Street Savvy: Mass Ave

Through additions and holiday events, an ever-evolving arts district never loses its cool.

1. Gather
The fenced-in sidewalk outside Bakersfield Mass Ave serves as a holding pen for diners awaiting a coveted seat at one of the picnic tables inside this hipster honky-tonk. Against a backdrop of bourbon bottles and Mexican prayer candles, young bartenders shake up craft cocktails with a Johnny Cash twist (think margaritas in Mason jars), while the kitchen cranks out little street-style tacos and tortas with fillings like braised short rib and pickled onion.
334 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-6962,

2. Appreciate
Kurt Vonnegut has long been one of the city’s favorite sons, and thanks to a giant mural, he’s becoming an iconic piece of public art. Hoosier artist Pamela Bliss painted the 38-foot-tall work as part of the “46 for XLVI” Super Bowl project, and those who look very closely might find some hidden details—like a starfish in Mr. Vonnegut’s eye. 345 Massachusetts Ave. (east side of building, facing Vermont Street).

3. Treat
At Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yogurt, pick a yogurt, custard, or nondairy base; choose a flavor and mix-ins (but good luck—there are several dozen of each); and then watch as the whole thing is flash-frozen in a dramatic, foggy burst of liquid nitrogen. 427 Massachusetts Ave., 317-252-0271,

4. Purchase
You can count on funky little Silver in the City for gifts that convey city pride, including Hoosier State rainbow tees, sturdy tablet cases made from the RCA Dome roof material, and jewelry by local artists—but even items from faraway places seem to have Indy flair. Don’t miss the annual Mass Ave Midnight Shopper event on Nov. 22 for a chance to browse past bedtime. 434 Massachusetts Ave., 317-955-9925,

5. Refresh
True to her name, Sparkle Myers can brighten your look at MakeUp by Sparkle Cosmetics & Spa, one of the newer businesses on the avenue. You’ll feel like an old-fashioned beauty with a massage or a touch-up from Myers’s own cosmetics line. (Or, if you need to bring out the big guns, get a chemical peel from her trusted medical staff.) 610B Massachusetts Ave., 317-636-7525,

Word on the Street

“I love Tini, and it’s expanding into the Flying Cupcake space. It won’t be so teeny anymore.” —Annie Zoll, Mass Ave dweller and representative

6. Socialize
After a renovation, the bar at Metro now has even more space for Monday-night jazz, standing-room-only karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and weekend dance parties with DJs who will have you untz-untz-ing into the night. 707 Massachusetts Ave., 317-639-6022,

7. Escape
Too much family time? Tini is the perfect hideout. This sleek martini bar plays a constant loop of music videos, including seasonal favorites to get you in the holiday mood. And it’s open on Thanksgiving Day. 717 Massachusetts Ave., 317-384-1313,

8. Buy
Everyone loves a customized gift, but let’s face it: Sometimes those homemade attempts look a little sad. Not so at Handmade Promenade, a pop-up holiday market with handcrafted goods—including one-of-a-kind stuffed animals and hand-dyed flasks—from local makers who are a lot handier with a glue gun than you are. Nov. 20–Dec. 28; 750 N. College Ave.,

9. Stitch
There isn’t another fabric store quite like Crimson Tate, which offers classes, an extensive selection of modern and hard-to-find materials, and sewn goods perfect for spoiling yourself or giving as gifts. The store has become beloved for its whimsically patterned Indiana pillows and Harriet headbands, made by owner Heather Givans. 845 Massachusetts Ave., 317-426-3300,

10. Read
So you’re taking banana pudding to the office potluck—again? Time for a new recipe. Indy Reads Books stocks an impressive selection of cookbooks, and every purchase supports literacy programs around the city. 911 Massachusetts Ave., 317-384-1496,


Photos by Katelyn Perry

This article appeared in the November 2013 issue.