On a recent Saturday my Son & I were hanging out at the house while the girls were shopping. Although I already knew the answer, I asked him where we should go for lunch. “Tijuana Flats” was his immediate answer.
Located just East of I-69 on the north side of 96th St. Tijuana Flats has been our regular go to place when we want to add a little spice to our day. I can almost guarantee, when asked, my son will choose this place over everything else (except maybe Yat’s and Sam’s Gyro’s). This is an “order at the counter and we’ll bring it out” kind of place and service is usually pretty fast even during the busy lunch hour.
Tijuana Flats has an upbeat atmosphere and a very friendly, attentive, staff. Signed celebrity pictures line one wall and a huge mural along the other shows some of the local landmarks. If you look up there are all kinds of decorations on the ceiling tiles as well. Just about every visible surface in this place has had some kind of funky treatment done to it.
One of the things this place is known for is the “Hot Sauce Bar” that features a rotating selection of over a dozen sauces. From silly sweet to “why did I do that?” hot, and everything in between. Sauce heat levels are noted on the placard with a Mr. Yuck style smiley face. The more unhappy the sticker, the higher the potential for your unhappiness.
The menu has the normal assortment of Tacos, Burritos, Nacho’s etc. Meats include Ground Beef, Chicken (blacken/grilled), Pork and Steak (and Veg if you’re into that kind of thing), I don’t think we’ve ever have had anything we didn’t like. I’ve always been partial to the Steak Soft Tacos with “everything”. Everything in this case includes Lettuce, Onion, Sour Cream, Black Olives, and freshly slices jalapenos. Those fresh jalapenos add a great crunch and spice to the taco. A little hot sauce rounds out the flavors of the dish.
Other items I suggest you try are the Nachos, and Quesadillas. My daughter ordered a Chicken Chimichanga once and was really happy with it too. The Tacos come with a side of tortilla chips and other entrées come with rice and/or beans. I recommend getting a side of Queso to go with your chips or, if you want, use the chips to “test” all of the various sauces. The Tortilla chips are always fresh & I think they might make them in-house. When we first started going to Tijuana Flats the chips were VERY heavily seasoned with salt and garlic powder (almost too much). Since then the seasoning has been adjusted and, in my opinion, it’s just right.
On this visit we both went for the Dos Steak Tacos, mine fully loaded his sans olives and jalapenos. I choose soft flour tortillas and my son went for the crunchy corn shell option. Coke products with free refills as well as Beer and Wine are available to wash it all down.
I always want to order the Tres Tacos but I’m afraid it might be too much food. As usual our food was brought out quickly. We just sat down from our visit to the hot sauce bar when my name was called. Our tacos were as fresh as always but interestingly they are never very hot (temperature hot). I’m attributing it to the amount of cold toppings being added to the meat. After drizzling an ounce or two of our favorite sauce we dove in.
The taste was exactly as I remembered it. This place is very consistent (pretty easy to be with this particular item). The lettuce and cheese take up a lot of the taco with the slices jalapenos scattered throughout. A double meat option would be nice (maybe there is one but I have not seen it). I would also like to see a few more chips on in the basket because I always run out before i can make a serious dent in the queso.
The total for our lunch was around $23 including drinks and a small tip at the counter. This is not Taco Bell food so don’t expect $0.99 prices. Unfortunately this location is the only Tijuana Flats in Indiana. Other locations (72 as of today) include Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
If you find yourself around 96th St and I-69 and need something to eat, this is one of many places in the area that will take good care of you and send you out the door with a full belly.