Street Savvy: 49th and College

Original concepts in food and shopping thrive in the middle of SoBro.

1. Party
Patachou’s production kitchen has to be one of the most unusual rental spaces for private parties, but people like to go behind the scenes, and this is the perfect spot for a chef demo yielding samples for all. The staff will happily make room for a group and a caterer amid tubs of housemade granola. 4923 N. College Ave., 317-202-0765,

2. Mix
Given the highly praised vegetarian brunch and a good number of salt-and-pepper hairdos at The Sinking Ship, it seems someone forgot to tell the joint that it’s a hipster bar. Then again, beer is served in Mason jars, and a tattoo artist advertises on the bathroom wall. Where else can Meridian-Kessler’s young and not-young come together without rocking the boat? 4923 N. College Ave., 317-920-7999,

3. Taste
Belly up to the indoor tiki bar at Lava Lips and try as many hot sauces as you can handle. Designed like a surf shack and owned by a couple of Parrotheads, the shop carries more than 100 varieties across the flavor spectrum, from standard jalapeño sauces to a wasabi–green tea concoction (co-owner Michael Siemer admits that he hates it). In a testament to the place’s popularity, Siemer has honed answers to frequent questions into catchphrases. Is there anything you don’t sell? “We’re a pebble of sand on a beach of hot sauce.” What’s your favorite? “It’s all about mood and food.” We left with a bottle of Blind Betty’s Pineapple Pizzazz. 4915 N. College Ave., 317-403-0235,

4. Get in Gear
Buddies Kurt Schmielau and Joe Otter took a road trip to Niagara Falls on their motorcycles in 2012, and along the way they revved up a plan for a new store, one Indy didn’t yet have. They might not call City Moto a boutique, but by focusing on slick helmets (including retro open-face models) and fashionable road-ready clothes, that’s thankfully what it is. Someone tell Mitch Daniels about the $850 Belstaff “Classic Tourist Trophy” jacket, made by a venerable English company. Guys, bike or no, you’ll want to size up the slim-cut, waxed-cotton pants by Deus Ex Machina. 4911 N. College Ave., 317-924-3715,

6. Indulge
Greg Hardesty had been around the local dining scene long enough to enjoy a built-in following when he opened Recess, a prix-fixe supper-only restaurant in a small, squat strip of businesses. The chef-owner sets the menu for the evening’s four courses, and the kitchen excels at perfectly dressed salads, flavorful broths pooled under locally sourced meats, and desserts that pack a lot of decadence into a few nibbles. Opt for the wine pairings. 4907 N. College Ave., 317-925-7529,

7. Indulge (for Less)
Hardesty offers an adjacent space, Room Four, as a more playful and accessible version of Recess’s prix-fixe structure. The menu is brief and constantly evolving, but the flexibility (and lunch hours) draws foodie crowds. Regulars go back for gourmet tacos served upright on pegboard plates, dressed-up burgers, and the deceptively lowbrow-sounding Candy Bar brownie. 4907 N. College Ave., 317-925-7529,

“[Famous rappers] Nelly and the St. Lunatics have gotten take-out before. They’re vegetarians. They had our seitan wings.”

—Ben Robbins, bartender at The Sinking Ship

8. Shop
Although Agrarian caters to hard-core urban homesteaders with feed, coops, and other supplies, it also sees plenty of traffic from the curious. Ask away about raising chickens, collecting rainwater, beekeeping, composting, and container-gardening, or sign up for a class on such subjects. Those who just like to shop will want to check out this adorable boutique for homespun goods with a contemporary feel, like ceramic egg trays, wooden kitchen utensils made in Broad Ripple, and even baby blankets. 661 E. 49th St., 317-493-1166,

9. Sample
Conceived as a mere tasting room, this tiny outpost of Bloomington’s Upland Brewing Company has become a full-fledged beer bar—with a cafe vibe. Mismatched chairs and folk art make for a cozy place for a game of checkers and a flight of ales. But a word of warning about filling growlers: Because it doesn’t produce the beer onsite, this place still can’t allow carryout on Sundays. 4842 N. College Ave., 317-602-3931,

Take it Home:

Bell “Trouble” helmet, $140 at City Moto






Pain Is Good Jamaican-style hot sauce, $7 at Lava Lips







Jellycat stuffed chicken, $26 at Agrarian

Photos by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the April 2014 issue.