Dave’s View: There is something odd about Bakersfield Mass Ave located in downtown Indianapolis. You walk into this place which reminds you of an old rustic bar, but it’s not authentic. It’s kind of “plastic?” Like I’m molding plastic to shape a form and this is what I have? There’s no dirt, there’s no grim. Everything is too perfect. It’s trying to feel like an authentic Mexican bar, but it can’t come close. It’s too clean.
Now, is that a bad thing?
Well, no it’s not. Except when that concept is transferred to the food. I have a problem with it. I’m not talking about food that is not clean. The food here is fresh. It is prepared well, but it lacks any diversity. I’m sure if I ordered the same food I ordered today, one month from now, it would taste the same. There is where the problem persists. This is what chain restaurant do and the reason why Andrea and I don’t review chain restaurants. It’s too formulated and what’s the point? Somebody wants to franchise their restaurant and make money. There’s no harm in that, but I don’t live that long on this planet and I want something that will blow my mind, not keep it occupied.
So let’s go to the “authentic” Mexican food:
The two tacos on the bottom of the picture are the ones I had. On the left is the is the Huitlacoche Taco which has corn truffles, poblano, and some type of cheese, sprinkled with cilantro. It’s a “mushy” type of taco with corn taste, but there’s way too much going on in this taco. The restaurant needs to simplify the taco, so you can taste all of the ingredients. The first bite is pleasant because you don’t know what to expect, but after that, it’s bland. It’s like eating creamed corn in a taco. Burnt creamed corn in a taco.
On the right is the Short Rib Taco. It is dry. Now, this might be my mistake. I didn’t order it with crema. I don’t like crema in any form. Maybe if I had the crema, the taco probably wouldn’t be as dry, but would’ve it tasted better? You can be the judge of that. There is a radish on top of it. Please, eat it with the short rib. A nice combination that will surprise you when you eat it. It’s the only aspect of this taco I liked.
The Pabst Blue Ribbon(AKA: PBR or 1978 alcoholic preferred brew) is $2 here and is served in a boot glass. I was the only dork in the place drinking cheap PBR, but I didn’t care. Visions of drinking Old Style at Wrigley Field in the bleachers kept me contented. I was throwing my PBR positive energy towards every patron in the joint asking them to join me in the festivities of drinking PBR out of a boot. It didn’t happen. I did my time and I was lonely. Not even my wife would drink out of the boot. So I call on all of you now, to take the Glass Boot PBR Challenge. Now it’s your time to pony up to the oak barrel tables and order a boot glass of PBR. Feel strange, but you won’t care. You are drinking out of a glass boot!
The service here is attentive and nice until we came to the end of our meal. This statement was spoken: “Will this be on two checks?”
Did I ask it to be on two checks? If I wanted it to be on two checks, I would ask. There must be many couples in the Indianapolis area that cheat on each other in order for the server to ask this question or maybe I’m just looking old. I’m going to assume I look old. That is the angle I’m going to take. Andrea has taken water, illegally, from the Fountain of Youth and makes me look bad. Like I’m the bad blind internet date gone wrong. Thanks Andrea! Chalk up number 6 out of 60 reviewed restaurants that have done this to me.
Am I insecure? Damn right I am, and damn proud it!
Now, just leave me alone while I drink on my glass boot PBR in the corner where all the insecure people drink.
Ambiance: 7 Food: 7 Service 7 Total: 21 out of 30
$35-$45 with adult beverages
Andrea’s View: I am conflicted in whether or not Bakersfield Mass Ave. is a restaurant that should be highlighted in this blog. It’s ethnic food, sort of, much like crepes, lasagna, and gyros are considered ethnic foods. But in those cases, the food is authentic. This is not. What kept popping into my head was an old commercial for a deodorant (I don’t remember what brand) that I did not understand as a kid, but can identify with as an adult. The tag line goes like this, “Never confuse fad with fashion, and never let them see you sweat.” Bakersfield committed the first of these sins, I, the second.
Bakersfield is not to blame for my sweating sin. It was an 85 degree day and Bakersfield is delightfully open-air. They do have ceiling fans to keep the air flow moving, and Dave and I were seated at a table (really a whiskey barrel with a concrete top) that was right next to the glass-less window. I am not complaining, after last winter I am relishing every ounce of sun and every warm day.
I don’t want readers to think that I didn’t like the food at Bakersfield Mass Ave. I love the concept of an old-fashioned taco joint that just serves tacos and chips and dip and serves their beer in glasses shaped like boots, and the margaritas come in mason jars. My mason jar of margarita was the best I’ve had in the city. The chips and guacamole were wonderfully fresh and chunky, and even had a spicy kick on the back-end. The tacos were cheap and they were good. Not the best, but they were good. I had the pollo verde, the cochinita pibil, and the rajas tacos. In order, these are a chicken, a pork, and a pepper taco. They were all served on homemade corn tortillas and tops with ingredients like radishes, pickled onions, queso fresca, and cilantro. The meats were braised in habanero salsa and tomatillo sauce. They were all very trendy. Not that there is anything wrong with trend or fad, it’s just fleeting It’s here today, gone tomorrow, with no real substance. These tacos with all their fancy ingredients were honestly quite bland. I’m not saying that habanero is bland, it was all I could taste in that taco, all the other ingredients were there just for show. Authentic tacos, tacos found in real Mexican restaurants, are simple, timeless, and even elegant in their construction. They are made from slow-cooked meats, onions, cilantro and served with lime. All the flavors compliment each other, and every ingredient shines through. They are the little black dress of the food world.
Bakersfield Mass Ave. is a trendy restaurant on a trendy street. For this alone, it will do well. As for tacos, I prefer the west side taco joints, where English is a second language and margaritas are served in a glass instead of a jar.