Thunder & Buttons
2415 W. Colorado Ave., 447-9888, thunderandbuttons.com
Everybody has off days. I happen to catch this longstanding OCC bar on one. I order a buffalo brat with elk chili ($9.99) and a snakebite ($5.50). The drink lands quickly enough, but the brat takes 35 minutes. That's ridiculous during lunch hours, especially from the place our readers awarded Best Wait Staff in the Indy's Best Of 2015. On my way out, I notice two large groups in the front, which partly explains the situation. Still, a heads-up for an unusually long wait would be nice.
That said, the food's still quality. My snakebite sees Breckenridge vanilla porter, on nitro, layered over Woodchuck Summer Time for a creamy, sweet sipper that could serve well with food or as dessert. The brat comes out in a too-large but slightly sweet bun slightly burnt on one end, with fries not cooked crisp. The sausage, though, is rich with a great snap, and the elk chili satisfies frontier-style. A little more chili might be nice, though. — GS
2810 S. Academy Blvd., #150, 390-6909, 2luchos.com
Much has changed since I first gushed about 2 Luchos upon its early 2015 opening. Mainly, the Cremidis family sold the shop and recipes to Durango, Mexico, natives Hector and Micaela Lopez a year ago. The Lopez family in turn shrunk the Peruvian offerings to the back page and introduced a Mexican menu. Alas, gone is the killer mesquite rotisserie chicken. But the Peruvian pork chop ($9.99 with two sides) remains a salty, juicy and hearty option, topped with red onions. Fried plantains and cassava fries make excellent, starchy complements.
From the Mexican menu, traditional sopes ($9.50) make a dense, pie-crust-like saucer out of masa, which gets filled with a protein (we opt for steak, also cooked to salty delight), lettuce, tomato, avocado and crema. Green chile helps combat dryness and masa flavor dominance. A pleasantly under-sweet house horchata ($2.25 includes one refill) cools the spice; expect alcohol options to join the menu soon. — MS
El Padrino Mexicano
13425 Voyager Pkwy., 487-2727, elpadrinos.com
Surrounded by ongoing construction, this sit-down restaurant glimmers like a fairly classy place. Its name translates to The Mexican Godfather, and the effort to provide a polished dining atmosphere reads clearly. It's a shame the food doesn't measure up to the eatery itself. The tequila lime chicken ($12.50) comes under a pleasant tequila-lime cream sauce, but the piece of chicken breast is a little dry. An accompanying stir-fry of bacon, zucchini, onions and peppers tastes pleasant enough, even if the bacon chunks end up chewy.
The appetizer mini fish tacos ($8.50) offend. Five tacos for the price sounds amazing, even with 4-inch tortillas, but do not be fooled. Under mountains of mostly-just-raw-cabbage slaw, the plate includes about enough french-fry-sized pieces of fish for two good tacos. Burnt, sandy coating doesn't do the pitiful portions any favors. But hey, first-time customers get complimentary sopapillas, and our server makes us feel appreciated. — GS