Street Savvy: The New Mass Ave

Time to master those parking-meter machines. Gourmet burgers, a video bar, and exotic fabrics await as your reward.

[1] Bru Burger Bar

Don’t be fooled by the city-chic facade at Bru Burger Bar. You’ll be at home here in a suit and tie or your sweats. With 16 beers on tap, a full bar, and 15 styles of smartened-up burgers—including a hand-pattied veggie version, an Ahi tuna burger, and the namesake, topped with Taleggio cheese, bacon, tomato jam, and porter-braised onion—dinner is on, and it smells delicious. 410 Massachusetts Ave., 635-4278,

[2] Sage Boutique

Sage Boutique didn’t close—it just moved its homemade industrial-pipe racks a few blocks south, into the former Luna Music space. Owner Jessica Hamm continues to do what she does best, stocking her slip of a boutique with easy-to-wear cotton pieces with a modern sensibility. These are clothes that would look equally stylish on Oprah Winfrey and Nicole Kidman. 431 Massachusetts Ave., 423-2919,

[3] Nurture

Twee kids’ clothier Nurture came under new ownership in August. Proprietor Ashley Martz has added Elms and Cedars, her own line of knits and upcycled sweaters, hats, and mittens ($38 to $68); and another local product, Davidson Handmade booties ($39), made of genuine leather. 433 Massachusetts Ave., 423-1234,

[4] Tini

The tagline at this martini bar reads simply “Vodka. Videos,” and in a space so charmingly small, there doesn’t appear to be room for anything else. But what more could anyone ask for than a Raintini—made of Absolut acai berry vodka, violet liqueur, limoncello, lime juice, and muddled blueberries—and head-bopping Beyonce vids? 717 N. Massachusetts Ave., 384-1313,

[5] Amber Room 

With the lights reflecting off its mirrors and golden surfaces, the Amber Room inside the Old National Centre feels like a swanky Art Deco throwback, and guests make an entrance by descending a wide marble stairway. The lounge debuted by hosting a few private parties, and it expects to be open regularly this spring for drinks and live music throughout the week. 502 N. New Jersey St., 459-6463,

[6] Chatham Home

Located inside an old tool-and-die factory, Chatham Home brought something new—and something wonderfully old—to the area when it opened in August. The soulful reclaimed-wood pieces stand out, along with fun impulse buys like gorgeous paper fans and jute totes. 517 E. Walnut St., 917-8550,

[7] “Chatham Passage”

The best-smelling alley in the city has earned that rep by design. In the alley adjacent to the back patio of Mesh restaurant, a Cultural Trail art installation called “Chatham Passage” releases a faint floral aroma from beneath an ornate grate. Now we know what a “scent vault” is. Located on the 700 block of Massachusetts Avenue

[8] Crimson Tate

The sun-drenched workspace of quilting queen Heather Givans doubles as a fabric store with bolts from Scandinavia (by Lotta Jansdotter), West Africa, and Japan, as well as Givans’s colorful headbands and pillows in the shape of Indiana ($36). 845 Massachusetts Ave., 426-3300,

[9] White Dog

Sharing a building with Crimson Tate, brand-new White Dog carries a mix of vintage and new items, including Indiana-inspired tees, old suitcases that creative customers might convert into dog beds, mid-century glass swung vases like those seen on Mad Men, and richly patterned Spartina scarves ($35 and up). 845 Massachusetts Ave., 384-1494,

[10] Irish Ink

You’ll have to visit Irish Ink’s suburban locations for a free shamrock tattoo on St. Patrick’s Day, but here you can walk out with a classic Sailor Jerry–style tat starting at $50. 876 Massachusetts Ave., 602-8143,

» Coming Soon 

Trailside on Mass Ave (875 Massachusetts Ave.) opens this year with 69 one-bedroom apartments and first-floor retail. Bikes on Mass Ave (643 Massachusetts Ave.) is gearing up for business. And a sculpture called Connect10n, near the Monon trailhead, will show what artists Jeff Laramore and David Bellamy can do with old bicycles.
» Best Bets  Upbeat fabrics at Crimson Tate, swung vases at White Dog, the Amber Room, a cozy chair at Chatham Home, and locally made baby booties at Nurture.

Tini photo by Stacy Newgent

This article appeared in the March 2012 issue.