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Eating, drinking and cycling in Indianapolis: The Central Canal Towpath

The perfect Central Canal stops for any meal of the day


A haven off of the Central Canal Towpath - CAVAN MCGINSIE
  • Cavan McGinsie
  • A haven off of the Central Canal Towpath

This little trail is an offshoot from the Monon and runs along the canal. While a good amount of it runs through scenic woods behind Butler University and even into the IMA’s 100 Acre Wood, there are still plenty of spots to grab a bite to eat or a quick drink. These are just a few of the stops you don’t want to miss.

• Coffee – Monon Coffee Company: It gets its name from another trail, but it technically isn’t on the Monon. Situated right at the eastern-most point of the CCT this is one of the longest running local coffee shops. They are known for a few things, but their White Zombie is one of the most interesting coffee drinks; it uses white bean espresso, which is higher in caffeine and tastes like no other coffee you’ve ever had. 

• Breakfast – Petite Chou: The French know breakfast (eggs, pastries, really thin pancakes) and Petite Chou does all of that and more (Travel + Leisure named the place one of the best French restaurants in America). If you want to do breakfast right, there is no substitute for their Croque-madame and un café.

The bell tower and pond at Holcomb Gardens - WIKIMEDIA
  • Wikimedia
  • The bell tower and pond at Holcomb Gardens
• Picnic – Holcomb Gardens: Located on Butler’s campus, this is one of the most tranquil outdoor spaces in the city. There is no better place to bring a chicken salad croissant-wich and chips from the Illinois Street Food Emporium for a picnic. Once you've had your fill, saunter through the gardens, up to the bell tower and take a seat beside the scenic pond. It’s pretty much like being in Dead Poet’s Society — the nice inspiring parts.

• Lunch – Flatwater: The outdoor seating along the canal makes this a no-brainer for lunch, the fact that they have tasty food and a great local beer selection just helps take it to the next step. If it’s Sunday, then you’re in luck, their Bloody Mary bar is full of spicy goodness.

Graeter's, an icy, delicious treat - WIKIMEDIA
  • Wikimedia
  • Graeter's, an icy, delicious treat
• Snacks – Graeter's Ice Cream: Growing up, my friends raved about this place and how they had to get “The best ice cream EVER!!!!” every time they made a trip to Cincinnati. Now there is one right here in Indianapolis. Kids these days don’t realize just how good they have it. 

• Beer – Connor’s Pub: A neighborhood Irish bar that serves beer. Do I really need to add more?

• New – Byrne’s Grilled Pizza: It’s fast, it’s inexpensive, and it’s good. If you haven’t had Byrne’s, you need to try it out and the fact that you can do so on your bike is just an added bonus to the experience. The ultra-thin crust is a little different for some, but it just allows for the toppings to shine.

• Dinner – Meridian: For almost 50 years this restaurant has been serving upscale fare to Indianapolis and with chef Dean Sample in the kitchen, it continually produces some of Indy’s best classic cuisine. The only issue you may run into here is not many people dress in business casual or better when riding their bike.

Meridian Restaurant & Bar, courtesy of TripAdvisor

• Cocktails – Canal Bistro
: It’s a Mediterranean restaurant and it’s known for the garlic and feta fries and the illustrious flaming cheese, saganaki. But, it’s also a place to get a decent cocktail including their specialty martinis (which happen to be $5 on Mondays).

This is Part 3 of a series highlighting many trails around the city, keep watching for Part 4, and checkout Part 1 on the Monon Trail and Part 2 on The Cultural Trail.


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