Street Savvy: 16th Street Downtown

Heading to Herron-Morton’s Art Fair? Make time for the revitalized surroundings, too.

1. Luxuriate
A lavish suite for flush visitors crowns the apartment building on the northwest corner of 16th and Penn. Look to the roof, and you’ll notice what appears to be a brick home surrounded by terraces—that’s Piccadilly Penthouse. Developer Christopher Piazza converted it into a grand, poshly decorated three-bedroom rental for overnight stays and special events. The wraparound patio and dazzling skyline views almost justify the rates, which start at $800 per night. 28 E. 16th St., 317-322-1322,
2. Quaff
Late-night bohemians and early-risers alike have made Thirsty Scholar, a little slice of the Belle Epoque, their daily stop for frothy cappuccinos, wine, or local craft brews. Anchoring a busy corner, the space features Art Deco pendant lights, wrought-iron accents, a marble-topped bar, and fetching counter stools in front of a large window looking out onto the neighborhood. 111 E. 16th St., 317-602-3357,
3. Browse
You’ll spy a few styles from your grandmother’s closet alongside groovy retro tchotchkes for your pad at Queen Bee Vintage. If you know what to do with a mink hat, a mint-condition Lucite purse, or a cane and a fedora, you’re the target customer. 111 E. 16th St., 317-916-8125,
4. Indulge
A firestorm of publicity in March put 111 Cakery in the national spotlight for its owners’ refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony. Turn-the-other-cheek types can linger over a cupcake filled with a ball of eggless cookie dough or a gooey, salty-sweet Everything cookie packed with toffee and crushed pretzels. 111 E. 16th St., 317-634-1110,
5. Collect
Founded in the mid-1950s to highlight the works of Herron students, the beloved and free Talbot Street Art Fair (June 14–15) has become a juried event with more than 250 booths. When the weather is nice, crowds completely fill the blocks from 16th to 20th streets. Pick up a birdbath or that perfect watercolor landscape for over the mantel. Corner of Talbott and 16th streets,

“This corner of Herron-Morton feels like Fountain Square when I opened the original Peter’s—and look what happened to that neighborhood. The development of 16th Street makes it feel really fresh and new.”

—Peter George, co-owner of proposed restaurant Tinker Street

6. Inspire
First Fridays bring the neighborhood to life with imaginative exhibitions at the Harrison Center for the Arts, a sprawling urban complex of galleries and artist studios. Built as a Presbyterian church in 1903, the center opened in 2002 and now houses VSA Arts of Indiana, City Gallery, and nearly 30 studios of local artists, including Kipp Normand, Quincy Owens, and (the soon-departing-to-L.A.) Artur Silva. Take a class, buy a print, or simply stroll through the halls and exhibition spaces to get the pulse of the local art scene. The center hosts the Independent Music + Art Festival on June 14 with free concerts outside, too. 1505 N. Delaware St., 317-396-3886,
7. Shop
Before Neal and Amanda Mauer Taflinger energized Indy’s shopping landscape with their boutique, Homespun: Modern Handmade, they started bringing hip knitters and T-shirt designers together every year for the Indieana Handicraft Exchange. The massively popular (and free) event on June 14 coincides with the Talbot Street Art Fair, so budget accordingly. Harrison Center for the Arts,1505 N. Delaware St.,
8. Cruise
Longtime patrons may still call Greg’s by its former name, Our Place (or even OP’s), but the drinks are as strong as ever at the dance club, ground-zero for gay nightlife in Indianapolis since 1980. Weekly events include dart tournaments, Big Bad Butch Boy Bingo, and country line dancing, but nothing packs the spacious complex with Indy’s nattiest and most fabulous crowds like DJ nights on Fridays; avoid the cover by dropping in before 11 p.m. 231 E. 16th St., 317-638-8138,
9. Refuel
So eager to get a coffee shop were the residents of Herron-Morton Place, they stipulated that the buyers of the former Herron School of Art metal shop at 16th and Alabama had to put a cafe in the building. The new owners obliged with Foundry Provisions. Pressed sandwiches top the modest list of offerings, along with Chemex coffee and pastries doled out by a cheery, youthful staff. 236 E. 16th St., 317-543-7357,
10. Dine
Legendary restaurateur Peter George (Peter’s, Bistro 936) hopes to return to the culinary scene this summer with Tinker Street (permits were pending at press time). Along with business partner Tom Main, George plans to source most produce from local farmers for a streamlined, uncategorized menu of reasonably priced dishes paired with the best wines and regional craft beers. The duo plans to stay open until midnight later in the week and offer light breakfast on Sundays. 402 E. 16th St.

Check out the map below to find your way to 16th Street’s must-see hot spots.

This article appeared in the June 2014 issue.