eating indie in indy

ethnic

Hellas Cafe 8501 Westfield Blvd.

We weren’t sure where we were going to eat this week. I thought of an Asian Grill that was scheduled to open in Broad Ripple. We drove by but they weren’t ready yet so we headed north. When we hit Nora we saw Hellas and decided we needed some Greek food.

I had a desire for Mousaka. A creamy macaroni dish just appealed to me. Their version was very good. The Sauce Bechamel was smooth and creamy and decadently rich. The sides were well executed s well The beans were cooked down Hoosier style and the potatoes were crisp and tender. All in all it was an excellent meal.

Both of our lunches came with salads; which I forgot to take pictures of. They were normal side salads and came with an excellent vinaigrette. Both cost $12.49 so I thought they were reasonable considering what you got. Our server was attentive but the overall service made me nervous. There was one server and one cook and the kitchen was building the salads to order. That really struck me as odd. The cook got behind quickly but she managed it well and never really ended in the weeds. Evidently their customers aren’t in a hurry to get back to work so if you want a warm and leisurely Greek meal consider Nora Plaza and Hellas. I don’t get this way often but if I do I want to try their Dolmades. They build theirs with ground meat which is my preference.


Thai Town 5130 W. 38th St.

There are two Thai Towns on the westside. One on South High School Road and this. The newest. It is a very spacious and good looking joint.

It was a chilly day and Pat and I both ordered Thai Ginger tea. It was served to us with our first course. The first course was an excellent Thom Yum soup and a spring roll. The soup was excellent. Sparse on veggies but abundant in depth of flavor. It had a slight heat to it, which brought a warmth. The spring rolls are made in house and have onion in them so Pat gave me his. I thought they were wonderful. They reminded me of something I used to eat from an A&P Deli many years ago.

I also must add the the tea was delicious. My usual tea samplings have been limited to a more pedestrian variety so the Thai Ginger tea was quite a treat.


I followed Pat with an order of a red curry with medium heat. It was very good. A nice consistence level of heat punctuated with a few veggies. I would have prefered more eggplant and less green beans but it was still a good dish. I couldn’t finish it all after my soup and two spring rolls.

All in all this was a very nice lunch with excellence service.and at a very good price. Our lunches were 8 bucks each. I will be back for the tea, spring rolls and soup. That would be a meal for me.

http://thaitowncuisine.com/


Shapiro’s Delicatessen 808 S. Meridian St.

Shapiro is one of my favorite joints. It is always a sure thing for a great sandwich or a hot dinner. This is my first time for breakfast. Pat and I did not meet last week; we both had too many other things going on. We decided on breakfast and I suggested on Shapiro’s. I had a desire for some great corned beef hash and they have the best. You can get it as a side for $3.95 or as an entree with 2 eggs and toast for $5.25. I opted for it with eggs.

My portion was huge and my eggs were poached. The hash was excellent. Big hunks of potato and a bunch of their in house made corned beef. If you like corned beef hash I don’t think you can get any better than this. As for toast when you order breakfast at Shapiros you just have to order rye bread toast.

I don’t usually drink sode in the AM but I can’t resist Dr, Brown’s Cream Soda

Pat ordered scrambled eggs on the side and naturally rye toast. His eggs were wonderfully mixed and appered to be more than 2.

I am sure most of you are familiar with Shapiro’s sandwiches and plate meals but in case you did not know you can get the same quality of food for breakfast. They offer biscuits and gravy I just don’t know what kind of gravy, also they are now serving pancakes. If anyone has had the biscuits and gravy let me know how it is.


Pizza King 12110 E, Washington Street Cumberland Indiana

Pizza King originated in Lafayette Indiana in 1954. They have expanded over the years with several “company stores” and some franchise holders. As far as I know they are only in Indiana. They were known for a thin crust, edge to edge toppings and a fine ground sausage. I have always been fond of a fine grind for pizza. This particular outlet is a company store on the far east side of Indy. Actually east of the little town of Cumberland. It is a very large place with an old school pizzeria decor.

They offer the usual fare you would find at a Pizza joint but today we were after pizza. They have an 8 inch 1 topping pie for $6.79 and charge 90 cents for additional toppings. That is what we ordered. Pat got a mushroom and sausage because that is his go to combo. I ordered the same because I could not decide, and sausage and mushroom is as good a combination as any.

Another thing I like about this place is they cut their pies in a “party style”. Instead of all triangle slices you get squares and triangles

that is why i like “party style”. You get center slices like this.

I enjoyed my pie quite a bit. The crust isn’t as thin as I would like but it was nicely done and the price is very good. It is quite a drive but I can see myself going back. I would like to get an 8 inch Meat Feast pie. The Meat Feast – A delicious blend of sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, baked ham and bacon. That is $7.99

The Pizza Inn that Pat referenced is the Pizza Parlor that was in Southport when we were in High School. That is another old chain that started in Texas in 1960. They no longer operate in Indiana. I don’t remember much about their food though. Pizza King does operate in Indy and they put out a pretty good pie.


Texas Margaritas Mexican Restaurant 6473 Keystone Ave.

I had the pleasure of meeting my pal Joey for lunch Thursday. It has been too long since we saw each other. She works too much. She did agree to meet me for her lunch break so we decided on Texas Margaritas. It is a new place that opened on the site of the former Cancun Mexican Restaurant. The joint is decorated with Mexican style murals and booths.

I thought it was quite a display of art and color. I was reminded of that phrase “a riot of color” for that was surely what it was. They brought out some chips and salsa for me to munch on and to show my appreciation I ordered one of their Texas Margaritas that was on special that day.

The salsa was house made and hotter than most and the chips were still warm. It was a wonderful start to the meal. When Joey arrived it did not take us long to order. Her a shrimp quesadilla for $12.99 and me Enchiladas Ranchers for $9.99. The enchiladas was a plate of 4 corn tortillas stuffed with ground beef, shredded chicken, beans and cheese, then covered with a red sauce, white cheese and lettuce tomato and sour cream. I also added a dish of pico de gallo for $2.25.

I nearly forgot to take a shot of my plate and I didn’t bother Joey to take a picture of her quesadilla that would just eat into our talking time. We only had an hour to catch up on stuff. She did enjoy her shrimp quesadilla but not the rice. It is unfortunate that so many Latin joints feel obligated to add rice to their menu when so few do it well. My enchiladas were very good. The red sauce they used was very tasty and I enjoyed the 4 different fillings. I should do that more often.

So I think this joint is definitely worth looking into. Good food, good service and fair pricing. Also you won’t be bored with your surroundings and if you can, have that meal with a friend so you can catch up on stuff.


La Chela Taqueria 720 E. 38th Street.

About one month ago a new taqueria opened near me. The place is small, definitely an Independent joint and it has been recently painted yellow. I can not believe it took me a month to get there. Yesterday I finally made it. The food is great. I ordered 3 tacos. One lengua one carnitas and one al pastor

I appreciate that they dress the tacos with only chopped onion and cilantro. They also add some radish, cukes and lime on the side. In addition each diner gets two bottles of their salsa, One green with a bit of heat and one mild red. The green wasn’t really hot but both had some great flavor. The tongue was very good. Moist and tender. The Carnitas was a touch dry but still good. By far the Star of the plate was the Al Pastor. Pastor is the chile and pinapple marinated pork steaks that are traditionally roasted on a vertical spit with pineapple rings. Similar to shawarma. As I said all of my tacos were excellent but the Al Pastor was even better. So if you want a taco keep this joint in mind. I had 3 tacos and a lime soda for $11.30 with tax. Don’t feel like tacos well they have other stuff as well. They don’t have a web site but they do have a good sized menu


La Parada 1642 E. New York St.

La Parada has been around for a while. They used to do business in a small stand alone building at the front of the strip mall they are in. I have eaten there several times some years back. I am glad I finally went back and with Pat a willing participant.

Parada brings you out a bowl of salsa and chips as soon as you are seated. That always makes me happy. Their menu is huge but I knew what I wanted from the beginning. Posole. I believe they are the only joint in town that has it. Posole is a wonderful soup of pork and hominy in a chile fortified broth.

Their version was hot, unctuous and delicious. It was a huge bowl. I ate my fill and took home enough for at least dinner. Another thing I enjoy about posole is the stuff they give you to add to it. Like Pha.

My Posole “stuff”

I am more accustomed to shredded cabbage but I can appreciate their substitution of shredded lettuce. As long as they had onion and cilantro. They also added a few dried chiles to the mix. They looked like dried arbol but from the lack of heat I don’t think so

The rest of our dining “props” .

Using tostadas in place of tortilla strips was pretty slick. The diner can use a piece as a scooper or crumble some up in the soup. It also saves someone some time. Pat and I were both quite pleased with this little place. The prices are reasonable, very reasonable. Pat’s tacos were less than 6 bucks, the cheese sauce was $5,25 and my posole was $9.45. Of course since they offer beer and Margaritas you can pad that ticket. For example on Wednesday they offer 16 ounce Sun King beers for $4.75. And I can testify that Wee Mac pairs nicely with posole.


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.