Wednesday, November 17, 2010

El Sol de Tala review

You know how everyone seems to love The Workingman's Friend? Yeah, I like it too. Anyhow, I wanted to try out a new-to-me tavern and check out their burger. Maybe it would be a similarly great, simple pub burger. So, I settled on trying McGinley's Golden Ace Inn. It is on the near east side, on Washington Street. I was going to meet a friend there, a guy that knows his way around a pub, and has the build and the hair to make you think he wouldn't be scared of much. Anyhow, he gets to the Golden Ace before I do, and... I start getting text messages. Text messages of the sort that let me know he was worried about the my restaurant selection. It wasn't his bodily welfare that he was concerned about so much as it was the dearth of people going in to the Golden Ace. So.... what does this have to do with El Sol de Tala? It is across the street and a block away from the Golden Ace, and it was having a lot of people enter into its front doors.

To appease my nervous lunch companion who had never been to El Sol de Tala, we changed locations.

And, while I'm here - does anyone have any opinions on McGinley's Golden Ace they want to pass along? Do I need to take a braver companion and get there?

When I first returned to Indy (after 10 years on a tour of the glamour cities of Des Moines, Little Rock and Cleveland), I often heard about El Sol de Tala being one of the best and most authentic Mexican restaurants in the city. I had first tried the one at the current location East of downtown (2444 E. Washington Street), but for a brief time they had a location in the old Union Station, on Meridian across from the Roberts store).

The current website gives a brief history of the restaurant, mentioning it has been in business since 1979. Now, that is ignoring some recent history when they shut down both locations for a while. I heard it was something to do with ownership partners, but.. it was definitely missed during that dark time.

El Sol is some great Mexican food. This was my first time since it re-opened and... it seemed a bit more refined than in my memory. I tried the empanandas on this visit, and they were pretty good. The pork one was very tasty, but the chicken was a bit too dry. The sides were nice, and I especially appreciated the salad.

The chips are warm, the salsa has a nice bit, the service is attentive. The tables are still bright and colorful, and the interior of the restaurant is spacious and of much higher quality decor than some of the somewhat blighted area outside El Sol's doors. El Sol has a wide expansive menu, and yet has great good prices, and the ingredients seem to be selected with care. The plating shows much more flare and attention to detail than the more El Rodeo-style of restaurants, and the taste is superior, as well. They also have a good selection of vegetarian items.

The verdict: 4.5 belly rubs (out of 5). Great service, great food, good value, local grub landmark.

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