Indy tips for Super Bowl visitors

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

OK, you somehow scored Super Bowl tix. Congrats. Shouldn’t everyone’s uncle be a regional fleet manager for Ford?

Whatever the blessing, you’re headed to Indianapolis. The Indy City. Kurt Vonnegut country. Note that the bars stay open till 3 a.m.

Where to start? Off the plane (about a 15-minute ride to downtown), I’d head to St. Elmo Steak House (127 S. Illinois St.), where the horseradishy shrimp cocktails will light your inner fireplace. St. Elmo is a big, family owned place, and it’s sure to be buzzing this week.

Looking for some celeb sightings? Try the bar at the Conrad Hotel – technically, Capital Grille. This place is a fine hangout all by itself.

The city's hub is a gracious old war memorial at Monument Circle, where special heating has been added along the streets and sidewalks to keep Super Bowl visitors happy. What Michigan Avenue is to Chicago, Monument Circle is to Indianapolis – an overlighted postcard shot.

A worthy pit stop at Monument Circle is the bar at the Columbia Club, a brassy, old hotel/club that sits on the circle like a 10-story period piece.

A sure party point will be Meridian Street, which will be tented to keep out the clammy Indiana cold. Check out the Slippery Noodle -- once a bordello and now a popular blues club, located at 372 S. Meredian St. Lots of live music planned through Super Bowl weekend.

If you’re looking for something a little slicker, try Sensu (225 S. Meridian), which features a popular restaurant (second floor) and a full nightclub underneath (first floor). Sensu is bound to draw lots of famous faces during Super Bowl week.

Six miles north of downtown, Broad Ripple -- a neighborhood, not a drink -- gets a lot of notices for its mix of restaurants and a thriving bar scene. But locals also like Massachusetts Avenue, a five-minute cab ride from downtown.

“Mass. Ave.” offers an interesting stretch of clubs and restaurants -- a little bohemian, a little slice of life.

One of the oldest dives around is the Chatterbox, which features jazz on its tiny stage. It's a long, narrow place with a vintage cash register and some of the best music in town.

Up the street, you'll find the sprawling Rathskeller, a totally different kind of place but a hugely popular nightspot as well, with German food, live music and a roadhouse vibe. The clientele spans all ages, and you'll feel very welcome. Try the Spaten Optimator, on tap.

By the way, the best burger I ever had was at the Weber Grill restaurant in downtown Indy, marked by the red kettle that Weber made famous. It’s at 10 N. Illinois St., or just follow the smell of the charcoal, the only way they cook.

Long-range forecasts call for highs in the 30s and 40s, with about a 30% chance of rain toward the end of the week. But since bars stay open till 3 a.m., you may not even notice.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of Super Bowl-related activities going on this week. You probably couldn’t miss them, but just in case:

--NFL Experience in Indiana Convention Center.

--Super Bowl Village located on Georgia Street (free).

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