Street Savvy: Shelby Street

Yes, Virginia, there are other avenues worth roaming in Fountain Square.

New Day Craft was once all about honey wine, a nod to owner Tia Agnew’s passion for beekeeping. Today, the Fountain Square tasting room hustles to keep up with demand for that mead and, now, hard cider. It also hosts monthly art shows and offers an intimate space for sipping on a Johnny Chapman cider or a Breakfast Magpie (espresso-infused raspberry mead). 1102 Prospect St., 888-632-3379

The recent closing of the kitchen at Pioneer broke a few hearts. Happily, its entertainment scene is still going strong. Check out Low Pone, a queer dance party and drag show, the first Saturday of every month. Highlights of the intriguing cocktail list: the Double Paloma (tequila, mezcal, housemade salted falernum, and grapefruit-acid syrup) and the Movin’ Out (a Negroni variation with citrus peel, pink peppercorns, and Tinker coffee). 1110 Shelby St., 317-986-6761

Once a whiskey-focused watering hole, Thunderbird has smartened up a bit in the last few years. Bourbon-heavy craft cocktails still pack a serious wallop, but now they are joined by lighter classics like caipirinhas and mai tais. And the Southern-inspired snacks the place has always been known for have shifted upscale ever since John Herndon, formerly chef at Plow & Anchor and 22nd Street Diner, took the reins in the kitchen this spring. His rotating chef’s burger and weekly fish specials sell out on Saturday nights, so slide into one of the wooden booths at a decent hour. 1127 Shelby St., 317-974-9580

There’s no shortage of chic, modern living options around this ’hood, with shops and restaurants just a few steps away. At Forte, for one, you can sit back and take it all in from the Deylen property’s private outdoor space. 1140 Shelby St., 317-638-2000

The inside is an art-lover’s dream for its expansive murals, but locals mostly head to Fountain Square Brewery for its consistently great pours, like the light, refreshing Hop for Teacher, a pale ale that we dare you to order with a straight face. These beers sprang from the same minds that once made beer at Alcatraz Brewery, the dearly departed downtown eatdrinkery. 1301 Barth Ave., 317-493-1410

Nine Lives Cat Café


Sip on a cup of java from Greenwood’s Brick House Coffee in the lounge at Nine Live Cat Café while hanging with a roomful of furry felines, all adoptable through The Humane Society of Indianapolis. No reservation? You can still watch the mingling from the separate cafe area as you dig into a scone or blood orange–topped vegan bowl. Walls display Polaroids of Tiger, Miss Kitty, and nearly 300 other cats who have found homes through the cafe since it opened last year. 1315 Shelby St., 317-602-5287

Acceleration Art and Photography might be the most underappreciated First Friday stop around. It’s housed in a 1912 blacksmith shop turned garage turned gallery space. Owner Gary Lynn, a metal sculptor himself, offers space to new artists every month, along with a few in-house makers. Weave through stacks of vintage vinyl, Brownie cameras, lights, tin signs, and salvaged trunks, all for sale. 1336 Shelby St., 317-496-7887

When Brent Schindler moved Indy String Theory from Southport last year, he stocked the walls with everything from mandolins to guitar strings. The shop is a Strymon dealer, selling one of the best effect pedals money can buy. Schindler also builds instruments here, including jazz boxes and archtop guitars. 1354 Shelby St., 317-502-9184

My Pet Carnivore specializes in the provisions of a raw diet for man’s best friends. The store sells an abundant range of natural and seasonal meat, bones, and organs for cats and dogs. Pick up anything from beef and chicken to the exotic goose, muskrat, tripe, or emu. 1402 Shelby St., 317-694-4749