Cristiano Rodrigues and Elizabeth Fernandez, owners of Fernando's Mexican & Brazilian Cuisine. (Photos by Michael Durr)

A Cross-Culture Success

At Fernando’s Mexican & Brazilian Cuisine, the family-focused atmosphere starts with the name on the window, and continues throughout the restaurant and into the kitchen.

Cristiano Rodrigues and Elizabeth Fernandez’s restaurant is about to celebrate their one-year anniversary in the heart of Broad Ripple.

Opening Fernando’s has been a dream for Rodrigues since he moved to the United States. When he and his mom first moved to the U.S., they worked as dishwashers at a restaurant and were frequent Broad Ripple visitors.

“The Broad Ripple crowd is always very open to new things and new foods,” he said. “It was also important for me to be centered so Brazilian people that want to come can access our food. I am able to showcase different dishes from Brazil.”

Rodrigues is from Brazil, while Fernandez is from Mexico. The restaurant is named after their son, Fernando, and the menu is a cultural collaboration of traditional Brazilian and Mexican foods.

Fernando’s Mexican & Brazilian Cuisine All of the Brazilian menu items are recipes from Rodrigues’ mom, who is also the executive chef at Fernando’s. On the Mexican side, the cooks have freedom to create new dishes that they grew up eating.

“We have regulars who come once a week, so it’s been great to build a family-like culture,” Fernandez said. “That’s what we’ve always wanted – to be more like a family and not just a restaurant to come eat at.”

Best sellers include picanha, a prime part of top sirloin that isn’t easy to find in central Indiana but is very popular in Brazil. It’s served with Brazilian white rice and Brazilian black beans. Chicken stroganoff, chicken azteca and shrimp tacos are also well-loved by customers.

All of the red meat and chicken is sourced from Indiana-based farms.

“I enjoy exposing people to Brazilian food and the culture, and seeing people’s reaction as they try things for the first time,” Rodrigues said. “I get satisfaction out of teaching people. We aim to show people that Mexican food doesn’t have to be cheap and fast. Mexican food can also be made gourmet and from scratch with quality ingredients.”

“I enjoy meeting new people and getting to talk to families,” Fernandez said. “It has been fun trying to get people to try new things and pushing them to not get their normal comfort food. People love trying new things.”

The couple said Fernando already wants to be at the host stand, and they are hoping to build something for him as he grows up.

“If restaurants aren’t the thing for him, we’ll be OK with that, but we just want him to have that financial freedom that we didn’t get as immigrants to this country,” Fernandez said.

In March, Fernando’s was the only Indiana restaurant named to Yelp’s list of the “top 25 hot and new women-owned restaurants to visit in 2024.”

“It was very humbling,” Fernandez said. “I didn’t expect that at all and I didn’t know what to say except, ‘Wow, we did it.’ Every day is a new adventure and we take it for what it is.”

Fernando’s also has a full bar and mocktail menu. All desserts, such as the flan, are also made from scratch.

The restaurant is located at 834 East 64th Street in Indianapolis, and opens each day at 11 a.m.

The restaurant is located at 834 East 64th Street in Indianapolis, and opens each day at 11 a.m. They can be reached at 317-377-4779 or through Facebook.

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