Dave’s View: See the picture above. This is what you see when you first enter The Tamale Place on Rockville Road in Indianapolis. No, Samuel Beckett wasn’t eating here and there were no senior citizens inside the cans.(This is a playwright’s joke. Go watch Endgame, okay?) But there is one thing that Samuel Beckett and The Tamale Place have in common. They’re both absurd.
The place is set up to look like a backyard patio. The inside consists of picnic tables, wrought iron chairs, and the strangest picket fence design on the walls. Just take some pickets, lattice, and nail them to the walls. Add in cooler and you have The Tamale Place. Now the next thing you need to do is stand in line. You might want to look at the on-line menu before going to this restaurant because the line can get large and if you don’t know what you want, you get the stare down from the people behind you in line. The evil kind of stare down. You also need to have a back-up menu item in mind if the establishment has run out of your particular item. This is our first restaurant in Indianapolis that when they do run out of a menu item, they actually let you know ahead of time. The restaurant has a dry erase board to the right of where you order and it states how many tamales, etc. are left. When you order, they subtract one from the board and if they don’t have anymore of what you wanted to begin with, too bad. Live by this motto in life: If they didn’t have it, you didn’t need to eat it!
Another first for this restaurant: The cooler. You have the option to get a styrofoam cup and pour yourself a soda at a typical soda dispensing machine or take it out of the cooler. Take the cooler option, you’ll look cool. (No, you won’t.)
Now to the food: I ordered the tamale in green sauce, black beans, and salsa chips with hot salsa. The tamale is not the sweet type. The inside was tender and the dough was delicious. If you’re looking for an authentic tamale, this is the place. On the side, salsa chips are homemade and have a chewy texture to them that you’ll appreciate it. The black beans are cooked to perfection and compliment the meal excellently.
The Tamale Place is very busy and they employ a lot of people in order to fill the hungry bellies of the community. This restaurant is very efficient and it shows in their employees. They are very nice and intelligent when it comes to their food. So if you have questions, be fast about it because they have to serve the next tamale to the person behind you!
Food: 8.5 Service: 8.5 Ambiance: 8.5 Total: 25.5 out of 30
$10-$20 without adult beverages. They do not serve adult beverages. Also, help the place out and pay with cash.
Andrea’s View: Dave and I decided to meet my parents at one of their favorite restaurants for this adventure. When I suggested to my mother that we meet there, she replied,” Well, we could, but it’s not very fancy.” My response: “Have you read our blog?” She wasn’t kidding. The restaurant reminds me of two things: a school cafeteria and a neighbor’s backyard. You order at the counter from a white board of menu items. The white board is updated daily with which types of tamales and how many they have left that day. What a concept! You will never experience the frustration of ordering something that the kitchen doesn’t have. After you order, you move through a sort of assembly line where staff are frantically, but efficiently, making tacos, tamales, and tortas. Then you arrive at the cashier and pay. That is the cafeteria part. Now for the backyard part. You then pick out your drink from the cooler stocked with sodas, water, and tea. Then you sit down on picnic tables with your food that is served on paper plates with plastic silverware. One could even make new friends from sharing a picnic table. Sports bars could learn a lot from this concept during big games. Anyway, none of these eccentricities matter because the food is simply awesome. I had a pork tamale in green sauce and a chorizo and egg taco. They were both phenomenal. The filling to cornmeal coating ratio was perfect. The taco came dressed with onion and cilantro. Simple and perfect. Once you are done eating, you take your trash to one of the three metal garbage pails. (one for trash, recyclable, and glass) Simple and perfect. Well, almost. If only we could have gotten our food on school trays and then disposed them on big metal racks. Maybe that’s an idea for their next location.