Last Updated on March 2, 2015 by Jody Halsted
Our dining experiences were arranged in partnership with the Hendricks County CVB.
I've yet to figure out why so many believe that dining is finer in large cities. I've traveled all over the US and have to be honest – some of the best restaurants I've eaten in are in small towns.
That proved to be the case during a recent trip to Hendricks County, Indiana, where we found some of the finest restaurants near Indianapolis.
My favorite aspect of Midwest restaurants is their dedication to locally sourced ingredients – which you will find at these fabulous Hendricks County establishments.
Four Restaurants Near Indianapolis That Will Impress Foodies
Authentic Italian in the Heart of Indiana
Our visit to the town of North Salem, Indiana, coincided with Old Fashion Days, a wonderful, small-town festival that makes you nostalgic for days gone by. And while visiting the town's most popular restaurant on its busiest day of the year may not have been a good idea- it was certainly a delicious one!
Located just behind the row of antique shops in North Salem's Historic District, Perillo's Pizzeria is tucked in a small brick building, near indistinguishable from its surroundings but for a large courtyard nestled next to it filled with tables for dining alfresco. Co-owned by Damiano Perillo and his brother-in-law Bob Miller, Perillo's combines the best of Damiano's Italian heritage with the freshest ingredients rural Indiana has to offer – creating pizzas and pastas so fresh you will think you're in an Italian farmhouse kitchen.
You should know: Perillo's is closed on Tuesdays and only accepts cash as payment. The restaurant is incredibly popular, you may have to wait for a table.
Home Town Family Favorite
Dawson's Too! Sticks and Stones in Brownsburg is a spin-off of the popular Dawson's on Main in Speedway. Fresh food made fabulous should be the motto of Dawson's Too! as each dish we ordered was cooked to perfection and beautifully presented.
I have to admit that one of my favorite aspects of Dawson's Too! was the art on the walls. Instead of art that had no connection to the restaurant, the staff took part in an evening of painting, each creating the same showpiece, but with their own interpretation. These paintings added to the community atmosphere you feel in the restaurant.
The menu at Dawson's Too! is large, but not overwhelmingly so, though the additional daily specials may make your decision a bit more difficult.
You should know: Dawson's Too! has also earned the title of Best Caterer in Hendricks County and can feed large groups on site, in a suite with private dining room and bar, or at your location.
When Dining In
Our long weekend in Hendricks County was spent in the Cottage at Natural Valley Ranch, an ideal spot for families.
A quick shopping expedition at Kroger in Brownsburg and we had everything we needed for a beautiful dinner our first evening on the cottage's wrap around porch and a campfire dinner by the lake our final evening. And, thanks to our hosts, we had wonderful fresh breads from the Bread Basket Cafe & Bakery in Danville, as well as local honey butter for French Toast before we left Hendricks County.
You should know: I'm a pretty darn good cook, but any meal at the Cottage is a good meal!
The small towns of Hendricks County are home to some of the best restaurants near Indianapolis – and proof that the best meals aren't always found in the largest cities.