Heaven on Thursdays: Thai Taste in Castleton

I love Thai food, or at least the Thai food I have had. I’ll admit, though,  I get intimidated when I look at the menu and the names sound similar and the ingredients sound the same in every dish and I always just wind up ordering green curry.  But I’m not willing to order something different, spend $12 and have a meal I don’t like.  So green curry it is, time after time.

A Thai buffet is something I had never heard of and probably would have avoided even if I knew of one.  However, this one:  1.  Was recommended highly to me by my landlady 2.  Is only a buffet one night a week and 3.  Was too irresistible of a concept to ignore.  In Castleton right next to Penzey Spices AND Trader Joe’s (!!!), this is a tiny restaurant in a strip mall that fills up fast on Thursdays when they have the buffet.  The staff are very very friendly and the atmosphere is cozy.  Photo Sep 19, 7 07 45 PMPhoto Sep 12, 6 54 05 PM

As tantalizing as the idea of being able to eat ten Thai dishes plus unlimited spring rolls, lemongrass Tom Yum soup, and coconut milk pudding may sound, if the food quality is lacking, I would just rather not.  Happily, not only was the variety of dishes superb, but the quality and flavor were the best I have had in Indianapolis so far.  (This is limited to my previous haunts: Siam Square, Thai Kitchen, and Sawasdee.)    If I had to pick one dish of the 20 or so I sampled to eliminate, I would be hard-pressed.  The buffet was $12 or $13 and absolutely no fillers-this is all meat and vegetables in flavorful sauce.

Some selections:  Photo Sep 19, 7 10 00 PMPud Thai with chicken, Pud Kra Prow with chicken.  Photo Sep 19, 7 37 35 PMSquid with chili paste, Pud Kra Prow ground pork, and Pepper Beef

Photo Sep 12, 7 17 58 PMTom Yum with chicken, a favorite for it’s strong lemon grass flavor and mild heat.

Photo Sep 12, 7 06 45 PMMussels with chili paste, Stir Fried Beef with vegetables

I know I write all the time about places I like to eat but the proof is in the pudding with this one:  I have been back 3 times in the 2 weeks since I have known the wonders of Thai Taste (once for takeout and twice for the buffet) and have each time been blown away by how flavorful the food is and how packed with meat and vegetables it is for the price.  And hey, if you have to wait for a table you can always explore Penzey Spices next door!

Note:  The buffet is every Thursday night, but the first Thursday of each month is all vegetarian food!  Otherwise, most dishes have meat in them, although you could pick it out easily if your crowd is mixed with carnivores. Whatever night you go, be prepared to force yourself to stop eating.  It’s that good.

http://Thai Taste on Urbanspoon

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La Parada: Great Mexican Close to Downtown

I love Mexican food, theoretically.  I have periodic cravings where I imagine myself chomping on delicious chips and downing margaritas and being happy.  Then I go and order something and I get a plate where the soupy bland beans plop out onto the plate and mix with rice that’s red but tastes like nothing and my taco makes me wish I had just gone to a tacqueria.  Like, every time.  So when Frequent Foodie Friend Christina told me La Parada was different, I was cynical.  My hopes had just…they’d been dashed so many times before.  I’m happy to report that she was once again correct-La Parada is different.  I now have a place for Mexican.

The restaurant is just east of downtown, near Flat 12 and Sun King breweries.  It is in a bright building on New York St but is little bit hard to spot because it sits in a strip mall behind the building it occupied until recently.  So keep those eyes open.  Also, the one flaw I found is that they serve beer and wine, but no liquor-so margaritas must be consumed before or after eating here.  I’d recommend after, because you want to be sober for this food.  The inside is cheery and full of bright, painted,carved-wood booths.

The salsa that comes to every table is quite delicious here.  I’m embarassingly spice intolerant, but this was perfect.  Photo Jul 24, 6 18 32 PM

Christina swore up and down we HAD to get the choriqueso dip and she was completely right.  Ignore the little islands of grease on a cask of salty, cheesy, sausagey goodness, this was the best queso I’ve had in a long time.  We cleaned the dish.  Photo Jul 24, 6 23 36 PM

I also tried a steak taco, just to see what the tacos were like because they were only $1.75.  As it turns out, I wouldn’t come back for the tacos.  Nothing was wrong with them, per se, but nothing was special either, and I have plenty of places I love for tacos.  You can’t argue with that amount of meat, though.Photo Jul 24, 6 29 39 PM

The other showstopper of the night was the carne asada platter with shrimp, which we split and did not finish.  The roast onions and peppers, the shrimp in a mild cheesey sauce, the soft flour tortillas, it was ALL great.  This was it!  This is exactly what I am looking for when I crave Mexican!  Photo Jul 24, 6 29 06 PM

I came back a few weeks later with my partner in crime, and guess what we ordered?  Photo Aug 09, 8 22 39 PMIt was just too good not to get again.  This time, for good measure, I tried the elotes, and they were the best I have had in Indianapolis.  I was in heaven.  Photo Aug 09, 8 21 08 PM

I am thrilled to have finally found a place in Indianapolis where I can scratch my Mexican food itch.  There are probably more that are decent like this, but La Parada is now my place.  These guys like it, too.  Photo Sep 14, 5 51 22 PMhttp://La Parada on Urbanspoon

Three Sisters for Beautiful Broadripple Brunch

An old friend was in town visiting recently and I needed a good brunch place he hadn’t tried before to entice future visits.  Indianapolis is a brunch-lover’s paradise:  Patachou, Good Morning Mama, Zest, Taste, and oodles of other places compete for your Saturday mornings.  I never cease to be surprised with the creativity these places bring to breakfast food, and 3 Sisters is no exception.

Housed literally in a Victorian 2-story in the heart of Broadripple, 3 Sisters offers cozy food in a cozy environment.Their menu boasts it’s vegetarian-friendly options, and although breakfast is always veg-friendly, the number of meat-free sandwiches they offer for lunch (ten) is impressive.

3-sisters-store-300x225

We visited for breakfast, which is served all day.  The wait wasn’t too bad on a perfect Saturday morning, but the service was honestly on the low end of decent.  Our server was a young girl who was barely friendly and only visited our table once after the food came.  However, the food more than compensated for the perpetual emptiness of my coffee cup.

The make-your-own omelette with mushrooms, bacon, and peppers was on the mediocre side of standard.  Photo Aug 18, 11 24 48 AM

Scrambled eggs with swiss cheese, mushrooms, and green peppers received similar reviews:  Nothing spectacular, but very decent scrambled eggs and toast.  Photo Aug 18, 11 25 06 AM

One interesting menu item was the “calico” hashbrowns made from half sweet potato, half russet.  They needed a healthy shake of salt, but they were delicious and different.  Photo Aug 18, 11 25 15 AM

The showstopper of the morning in my mind were the lemon corncakes with fresh seasonal berries.  Mine were made with blackberries and blueberries and served with my choice of berry sauce or lemon curd.  I am a lemon curd fanatic and was thrilled by the amount I received-probably 8 oz of tart and vibrant goo!  I’d never had cornmeal pancakes and these were a wonderful first encounter-crunchy cornmeal texture without being mushy or heavy.  Photo Aug 18, 11 26 54 AM

Overall, 3 Sisters proved to be a solid place for breakfast food and a wonderful place for their specialty items.  I will definitely stop in again to try more of the menu. The atmosphere is wonderful and sunny and if you’re lucky, these guys might be waiting outside.  Photo Aug 18, 12 00 10 PM

http://3 Sisters Cafe on Urbanspoon