Thursday, May 25, 2017

U.S. Adventures: Miami Beach, FL


A few months ago some friends from Texas convinced hubby and I to meet them in Miami for a long weekend (ok, it was February, it wasn’t hard). Here’s a little run down of where we ate.

Watr at the 1 Rooftop (it’s at the top of the 1 Hotel on South Beach). We had all just gotten in and didn’t have specific lunch plans, so we took our concierge’s advice and hit up one of the few rooftop/beachside restaurants on South Beach, and we could walk from our hotel. It was beautiful and the weather was superb. The menu is kind of eclectic, with a lot of small plates, but I really enjoyed everything. Here’s a sample of what we had: assorted dim sum ($16). Only four dumplings, and they were all different, but delicious. I could happily eat this on my own. Sweet and sour wings with tamarind glaze ($19). Meaty and I loved the tanginess of the tamarind. They had a bit of heat. Kimchi tuna ($19). I loved this dish and wished I had it all to myself. Lots of chunks of tuna in a creamy sauce, with kimchi and garlic chips, set on top of quinoa. I want to eat this now. We had a couple of sushi rolls as well, the salmon roll ($16), with asparagus, salmon, avocado and black sesame, and the shrimp tempura roll ($16) with shrimp, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayo. Both just perfect. Finally the beef bulgogi lettuce wraps, with pickled cucumber and cashews ($19). Very good. Things were pricy, and a bit on the small side, but delicious. Very nice cocktails as well. And a great view of the beach as well as the Miami skyline.


Next we headed to dinner at Yardbird, based on a friend’s recommendation. We all loved this choice, even though one of my friends mocked me for choosing a fried chicken place. We started with the deviled eggs ($11 I think), which I really enjoyed because they had lots of dill and chives and tasted sort of pickly to me…my friends didn’t like them as much though for the same reason. We also had the little fried green tomato BLT appetizer ($14). This was the biggest letdown of the night. It sounded good—a fried green tomato with pimento cheese and bacon, but the tomato was way too thick and everything just slid off. It just came across and really dry and hard to eat. Skip this one. The fried chicken ($26), which they are known for, was very good. And man, the mac and cheese ($10)? Yes. Five kinds of cheese and herby topping. We also had some biscuit sliders and the shrimp and grits that were both pretty tasty, but overall the chicken is the star. Oh, and those little beignet type doughnuts. Delicious.

Randomly, the next morning, an old high school friend had replied to one of my facebook posts that he was also in Miami, and was eating pretzels at the Hofbrau Haus. Once I knew that existed, we had to go have a beer and pretzels as an appetizer before our next lunch. The pretzels weren’t as good as the ones in Munich, but it was fun anyway. And giant steins of beer always provide good photo ops. After that, we kind of wandered down the street until we just decided to grab a slightly healthier second course at Sushisamba. We had lots of little things. The tuna tataki ($15) was my favorite with the asparagus, hearts of palm and avocado and a fresh citrus soy. They had their own version of basically a bang bang shrimp, which was tempura rock shrimp ($17) with a spicy mayo and some black truffle vinaigrette. Strangely addictive. The samba dromo roll ($19) (lobster, mango, tomato, chive, crispy rice and peanut curry) was a miss. But it was a nice light lunch to follow our giant pretzels with cheese.

So our next night, my friend absolutely insisted on going to Joe’s Stone Crab. He absolutely loves this place. They don’t take reservations, and I will spare you the amount of complaints I have about this fact, but we waited over 2 hours for our reservation and I got progressively crankier. Luckily we found a table outside and had drinks and ordered some appetizers—they have a special bar menu you can only get out there. The popcorn lobster bites ($16.95) were quite delicious actually. Strangely there were actual pieces of popcorn mixed in, but regardless, the lobster was yummy and I liked the mustard sauce. We also got a jumbo crab cake with green tomato remoulade ($14). This was a miss. A giant fried ball of something that supposedly contained crab. Into the second hour, we added the crab and onion dip ($12.95) and this stuff was fabulous. It was cold, which sort of deterred me at first, but man, it was good. They served it with homemade potato chips, which were also delicious.



When we were finally seated at like 10:00 or something, I was barely in the mood to eat, but we had to get the signature items. I will have to say, as grumpy as I was, this was good food. The stone crab bisque ($9.95) was really tasty—really rich and decadent. I was glad I split a bowl with hubby though because it was soooo rich, I couldn’t have eaten it all. Then the stone crab claws. They were certainly the best I have ever had—I have never honestly had any that I thought were worth the price. These were (and they are expensive for sure, market pricing depending on size) and I enjoyed them with the creamy mustard sauce.  The key lime pie ($8.95) was also delicious, even though I think I was about to fall asleep on my plate by this time. The place was still heaving with people though.

Our last meal was at Larios on the beach, which is an upscale Cuban place owned by the Estafan family. I don’t even want to go on about this place. Nothing we had was good. It just was very bland and forgettable. And quite possibly the worst desserts I have ever tried. That’s all I am going to say about that (I did add the pics though). I just don’t have the energy. I think this place has seem better days for sure.

So that’s Miami in a nutshell. It was fast and we had some tasty things. Some day I would like to go back to Joe’s with a better attitude. Maybe on a Tuesday at 4:30 or something.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Gallery Pastry Shop

I met my friend Suzanne the other day at Gallery Pastry Shop for lunch. I have been hearing (and seeing) lots of good stuff on social media about them and was excited to try it—and crepes! Plus I had been gifted with a gift certificate from a friend for Christmas and I needed to use it.

Well, we went during the week for lunch, so….no crepes. Apparently they are only offered for weekend brunch. The menu during the week is pretty limited as far as savory items, but we found a couple to order, as well as a few sweet treats. I ordered the croissant sandwich. You pick your meat and cheese from their offerings (they do charcuterie and cheese platters as well) and then you can add a sunny egg if you want (no brainer) ($15). Their meats are from Smoking Goose. I went with City ham and Tulip Tree beer cheese. And the egg. The croissants are quite good. Really good in fact—super light and flaky, with just the right amount of crunch. And the sandwich was extremely tasty. The ingredients are superb and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They serve it with a light salad with peppers and tomatoes. A nice touch, if maybe slightly underdressed.

Suzanne got the quiche ($12). This version had various veggies as well as sausage and cheese. They serve a little individual quiche rather than a slice, which is very cute. The crust on this thing—again, flaky and buttery and just the right amount of crunch—is the best part of it. The filling was tasty, maybe a little dense. Same greens on the side. 

We also bought them out of macarons, which I have to say, were incredible (I only had the chocolate caramel version, but they were wonderful).  They’re $2.50 each, so not cheap, but a nice splurge (and they have a weekly special where they sell them for $1 on certain days I think). They didn’t have many available for purchase though, and several people after us didn’t get any because we had gotten them all.

Actually, one of my biggest complaints about the place was the service. I was on a limited time frame (had just over an hour) and it was a struggle getting in and out of there in that time, even though there were only three tables seated in the place while we were there. Considering the quiche is already made, it made me wonder what was going on. Although it wasn’t just waiting for the food, getting the bill wasn’t much faster. I would love to try it for weekend brunch, but I have heard it gets quite crowded—it makes me wonder how long it takes to eat then. But the food is good. Very high quality ingredients and many, many delicious looking pastry items to try for sure. And at some point I want to try one of those crepes. I am still looking for my dream crepe in Indy.


Who else has been? What are your favorite sweet treats?

Gallery Pastry Shop
1101 East 54th Street
Indy  46220
317/820-5526

Monday, May 15, 2017

La Margarita

Hubby and I took our son to La Margarita the other night. I haven’t been there since they have been in Fountain Square (that’s a really long time) and we were looking for something casual and where my son could catch some Pokémon.

We had to wait a bit for a table but not too long. There were a lot of families there, which is a nice thing to see. Before we were seated, hubby and I ordered a margarita while we waited. Oh boy. That was not a good margarita. I mean, there’s hardly a margarita that is terrible, but this one was pretty close. It was so sour it was hard to drink. After being seated, we switched quickly to something else.

We ordered the chile con queso ($6) to start. My son loves queso dip and loves to compare them. This one is actually made with real cheese giving it a gooey, stringy experience. It was really good. There was red salsa mixed into it (but a very liquid type of sauce, not chunky at all) and it gave it really nice flavor. This was probably our favorite item of the night. We ate every bit of it. They also give you a nice portion of chips with three different kinds of salsa—loved that one of them had chunks of avocado in it—you can always win me over with avocado. All the salsas were pretty good. The chips were kind of disappointing. They’re kind of generic. Honestly, the Kroger brand tortilla chips are better (seriously, they are pretty darn good, have you tried them?)

I was excited to try the chilaquiles ($12) because they are typically one of my favorite Mexican food items. They are chips mixed with cheese, chicken, salsa and you can add an egg for $1 (duh). I chose the red salsa (you can do red or green). I was kind of disappointed in this—it didn’t have the casserole kind of feel that my favorite versions do. This tasted almost more like nachos. The chips were still fully intact and just topped with the cheese and salsa and the egg was plopped on top. It didn’t taste terrible, but didn’t wow me.
Hubby felt similarly about his chile relleno ($11). It was one poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and chorizo and topped with a chili sauce and sour cream. He thought it was good, but nothing about it that made it really stand out. My son was happy with his chicken and cheese quesadilla, but loved the cheese dip the best.

Overall, it’s not my favorite Mexican that’s for sure. It’s fine, and it’s a nice family friendly place in Fountain Square that’s pretty approachable to all tastes. A nice outside area in warm weather. Bummer about the margaritas though.






La Margarita
1043 Virginia Ave, Suite 1
Indy  46203
317/384-1457



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Turf Catering & Kitchen - Revisit

I have been back to Turf a couple of times since my last post and I really like this place still. The first time back I got the turkey club ($10) and wasn’t really expecting it to blow me away or anything, because hey, it’s a turkey club right? To date, this is my favorite sandwich at Turf. It’s got turkey obviously, but this turkey is heavily smoked and has a really unique and delicious flavor. It’s also topped with bacon, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion and black pepper mayo. It’s just right and that mayo gives nice flavor and moisture and the right amount of gooey-ness that I like in a sandwich.  I got the onion rings as my side this time and they weren’t my favorite side—they’re really big and a little too soft and doughy for me. That sandwich though…

On that visit, my lunch companion had the short rib grilled cheese with red onion jam and butterkase cheese ($12) which I talked about in a previous post. This is always a favorite as long as you don’t mind a touch of sweetness in your sandwich from the jam. A side of au gratin potatoes were tasty.

On another visit I had the special, which was a chicken melt with roasted chicken, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese, bacon, chopped red onion and honey mustard ($10). I loved the chopped red onion so you got a little of it in every bite and not just one big mouthful.  I also liked the way they chopped the chicken up too so it wasn’t a giant brick of chicken breast the way most chicken sandwiches are. The honey mustard was a nice flavor, but I was craving a bit more gooey and asked for a side of the aforementioned black pepper mayo to add. Then it was perfect. Okay, still not quite as good as the turkey club, but darn close. I just went with the pimento cheese as my side this time, because let’s face it, it’s my favorite. I still like spreading on their homemade chips.

My friend tried the “Pete’s Pride” ($13), which has five different kinds of pork on it, celery slaw, mayo/mustard mix, and pickles. It had a somewhat similar flavor to a Cuban sandwich, but the celery slaw had a very distinct celery flavor. If you like celery, and a lot of meat, you will probably like this one. It was a little on the heavy side for me, but that’s why I didn’t order it.
I really like this place and I haven’t taken anyone there yet who has not agreed. It’s a big lunch (or a nice lunch and dinner later with your leftovers) and it may seem a little on the pricey side, but for what you get, it’s worth it. And one of the few gems in Castleton.



Turf Catering & Kitchen
8155 Castleway Court, Suite C
Indy  46250
317/288-0173



Monday, May 8, 2017

Pho Tasty-- Revisit

Pho Tasty has become a go-to place for lunch for me. I often go with my BFF, and I have more recently introduced hubby to it as well and he is now converted. The rare beef pho (#32)($9) is what I almost always get, but this time we were splurging and decided to try my other typical favorite Vietnamese food item, the Vietnamese pancake (#6)($9.95).  I had never had it here so it seemed like a good time to try it.

First of all, I love their pho. I can’t say what it is that makes me like it more than some others, but I am assuming it is the broth since most of the components are pretty similar in beef pho. It’s a beef broth with rice noodles, some sliced onion and some very thinly sliced rare beef put in just before serving, I also have them add some tofu to mine just to make it a little heartier. It’s a good addition. So once you get the bowl of soup, you top it yourself with some herbs (basil and/or cilantro), bean sprouts, jalapeno slices and lime juice. I also add a bit of chili sauce and soy…ok and sometimes some fish sauce. I have learned that the key to really good pho is figuring out your personal seasoning and getting it just right. I have it down. I like putting the jalapenos in—I don’t eat them, but their flavor spreads into the broth a bit giving it some heat. It’s also a fairly healthy dish to eat, so I don’t have to feel guilty about eating it.

I was a bit disappointed in the pancake however, it just wasn’t as good as many others (and my all time fave is still at Long Thanh). There wasn’t as much stuff inside it and what was there wasn’t really sautéed very much. Usually there is bean sprouts and pork and shrimp all cooked together. This one had a little bit of the meat and a lot of totally cold raw bean sprouts. I also like eating mine wrapped in lettuce leaves, which they don’t give you here. The pancake itself had more of a granular texture to it as well. I would check this one off the list here, but the pho is still super good. I will stick with it from here on out…or maybe try some other appetizer. They also do banh mi here but I have yet to try one. Anyone tried one yet?

And I am super happy to have a place like this in Castleton—and their business seems good, which is good to see as well.

Pho Tasty
6044 East 82nd Street
Indianapolis 46250
317/702-0961


Monday, May 1, 2017

Blaze Pizza - Revisit

My daughter and I were down at IUPUI for the regional National History Day competition (she’s a state finalist!) and had a break between her presentation and the awards ceremony, so we hit Blaze for lunch, as it is right near campus.

We both pretty much made our own, although mine was a variation of one of their combos, the “Veg Out” (they are all around $7-8). It was topped with mushrooms, red onion, spinach, Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese and had dollops of red sauce on it. Ok, I know this is a chain, but I think their pizza is pretty darn tasty. The crust is really thin, and with the blue cheese, it had a nice distinctive flavor to it. It’s not too much, but just enough that you get that hint of flavor in each bite. They are personal size pizzas and I can almost eat a whole on by myself. I like this particular pizza because the sauce is not spread all over the pizza—sometimes I think too much sauce detracts too much. They quick fire them in an oven while you stand there and they are nice and crisp.

My daughter built her own with mozzarella and feta, kalamata olives, chicken, and oregano. She really liked it (and I agreed after my couple of bite of hers). She made a nice Greek combo and with the addition of the feta and olives, it had a nice salty kick to it. I still preferred mine, but hers was very good. 

It’s supposed to sort of be fresh fast food, but the one complaint I had was that it was so not fast at all. Luckily we had enough time, but it took a solid 30 minutes to get through the line. I am not sure why the delay, but man, it was slow.

They have some fun drinks too—my daughter had prickly pear aqua fresca and they had a blood orange lemonade. It’s a good place for a pizza fix for lunch near campus, but just be prepared that it may not be as fast as you think it is. And hey, I am spending a lot more time on IUPUI's campus now that I am back in school. What are your favorite places to eat around there?

Blaze Pizza
913 Indiana Avenue
Indy  46204
317/624-1500


Monday, April 24, 2017

Joe's Butcher Shop (Joe's Next Door)

I was getting my hair cut in Carmel the other day on Main Street, and was starving by the time I finished. My hairdresser is well-versed about all the options around, and seems to have a healthy interest in food (you can’t trust just anyone) so when she recommended Joe’s Butcher Shop and its deli (actually called Joe’s Next Door), I gave it a try (it is right across the street as well). They don’t have anywhere to sit in there though (unless it’s warm outside, they have a couple of tables), so I grabbed it to go.

Based on her recommendation, and my mood, I went with the House BLT ($8.99). This was a very good sandwich. She was telling me they use different kinds of bread for each sandwich and that the bread alone is really good and she was right. This was on toasted sourdough, but it was a really large loaf and was toasted just perfectly crunchy. And I should mention, this thing is huge. It is smeared with garlic aioli, and is topped with avocado, slices of heirloom tomatoes (no idea where they are getting these right now but I am not arguing), butter lettuce and lots and lots of their house cured bacon. The bacon is really interesting. It has a distinctive sweet taste to it-like it is almost caramelized in maple syrup or brown sugar. It is so crisp some bites are almost brittle. I really enjoyed the texture. When I first bit into the sandwich, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the sweetness, but it was really addictive after a few bites (sorry about the pics, I was eating in my car on the way home—I told you, I was hungry). It was a perfect combination of my kinds of flavors. I like avocado on anything and the tomato was sweet but acidic. That and the aioli were a nice balance to the bacon.
I could only eat half, but hubby was happy to take care of the rest. I would totally try more of their options when I am over there again.  I also got some of their house made gravlax to take home, which was quite tasty, and I tried their egg salad while I was waiting. It was really good too. Lots of dill. Have you been? And what have you had?

Joes’s Butcher Shop (Joe’s Next Door)
111 West Main Street, Suite 110
Carmel, IN 46032
317/846-8877

Monday, April 17, 2017

MacNivens - Revisit

My son is late to Pokémon Go because he only just got a phone for Christmas, so the other day he asked to go downtown to collect some poke-stuff. We decided on Mass Ave but were sort of unsure about where. He sort of wanted fried chicken, so we debated The Eagle, but with it’s hour wait, we passed on that. We walked across the street and ate at MacNivens instead. I wasn’t sure that they served kids, but one side is family friendly.

Of course, you absolutely cannot go to MacNivens and not get the Scotch eggs ($7.50), and so we did. And they are delicious, as they always are. Scotch eggs, if you don’t know, are boiled eggs that are wrapped in sausage, lightly breaded and deep-fried. At MacNivens, they serve them with red pepper aioli. My son had never had them and he loved them as well. Also a good item to get at the end of the evening if you’ve been out hitting the bars.

My son ordered their burger. We warned him it was a bit different than what he was used to, but he wanted to try it anyway. He didn’t really like it, but hubby did (we’ve had it before). If you aren’t familiar, they make this huge ultra thin patty that you basically fold into quarters to fit on the bun. It is also marinated in Worchestershire sauce, which gives it a unique flavor and makes the meat quite tender even though obviously it is cooked through. My son had asked for an extra slice of cheese, which hubby thought was a nice addition when you folded it all up.

It worked out well though because hubby got the fish and chips ($12.50) and my son preferred them, so they just switched (hubby preferred the burger too). We thought the fish was a little disappointing though, the beer batter just didn’t get crunchy enough, it stayed kind of soft. Like I said, my son was fine with them though. The chips were very classic British chips, which I am not a huge fan of (the large flat steak fries type).

I had the Ahi tuna salad ($13.25). Many of you had recommended it to me in the past, and I finally got around to ordering it. So the tuna is pretty tasty. Much better quality than what you would think you would get in a Scottish pub right? The greens underneath were dressed with balsamic, which I found just a weird combo with the tuna. The tuna comes with fried wontons, avocado and a Szechuan sauce on the side. So it seems like they are trying to go with an Asian flavor profile but mixing in balsamic. I don’t know, it just was weird to me. I think maybe a ginger dressing would be better or something. But I happily ate the tuna, wontons and avocado kind of on its own and then a few bites of the salad as well.

I really like the atmosphere of MacNivens. It’s a busy place, but we didn’t have to wait an hour to get a table (we didn’t have to wait at all). The servers are very friendly and the speed of service is just right. Not rushing you out, but not too slow either. So it turned out to be a good last minute choice. And I will never not get the Scotch eggs, although I still want to try the potato skins.

MacNiven’s
339 Massachusetts Ave
Indy 46204
317/632-SCOT


Monday, April 10, 2017

Road Trip: Pearl Street Pub: Oldenburg, IN


On our endless quest to find all the restaurants in the Oldenburg area, we finally hit the Pearl Street Pub. We’ve had drinks there before, and even tried to eat there once, but it was taco night, and we didn’t want tacos. This time we went on a Wednesday and found the place completely packed. It’s a pub, but the bar area is small, and most of the restaurant was full of families (we found out later the church across the street has some event every Wednesday and that is why it was so crowded). We literally got the last table by the door. Because it was so busy, our service was a bit lacking. She was nice, but extremely harried, and there were long delays in between ordering drinks and food. 

Anyway, once we settled in on our order, we were happy to catch up with our friends from Cincinnati (this is why we go to Oldenburg, to meet them halfway). We ordered fried pickles to start as well as the pretzels and cheese dip. The fried pickles were strange. They were cut like French fries—long ways. Someone stuck a pickle in a French fry cutter. They tasted pretty good, although hubby and I argued whether they are actually making them there or getting them from food supply because I have never seen fried pickles done like this anywhere else.  The pretzels were fine. I am guessing these are definitely food supply though. Taste like one you’d get at the ballpark. Not bad mind you, but not homemade.
The burgers sounded like the way to go because the menu specifically mentioned that the meat is local and “hand pattied” every day. So hubby ordered the Pearl Burger and I got a buffalo chicken sandwich and we were going to share. Well, let’s just say my instinct was correct. The burger was spot on—tender and topped with cheese, bacon, lettuce and tarter sauce. My buffalo chicken sandwich was not good. It was served on a hoagie roll and I am pretty sure they just took foodservice chicken tenders and cut them up into hunks and then drowned them in buffalo sauce. There was so much sauce, it was insane (and really spicy) and the chicken ended up kind of hard and dry. Pass on this one. Stick with the burgers here.  Hubby was very happy (he ate most of the burger before I could get my fair share) and said he would happily come back. He had onion rings, and they were those breaded kind. Probably also come in frozen in a bag. It wasn’t the best experience for me, but if I go back, I will certainly get my own burger (or a patty melt). 

I didn’t track the prices very well but splitting the two apps with our friends, a burger, my chicken sandwich and two drinks each—Me and hubby’s bill was right above $40. 

So next visit, we’re thinking about visiting the re-opened Sherman House. Anyone been there since the remodeling?

Pearl Street Pub
3034 Pearl Street
Oldenburg, IN 47036
812/934-3550


Monday, April 3, 2017

Festiva

One of the new hip places to eat in town, brought to you by the people who brought you Tinker Street, is Festiva. It’s just down the street from Tinker, and has a distinctive hipster tacqueria vibe. No kids allowed as the bar is the center of the place, much like at Tinker. Half of the restaurant is in a plastic-covered patio, so I would dress in layers. The first time we were sat there and it was pretty darn cold (they do give you blankets to keep warm with though). The second time we were seated inside and it was very toasty. Layers people, I recommend layers.

They do a very good job with margaritas. I have tried several of them over the two visits. Probably my favorite was the top shelf option, the Margarita Mejor ($12). It is a nice classic margarita flavor, not too sweet, not too sour. I have also had the Margarita Estacional ($10), which is a blood orange version (if there’s blood orange anything, I am usually going to order it) with habanero and hibiscus. It may have been a touch sweet
for me, one goes a long way, but still tasty.

I like the little spicy crunchy puffs they give you that are mixed with crunch fried chickpeas. I could live without the drizzle of sauce they put on top, which makes them soggy after a couple of minutes. Anyhow, this is the freebie they give you and I like them. Friends on one visit thought they were too tangy, but you know me, I like that. 

first time
second time
On both visits we had the sopes with squash, kale and almond mole ($8). The first time we really enjoyed them—they were super fresh and the toppings had a great fresh flavor and lots of the mole. On the second visit, they were not good. They tasted like they had sat for a bit and you can look at them side by side in the pic and just see—there is not the same amount of the mole sauce. We didn’t even eat all three of them between four of us. The first time we gobbled them up. 

Both times we had the poblano fundido ($8) with chorizo and this was a winner both times. It’s an interesting take on a cheesy starter, with a stuffed poblano and a big slab of broiled cheese across the top. I was glad to have some chips to eat with it though, which I did not the first time. You kind of want/need something to scoop it up with I think. The second time we ordered the guacamole with chips (hence the chips)($9). I enjoyed this. The guac was super fresh and nice and chunky, how I like it. It had a kick to it from some serranos and I liked the textural and flavor addition of the pepitas and pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate also gave a nice little kick of acid. It’s not a huge portion of guac for the price, but tasty. And the chips were nice and thin like I like.

Over the course of the two visits, I have tried all the tacos. That’s right, all of them. The first time we were a large group and got them all. I was surprised to find that my two favorites were the fish ($25) and the goat. Well, I should say both times I really liked the fish. They are my favorite for sure. The first time the goat was really good too—super tender. The second time it was a bit dryer and seemed less flavorful than I remembered. So the thing about the tacos is they are all build your own style (as you can see from the pics). You get the protein, the tortillas, some salsas to choose from and then some onions, cilantro and limes. I liked the fish the best because just by itself it had the most flavor—that salsa across the top is nice and tangy and oniony (made with lots of scallions). It made the dish. I guess I liked that you can just eat that on its own without having to doctor it up to enjoy it. The other meats weren’t as exciting to me and you had to use all the stuff to give them the moisture and flavor you wanted to make them get to the exceptional level. All good, but not blowing your mind on their own. And I was surprised to find my least favorite was actually the pork—it was quite dry on its own.  The fish is the one I will definitely order again. And I felt that way about the goat the first time, but after ordering again was less sure. Prepare yourself with the fish though if you order it—it’s a whole fish with a head and all, but it is so good.


The second time we also had the carne asada ($24), which was tasty nicely cooked beef. Again, it’s the theme of a giant pile of meat with various accompaniments with which to build yourself a taco of sorts. This one has housemade chorizo and a super spicy chipotle type sauce with it (be careful with that stuff, it will surprise you). The meat was tasty for sure.

The thing about this place is it’s definitely not going for a refined type of food, which I am totally down with. However, I sometimes just like getting a taco that’s put together by the kitchen with all the stuff they think it needs to make it really yummy. Maybe I am lazy, but that’s my preference. I never feel like I get it just the way it was intended on my own. I have friends who absolutely love this place, and I enjoy it for sure, but I think I prefer to get a plate of composed food when I go out to dinner. Just a personal preference. 

We had a couple of the desserts over the two visits. They pretty much all revolve around fruit, and were fine, but not anything that made me extremely excited. I would love to see just one have a spicy Mexican chocolate component, but maybe that’s too old fashioned.

It’s a fun place, the service is very good and very knowledgeable and I really enjoy the drinks. The food is hearty and like I said, very hands on. Not a bad place to go with a larger group to try more than a couple of things. It has a kind of party atmosphere and is a fun place. For me, the food doesn’t blow me away, but I have always enjoyed things there, and clearly they are not hurting for business. I know a bunch of you have probably been there and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Festiva
1217 East 16th Street
Indy  46202
317/635-4444