eating indie in indy

ethnic

El Jalapeno 4902 S. East Street

This was Pat’s choice. Normally he shies away from any “Mexican” food because of onion and he doesn’t like beans and the rice they serve. However he loves a crisp ground beef taco, or three.

As soon as we were seated we were served some chips and salsa. The chips were warm and the salsa was okay. It was the thought that counted. After some deliberation Pat decided on 3 tacos for $6.99 and a large side of cheese sauce for $5.50.

A large cheese sauce

I was hardly impressed with the size of the cheese sauce they offered. A monkey dish worth for 5 bucks! What does the small come in. A potion cup. The tacos were a different story.

I wanted to try as many different things as I could so I ordered a combo for $8.99. That was a pork tamal and a steak burrito. The steak was $1 more.

The meat portions of my lunch were very generous. The tamal was overflowing with thick chumks of pork, something I have not seen before. The masa shell was unusual as well. The bottom was about one half inch thick and the top was nearly an inch thick. I like masa but it can become dry as it cools so you need quite a bit of chile to keep it moist. The amount of red sauce they add was not enough for me. However the amount of meat they used and the flavor of the steak made up for it. I would get it again but with some adjustments.

With the exception of their cheese sauce this joint offers good food and a good value. Worth the drive.


Taco & Burrito Place 4102 N. Keystone Ave.

This little joint was across the street from the garage that was servicing my vehicle. The name makes it pretty clear what to expect. Of course they do offer other items but I was here for the tacos, and maybe a burrito.

The place is small but bright and clean with a rather extensive menu. All of the items are on a board and you order at the counter pay and pick up when your number is called. I got there a little past 11 and they already had customers. From the time I arrived until the time I left they had a constant stream of customers. Mostly ordering take out.

I ordered 2 tacos. One pork and one beef. I got them topped with cilantro and onion only for $2 each. You could also get them with the whole Taco Bell garden but to me cilantro and onion are enough.

The amount of meat used was amazing. Granted they use a 4 inch tort but the ratio of meat to tortilla was impressive. They offer 2 sauces. One green and one red. That is what you see on top. I found both tacos to be delicious. The pulled pork butt was a touch dry but that was rectified by the sauce. The steak had a chile presence that gave it a bit of heat. I know I have a tendency to over state when I really like something but Damn those were some great tacos.

Naturally my eyes were bigger than my appetite so I ordered a small burrito as well. I went with a ground beef. They added lettuce and tomato inside with the beef and cheese. That too was a hit. I think I would have appreciated it more had it been the first thing I ate.

I know I will be back. A taco this good for only 2 bucks cannot be ignored.


Puccini’s Pizza and Pasta 1508 West 86th Street

This pizza shop is also known as Puccini’s Smiling Teeth Pizza. I haven’t the slightest idea where that name came from. I do know they open their first location in this area in 1991 and now have 10 locations in Indiana and Kentucky. That was why we had to have a “conference” about our criteria. It is hardly a small little place with an owner operator but it is family owned so it fits.

I was leaning toward a Calzone my self until I saw their Ultimate Warrior pie listed. A unique combo of
sausage, pepperoni, onions, black olives, mushrooms & green peppers.

This was a really good pie. A crisp crust and an excellent sauce with a generous amount of toppings. Enough to make me overlook the jumbled placement of the toppings. Normally a peeve of mine. I had eaten some of their pies a few years back with my son but had forgotten how good they were.

I think this joint should be ranked up there with some of the best in the city. The prices are more than reasonable. Both our lunches were less than $9 each.


Fuji Sushi & Hibachi 1705 W. McGalliard Rd Muncie Indiana.

Saturday my Granddaughter Emily graduated from Ball State University in Muncie Indiana. Afterwards we all decided to go to Fuji. We were a party of 11 so we had a wait. The place was really crowded so I didn’t wander around taking any pictures of the decor but I probably should have taken the time, The place is really attractive. Dark wood, a huge sculpture in the lobby and even a small water fountain. They offer a large dining area for Hibachi as well as a smaller area with booths. Of course they have a sushi bar as well as the usual booze bar.

I did not take this shot it was way too hot too dawdle out of doors. I borrowed it from their gallery on their website.

http://www.fujimuncie.com/

The majority of the diners opted for hibachi. My son Adam ordered a couple of rolls for people to try. I was the odd one and I ordered their lunch special sashima for $10.95. It consisted of 7 pieces assorted sashimi and a California roll. That is par for all of the sushi joints I have visited.

This is the only food pic I took. It was pretty straight forward. The fish was fresh and tasty although I think some places cut bigger pieces but that could be my imagination. The roll was very good as well and fit the weather nicely. They display the fish on a bed of glass noodles. That is as good a way as any to achieve some elevation on your entre. Of course cellophane noodles are pretty much tasteless. Of course I did not think of placing them in my bowl of soy and wasabi until much later, which is a shame because I like the texture of noodles in broth.

I think everyone enjoyed their food and the prices seemed reasonable. If you are in Muncie and have an urge for Sushi or Hibachi I would suggest Fuji. It is a charming spot with good and reasonably priced food. However I don’t know If I would make a trip from Indy just for it. I think you can get as good or better at home


King Dough 452 N. Highland Ave.

King Dough is a hip new pizzeria that originated in Bloomington In. Their main hook is a wood fired oven for their pies. Unfortunately that didn’t make the trip. They use a beautiful gas-fired one instead.

This little fella’ can get as high as 900 degrees when busy and cruises at 700 when not.

They offer several set pies with unusual combos that allow no substitutions. They also have a build your own which starts at $13 for a 13 inch pie.

http://www.kingdoughpizzas.com/

The base for the build your own is sauce, no sauce. Fresh or aged mozzarella. Then you add toppings which run 75 cents to $4 more.

Pat ordered his with Italian sausage and double mushroom. I opted for something a bit different. kalamata olives and Anchovy with sauce and fresh mozz.

I must agree with Pat. They have a good pie but Mama Nita’s is as good. Matter of fact I think Nita’s crust and sauce are better. Their crust is chewy and the bottom is not as crisp as I would like. Also the sauce had no carmelization. I liked the way they chopped the fresh mozz into pieces to give more coverage and the way they pull the dough. I just think they need some more work on the baking thing. Of course I will be back because I found a deal for 2 $25 gift certificates for $25 that I could not pass up. I may try their appetizer list this time.


Mama Nita’s 11007 Allisonville Road Fishers In.

I found this place by accident a few weeks ago on my way to my son’s new house. They are an Italian food restaurant which offers the trio of Italian fare. Pasta, Pizza and subs.

https://www.mamaknowspizza.com/

However their main bag is the buffet; $5.99 for lunch. Honestly Pat and I were dubious about this joint because we really didn’t expect much for 6 bucks. Boy were we ever wrong.

It isn’t a large buffet but the quality of the pies is excellent. Both the sauce and crust were top-notch. They offer a basic salad service and they are constantly replenishing the pizza, keeping about 8 of them on deck at all times. The man even takes requests. He made Pat a mushroom no onion and a cheese burger pie; with dill pickle; for a couple of other guys. I think that is what I liked best about Mama Nita’s the guy put out pies with different toppings; not just the traditional. Buffalo and BBQ chicken and bacon plus he wasn’t afraid to load up different veggies.

They even have bread sticks and some are stuffed with pepperoni.

I know the pictures aren’t much but you know I have issues with taking pictures of buffets. For your sweet tooth there is a small freezer at the end which holds ice cream sandwiches. Only one per customer regardless how cute you are. He also has a cinnamon pie. It is simply a pizza loaded with cinnamon sugar and topped with a white icing. Like a breakfast bun.

I thought that was great, especially hot out of the oven. Try a slice with an ice ream sandwich.

So like that adage about books and covers you should never judge a pizza joint by its pricing. Here you will get an exceptional meal as well as an exceptional value. With the senior discount lunch for 2 was $11.17 with tax. Worth the trip.

 


Virginia Avenue Pizza 619 Virginia Avenue

Once upon a time there was a South of Chicago Pizza in Fletcher Place, on Virginia Avenue. It had one of the best, if not the best, Italian Beef sandwich in the city. they also had a lunchtime buffet. They were so successful they were able to open another joint near Greenwood. Back in July they were told that the new building owners didn’t want to renew their lease. So they are gone and this joint is here.

https://vapizzaco.com/

I enjoy buffets. It is just difficult for me to get any decent pictures of the buffet line.

This is most of the salad bar, in 2 shots. For an inexpensive buffet ($11- drink included) it was well-appointed.

They also offered a plain cheese pie and a meatball dish.

On my first trip I got a slice of both the sausage and bacon pies. Deep dish and a thinner crust. I also tried their meatball dish. I enjoy deep dish sometimes, it depends on the crust. However I consider it more an open-faced Calzone than a pie. I agree with Pat about the sauce it tasted of tomato only. Some people swear that a pizza sauce should be unassuming so that the toppings will stand out. Others contend every element of a dish should stand on its own. In this case I am more a stand by itself sorta guy. This especially is relevant with the meatball dish. The meatballs were huge. One cross-section was about 3 inches. They had a great texture, just no great taste. The overall dish was something I would eat at a buffet but as a primary dish, no.

As I said this was a nice salad bar. This was a very good buffet and from the lunch crowd the folks in the neighborhood agree.


Shalimar Indian Restaurant 1043 Broad Ripple Avenue.

I am sure that anyone who has been to Broad Ripple know this spot. It is just one slot in a long strip mall loaded with slots offering a plethora of different merchandise. From different ethnicities of food to liquor and alternative smoking equipment.

I enjoy Indian food. It is comforting to me. I believe that the majority of my experience with Indian fare has been at buffets. It also seems that I discover something new most of the time.

In addition to the usual cold salad fixings they offered different chutney and pickles.

One of my go to faves. Lamb meat balls

Another favorite is Tandori Chicken. With few exceptions it has always been well made where ever I got it. Crisp outside and moist inside.

This is my first plate of savouries. Rice and various sauces with both meat and veggies. Each dish was nicely done and fit a chilly afternoon.

I didn’t take a picture of my dessert plate. It was my usual choices of rice and mango pudding and Gulab Jamun. This time I tried Carrot Halwa. That would be grated carrot cooked with sweet milk and nuts and raisin. It was new to me and was pretty good.

So if you want an “exotic” lunch for about $8 I think this would definitely fit.


Don Gusto P.J. Cafe 3960 S. Meridian Street

Pat “discovered” this joint some time back and we had planned on coming here last week until Bazbeaux got in the way.

Since they are a bakery I wanted to try a Torta. I opted for their Torta Milanese with steak. It can be prepared many different ways but the main ingredient must be breaded and fried. Their version had lettuce, tomato, mayo, cheese and a fried egg to go with a very generous portion of beef steak.

It was an excellent sandwich. All of the components fit well together but what brought it from very good to excellent was the bun. It had a wonderful texture. Soft and fluffy yet with a slight chew to it and perfectly toasted. I was really impressed that sandwich.

The poor Cannoli we shared certainly didn’t last long. I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture. It was crisper than Cannolis I have had else where but it was still pretty good. Since it is in a part of town I hardly ever go to I am not sure when or if I’ll be back. I sure would like to. Those torta rolls are just that good.

 


Bazbeaux Pizza 333 Massachusetts Ave,

Bazbeaux is probably the first “gourmet” pizza joint in the city. That is to say the first joint to offer toppings other than pepperoni, sausage and mozzarella cheese. They opened about 30 years ago and are still pretty popular. They started in Broad Ripple and then expanded to Carmel and downtown Indy.

Patrick has long insisted that we have already reviewed Bazbeaux. My contention was no, we haven’t. We were on our way to some Mexican restaurant on the South side when Pat commented on an article from Nuvo. The article was about local pizza joints and of course Bazbeaux came up. So we decided to go there instead. We didn’t realize that this location was serving a lunch express only. That is when you stand in line to order a slice, some cheese bread or a side salad.

Definitely NOT a Sahm’s salad

I believe they had 4 pizzas that day. Cheese or Pepperoni for $2.75 or a slice of Greek pizza or a BOT for $3.25. I opted for a slice of BOT; which stands for bacon, onion and tomato.

For some reason they added a chiffonade of basil on the top. Having a fresh herb on the top of a hot pie can be tasty at times but when the pie sits under a heat lamp some of the flavor is lost. The pepperoni was fine. Both slicesĀ  were fine. Nothing special. A pizza may stay warm on a heated buffet and under a heat lamp but it certainly does not improve the flavor. From the size of lunch crowd this format has probably increased its business but I think the food may have suffered. Of course one could make the point that if people keep coming in what does it matter.

Should I try this joint again it will be at a location where I can get a pie made especially for me.