Photo courtesy of visitindy.com
During the worst days of the pandemic, a lot of restaurants struggled to find ways to allow their customers to experience fine dining without fear even during the winter when open-air seating was (quite naturally) unavailable.
Thus, igloo dining was born! Typically, the “igloo” is a dome of some sort that allows your party to sit outside and take in the view, without being exposed to the elements, and many are heated.
Now, even though the pandemic has died down and people are less worried about the risk of infections, igloo dining has evolved into a whole new type of dining experience, and it looks like it’s around to stay.
What’s So Cool About Igloo Dining?
Eating in a restaurant igloo can be a fun experience for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a great conversation starter, which makes it a perfect dining spot when you’re meeting up with casual acquaintances or having a small family gathering. But igloo dining also has a multi-faceted appeal. For example:
- There’s the ambiance: An igloo is an ideal setting for a romantic dinner or a special occasion with friends and family because there’s something undeniably special about sipping drinks or having dessert while you watch the sun go down or the snowflakes fall.
- You get a sense of privacy: Dining in an igloo provides a private and secluded area, allowing for a more relaxed and uninterrupted dining experience – which can be important if you’re trying to set a romantic mood. You’ll definitely have more privacy inside the igloo than seated indoors next to other tables and diners.
- It has seasonal appeal: Restaurant igloos are often used as a wintertime novelty, offering folks an unusual way to experience outdoor dining during the colder months. It gives you a way to be in nature – without sacrificing your comfort.
In short, igloo dining really is something unique, and it can turn an ordinary dinner into a special occasion.
Where Can You Experience Igloo Dining Around Indy?
If you’re thinking about trying igloo dining, it pays to plan ahead – the vast majority of the places that offer this service do require reservations, thanks to the popularity of the experience. The top local spots include:
1. Field Brewing – Westfield
Founded in 2018, the folks at Field Brewing have one mission: They want to help people live life to the fullest and strengthen their authentic relationships with each other over good food made from good ingredients – and a cozy igloo rental is a great way to cut off from the world and reconnect with your best friends, your partner or your family as a whole.
The menu rotates seasonally but look for delicious bites like soft pretzels and hand-cut fries dusted with parmesan, along with main meals like burgers and pan-roasted salmon. Before you leave, however, don’t forget to check out their array of desserts, especially the Butterscotch Pots de Creme or Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake.
2. Spencer Farm Winery – Noblesville
Okay, technically, they do not have dining igloos at Spencer Farm Winery. Instead, they have yurts, and how cool is that?
Yurts are circular structures made of wool felt or another weather-resistant material draped over a wood frame, and they were once widely used as portable housing by the indigenous tribes of Central Asia. Today, they represent the ultimate “glamping” experience for folks who like all the comforts of home while they camp – and now they’ve become part of fine dining.
The food here is mostly snacks, served charcuterie-style, but the real draw is the wine tastings and music. This is a beautiful way to spend a quiet, relaxed evening with someone you love.
3. Daniel’s Vineyard – McCordsville
With spacious, warm igloos in two different themes (“Snowy Night” and “Cozy Night”) that can accommodate parties of eight, you won’t be disappointed at Daniel’s Vineyard. The folks there aim for a genuine wine-country experience for all their guests.
They serve an array of classic and specialty pizzas, along with salads and shareable snacks – but the real allure is definitely their wine. What could be better than sipping a Watermelon Rose or their featured Wine Slushie on a moonlight night with your best friend, partner or spouse?
4. Public Greens – Indianapolis
Located right off the Monon Trail, Public Greens has what they refer to as human “greenhouses” ready for winter dining. Unlike the larger igloos, these are suited for two or three people, and they’re available on a first-come, first-serve basis. (It should also be noted that blankets are provided, but not heaters – the greenhouses are designed to create and hold warmth.)
Public Greens focuses on sustainable dining, using local produce, homemade desserts and humanely raised meats – and it has become one of Indy’s favorite spots to brunch. We recommend the Mixed-Berry Hootenanny, or maybe the Smoked Brisket Hash for your first visit.
5. Union Jack Pub – Indianapolis
Located right on Broad Ripple Ave, the Union Jack Pub has been a mainstay among locals for more than 40 years – but their new location allows for outdoor seating, including winter igloos.
As you might expect, you’ll find good, hearty pub fare, like white bean chicken chili, pizzas of all sorts, Phillys and Ruebens and more – along with all kinds of craft beers, specialty cocktails and wines. If you’re checking out the igloo experience, however, you may want to consider one of their famous boozy hot chocolates, which come with a choice of peanut butter whiskey, salted caramel cream liqueur or peppermint Schnapps.
6. Urban Vines – Indianapolis
At Urban Vines, the luxury igloos come with a heater, lights and music, and they’re spacious enough to comfortably seat up to 10 people, so this is a perfect place for a mini-reunion with friends or a family gathering.
This is Indy’s original spot for igloo dining, so you know they’ve got this thing down to a science! You and your party can dine on shareable bites, pizzas and hot sammies, while you enjoy a fine selection of wine flights and craft beers as you watch the world roll by.
One of the beautiful things about living in Indy is the access to amazing culinary experiences, and igloo dining is one of the most fascinating – but it disappears with the spring thaws, so make sure you get a reservation somewhere soon.