A blast of color and spice in the shadow of the brutalist Minton-Capeheart Federal Building, Saffron Cafe has fast become a downtown international dining staple. Chef Anass Sentissi, who also happens to be an expert Middle Eastern percussionist, is something of an entrepreneur: He opened his second restaurant, the Moroccan don't-call-it-fast-food stop Poccadio, in Broad Ripple last year. Both are excellent bets, but Saffron is where you'll find dishes that take that little bit (or lot bit) of extra time, from a classic paella (with shrimp, salmon, mussels, chicken and more) to lamb honey (a honey-glazed leg roasted with pears, prunes and apricots).
621 Fort Wayne Ave., 917-0131, saffroncafe-indy.com
2nd: Bosphorus Istanbul Café
3rd: Egyptian Café