Sangrita Grill & Cantina Celebrates Grand Opening at the Fishers District
Writer / Ryan Kennedy Photographer / Amy Payne
Sangrita Grill & Cantina in Fishers District is bringing unique, modern, Mexican-style cuisine to the Fishers area.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s likely because the restaurant is owned by the same people who run Sangrita Saloon in Broad Ripple.
“We tweaked the name a little bit for Fishers,” says Tarek Mercho, who co-owns the restaurant with two partners. “We are Sangrita Grill & Cantina here in Fishers. Saloon is for the Broad Ripple location only because it’s definitely more of a saloon. This is more of a restaurant. I won’t say it’s not a bar too, but it has more of a family atmosphere here.”
Mercho owns the law firm Mercho Caughey, and has been a lawyer for 15 years.
“We got into the restaurant business about five years ago with our first location over there in Broad Ripple,” he says. “Food and drinks have always been a passion of mine. I’m kind of a foodie. We cut our teeth over in Broad Ripple and are now on to – we hope – bigger and greener pastures.”
Mercho says Mexican food is a personal passion of his – a passion, he says, that comes from a place people might not expect.
“I like Mexican food,” he says. “I’m actually Middle Eastern. Two of us in our ownership group are Lebanese and Syrian by descent. You wouldn’t know it, but if you actually research it, a lot of Mexican cuisine is influenced by the Middle East. Tacos al pastor and all of those things were kind of inspired by Lebanese culture. Gyros and Lebanese spit-fired food became prevalent and the South Americans, Mexicans and Central Americans ran with it. It’s got some crossover from our heritage.”
Mercho says market forces also played a role in the decision to open what he calls a modern, trendy Mexican restaurant.
“At the same time we were opening – and it’s kind of still going on – the super-premium tequila market was exploding,” he says. “It’s like red wine now. There are all these different brands, types, vintages and barrels and all. Tequila was exploding on the scene when we opened, and that helped drive us to the niche market that we thought was kind of missing in the Indianapolis market.”
What makes the restaurant different from other Mexican eateries around central Indiana, according to Mercho, is that Sangrita Grill & Cantina offers expected Mexican food in unexpected ways.
“Most people, at least in central Indiana, all say they go to a Mexican restaurant like an El Rodeo or a La Hacienda – which, not knocking those restaurants at all – and expect a certain decor and a certain type of food,” he says. “You’re going to order the fajitas, and it’s going to come on a sizzle plate. You’re going to get a side of just refried beans with the same rice, the same shredded lettuce, and the same sour cream and guacamole. We do things in an unexpected way. We try to improve those items – improve them in their display, their plating, and their taste by using interesting ingredients.”
Mercho says Sangrita Grill & Cantina tries to reinvent each dish in ways people won’t normally expect, but not in such a way that people won’t recognize what they are eating.
Mercho and his partners pulled inspiration from their favorite restaurants in places like Chicago and New York when putting together Sangrita Grill & Cantina’s menu. It’s a menu, he says, which they’ve been able to add variation to because of the extra kitchen space afforded to them in their Fishers location.
In addition to the increased kitchen space, Mercho says the growth of Fishers as a whole led to their decision to open Sangrita Grill & Cantina in the area.
“We’ve just seen the growth, seen the expansion, and love what’s going on in Fishers,” he says. “When we got word about Thompson Thrift’s development here we were very excited. Watching the development, watching the different groups that signed on here, for us, just the mega lifestyle center here that Thompson Thrift has created is just kind of perfect, with the vibe that we want to establish for our restaurant moving forward – just a big center where you can eat, drink, play and exercise all in one. The District has everything you could ever want in one – one block basically. We love that.”
Sangrita Grill & Cantina is located in the Fishers District, at 11547 Yard Street. You can give them a call at 317-288-4036 or visit them on OpenTable to make a reservation.