Recently, Mark had a business trip to Carmel, Indiana. It’s a bedroom community of Indianapolis and filled with the best of the Midwest. It’s charming and has the best parts of a big city with all kinds of locally-owned restaurants and businesses.
It’s no secret that we love fun, unique, and exciting foods. While Carmel doesn’t really have a street food scene, per se, there are a bunch of fun, unique eateries. Many of them are located along the Monon Trail.
Here are three unique eateries Mark fell in love with on this recent visit.
Breakfast In Carmel
Deemed “my favorite place for breakfast” by a local friend of Mark’s, Eggshell Bistro happened to be located near his hotel. Carmel City Center is a mixed-use dining, shopping, and residential district along the Monon Trail.
51 W City Center Drive
Carmel, IN 46032
Globally Inspired Brunching
“Globally inspired brunching” is their tagline and completely sums up this adorable breakfast/brunch café. To call it eclectic would put it mildly. Chef/Owner Larry Hanes, or Sir Lawrence, as he’s known, is slightly eccentric and absolutely one of a kind.
Curated is the perfect term for this unique bistro. The space, designed by Hanes, is filled with artifacts, original artwork, and a fun mix of music that all complement the culinary offerings. The china and service ware are as unique as you’d expect. The coffee and tea are carefully selected and enhance the experience. The menu, which rotates, is limited, and they ‘kindly decline substitutions and additional creativity.’
On this visit, Mark started with a Cappuccino ($5.00) and Biscotti ($3.00) – both beautifully crafted. The Biscotti was firm and flavorful but not tooth-breakingly hard.
For breakfast, Mark jumped on the Portabella Strata ($15.00). The rich Egg and Bread casserole was full of Mushrooms, caramelized Onion, and White Wine Rabbit Sausage. It was topped off with a Hazelnut Romesco and edible flowers. And was served with a side of fresh fruit.
Other offerings on this visit included: A Moroccan-inspired Shakshuka, a Truffled Egg Tartine with Asparagus and Fontina, and an Artichoke Tart with Turmeric Kimchi, Bacon and Olive Tapenade – to name a few.
This is an absolute DON’T MISS when visiting Carmel.
It’s NOT Divey, It’s DIVVY!
Ironically, divvy, our second choice for unique eats, is practically right next door to Eggshell Bistro in the Carmel City Center.
71 City Center Drive
Carmel, IN 46032
Divvy, as in to divide up and share, is the perfect name for this wonderful dining experience. The locally-owned restaurant offers global and fusion sharable plates, ‘tours,’ and wine, beer, and champagne flights. Their menu includes vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free options.
And, while sharing is the apparent overtone, Mark dined alone and loved being able to graze his way through fun, unique foods.
He started with a Red Wine Flight ($16.00), which offered a nice-sized pour of four red wines. The selection that night included: Steele Writers Block Pinot Noir, M Cellars Roman Zinfandel, Ghostrunner Ungrafted Red, and DeLoach Heritage Reserve Merlot. Not being a huge wine drinker, the laminated cards with information on origin and traits was greatly appreciated.
For his ‘entrée’ selection, Mark when with one of the Chef Featured Tour Boards. His choice was TASTE ($26.00). It was a curated collection of five delicious tastings.
- Salmon Canapes – Nova Lox, Citrus Agave Goat Cheese, Radish Cucumber, Capers, and Champagne Vinaigrette on toasted Baguette.
- Tenderloin Filet – Grilled Medium Rare Medallions, their signature ‘divvy dust,’ Red Wine Reduction, Balsamic Glaze, and crispy Arugula.
- Corn Crème Brûlée – Creamy style Corn, Jalapenos, Parmesan and Red Sea Salt.
- Quatro Puffs – Four-Cheese stuffed pastry with Green Goddess Ranch
- Deviled Eggs – Radish Sprouts, Thai Chili and Wasabi
It was an insane melding of textures and flavors. The Wasabi Deviled Eggs were amazing, the Corn Crème Brûlée was well balanced and had that fantastic brûlée ‘crack’ without being too sweet. This was indeed a great pairing.
The menu ranges from Tacos to Bao Buns, Pizza to Sliders, and offers plenty of Salads, Seafood, and even bite-sized desserts.
Mark took a Mini Morsel ($5.00), Turtle Brownie back to the hotel for a late-night snack. The Brownie was dense and rich and packed with flavor. The perfect ending to a fun, unique dining experience.
What Makes Meatballs So Unique?
Number three in our list of fun, unique Carmel, Indiana eateries, has got to go to Mimi Blue!
12505 Old Meridian Street
Carmel, IN 46032
Named for the owner’s mother, Mildred (Mimi) Bluestein Kosene, Mimi Blue has several restaurants in Indianapolis, with one in Carmel. Cooking was Mimi’s way of brings people together, sharing great food and her love.
When Mark was told that Mimi Blue was a unique restaurant featuring meatballs, he laughed. Being raised in very Italian neighborhoods in South Philadelphia, other people’s meatballs are nothing unique. However, when his friend and lunch date recommended her ‘go-to’ Veggie Meatballs with Spicy Cilantro Sauce, his curiosity piqued.
Yes, Meatballs are a prominent feature of the menu. Still, they also offer an assortment of Salads, Sandwiches, and entrée platters -we’ve heard the Chicken Tenders are ‘the best ever.’
Being a newbie, the server brought him a ‘sauce plate’ to start out. It’s a simple white china plate dotted with a sample of each of their nearly dozen sauces – all marked off in grease pencil with the corresponding initial on the menu.
Basically, Meatballs come as Sliders or 4 Balls. Being a purist, Mark went with 4 Balls ($13.00) – your choice of 4 Meatballs, paired with your choice of any 4 Sauces and some slices of Baguette.
Obviously, choice one was the Veggie Meatball with Spicy Cilantro Sauce – AMAZING! Like, as good as any Samosa we had in India, excellent, without the crust. It was super light and flavorful, and the Cilantro Sauce had a great bite.
Mark’s second choice was their Classic Meatball with Marinara – nicely done, but hey, he’s hardcore when it comes to meatballs. Choice three was the Fried Chicken Meatball paired with the Sriracha Aioli. Okay, not so much a Meatball as a meatball size portion of moist, delicious deep-fried Chicken Breast – and the sauce, think the best Yum-Yum Sauce you ever had at your favorite Sushi place! And, last but not least was their special of the day – an Asian-inspired Meatball with a Soy Glaze – nicely done, with plenty of flavors.
Don’t Skip The Sides
… and you might not want to share. Mark’s friend recommended the Fried Brussel Sprouts ($8.00) and didn’t share hers, and he soon saw why. Nice size portion, super crispy and delicious.
He also dove headfirst into the Mac and Queso ($8.00). Not to be confused with a baked Mac and Cheese – this dish of perfectly cooked Penne Pasta draped with a creamy white sauce. But, it packs a little kick of Jalapeno – perfectly balanced, creamy, and delicious.
Absolutely another don’t miss when visiting Carmel, Indiana!
Mark had a great time checking out some of the unique Carmel, Indiana eateries. Carmel’s a great city with a vibrant food and arts scene.