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NEW IN TOWN: La Chinita Poblana
If you’ve been getting your fusion tacos at a food truck lately, you might want to consider going back to an old-fashioned restaurant with four walls. Just don’t expect it to be a very big restaurant. That adorable closet of an eatery on Westfied Boulevard in Broad Ripple that’s been everything from a fair-food outpost to the former home of Boogie Burger is now La Chinita Poblana (927 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-722-8108), the cutest, tastiest little tradition-bending taqueria you’ll ever check in at on Foursquare.
Chopsticks in the basket of plastic cutlery, a menu for bubble teas, and a new palette of purples, greens, and yellows will cue you in that this is no ordinary taqueria with carne asada and pollo-stuffed tortillas. Creative chef George Munoz, who hails from Chicago and earned his degree at the Washburne Culinary Institute, knows contemporary taco lovers want something just a bit more inventive. But he hasn’t abandoned Latin flavors by fusing them with Japanese eggplant, Thai basil, and curry. He’s simply taken them to the next level.
Take his fish tacos. For these well-stuffed bundles, he blackens tilapia with a coating of yellow curry so that the flaky, almost creamy fish takes on just the right amount of heat. With a tempered chipotle mayo and pickled Napa cabbage, this is an enviable mix of crunchy and tangy flavors that’s darn near perfect with the restrained sweetness of a strawberry-lime agua fresca on the side. Plenty of crispy, dark bark on his “red-braised” pork carnitas lend lots of flavor to one of the more traditional treatments, but the marinade has a slightly sweet, slightly briny quality that would make it at home on a Thai table. With just the right amount of a cooling avocado crema, this could star at just about any small-plates innovator up the street.
To add a bit more space to the decidedly cramped storefront, Munoz removed the indoor seating, though counters work well for standup munching, and there are plenty of tables just outside. The counter clerks will pass your order out the window.
Save room for Thai tapioca pudding with diced mango and homemade whipped cream with a nice hit of vanilla. Or go closer to home with a creamy tres leches flan or churros as traditional as they get.