Street Savvy: Bloomington
A rail-trail sparks a new generation of urban walk-ups on and near Morton Street.
1. Walk It Off
The railroad tracks that once formed an extension of the Monon (yes, that Monon) have been replaced in recent years by a fitness trail. Called the B-Line, it caters to foot traffic (with benches, historic placards, and pocket parks) and cyclists (who appreciate stationary tire pumps and tool kits) for 3.1 miles.
If you attended IU, you might remember the tall wooden booths at Macri’s Deli, by College Mall. A few regulars remembered it so fondly that they resurrected and relocated the shuttered restaurant in 2012. Macri’s at the Depot occupies a two-story train station and once again attracts a mix of visitors, townies, and students with a menu of sports-bar classics. 301 N. Morton St., 812-332-3376, macrisatthedepot.com.
One must venture deep into the three-level Historic Bloomington Antique Mall and leave no corner booth unexplored to turn up the best conversation pieces, like a stash of netted hats and cowboy boots perfectly broken in. 311 W. 7th St., 812-323-7676, bloomingtonantiquemall.com.
Styles from the Brady Bunch era get a second life at A.Z. Vintage, a snug collection of chunky sweaters, bobbly costume jewelry, boldly patterned frocks, and home decor. Yes, those probably are the same avocado-green Anchor Hocking highball glasses you drank Tab out of back in the day. 236 N. Morton St., 812-333-1960, azvintagebloomington.com.
Like a Restoration Hardware/Anthropologie/IKEA mash-up, Relish deals in an entire rustic-urban style—call it shaggy chic. The buttery leather tufted sectional and carved-wood end tables might work well in your living room, and the knee-high Ariat cowgirl boots and draped gauze dress with its intentionally uneven hem let you look the part as well. 204 N. Morton St., 812-333-2773, relishbloomington.com.
“I work right off the B-Line trail. One of my favorite things to do is get a bite at Bloomingfoods and then go for a walk. The hot bar’s selection rotates, but if mac ’n’ cheese is on it, word spreads like wildfire.”
—Kaye Lee Johnston, graphic designer (pictured, right)
If you removed the corporate sheen from Whole Foods, you would get a store that looks like Bloomingfoods, the local crunchy-granola co-op that manages to pack an amazing amount of consumables into the tight aisles of its 6th Street location (one of four in town). Don’t fill up on samples in the produce section—the deli assembles pressed sandwiches bulked out with hummus and sprouts. 316 W. 6th St., 812-333-7312, bloomingfoods.coop.
The irresistible aroma of cooking meat emanating from Janko’s Little Zagreb is the college-town steakhouse’s best advertising. Diners lucky enough to score a seat at one of the red-and-white–checked tables (reservations are a must—and hard to get, at that) have red-meat options ranging from a hand-cut filet to a 28-ounce Porterhouse to a three-pound boneless sirloin that will serve a trio of diners. The wine list is surprisingly extensive. 223 W. 6th St., 812-332-0694, littlezagreb.com.
A block (and a couple of generations) away, The Tap maintains an encyclopedic menu of craft brews that reads like a wish list for beer snobs. It includes not only a brief description of flavor notes, but each beer’s style, ABV, and origin as well. The draft menu changes daily, meaning you could be sipping a Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier from Germany one day and a Brooklyn Sorachi Ace Saison the next. An elevated stage (in a recessed loft floating over the bar) feels straight out of Moulin Rouge. 101 N. College Ave., 812-287-8579, thetapbeerbar.com.
Be glad you missed last fall’s featured exhibit (Nature’s Vampires—an exploration of “bed bugs, ticks, fleas, lice, assassin bugs, mosquitoes, and biting flies”) at the award-winning WonderLab Museum of Science, Health & Technology. This kid-friendly emporium of all things interactive houses water mazes, a bubble room, and a two-story grapevine climber. The current exhibit, Mirror Mysteries: Science of Reflection, runs through April and incorporates a mirrored kaleidoscope. 308 W. 4th St., 812-337-1337, wonderlab.org.
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the January 2014 issue.