Spoke & Steele brings the cool vibe of Indiana’s very own Steve McQueen to downtown

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- When it comes to downtown restaurants, nearly everyone knows St. Elmo Steakhouse.  But next door at Spoke & Steele (located at 123 S. Illinois Street) inside Le Meridien hotel, they are shaking things up with much more than their much-raved about cocktails and bourbon barrel-aged spirits.

“There’s definitely a growing trend in restaurants located in with hotels becoming their own stand-alone business,” explained Brittany Smith of Yelp Indy.

“People used to think of it as, ‘Oh it’s a restaurant in a hotel. It’s not going to be as good.’  But now businesses like Spoke & Steele are showing that this isn’t just a business for the travelers. This is a business and restaurant that you can come to as a local,” she added.

Spoke & Steele is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. A quick scroll through their with Yelp profile is full of reviews raving about their unique menu, inventive cocktails, and  cool atmosphere.

“It really started out as just really American unique cuisine with a great cocktail program. And it has evolved a little bit over time,” said Chris Ratay, general manager at Le Meridien Hotel. “We really felt that we wanted to be downtown’s neighborhood restaurant.”

Enter Greg Hardesty--one of Indy’s most notable chefs--who came on board back in early January as Spoke & Steele’s consulting chef. According to Ratay, the menu items he brought with him were game changers, especially the Spoke Burger.

The Spoke Burger (Photo Credit: Yelp Indy via Taylor S.)

“When he had [his restaurant] Recess, he also had the little place next to it called Room 4 and he was doing a killer burger. So when he came here, he said ‘I’d like to do the burger,’ and we were like, ‘Great!” explained Ratay.

“It’s really unique because it’s three different kinds of beef that’s used in the actual hamburger itself. it’s chuck, brisket, and short rib and really is amazing flavor. And just the way he builds the whole burger, it is extremely delicious,” he said.

If you’re looking for something a bit more elevated for a date night, he suggests trying the scallops.

“That’s a little bit more expensive but what a dish and the broth that is underneath the scallops, it’s just incredible flavor. So yeah, you go from a burger to scallops and pretty much everything in between,” he said.

Four Things You Need to Know:

1: Yelpers rave about the delicious cocktails and bar menu. The experienced and knowledgeable bartenders ensure quality and unique beverages. Popular drinks include the Rough Rider, Smoke & Spice, and Sage Advice. They also offer 2 different barrel-aged cocktails each night (which includes an old-fashioned).

2: Spoke & Steele has a diverse menu of artfully crafted dishes that Yelpers absolutely love. Popular menu items include the scallops, charcuterie boards, the Spoke Burger, and the potato leek soup.

3: This Downtown Indy restaurant is loved by Yelpers for its sophisticated and chic atmosphere, delicious food and drinks, and friendly service.

4: The restaurant's diverse menu makes Spoke & Steele great for all taste buds for any meal of the day. The restaurant's wide selection of appetizers, shareables, and small plates paired with happy hour prices makes Spoke & Steele a great place to enjoy a snack and cocktail with friends.

When you’re located inside a hotel with a fancy sounding name like “Le Meridien,” some may assume that prices would be steep. But Spoke & Steele stays true to their neighborhood restaurant mission, which includes affordability.

“We also wanted to make sure that the price points were at a level where people could come in every week, not just on a special occasion,” Ratay said.

But if you are celebrating a special occasion, you can do so in the barrel room.

“We were doing the barrel-aged cocktails and [wanted to] create an experience where we take clients to say ‘Here’s how this process works,” he said.

Or you can channel your inner “King of Cool” in the Steve McQueen room.

“This particular room, it is just over the top,” Ratay said. “We partnered with Klipsch audio and they provided us with amazing components to play vinyl… you can bring your own vinyl, too, which is fun.”

The Steve McQueen Room (Photo Credit: Yelp Indy via Fred B.)

“[It] has this beautiful steering wheel artwork in the back. It’s one of those places where the low lighting makes it a great place for a date night but then you will also see it a little more laid back for lunch gatherings,” added Smith.

Like McQueen, who was born and raised just seven miles away in Beech Grove, Spoke & Steele looks every bit inspired by the neighborhood and cool automobile culture that Indy locals love so much.

“When you first come in to the hotel and restaurant, straight ahead is this beautiful iron sculpture of the track and the Grand Prix track inside,” said Ratay. “When you go into the actual restaurant itself, it’s more paying homage to the muscle car era:  The lights above the bar are actual motorcycle headlamps;  the taps behind the bars are shifters from a vintage Mustang or something like that.”

Both the Steve McQueen room and the barrel room are incredibly unique, but Ratay explained that they are not exclusive to VIPs or specially-booked events.

“If you come in and you know about the Steve McQueen room or you know about the barrel room, just ask for it!  And if it’s available, you’ll be having dinner in there,” he said.

For more info on Spoke & Steele, check out their official website by clicking here or explore more photos and reviews on their Yelp profile. You can also connect with them via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

While visiting downtown Indianapolis, check out these other top-rated local hot spots within just 3 miles of Spoke & Steele:

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