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Cholita Brings Tasty Tacos & Top-Notch Tiki Bar to Broad Ripple

Writer / Jon Shoulders

Photographer / Amy Payne

Chez Roberts, general manager at Cholita on Broad Ripple Avenue, says his restaurant has begun to fill a much-needed niche in midtown.

Roberts describes the establishment, which officially opened November 9, as an upscale yet casual Los Angeles-themed taqueria, complete with a tiki bar on the downstairs level that offers a full bar and specialty house cocktails.

“It’s sort of like an ongoing party in here where you can feel the fun vibe, but it’s not too loud,” he says. “It’s sort of an upscale but relaxed thing. We want people to feel comfortable and it’s somewhat casual, but we still want to provide exceptional service and help everyone have a good time.”

Owners Michael Cranfill and Bob Kort developed the concept and decided to purchase the property at 1001 Broad Ripple Avenue late last spring, embarking on a relatively quick physical turnaround of the space, which seats 65 inside and 30 on an exterior front deck area, before the official opening in November.

“It was a fast transition for all of us,” Roberts recalls. “There was no major renovation or build-out at all. We used what there was here, with the bar in the center, and just put our own aesthetic to it. So we saved some time and money that way, but we still put a lot of money into making it what it is now.”

The kitchen staff serves up their taco selection starting with made-from-scratch tortillas and puts together creative topping combinations to make each taco unique, from the Baja (beer-battered cod with pico and slaw) to the Al Pastor (marinated and fire-roasted pork with chipotle salsa and pineapple) to the Hawaiano (pork, ham and bacon with salsa verde, pineapple and caramelized onion).

Appetizers include queso fundido, chips and salsa, Indiana pork guacamole, Tostilocos, which comes with Doritos, queso, hot sauce, pico and barbecue carnitas, and more.

“Our Baja taco is one of our highest sellers right now,” Roberts says. “Our queso fundido appetizer has really done well, too. It’s not your typical queso that you can get at any taqueria, and you can get it with chorizo or mushrooms.”

The TikiTiki Lounge located in the building’s basement level is geared toward the 30s-and-up crowd according to Roberts, and offers an extensive drink menu with specialty cocktails like the Cholita Margarita, which includes tequila, agave nectar, orange and lime or the La Blanquita, which comes with mezcal, crème de cacao, coconut creme and lemon.

“We have a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights as well down there, but it’s not a club type of feel — the music’s not extremely loud and it’s more of a lounge to just hang out and chill on sofas down there, and get drinks and an appetizer with a group of friends if you want,” he adds.

Roberts says his team is optimistic about flourishing in Broad Ripple for many years, despite operating in a space that has been occupied by multiple tenants in recent years, including 10-01 Food & Drink and, more recently, Good Conduct and Miss Behavin, which served as a restaurant, lounge and weekend night club.

“I came here often to Good Conduct and Miss Behavin, and I loved it,” Roberts says. “They had a great bar setup but I don’t think they were as focused on the food aspect. We’re trying to hit both, and we’re going to do everything we can to stick around.”

In its first few months of operation, Roberts says midtown locals have thus far fully embraced the Cholita concept — residents and fellow proprietors alike.

“We’ve been really well received by the area, and people seem to be really excited about us being here,” he says. “A lot of local business owners have been over here to have dinner. I’ve been around Broad Ripple for 25-plus years, and it’s always kind of felt like a big friendly neighborhood. It feels like a family around here and we feel that at the restaurant.”

Cholita is located at 1001 Broad Ripple Avenue in Indianapolis. Call 317-389-5555 or visit cholitatacos.com for more information including menus and details on private event packages.

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