- Griffin Swartzell
- Tripe tacos pop as a great example of Mexican street eats.
Someone first pointed out The Fiesta Grill to me at a food truck gathering back in October. I was told that small windows in a mostly chrome façade above racks of chips and candies — a mix of American and Mexican — foretold good eats. This was no lie. Fiesta Grill recently placed third in the Small Business Week Food Truck Cook-Off, with judges including five-star Broadmoor chefs (and my Indy food colleague). A little over a year in, The Fiesta Grill serves up a variety of sumptuous bites in ready-to-go foam boxes. Price point has a lot to do with expectation in food, and this truck's dishes mostly land in the $6 range. But the quality speaks to the everything-from-scratch family recipes owner/chef Jorge Perez's father refined in restaurants across Mexico and Central America. Make no mistake, this is way more than just fast food Mexican gone mobile.
Seven meat options are dished any of nine ways, composing the bulk of the menu. Carne asada, for instance, pops with lively lime in a torta otherwise notable for creamy beans and bread that falls apart as it's eaten. Mercifully, it comes wrapped before it lands in the foam, so it should survive a trip to your table or picnicking spot of choice. Along similar lines, well-seasoned adobada stands proud in a big burrito stuffed with beans, rice and a little corn, also wrapped before hitting a box.
Soft tacos are totally viable for delivering chewy tripe under chopped cabbage, onions and cilantro alongside lime wedges, refried beans and rice. Go more conventional with a chicken quesadilla, a stronger option than one might think due to the thoroughly seasoned chicken that stands out through heavy cheese. They also come with Baja-style pickled carrots that start off with great acidity and finish with absorbed jalapeño zing.
Or get adventurous with a lengua gordita, which sees rich and tender tongue meat under tomatoes, lettuce and onions on a centimeter-thick fried corn tortilla-like patty. It's made from masa and soybean oil, a departure from traditional lard or popular shortening, which Perez says he chose as a healthier option for his customers. Chicharrón also fills a gordita to satisfaction, smoky and porky though the moist veg dampens most of the crunch. For a regional variation, try a mulita, basically a mini quesadilla with meat and cheese grilled between corn tortillas. This northern Mexican bite makes a fine vehicle for your meat of choice, but my carnitas were buried, flavor-wise — though I won't say no to the pickled carrots that show up here too, thank you kindly. Either way, a generous $2.50 cup of horchata lands thick as milk, sweet and ready to cut unwanted spice burn or just refresh.
Perez also makes his own fries, cut daily. We tried them as wild fries, served under buffalo sauce, a housemade cheese sauce, jalapeños, red onions and cilantro. It's fine as a spicy gut bomb, but maybe order something else if you have a long drive, as these fries go hard fast when they get cold. They're fine also as part of the paquetón, which Urban Dictionary says is slang for "a bunch of things." In this case, it's a cheeseburger-and-fries combo, the patty cooked through and piled with enough cheese, chopped tomato and sour cream to cover any dry. It feels out of place, given the context of solid Mexi-bites, but it's good to see that Perez doesn't slouch anywhere on his menu.