Review: Tamale PlaceAuthor: WIBIA | Filed under: Food Reviews, Location: Indianapolis, IN
5242 Rockville Road
Indianapoils, IN 46224
If you are a WIBIA regular, you know that taquerias are my “thing.” I have received mutiple e-mails about the Tamale Place telling me that I have to go. Smokin’ DB was one of those e-mails so we decided to grab lunch and talk shop. The Tamale Place opened in 2003 and with plenty of competition in the area, so you know they have to be doing something right. In fact, probably a lot of things right.
Most tamales are between $2.75 -$3.50 range. There were nine available tamales on the chalkboard. Three of them were vegetarian options: cheese, tofu, veggies. Meat offerings were pretty standard, beef, chicken, pork and a few wild cards.
I asked the lady behind the counter, “How much would a normal person eat?” She said, ”two Tamales if you are pretty hungry and haven’t had breakfast.” I was starving and ordered three tamales.
What I Ate:
Beef and pobalano chili with cheese, Chicken with in a banana leaf (Oaxaca style) and pork in roasted red sauce.
Yes, that is a full size plate. The tamales were above average in size, no doubt about that. I first tried the beef/poblano and cheese tamales. I liked it because the masa was crazy fresh…made with a lot of love and attention to detail. The flavors didn’t slap me across the face and in fact, they were very subtle. Nice balance between masa and filling.
Next up was the Oaxaca Chicken. Oaxaca is a region in Mexico, so this is really more about how they prepared this. If it is still not making sense, think along the same lines of regional BBQ. It is a lot different in South Carolina than it is in Memphis. Moving on…
When I think about an Oaxaca preparation of tamales, I think banana leaf (check) and a black mole sauce. Unfortunately, the mole sauce was non-existent, though there was some seasoning to enhance the flavor. I found it to be a little dry and it was my least favorite of the three.
Finally, a top shelf Tamale! The pork in roasted red sauce was absolutely delicious. A healthy dose of moist roasted pork and the masa soaked up the majority of the red sauce. As good as it gets in this city. My favorite of the day.
I am not going to jump on my soapbox about the argument that you can’t base a restaurant off one visit. I say that you can and in fact, most people do. So instead of coming back to places, I usually just order more food. My appetite is rarely challenged.
I was eyeing Smokin DB’s tacos the whole meal, so I had to try one myself. I got a Chorizo Taco ($2.00) and the taco was outstanding. I found the chorizo to be a little greasy, but perfectly cooked. There as a little dab of sour cream and it brought a nice richness to the taco. My favorite part of the taco was the tortillas. A corn tortilla that was thicker than most, but I found it to be pillowy, not sure if that is a word. Give me credit for trying.
Would I Buy It Again? Yes, but I would order all new items. The Tamale Place has a true command over masa and tortillas. It is really what they do best. They didn’t have a lot of spicy menu items as they are more about subtle, pure flavors. Next time, I am going to order nachos and a few tacos. All in all, it was a great meal, a good value and probably some of the best and most authentic tamales in the city. Although, I would’ve liked to see more options for sauces that you can add on to the tamales.
Btw, there are only six seats at a counter. This is primarily a take-out place, but I question how well the tacos and nachos would travel.