Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram)
By a show of hands, how many of you have a go-to “Mexican” restaurant? I’m guessing anyone reading this right how is doing so with one hand in the air. I put Mexican in quotes because most of the joints around town are American Mexican; you know what I’m talking about, they all have the same menu and pretty much taste the same. Don’t get me wrong, I love these places as much as the next person, but I’m here to tell you about a true Mexican taqueria on Indy’s south side that might just become your new go-to place. Don Juan Taqueria is located at 3915 Madison Ave where they are serving up authentic Mexican fare that is catching the attention of foodies all over the city.
Don Juan is owned and operated by husband and wife duo, Juan Carlos and Heather Bravo. Juan Carlos’ family stems from a small town in Mexico named Degollado which served as the inspiration for the taqueria. The couple fell in love with a local taco shop in the area and wanted to bring the same, authentic dining experience to their home community on Indy’s South side. Their family pours their heart and soul into the restaurant every day, and I love supporting good, hard-working people that genuinely care about their product and the people they serve.
Now let’s get into what everyone really wants to hear about - the food. Don Juan’s menu contains all sorts of Mexican favorites, from nachos and burritos to tacos and tortas. I realize that the items I just mentioned don’t sound all that different from other Mexican joints, but I’m here to tell you that they are. They’re not only set apart by freshness and taste, but Don Juan has something for even the most adventurous of eaters. I don’t want to give away too much, because then I’d spoil my “can’t miss” choices. But before we get there - I’d be remiss to not mention the housemade salsa and fixins bar that is worth the trip in and of itself. With that said, on with the “can’t miss” list:
Tacos: I know, I know, Captain Obvious, right? Of course you’re going to order tacos at a taqueria. The word literally means “a Mexican restaurant specializing in tacos.” You might be wondering what makes these tacos so special? Well, I’m glad you asked and I can sum it up in two words: the meats. Don Juan has “THE MEATS” … for tacos! Sorry, Arby’s. The Al Pastor might just be my favorite, but I’m all about that foodie life. Give me the Lengue (beef tongue), Tripa (beef chitterlings), or the Buche (pork stomach) any day. Do it like me and order one of each on the menu. You might not get through all of them, but you’ll have fun in the process.
Elote: aka Mexican Street Corn. Summer is here and that means that we’re right in the heart of corn season. There is nothing better than perfectly charred corn on the cob fresh off the grill. Elote is made when these corn cobs are kicked up a notch or two. They start by slathering their ears with a delicious mayonnaise rub and then it is rolled in cotija cheese. From there, you get to choose from their three great flavors: Regular, Takis, or Hot Cheetos (my fave). Elote hits all of the right notes - sweet, salty, smoky, and a little heat. Sign me up!
Torta Cubana: A torta is simply a Mexican sandwich that could be stuffed with just about anything. Here at the Foodie Spotlight, we like things that are a bit unconventional and we love creativity. With that, I give to you the Torta Cubana from Don Juan Taqueria. It is a Mexican sub sandwich filled with avocado, beans, lettuce, mayo, cheese, sour cream, fried eggs, ham, chorizo, and … wait for it … sliced hot dog. That’s right, hot dog. You might be thinking that it’s weird, but you won’t be after you bite into this beauty. Never be scared of innovation!
Gringas: This is more standard fare than the items listed above, but no less delicious. Gringas are flour tortillas that are filled with pork al pastor, cheese, and pineapple and then grilled like a quesadilla. The rich flavor of the pork paired with the sweetness of the pineapple is the sort of thing legends are made of. This is a dish the whole family will love, just don’t expect any leftovers.