Indiana's largest city is also the state's center of LGBT culture, with a sizable gay and lesbian population and several lively and fun nightspots around the city catering to the community. Many of the best hangouts in Indianapolis are in the trendy Mass Ave Arts District, but you'll find intriguing places to mingle and eat in a number of other neighborhoods around the city, including Broad Ripple, Herron Morton, and the St. Joseph Historic District.
Here's a look at some favorite LGBT places to hobnob and dine around Indianapolis.
A professional, friendly staff has helped make Greg's (231 E. 16th St., 317-638-8138) one of the premier gay nightspots in Indianapolis. Like many of the city's gay bars, it's located a bit north of downtown in a somewhat industrial, slightly downcast neighborhood, but Greg's on the inside is clean and cheery, with a great sound system and a big dance floor, along with a mellower patio area out back.The crowd is mostly but not exclusively male, and all ages and types. On Friday's there's country-western dancing, and pool and darts tournaments are held regularly. The bar was known as Our Place prior to 2002.
Indiana hasn't exactly cornered the market on acclaimed artisan cheeses over the years, but Traders Point Creamery (9101 Moore Rd., Zionville, 317-733-1700) in the semi-suburban town of Zionville about 15 miles northwest Indianapolis, is changing all that. If you're a fan of handcrafted cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and unbelievably fresh milk, it's definitely worth making the trip up here. You can tour the farm (either on your own, or on a self-guided stroll), or dine in the great restaurant. The fully organic farm and dairy, which has earned a number of prestigious awards for its many delicious products, comprises a shop, restaurant-dairy bar, and a farmers market (with produce from several other area farms) on Fridays from 4 to 8 pm, June through October.
Lunch is the most commonly enjoyed meal in the Loft Restaurant - it's served Monday through Saturday, along with brunch on Sundays, and it offers a perfect chance to sample the in-house cheeses, sip a milkshake or smoothie, and try outstanding burgers, salads, and the like. The Dairy Bar doles out Trader Point's exceptional ice cream, which comes in a variety of interesting flavors, such as blackberry and mango. On Tuesday through Saturday evenings, the restaurant serves dinner from a seasonally changing menu that's prepared from fresh local produce. Try to come on a sunny day - the grounds are beautiful, and you're welcome to buy food inside and dine al fresco.
One of the trendiest and friendliest gay bars and restaurants in the Midwest, Metro (707 Massachusetts Ave., 317-639-6022) is in the heart of the lively Mass Avenue Arts District and offers a wide range of diversions to an eclectic LGBT crowd. There's drinking, videos, pool, and the usual pub diversions nightly, and dancing to DJs on Friday and Saturday evenings. In warm weather, enjoy yourself on the spacious patio.
A sponsor of Indianapolis Gay Pride and a fun and hip spot for terrific pan-Asian fare in the trendy Mass Arts District, Forty Five Degrees Sushi (765 Massachusetts Ave., 317-634-4545) is both an enticing place to dine and see-and-be-seen nightspot that draws a mix of gays and straights well into the evening. Take a seat in the colorful and stylish contemporary dining room, and consider feasting on such creative fare as five-spice seared ahi tuna, filet mignon with wasabi-mashed potatoes, shrimp with a red curry sauce. This is also a favorite destination for fancy and flavorful cocktails.
Downtown Olly's (822 N. Illinois St., 317-636-5597) is a laid-back and convivial neighborhood bar with a strong LGBT following. It's on the north side of downtown, in the St. Joseph Historic District, and the place has a loyal following for its great drinks specials and hearty and satisfying American fare, served 24 hours. On weekends, it's a favorite destination for people-watching and sustenance after the gay bars around town close. There's karaoke some nights.
Serving first-rate contemporary American bistro fare and offering a relaxed yet sophisticated vibe, Mesh Restaurant (725 Massachusetts Ave., 317-955-9600), often referred to as Mesh on Main, is worth checking out whether you're on a date or out with a few friends. It's also a nice option for dining before heading a few doors down to Metro gay bar. An excellent wine list and nice selection of cocktails and craft beers (many from Indiana) complement the excellent food. Consider the starter of crab hash browns with a fried farm egg and roasted red pepper sauce, followed by a miso-charred chicken sandwich with pea shoot and avocado slaw, or seared diver scallops with red wine risotto and grilled-lemon vinaigrette. On weekends, brunch at Mesh is highly popular and lots of fun.