Where does a self-proclaimed food critic grab lunch on a regular basis? You know, when it is just one of those average days and adventure really isn’t calling, and you just want a lunch that is consistently good, regardless of entrée choice? Coaches Tavern in downtown Indianapolis is a place I frequent about once a month for lunch. I am never disappointed by the food or service. I wouldn’t exactly call it a destination spot, but I would call it a solid choice in the ultra-competitive downtown lunchtime scene.
Open since 2003, Coaches will soon mark its 10th year in business. Co-owned by Adam Isenberg and Tom Sutton, Coaches Tavern is a chameleon-like sort of place. It easily appeals to the lunchtime business crowd seeking a casual, but tasty, lunch. It then handles the late afternoon/early evening crowd, be they engaging in a post-workday cocktail or firing up for the billing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The late-night crowd generates an entirely different vibe. Some are there enjoying the live entertainment or they’ve stopped by after their Bankers Life event. Others are workers at other downtown restaurants, enjoying a relaxing end to their workday, albeit at 2 a.m.
My favorite menu option, the Cajun chicken strips, is actually an appetizer but the portion makes a nice lunch. The chicken strips are grilled, not fried, and coated with a bold seasoning. The chicken, usually 3 to 4 strips, is then placed on top of yellow rice and served with a side of blue cheese or ranch dressing. Paired with an unsweetened iced tea that is amongst my favorite tea choices, it is hard to leave feeling anything but satisfied.
The menu is expansive and while I’ve sampled much of it, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. The one-third-pound grilled burgers are outstanding, the Black and Bleu being my favorite. I’ve had chicken quesadillas, the blackened tuna sandwich, the blackened chicken sandwich, the grilled buffalo chicken sandwich, the club wrap, the BLT, and the prime rib sandwich. (Phew! I guess I’ve been there a lot.) All these choices are of consistently good quality, no matter how many times I visit.
Speaking of consistency, that is the mark of a good restaurant and some say the most difficult to master. The food at Coaches is consistently good and has been for nearly 10 years. Another element of consistency is the clientele. Do the same patrons keep returning? Being one of those returning patrons, I can emphatically say yes they do. I know for a fact the top management of Noble Roman’s Pizza, headquartered nearby, dines there quite often. I frequently see some of the good people from Riley Bennett & Egloff there as well lawyers from Barnes & Thornburg. I’ve seen other recurring faces, individuals whose occupation is unknown to me. I do know Coaches boasts a broad brush of clientele, each holding the common denominator of appreciation for good food at a reasonable price.
So if you’re looking for a different lunch option, try Coaches Tavern. If you see a guy barrel through the door on a Segway while you’re there, that’s me. Stop by my table and say hello. Coaches Tavern, 28 S. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. 317-917-1191; www.coachestavern.com.•
Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn & Paul in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.