eating indie in indy

Posts tagged “tomatillo

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.

The Tamale Place @ The City Market

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.

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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 square ( tamales) 012

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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.

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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.

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Now, for that most noble of corn creations the Tamale.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Tamale Place on Urbanspoon

3 in 1 Restaurant 4202 W. 56th Street

Today we traveled to the west side for some El Salvadoran treats. Pat discovered this place more by happen stance than anything else. His wife, Fran, brought him a tamale she had picked up at the City Market from the 3 in 1 Restaurant,it had a stand at the Farmer’s Winter Market. Sweet corn, pig and no onions. Love at first bite for Pat.

We don’t go to the west side that often so I was curious to see what sights I have been missing. Besides. I am a freak for tamales. Also I was quite curious about the name. At each table was a laminated sheet explaining the origin of their name. I thought it was a touching story so I am posting a copy.

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I wish to apologize in advance for my pictures. Normally I make up for my lack of photographic skill by taking multiple shots, and picking the best to publish. However my batteries were dying so I couldn’t.

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As you can see the prices are more than reasonable. They also have a special on Pupusas, 2 for $5. A pupusa is a thick corn cake stuffed with various tasty things. Chicken or pork and cheese or loroco and cheese. Loroco is an edible flower. An item I have heard of but never tried. Both pupusa and loroco are common in El Salvador. And the closest I have been to El Salvador is Costa Rica .

We ordered Deep Fried Corn Balls and a Riqua to share. A riqua is like a unstuffed pupusa.

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These bad boys were delicious. Look like hush puppies don’t they? That’s what they taste like, but sweeter due to the corn used. At the owner’s suggestion I added powdered sugar to one and it was so reminiscent of a State Fair elephant ear my mouth thought it was August.  And if you added the house made tomatillo sauce the whole flavor profile changed. Instead of enhancing the sweet corn it complemented it with a note of sour and a touch of heat. I thought the tomatillo sauce was outstanding. Definitely one of the best I have had. Including my own.

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This is one-fourth of a riqua. We did it again. Eating before snapping. It too was tasty. Like a Johnny cake with extra sweetness.

Pat ordered a pork tamale and a chicken and cheese pupusa. Since I ordered a locoro pupusa we shared.

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As you can see their presentation is very utilitarian. In addition to the loroco pupusa, I got a plain tamale and a steak taco. They don’t add the garden to their tacos. For that they have a small cold table for the customer to add their own.3 in 1 009

The tamale was softer and sweeter than I am used to but it was good none the less. In the future I will go with pork. I know it wouldn’t be “authentic” but I think a little bacon with the pork would be a nice little addition. The loroco had a nice flavor but I am unable to describe it. The end taste was familiar  but I can’t quite put my tongue on what it is. I know that’s not much help but that’s the best I can do.The steak on my taco was tender, moist and abundant. I think the one factor that made this taco outstanding was the choices in the condiment table.

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In addition to the usual taco toppings they offered green olives, banana peppers, cojita cheese and a crazy slaw. Just shredded cabbage, carrot and lemon juice. Simple and delicious. And the addition of green olives to a taco is brilliant. I can not believe I have not tried it before now.

So if you like good eats with a Latin flair then you should get to 3 in 1 Restaurant. The family that owns the joint is earnest and committed to good food. Also I noticed on a sign as we were leaving you can get the Fried Corn Balls with bacon and cheese for about a buck more. Fried corn, bacon AND cheese. The 3 main food groups.

3 in 1 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bakersfield on Mass. Ave.


Yeah…Tacos. To me tacos are the ultimate food carrier of the New World. Every culture has a carbohydrate cab designed to transfer various proteins from  Point A to Point B. Where Point B is your mouth. Be it leavened or unleavened. Call it naan, tortilla, pita, or lavash  it serves the same purpose. In this part of the country it is the tortilla. Flour or corn. Different load, same purpose. The flour tortilla is generally used for a burritos. Consider that the SUV of protein transport. The corn is typically used for a taco. Consider that more like a compact car. I love tacos but I was a little hesitant trying this particular joint. From the reviews it was a hip and trendy place on the most hip and trendy street in town. Massachusetts Avenue. From experience it is usually the hip and trendy places that try too hard on their food and pretty much fail. So I had to try this place because the menu was straight forward and provocative. I also made it a solo trip because Pat doesn’t like onions; and sometime onions are essential in a dish.

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One semi quick remark regarding the name. It is called Bakersfield as an homage to a certain type of country music “developed” in Bakersfield California. I think this style is best represented by the song “Streets of Bakersfield” most famously recorded by Buck Owens and Dwight Yokam. I was rather taken aback upon entering. I was led to believe that the place would be overrun by hipsters, and the din of Johnny Cash would be overwhelming. Well. The place was loud; from business types talking. The music was very subdued. Sitting at the bar I ordered a $2 PBR. Much to my chagrin it came in a typical pint glass. Again, the reviews led me to believe that it would come in a Cowboy Boot Schooner. However the bartender told me they had all been stolen. Oh well. It was only 2 bucks. The tacos are $3 & $4 each. Which sounds reasonable. I knew going in that I would only eat 3 or 4 tacos. Hell I gotta’ watch my weight. On the first course I ordered a Mole and a Pastor. The first thing you notice is the size of the tortillas. They are small, more in the sub compact category. They are made in-house and are pretty tasty, but the size brings into question the value. Also both portions of meat could have used a lot more sauce, they were a little on the dry side. Also I really had trouble differentiating between the two dishes, after digging out a taste from under the copious quantity of toppings. Although the selections were apt. Fresh cilantro, pickled onions etc. too much can detract from the main ingredient.

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The Pastor is top left, the one with the chopped pineapple. I wish I had thought to add an element for scale in order to demonstrate the size.

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My last pick was the chicken braised in tomatillo sauce and topped with a guajillo chile salsa as well as the usual toppings. On the website this particular dish is called Pollo Verde. For some reason it was changed to Pollo Rojo and the quajillo salsa was added. Curious. It would appear as if the chicken is roasted in a tomatillo sauce and the resultant meat is shredded and then tossed with the chile sauce not just topped. It too was a little on the dry side and it was hard to detect any distinct taste. The change in recipe begs the question. Why even use tomatillos if you are going to hide their flavor with the quajillo?

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Yeah I started eating before I took the shot. Like that’s the first time I did that. So in a nut shell their tacos are not bad they just need to be bold with the sauces. In my opinion the only way you could differentiate between the dishes is by the toppings. Step up with the flavors of the chiles. Be bold.  I think they did try too hard to be a true taqueria. They didn’t fail, they just didn’t totally succeed.However I can almost see this whole idea being franchised. Sort of like an “upscale” Qdoba; with alcohol. If that is the plan Good Luck. One thing is certain when you eat here you are getting the best taco on Mass. Ave.Bakersfield Mass Ave. on Urbanspoon