Introducing Madera Tex-Mex BBQ & Tap

A spread of Texas-style barbecued brisket and sides at Madera Tex-Mex BBQ

Megan Maguire

Saddled with the challenge of delivering authentic Texas barbecue to the hungry hordes, local restaurant veterans Peter Watson and Jeff Hammel embarked on several research trips to the Lone Star state. What followed for the industry journeymen was a 2-year formulation that culminated in the recent opening of Madera Tex-Mex BBQ in the former GT South’s location near 71st Street and Binford on the northeast side.

Utilizing Indiana-sourced beef and pork as well as a custom-produced cheddar cheese and jalapeño sausage by Smoking Goose, the restaurant emphasizes authentic flavors steeped in techniques honed on backyard smokers and visits to Texas institutions like Franklin Barbecue. Everything is made in-house, from the chipotle mustard barbecue sauce to the tomatillo-serrano salsa right down to the soft, chewy flour tortillas that encase the expertly smoked carnitas tacos.

Kids will love the decadently rich, golden yellow mac and cheese topped with Frito corn chips while adults will gravitate to the Frito Loco, a pulled-pork and chopped-brisket sandwich on a Martin Potato Roll imported from Texas and topped with Fritos, jalapeños, and hot barbecue sauce, a nod to walking tacos, the concession stand favorite. But the showstopper is the beef brisket smoked up to 16 hours using red and white oak wood in a behemoth all-wood industrial smoker that Watson believes can hold approximately 70 briskets. Perfectly juicy and tender, the meat falls apart with the most delicate of force; a true sign of the care and passion for the craft. Served by the pound on butcher paper-lined trays, the brisket, offered lean, fatty, or a combination of the two, is plated with housemade pickles and red onions that pair perfectly with smokey charro beans or creamy potato salad.

Lined with rust-toned cushioned benches and heavy on the longhorn furnishings with rustic decor, the restaurant is split evenly between a family-friendly 100-seat restaurant and a bar, where playful takes on traditional cocktails like the Moscow Mule Via Austin Texas made with Tito’s vodka, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice share equal billing with a rotating tap list that features Bier Brewery and Three Floyds.

One last thing before you go: While it looks similar to a Portuguese island that shares its name with a type of wine (Madeira: mad-deer-ah), Madera is pronounced “mad-er-ah,” which is Spanish for wood.

Madera Tex-Mex BBQ

5711 E. 71st Street
Indianapolis, IN 46220

Gallery (Photography by Megan Maguire):