Friday, April 10, 2009

Food: El Indio

When I review a restaurant, I tend to factor in the location quite a bit. After all, it's one thing to operate a decent Jewish delicatessen in Boca Raton, Florida; it's quite another to run it in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. If a restaurant is at least better than its peers in the region, then I don't hold it against the proprietors if better examples exist where there is more demand for the type of food it serves.

So it goes with El Indio, a taco stand located on 13th Street in Gainesville, just a little north of the 13th/University intersection. In an absolute sense, El Indio isn't very good. I know I could get a fish taco that's probably worlds better if I were in La Jolla, but for Gainesville, the battered-and-fried whitefish that occupies El Indio's version will have to do.

And it really isn't that bad, especially considering the prices. For a dime or two more than the equivalent at the local Taco Bell, you can get a much better ground beef taco with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. El Indio also has a lot of vegetarian options - you can get either standard "veggie" tacos or burritos or swap out the meat of a regular dish with tempeh. The highlight of my visit was the apple burrito, sort of a cross between an apple pie and a burrito. It's a sizable portion of fresh-tasting apple pie filling inside a cinnamon-topped fried tortilla, and it's only two bucks.

One thing to be mindful of - it's a true taco stand and there is no indoor seating, so on a rainy day you're relegated to takeout unless you want to huddle under an umbrella at one of the picnic tables. Also, at nighttime that specific area of town isn't the greatest spot to be (one of my friends actually had a gun pointed at him near the Krispy Kreme across the street) so sitting outside chomping on a taco might not be the smartest idea.

2/4 stars


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