Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis restaurants’

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El Sol de Tala is Back!

May 6, 2008

Those that know me know that I love Mexican food. Let me be clear: I’m not one of those people that says “I love Mexican food,” and is ignorant of the fact that there is no such thing as “Mexican food.” I’m aware that each region of the land south of the Rio Grande is marked first and foremost by a dedication to their own special centuries-old ingredients and practices. I simply love all the food from all the regions. And I’m always on the lookout for good Mexican food.

For some reason many people seem to think that the criteria for “good” ethnic cuisine is related to “authenticity.” I’m not one of those people. One of my kitchen staples is Rick Bayless’s Mexico One Plate at a Time. Each class of recipe in the book has at least one authentic version and a more contemporary version. In many instances the latter is simply better…to me. A lot of authentic cuisine became so out of necessity. And while necessity may be the mother of invention, she is not always the mother of great dining.

At any rate, I’m just saying: I don’t know if El Sol de Tala is “authentic” or not but it is delicious.

I was first introduced to El Sol when I first began my Spanish studies at IUPUI about four years ago. Even just four years ago it was very hard to find good Mexican dining in Indianapolis and El Sol was, ahem, an illuminating experience for me. It shot to the top of my “favorite Indianapolis restaurants” list–not just Mexican restaurants, but all restaurants. The staff was friendly, the ambiance laid-back but not cheap. The food, it bears repeating, was fantastic.

Then it closed down.

And stayed closed down for 18 months (or so).

In the last year and a half several new individually-owned Mexican diners have opened up, most of them offering Mexican food I would identify as authentic because it matched the quality and style of food I was used to getting when I was (briefly) living in Guanajuato, Mexico two years ago. It’s good food. I was scared that when El Sol returned (if it returned) it would suffer diminished esteem since it would now be compared, not to Taco Bell and El Rodeo, but to the tacos para llevar class of restaurant that had arrived in its absence.

Well, I’m happy to say that it is not the case. At all. I don’t know if the improvements are grand enough to have warranted 18 months without them, but after having gone last night I can attest that the quality dining experience is back and almost certainly better than before, regardless of who’s doing the judging.

They’ve trimmed the menu and the prices are a little higher than I remember but it’s worth it. I had the vegetarian enchiladas (Tres Amigos) and my girlfriend had the Chiles Rellenos (no meat) and both dishes were exceptional. Even the side staples: Mexican rice and refried (black) beans were excellent. The chips are absolutely nothing special but the salsa was better than I remember it. I’m not sure if they changed the recipe or not.

It could very well be that I don’t remember how great El Sol used to be, but it seems to me that they renovated more than the walls, and when a great restaurant gets better, you know you’re in for something special.

This entry was posted by: Jim
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