Street Savvy: Virginia Avenue

The Italian Festival returns to Fletcher Place—Mangia!—where Bluebeard has made its mark.

[1] Stroll

By now you surely recognize the Indianapolis Cultural Trail’s distinctive hexa-pavers and ocean-blue signs—and maybe you want a change of scenery after years of riding up and down Alabama Street. The trail’s final section, along Virginia Avenue, is now open.

[2] Shop

At first whiff, you might think you’ve stumbled into a French bakery at Lilly’s Soap Kitchen. The handmade soaps here look like slabs of swirled pound cake and come in yummy scents. Look for white bars with the blue Colts horseshoe and beer-infused suds. 630 Virginia Ave., 643-1179,

[3] Lunch

If the name—Tortas Guicho Dominguez y el Cubanito—looks like a mouthful, wait ’til you see the monstrous Mexican sandwiches at this cheerful, newly expanded spot with a cult following. No cerveza here, but you can get Mexican Coke. 641 Virginia Ave., 658-0735,

[4] Art-Hop

Respected advertising photographer Harold Lee Miller, who’s responsible for the Heartland Film Festival’s most recent campaign, will host an exhibit at his studio as part of First Friday events on June 7. In Roots and Wings, Grace Kite tells the stories of her dual European and Asian heritage through her own mixed-media paintings and her son’s photography from both continents. 646 Virginia Ave., 631-3003,


IN THE KNOW: Amy Crook
Resident and People for Urban Progress staffer
What does this area do for Indy?
It encourages people who work downtown to live downtown. A lot of Lilly employees are moving in.
The Cultural Trail is done. Now what?
Rent is going up. Southeast Neighborhood Development has been saying, “Now we have to be conscious of not pushing people out. How can we create programs so they’re able to stay and be a part of it?”

[5] Network

The city’s cultural honchos (Jim Walker of Big Car, for one) congregate in droves at Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company. Want to connect with thinkers and dreamers? Pull up a chair. 647 Virginia Ave., 423-9697,

[6] Watch

At the tender age of one year, Bluebeard has earned nearly absolute reverence from local foodies. This summer, the owners hope to put that courtyard communal table to good use, hosting outdoor projector-movie nights. 653 Virginia Ave., 686-1580, [See its standing as 2013’s Restaurant of the Year here.]

[7] Score

In a nod to the neighborhood’s Italian heritage, Edna Balz Lacy Park has four public bocce courts. Bring your own gear and ask an old-timer for pointers on “kissing the pallino”—the object of the game. 700 Greer St.

[8] Party

Been missing the manicotti? After a one-year hiatus, the beloved Holy Rosary Italian Street Festival returns June 14 and 15 with local restaurants in the mix and an extension of the congested hoopla into the adjacent Lacy Park. 520 Stevens St.,


Photos by Michael Schrader and Tony Valainis; illustration by Darren Johnson

This article appeared in the June 2013 issue.