Jolene Ketzenberger recently put together a list of 50 restaurants that you should try in order to get a solid representative sampling of the culinary delights on offer in this flyover metropolis of ours. Unfortunately, you have to go to the Indianapolis Star website in order to find the article. Amy and I compared notes on the list, and we’ve been, together, to about half of the restaurants; and each of us have been to a couple of the places without the other one. For reasons passing understanding, Delicia is not on her list, even though Ms. Ketzenberger wrote about this new Latin American restaurant almost two months before her list was printed.
What is perhaps stranger about Delicia not being on her list is some of the other places that are, including two in particular that rub me the wrong way. The first is Scotty’s Brewhouse, which might have local roots, but is nothing more than your run-of-the-mill bar and grill, even if it is a little heavier on burgers than most bar and grill places—which typically do a little of this and a little of that, to appeal to as many potential customers as possible, rather than express any kind of personality of their own. The list has a few dive diners, which are totally acceptable; but Scotty’s is the only chain-like bar-and-grill type place listed. If the list really needed a higher-end local burger place, Bru Burger would have been the better choice. I have eaten at both places (the downtown location of Scotty’s), and there is nothing that Scotty’s does that Bru Burger does not do better.
The other one that rubs me the wrong way is Pizzology, though I haven’t eaten there. It’s not the food that bothers me about that one—it’s the location. Pizzology is in Carmel. I’m starting to warm up to some parts of Carmel, particularly along the Monon Trail and in the Arts & Design district; and I understand that everybody loves Neal Brown. You can’t spend too much time reading about food in Indianapolis—or near Indianapolis, I suppose is more correct—without hearing something about Mr. Brown, to do either with his fancy Neapolitan pizza place in Carmel, or with his fancy libations bar in downtown Indianapolis. The Libertine is on Ms. Ketzenberger’s list, and that’s a-okay. Last time I checked, 38 East Washington Street is in Marion County. 13190 Hazel Dell Parkway is in Hamilton County. I don’t really care if it’s near Indianapolis or not—it doesn’t belong on a list of 50 places that give you a true taste of Indianapolis. Plus, if Neapolitan pizza is part of what you need to try to get a taste of Indianapolis, there’s always Napolese, which is...let me check...yeah, it’s on the list.
Now, having said all of that, scratch either of those two undeserving places, and add Delicia to the list. This recently-opened Latin American restaurant in SoBro (in a former Movie Gallery space) is doing a lot right in just the couple of months that it’s been open. We stopped in on a Thursday evening a couple of weeks ago, and were seated right away. It was our fake anniversary, so Amy opted for a glass of wine (the house sangria), and I tried a Fountain Square Brewery Workingman’s Pilsner, which was as bright and playful as a whimsical ale (with perhaps just a touch of citrus in there), and just as crisp and clean as an upright pilsner. And it was cold, too. Sometimes in the delay between the beer being poured and then brought to the table, some of the chill has a chance escape into the ether. That was not the case here.
We tried the Salsa Trio for an appetizer, which consisted of salsa fresca, sikil pak, and tomatillo, served with tortilla chips. The salsa fresca was a roasted tomato affair on the mild side, but very full flavored and rich. The tomatillo, we had been warned by our server, was on the spicy side. I didn’t find it to be all that spicy, and neither did Amy—and she’s pretty sensitive to heat in food. Instead, it was a very fresh, bright, and green (yes, that can be a valid adjective for the flavor of food), a solid counterpoint to the earthy red salsa. Then there was the sikil pak, which was more of a dip than a salsa, made from roasted pumpkin seeds. This one was rich and creamy, not spicy, deeply satisfying, and entirely unexpected.
For the entrées, I had the Ancho Peach Pork—pork medallions with ancho-peach glaze, white mashed sweet potatoes, and roasted vegetables; and Amy had the Tamal Corn Cakes—tamal cakes with barbacoa beef, pico de gallo, cilantro-lime crema, and queso fresco. Unfortunately, this long past when we ate at Delicia, I don’t recall what I thought of the Tamal Corn Cakes, although I seem to remember thinking they didn’t taste quite as good as they sounded on the menu. The Ancho Peach Pork, however, was excellent. The pork medallions were as close to melt-in-your-mouth tender as anything I’ve ever eaten. The ancho-peach glaze might have been a little heavy on the peach, and a little heavy in general. It almost, but not quite, overpowered the flavor of the very tender pork. White mashed sweet potates were another unexpected delight—sweet and creamy, and also oddly mysterious in a way that regular mashed potatoes just aren’t.
We were beginning to lament the fact that we hadn’t been to a restaurant that really knocked us out since we ate at Bluebeard last year, but Delicia came awfully close; and there is absolutely no question that we will be back. The only question is how long we’ll manage to wait before that return trip. (The menu can be found on their Facebook, but you’ll have to find that link on the magic internets yourself. I only provide links to real webpages.)
5215 North College Avenue