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.
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.
Well Javier is back in the kitchen. For many years he ran the best Mexican kitchen in the city. El Sol. A couple of years ago Javier left, and then unexpectedly the joint closed. Well now he’s back. In the same building but with a different name.
A few years back he redid the entire dining room. Using hand-made chairs and tables from Mexico he made the whole joint resemble an open air plaza. Complete with a fountain.
The salsa is fresh and the chips are warm, but the guacamole is a show stopper. He offers it three ways. Traditional with tomatoes etc., a personalized version with Mexican oregano and the 1800. This recipe is more than 200 years old. Avocado, garlic, fire roasted Serrano chiles and salt. Hand ground in a stone mortar and pestle. It is more than good.
Their web site is still under construction so I scanned their menu. This I will add to Urban Spoon. Their lunch menu shows up on their Face page. I urge you to check out the menu. For folks who want authentic. Here it is.
Pat’s Cochinta Pibil was $8.95 with black beans, and sweet plantains. And of course flour tortillas.
Having never tried Javier’s tamales before that is what I ordered, from the lunch menu. Three tamales, chicken or beef and black beans and salad. Again $8.95. I opted for the pig. Three good-sized tamales, robust and savory with nice strands of meat. The beans were really good, and the rice was tasty and colorful just a mite dry. I really enjoy the salad they add. Spring mix with a light vinaigrette and pickled onions.
I am surprised that this post is as short as it is, considering my natural tendency to ramble. Well here it is. I am sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to folks that remember El Sol. Javier is back and he is as good as always. If nothing else you owe it to yourself to try the 1800 guacamole. It is that good.
The City Market is a piece of Indianapolis history. Originally it was an open area that had stalls for merchants to sell meat, fish and produce. In 1886 a large brick building was erected to make it a one stop shopping place. Similar to a modern grocery store.
The Market is now a large two-story building that houses several vendors that sell ready to eat food, fruits and veggies and specialty snacks. The Tamale Place has its first facility out west. A place that I never have had an opportunity to go to. So when they opened the outlet at the City Market I was more than glad to check it out.
They offer more than tamales, but to me tamales are the Greatest food ever from south of the border. Well, with a taco a close second. Since I was solo I wanted to try both their red and green variety. And what is a trip to a Latin style joint without a taco? I ordered a red pork tamale and a green chicken tamale and a steak taco. Since I am forced to admit to the “aging” of my belly I got the mild salsa. I just can’t handle hot chiles any more.
Let’s talk taco. Their tacos are $2.99 and they certainly don’t mess around with the amount of meat they use.
I probably should have taken the picture before adding the salsa. This just doesn’t show the large amount of steak used. I don’t think I have ever had this much steak in one taco before. And every morsel was tender and tasty. Also the mild was too mild. In the future I think I will opt for the hot stuff.
Now, for that most noble of corn creations the Tamale.
Their regular tamales are $3.49 and you should be advised that they are 8 ounce monsters, not the 4 or 6 ounce deals that you normally get. They offer smaller versions called sliders, but they offer them in limited varieties. The first one I tried was the red chile pork.
Like the taco they were not at all stingy with the pork filling. And like the taco the pig was tender and had great flavor it just needed more intensity, more heat. Of course I realized the solution after I finished the pork and moved on to the chicken.
When you bite into the chicken tamale you really taste slow cooked chicken at its best. To me it was reminiscent of a piece of chicken out of a pot of chicken and dumplings. Once again their tomatillo sauce was missing heat. While pondering the situation I realized the answer was right there all along on the menu board. For a quarter you can get a 2 oz. portion of red or green sauce, mild or hot.
Next time I think I can see an Xmas tamale with my name on it. So should anyone from the Tamale Place read this I tip my hat to you folks for constructing a beautiful tamale.