INDIANAPOLIS — It’s Featured Foodie Friday with Indy Monthly here on Indy Now, and we’re SO excited to welcome the amazing Chef Erica Oakley, of North Mass Boulder’s on-site restaurant, Top Out Café who is this month’s featured foodie. And we also have with us Indy Monthly’s Features Editor, our friend, Julia Spalding!

Chef Erica Oakley is Director of Food & Beverage at Top Out Café. After three years in nursing school, Erica Oakley decided the medical field wasn’t for her. Erica is going on her third year as director of food and beverage at the downtown fitness and climbing center North Mass Boulder and its on-site restaurant, Top Out Café.

Erica has always been passionate about food. She learned to cook from her grandma who she helped pickle vegetables and make homemade noodles. At the beginning of her career change, Erica studied hospitality management at the Art Institute of Indianapolis and began working at the Local Eatery & Pub on Indy’s north side, where she learned time management, creative menu design, and leadership skills.

Working with then-owner local restaurateur, Craig Baker, she learned how to push her limits and value creative chaos. For seven years, she worked as a sous chef at The Alexander Hotel’s Market Table. She also competed in cooking contests and says that focus on vibrant presentation prepared her for her current role.

At the cafe, Erica’s semi-seasonal menu ranges from post-workout snacks to large plates, including gochujang sticky wings, a chicken pesto panini, and the $7 Dirtbag Special (grilled cheese on Amelia’s bread served with a 16-ounce PBR). The café also serves juices, smoothies, and acai bowls inspired by a cafe in Seattle.


(1) Seafood. “Give me all the shellfish.”

(2) Black Eagle Coffee Machine. “It’s smarter than me, and the quality is insane.”

(3) Woodford old fashioned. “Nice and refreshing after an 18-hour day.”

(4) Blackstone griddle. “Good for every style of cooking.”

(5) Clipboards. “Everyone knows I’m on a mission when they see me with my clipboard.”

Check out for plenty of in-depth dining reviews and stories of more interesting foodies like Erica around Indy!