by Emily Schilling
If you asked me what my favorite food is, I couldn’t come up with a definitive answer. I love so many foods: grilled sweet corn on the cob sprinkled with seasoned salt, skillet fried chicken, lobster dunked in warm melted butter, futomaki sushi rolls (no avocado), crème brûlée, artichoke and bacon pizza …
Though my list of culinary cravings could probably rival a Cheesecake Factory menu, I could rattle through my all-time favorite restaurants in seconds. The Tamale Place on Indianapolis’ westside is one of my recommendations.
I discovered this gem about 15 years ago, when our publication’s office was located near the tiny take-out eatery. (It’s since moved to a larger — but still relatively small — shop in a mini strip mall west of downtown Indianapolis.) Back then, as a tamale newbie, I tried a different tamale each time I visited, just to savor the various flavors. (The Tamale Place makes an estimated 150,000 hand-tied half-pound-size tamales per year all made with freshly ground masa.) I was primarily fond of the chicken in red sauce, pork in green sauce, black bean and cheese, and the always amazing dessert tamales. The pineapple and raisin tamale is my all-time favorite dessert tamale flavor (it’s kind of like a pineapple bread pudding wrapped up in a corn husk), with chocolate a close second.
Once I made my way through the tamale offerings, it was time to taste The Tamale Place’s taco and torta selections. I’m so glad I did because there, I found a couple of my all-time favorite meals: the chipotle chicken taco (in a soft corn tortilla) and the chipotle chicken torta. (Yes, I’m a bit obsessed with chipotle chicken!)
The torta is a meal in itself, loaded with melted cheese, onion, lettuce, pico de gallo, chiles and mayonnaise.
I often get the taco (ask for it with everything — cheese, cilantro and onion — with a lime wedge and salsita on the side) as a combo with black beans, tortilla chips with salsa, and a bottle of Mexican Coke. Since I can’t imagine anything as sublime as my chipotle chicken go-tos I haven’t tried anything else on the torta, taco or even nacho menu, although I hear the steak and egg taco is quite good too.
The Tamale Place is a stand-in-line-to-order kind of place and, depending on the time of day, you may have to wait a while to get to the cash register. (The restaurant is that popular!) If you’re there for the tamales, keep in mind the eatery has a limited amount of the various flavors each day and your favorite variety may be gone by the time you’re ready to order (though you can call ahead to reserve the tamales of your choice). While in line, you’ll notice an autographed photo of Guy Fieri of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on the wall. Fieri’s visit to The Tamale Place culminated in a “Triple D” episode which aired in May 2011.
If you’re in Indy and want to sample some tasty Mexican food lauded not just by me but by Guy Fieri too, THE place to be is The Tamale Place.
EMILY SCHILLING is editor of Indiana Connection.
If you go
The Tamale Place
5226 Rockville Road, Indianapolis
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.