The 25 Best Tacos

Grab some napkins, refill your horchata, and dig into our salsa-drenched guide to Indy’s best tortilla-wrapped treats.

June 2018Add a comment

Let’s not get hung up on authenticity. The taco—that ergonomic marvel of tortilla folded over a filling and eaten by hand—has been translated into many different cuisines. We tasted every one we could get our lime-dribbled hands on to round up this list of the 25 best in town, from the traditional onion-and-cilantro varieties to all the gussied-up beauts served tequila-side. Make it a combo with a users guide to DIY taco night, a primer on corn versus flour tortillas, suggestions for which salsa goes where, and some Hoosier love for the much-maligned, often side-eyed walking taco. Because if ever there was a food designed to have a little fun, it is the taco. And we’re game.

The 25 Best Tacos

Taco: Alambre
Restaurant: El Maguey  — 3920 N. High School Rd., 317-280-8650
The Goods: Chunks of bacon enhance the umami flavors of grilled beef, peppers, and onions—all deliciously congealed in melted cheese and topped with more bacon drippings. The mixture is eased onto warm flour tortillas and served three per order. A good squirt of lime cuts through the richness.
Price: $8.75 for three
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Arabe
Restaurant: Ixca Mexican Kitchen5537 E. Washington St., 317-986-4154
The Goods: Tender strips of pork marinated in oregano and cumin are swaddled in a chewy, warm flour tortilla and topped with just a drizzle of peppery red sauce. The simplicity of the construction allows the Lebanese-influenced flavors in the marinade to shine—think shawarma meets taco. Plan to order more than one.
Price: $3
Heat Scale: Medium

Taco: Lengua
Restaurant: El Palenque2313 Conner St., Noblesville, 317-770-1972
The Goods: Cubed beef tongue is slow-cooked to a nearly silky texture, then seasoned and seared on the restaurant’s diner-style flattop until the meat crisps slightly at the edges. The warm bits are tucked into double tortillas.
Price: $2.99
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Carnitas Supremos
Restaurant: El Calamares — 420 S. Sherman Dr., 317-356-2112
The Goods: Tender, shredded slow-braised pork is ladled on thick, soft corn tortillas and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese. Grab extra napkins and lean over the plate—this is one deliciously messy meal.
Price: $2.94
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Campechano
Restaurant: Chris’ Ice Cream — 1405 E. 86th St., 317-255-2156
The Goods: Cubed steak is mixed with chorizo and served on doubled-up warm corn tortillas and topped with cilantro, onion, and shredded lettuce. Get the layer of queso between the tortillas for added flavor and structure, and put the squeeze bottles of  spicy red and mild verde salsas to good use.
Price: $3.19
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Labio
Restaurant: Birrieria Ocotlan — 2720 Southeastern Ave., 317-916-2942; 4040 N. High School Rd., 317-820-5858
The Goods: If you’re feeling adventurous, the labio (that’s Spanish for lip) tacos at this buzzing lunch spot are filled with buttery pieces of braised beef richer than Louis XIV. Traditional onion, cilantro, and lime toppings lighten the heavy flavors.
Price: $2.25
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Short Rib
Restaurant: Bakersfield Mass Ave334 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-6962
The Goods: The tiny handmade corn tortilla can barely contain all of the toppings: crumbles of queso fresco, slivered onions and radishes, and a final flourish of crema. But the meat’s beefy flavor is itself a condiment, elevating this cute tequila-chaser to a prime bite.
Price: $4
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Eduardo
Restaurant: Sangrita Saloon834 E. 64th St., 317-377-4779
The Goods: A rare standout in the fried-taco field, the Broad Ripple tequila bar’s crema-topped cruncher has a savory filling of chorizo melded with sweetly wilted poblano peppers. A stretch of queso blanco is the integral ingredient in every bite.
Price: $5.50
Heat Scale: Medium

Taco: Trap Taco
Restaurant: Chef Oya’s The Trap3355 N. Keystone Ave., 317-762-6172
The Goods: With boiled and “butta”-smothered shrimp as the base for grilled pineapple, cilantro, and red onions, this foil-wrapped Taco Tuesday special is best described as a full-face experience. That moist towelette tucked in with your paper napkin and plasticware comes  in handy, even if you take the Styrofoam container back to the  office instead of digging into it right there on the single picnic  table outside this walk-up Florida-style seafood-boil stand.
Price: $2
Heat Scale: Medium

Taco: Pastor
Restaurant: Tortas Guicho — 641 Virginia Ave., 317-658-0735
The Goods: Pork is marinated in pineapple juice and then tossed in a tangy, pineapple-infused red sauce. Once the mixture is dolloped onto warm, doubled-up corn tortillas, it is topped with freshly minced red onion and cilantro.
Price: $2.50
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Chorizo
Restaurant: Los Chilaquiles4930 Lafayette Rd., 317-293-1111
The Goods: Finely ground Mexican sausage bursts with flavor. The texture pairs well with the crunch of a hard corn tortilla shell that definitely didn’t come out of a box.
Price: $2.20
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: T’s Chipotle
Restaurant: MOFOCO72 W. New York St., 317-744-8530
The Goods: Heaped into double corn tortillas, the seared cod, chipotle aioli, cabbage, pico, and guac of this taco have such subtle, balanced flavors that the whole thing benefits from a splash of the fire-roasted salsa served on the side. They arrive in an aluminum tray for a reason—they’re messy.
Price: $11 for two
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Tandori Taco with Chicken Tikki
Restaurant: Spice Box222 E. Market St., 317-974-9210
The Goods: Take everything we love about Indian cuisine, give it a fun crossover presentation, and City Market’s Spice Box has a breakout hit with its tandori tacos: roasted chicken marinated in curry spices, wrapped in roti (think naan tortillas) and combined with garbanzo beans, crunchy red onions, and basmati rice. Spring for the “spice rice” dollar add-on. Just make sure to have that mango lassi at the ready for heat control.
Price: $9 for two
Heat Scale: Medium

Taco: Asada
Restaurant: Taco & Burrito Place — 4102 N. Keystone Ave., 317-546-3420
The Goods: Nestled in a small strip of secondhand-furniture shops and auto-parts stores sits this barebones joint with a limited menu and neighborly staff. The highlight here is the savory steak taco, wonderfully delicate and served atop two corn tortillas. Ask for limes to squeeze over the meat.
Price: $2
Heat Scale: Hot

Taco: Vietnamese Tacos
Restaurant: Chao Vietnamese Street Food7854 E. 96th St., 317-622-8820
The Goods: Playing up the striking yin/yang of Vietnamese cuisine, Chao’s softly wrapped tacos place pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, spicy mayo, and avocado cream sauce over caramelized pork belly. The plate is as pretty as it is delicious.
Price: $4.25
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Suadero
Restaurant: Paco’s Taqueria — 4390 N. Keystone Ave., 317-377-4132
The Goods: The humble taco should celebrate comfort food, making the most out of the least, yet exuding flavor and love. No taco blends this philosophy better than the braised-pork variety from Paco’s Taqueria. Here, pork is given a smooth, velvety texture (akin to juicy pulled pork) thanks to a long, slow braise that ends up on a pair of corn tortillas looking like a Sunday roast with a touch of heat on the finish.
Price: $2.49
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Al Pastor
Restaurant: Pancho’s Mexican Taqueria9658 Allisonville Rd., 317-585-8427
The Goods: Upon retrieving your tacos from the counter, you might be tempted to hurry off to one of the dozen or so tables to devour the meaty morsels stacked high on double corn tortillas. This would be a mistake, cheating yourself out of the fun of a toppings bar that offers up diced onions, cilantro, red radishes, limes, and salsas from the mild pico de gallo to the XXX hot salsa habanera. The real treat is the sweet pineapple goodness that accompanies the chili-marinated pork and onions, all of which have been cooked on a spit, shawarma style.
Price: $2.99
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Lengua
Restaurant: Gil Tacos — 1665 S. Lynhurst Dr., 317-992-9046
The Goods: Dressed in the traditional style of onions and cilantro, the tongue tacos at this 10-seat establishment tucked inside a former Dairy Queen are unbelievably flavorful and packed with soft, sensual tenderness.
Price: $2.75
Heat Scale: Medium

Taco: Mole
Restaurant: Indy Tacos2196 E. 54th St., 317-929-1424
The Goods: Rich mole chicken sits atop two corn tortillas, smothered by a mix of cilantro, onions, rice, and fresco cheese. The plate also includes bits of cucumber, radish, and a couple of slices of lime.
Price: $3
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Tesla Taco
Restaurant: Roscoe’s Tacos642 S. Madison Ave., Greenwood, 317-859-0043
The Goods: The combination of a crunchy corn shell and ribbons of succulent, slow-cooked shredded beef places this unapologetically no-nonsense version of the Mexican snack squarely in the American canon. Add a splash of one of the six house hot sauces, offered in ascending order  of firepower—from the sweet Cincinnati City Slicker to the esophageal-scorching Lava.
Price: $3.29
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Pork Belly
Restaurant: Livery720 N. College Ave., 317-383-0330
The Goods: This sophisticated layering of fatty-crisp slips of pork, pickled carrot, stashes of poblano crema and hot chipotle barbecue sauce, and a smear of black bean purée all contained in one warm, sturdy corn shell is well-worth the serious side-chomp.
Price: $13 for two
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Jackfruit
Restaurant: Tlaolli2830 E. Washington St., 317-410-9507
The Goods: Vegetarians have warmed to the unripe flesh of this tropical fruit that, when cooked, has the texture of pulled pork. At this tiny Mexican cafe just east of downtown, the jackfruit “meat” is tossed in a barbecue-like sauce and folded into the soft shell with avocado and pickled red onion.
Price: $4
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Tacos Vegetarianos
Restaurant: Festiva1217 E. 16th St., 317-635-444
The Goods: A harvest of roasted veggies fills this well-composed taco threesome brought out on a paper-lined metal tray. Luscious nibs of achiote butternut squash meld with cauliflower, corn, pumpkin seeds, and seasoned rice. The flavor is punctuated with habanero salsa and pickled onion, and softened asadero provides the requisite cheesy stretch.
Price: $15 for three
Heat Scale: Mild

Taco: Coco Cabana
Restaurant: Salty Cowboy55 E. Oak St., Zionsville, 317-344-0926
The Goods: Toasted coconut puts an exotic spin on the far-north hangout’s fried-cod taco that gets an added layer of flavor from sweet chili sauce. Pineapple-jalapeño salsa kicks up the heat.
Price: $5.50
Heat Scale: Medium

Taco: Salmon
Restaurant: Nook15 E. Maryland St., 317-759-3554
The Goods: Clean eaters gravitate toward the almond-flour tortillas that encase the tacos at downtown’s source for Paleo-friendly foods. The fillings range from lamb to Angry Shrimp, with this version plump with a hunk of gingerly cooked salmon dressed impeccably with avocado, cilantro, Napa cabbage, and pico. Avocado crema pulls all of the flavors together.
Price: $12
Heat Scale: Medium

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