The restaurant black hole that has claimed the culinary lives of Taverna, Khory’s, and Jerusalem Restaurant is now home to Luciana’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina (1850 Broad Ripple Ave., 820-5377), a promising, uncomplicated eatery already bustling in its early weeks.
Our visit found a friendly waitstaff, lively interior and a slow-ish kitchen serving up a relatively simple, surprise-free menu. Rather than try to overload with toppings, for instance, Luciana’s idea of Chicken Nachos ($5.25/$6.50) translates to simple curls of grilled poultry with a coating of melted cheese. The result was, indeed, appetizing, but given the complimentary chips and spicy salsa already on the table, it was a trifle redundant. The Chicken Soup ($7.25) was more ambitious, with avocado blending nicely with the chicken, rice and broth. A shame it isn’t available in a smaller portion, though.
Texas Fajitas ($13.25) arrived appropriately sizzling, with marinated beef, chicken and shrimp grilled together with peppers, onion and ample portions of tomato. The Cancun Especial ($9.75) put emphasis on the sour cream sauce, which bathed chicken strips, onions, tomato and bell pepper. I had to do some draining before taking leftovers home.
While hardly gourmetor adventurous, the quality was a notch above most boilerplate Mexican places I’ve tried, albeit a notch higher in price. The requisite combo platters run $8.25 to $8.99, with an octet of Mexican beers ($3.75) and Margaritas available in multiple sizes from the regular 16 ounce ($5.25) to the Texas Large Pitcher ($19.75). Kick in another 50 cents to $1 for strawberry, mango, peach or raspberry flavoring.•