STREET SAVVY: 54th and the Monon

How to go off the beaten path in SoBro’s trailside hotspot.

<< [1] Retro Paradise

The 40-plus vendors at Reclamation sell new handmade wares alongside furniture and collectibles at least 25 years old. As a result, the selection includes beautifully lathed wooden animals mixed in with vintage decor, much of it under $200. 5335 Winthrop Ave., 602-8672,

[2] Trailside Barbecue >>

One look at Locally Grown Gardens and you know the place is the coolest produce stand around. What you can’t tell is that dinner (often grilled salmon) is served nightly with a heaping side of Monon Trail people-watching. 1050 E. 54th St., 255-8555,

<< [3] Secret Dining

Every Friday and Saturday evening, chef Tony Hanslits (of the bygone Tavola di Tosa) holds four-course Demo and Dinner events in the kitchen of Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta and Market, his wife Rosa’s gourmet shop. Groups of eight to 10 can reserve it for $50 per person, but they must plan ahead—the couple is booked solid for the rest of the year. 1134 E. 54th St., 257-7374,

[4] Happiest Hour >>

Ever tasted Cirrus potato vodka or Crusoe organic spiced rum? Such small-batch spirits distinguish the new cocktail menu at Zest! Exciting Food Creations, which just got its liquor license this year. Try the SoBro Long Island. 1134 E. 54th St., 466-1853,

[5] Meet the Artist

Step inside Forrest Formsma Fine Art Gallery and you might find the namesake working at his magnificent walnut easel. Formsma keeps in-progress paintings out in the open, allowing visitors to glimpse the full range of his creative process, something he’s happy to explain. For instance, ask why he likes to paint a series of one scene. 1134 E. 54th St., 313-3688,

[6] Posh Shopping

Dreamy English and French antiques aren’t the only draw to Surroundings, a shop that’s about 10 times bigger than it appears from the front. The place overflows with stylish new finds, too, such as martini glasses with an egg timer for a stem. 1101 E. 54th St., 254-8883.

[7] Back to School

Have a chair begging for a makeover? Sign up for the Beginning Upholstery class at Mod Home Ec to tackle the project yourself. Over the course of six evening sessions, you’ll break it down, make repairs, and re-cover it so it looks like new. 1101 E. 54th St., 319-7164,



Photos by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the September 2012 issue.