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All Over the Map: Michigan Road's Ethnic Eats

With its selection of multicultural restaurants, Michigan Road’s busy northwestside corridor could be your new international lunch or dinner destination—or maybe the next Lafayette Road.
Leonardo’s Mexican Food
Mexican
A 24-hour cantina with a drive-thru, Leonardo’s sets the bar for fast-food Mexican and dine-in carne asada, green-chile chicken, and breakfast served all day. 8431 Michigan Rd., 317-337-9022
 
Tamaleria Lupitas
Mexican
Don’t let this unadorned shotgun shop fool you. The friendly staff serves up some of the creamiest, most flavorful tamales in town, especially the deeply savory chicken-mole recipe and a spicy green pork version, served in the husks they’re steamed in. Tortas and tacos are also available. 8335 Michigan Rd., 317-334-0311
 
Sarita’s Pollo
Mexican
Well-charred whole chickens—as well as steaks, chops, and other rib-sticking dishes—come with sides of rich, bacon-filled charros beans and buttery green onions at this family-run grill. 7853 Michigan Rd., 317-492-9770
 
Pupuseria Casa Maria
El Salvadoran
This humble storefront offers one of the better introductions to Salvadoran cuisine in the city. Pupusas (masa cakes filled with pork, beans, or cheese) are a must, but don’t miss the tipico casamiento, an outsize platter of fried yuca, crispy pork, and plantains. 7363 Michigan Rd., 317-347-0193
 
China Kitchen
Chinese and Thai
In addition to a solid array of takeout staples, there are six versions of pad Thai, including a “house special” bowl brimming with ingredients from beef to shrimp. Dumplings and crunchy roast-pork egg rolls are good bets as well. 7143 Michigan Rd., 317-808-0222
 

 
Pho 54
Vietnamese
A 2013 makeover and revised menu made this colorful Vietnamese restaurant a much more atmospheric stop for steaming bowls of pho, fresh spring rolls, lemongrass chicken, and very respectable banh mi. 7280 Michigan Rd., 317-298-9001
 
Tropicalismo Restaurant and Lounge
Caribbean
A club-like atmosphere serves as a backdrop to authentic Dominican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican dishes such as mofongo, an island standard of mashed fried plantains mixed here with bits of chicken skin or seafood. Come back on Fridays for karaoke. 7862 Michigan Rd., 317-672-3549
 
El Pastorcito
Mexican
Tortillas are stuffed with every meat imaginable, from flank steak to goat to brain, at this cozy taco joint. Try the queso with chips, which comes with three salsas, and save your appetite for the Cubano torta, a kitchen-sink sandwich with plentiful grilled meats, including chopped hot dogs. 7876 Michigan Rd., 317-872-5676
 
La Casa De Los Mariscos
Mexican
Hailing from Mexico’s west-coast state of Nayarit, the owners bring the flavors of the sea to dishes such as bacon-wrapped shrimp and tilapia with a bubbling topping of cheese, squid, and shrimp. 7940 Michigan Rd., 317-228-9555
 
Antojitos Domy
Mexican
This cheery spot offers a variety of a la carte items such as sopas and gorditas. Daring diners can try beef brain or tongue tacos, as well as a rich and flavorful menudo—tripe soup—when available. 7940 Michigan Rd., 317-471-8455

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.
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