu offerings include burgers, flatbreads, large signature salads, pasta and more, and many of the $10 to $15 entrees are customizable. Not into colorful drinks with fancy monikers? Bar Louie also carries 35 draft beers, including a few from local breweries like Bargersville’s Taxman. Though the restaurant has 108 locations nationwide, this is only Indiana’s second franchise (the other is in Mishawaka). But look for the Circle City to hear more from Louie soon; three more locations are slated to launch in Indy over the next three years.