The space that was previously occupied by Taverna, an ill-fated restaurant near Boogie Burger on Broad Ripple Avenue (but nearer to Keystone) has turned into Luciana’s Mexican Cantina. I was intrigued. The place appeared busy from the parking lot. People were telling me it was good. A friend told me it was very comparable to La Hacienda. I was ready to check it out.
I met a group of friends there for a weeknight meal. The parking lot was nearly full and the restaurant was busy—not totally full, but doing a good business for just a few weeks open. I was looking through the menu thinking it does look similar to La Ha, but then I was thinking—don’t a lot of Mexican menus look very similar?
They brought out the usual chips and salsa. I would say this salsa had just a touch more heat than most standard salsas set on the table at Mexican restaurants and I liked it. It was maybe a little watery, but it tasted good. The chips were large and thin and just fine.
Anyhow, it was cold, and I was still trying to be remotely healthy, plus it’s one of my favorite things to get at La Ha, so I ordered the chicken soup ($7.25). Oh, and a Texas margarita (starting to sound more and more like La Ha huh?). The soup was very good, and very similar to what I get there. It’s a chicken broth base with a few tortilla chips in it, some rice, and hunks of chicken. It’s topped with some avocado, some pico de gallo and cheese. I really love this soup, especially when it starts getting cold. The broth is very rich and just a little spicy and I love the sort of creaminess you get a bit from the rice, and even more from the avocado and cheese. This is a comfort soup with a kick—a little heat from jalapeno and pico de gallo.
I had a little bite of a friend’s chicken fajitas and another friend’s “steak a la Mexicana.” Both were decent, even though they’re not typically the kinds of things I order. I feel like the meat tends to be a bit on the dry side with dishes like these. The steak was tasty—it had a real kick to it and I really enjoyed the sautéed onions. There were a fair amount of jalapenos in there too.
The margarita was very good—I love the Texas version here as well as at La Hacienda. It has triple sec added to it I think. They are tasty. And large.
Our server was very nice and offered her suggestions. The food was good. Again, I don’t know that I have ever had spectacular Mexican food in Indy, but this place is really really solid. And since it’s about equidistant from our house as La Ha, we’ll probably be frequenting both. And so far, this place doesn’t have quite the wait that La Ha does. I know I don’t usually do such a comparison between two restaurants, but this place has so many similarities, it’s hard not to. I even saw some employees that I am pretty sure I’ve seen at La Ha, so I am thinking some people have left there to open Luciana’s.
So, if you like La Hacienda, you’re gonna like this place. Prices are comparable, it’s a little more spacious seating and currently, the crowds aren’t as bad. Who all has been there?
Luciana’s Mexican Cantina
1850 Broad Ripple Avenue