When you go to a new city you want to find out what the people that live there really do. Where do we hang? Where do we eat on Saturday mornings? Where is the cool corner bookstore? That’s what I want to talk about – the gritty, cultural, we-don’t-have-enough-money-for-paid-advertising places in Indy.
Here is my list of 7 cultural things to do in our big small city and what makes them worthy.
Organize a self-guided tour of the new murals. Indy has 46 new murals scattered about the city. The Arts Council of Indianapolis undertook this huge project that coincided with Superbowl XLVI that Indy hosted. There is an awesome, and gigantic, image of Hoosier Kurt Vonnegut on Mass. There’s a mural of jazz musicians by Pamela Bliss on Indiana Avenue. This is one of Indy’s biggest public art projects ; see it, know it, love it.
Order a sweet potato waffle from Maxine’s. I’d always heard about the whole chicken and waffle phenomena but never tried it until I discovered Maxine’s. It’s connected to a gas station but don’t let that deter you. Some of the best collard greens I’ve ever had are from Maxine’s. Also black owned, this place gives you unlimited tiny little pancakes and peach butter during your stay.
Visit west 38th Street. Now called the International Marketplace – the west side of Indy at Lafayette Square is booming with culture. There’s an awesome little Ethiopian restaurant, great Indian food and a variety of Mexican options. The area has festivals every now and then, parades, parties and everything. Stop by the Service Center that arts org Big Car runs for a complete guide to the festivities. Want to learn more? Check out Sara’s post on the International Marketplace.
Go to Jazz Kitchen on a Wednesday night. There’s a group of guys in town that throw very jazz/funk/soul/hip-hop infused parties that keep the quality of the music first. This is a crowd of young, urban professionals that crave live music. Every Wednesday night the Jazz Kitchen opens up their space for some hot new jazz artist or a local hip-hop head to take the stage.
Get a donut from Longs. Longs Donuts has been making the intersection of 16th and Lafayette Rd. smell like heaven for decades. You may have to stand in line for 20 minutes but it is so worth it. Oh and take cash. They don’t feel it necessary to offer credit, yet.
Visit the museum at the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Indiana Avenue is one of the most historic streets in Indy. Inside the 85 year old theatre is a small museum. They have the largest collection of Madam C. J. Walker’s artifacts. The piano Duke Ellington played is there.
Catch a show at Midtown Arts and Coffee Lounge. From the outside you might not know the place is even open. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and some Sundays you’ll find poets on stage doing spoken word. Sometimes there’s a live band, sometimes food. There’s always art happening and there’s a lot of soul in the place. The mood changes from artist to artist but if you’re up for listening, or spitting something yourself – check it out.
Go to Coaches on a Tuesday night. DJ Metrognome is one of Indy’s best music mixers. Every Tuesday late at night he plays pretty much whatever he wants at Coaches, a bar downtown on Penn. On stage with him is a host that goes by J. Moore. He talks everything from politics to the latest in hip-hop. Although he does not take requests, if you ask nicely, Metrognome might let you take a shot at mixing.
That’s 7. Enjoy Indy.