By Valerie Vinyard
For Josue Rivera, La Indita is a family tradition that spans three generations.
The affable 34-year-old manager often is found standing near the front of the restaurant, greeting guests, suggesting dishes and clearing tables.
“We don’t want people to seem like they’re at a restaurant,” says Rivera, whose grandmother started La Indita in 1983 on Scott Avenue downtown. “We want them to feel at home.”
Longtime customer and ceramic artist Lisa Agababian would agree with that. She started going to La Indita after it moved to a space on North Fourth Avenue in 1985.
“This was almost like my home,” says the artist and owner of Fuchsia Designs on Fourth Avenue.
Agababian has patronized La Indita for about 25 years. She frequently dined at the restaurant when it was located near her studio. On April 26, the restaurant moved out of its Fourth Avenue location to North Stone Avenue on May 15 when the building was sold.
The fact that La Indita moved a half-mile away, however, hasn’t dulled Agababian’s appetite for her favorite entree, spinach and chicken enchiladas with green sauce ($13.97).
In fact, “pretty much anything with the green sauce” is the way to go, she says. Fun fact: The green sauce is made using green peas.
“This restaurant is like a family to me,” says Agababian, who is such a regular that she been known to give staffers birthday presents.
Rivera says the chicken mole ($15.97) and the chile rellenos ($14.97) tend to be the most popular dishes among guests, but the restaurant features an assortment of dishes from Michoacán, Sonora and Oaxaca, Mexico, along with hints of Tohono O’odham.
La Indita offers dishes on the healthier side. Vegetarians should love this place, as the restaurant doesn’t cook with lard, chicken broth or even MSG. As a result, the tasty beans and rice are both vegan.
“We make everything ourselves,” says Cassandra Ortega, a 32-year-old server whose favorite meal is potato or chicken flautas ($14.97). “We make all of our food with love.”
That includes the smoky salsa that comes with a slight kick and the oh-so-mouthwatering chips, which come before every meal.
The homemade mentality also includes all the mixes for La Indita’s margaritas, which partially are created by boiling sugarcane and squeezing limes. Even the spicy version uses tequila that they infuse with jalapenos.
After some years away from the food business, Rivera has been back at La Indita since 2017. He took time off to work for a record management company from 2005 to 2017 before restaurant life beckoned yet again.
“It was fun,” he says of his stint as director of operations. “But then it was time to come home.”
Rivera says they’re building an outdoor bar and patio in the back of the restaurant, and he said it should be finished later this month. He’s mulling over the idea of offering occasional live entertainment
The outdoor area will add about 20 to 30 seats to the restaurant’s total capacity. The two indoor dining rooms offer 14 seats in the front room and 28 in the side room, which includes a combination of booths and tables and chairs. The restaurant accepts reservations for four or more people.
Rivera hopes to make the new location a neighborhood hangout. However, he’s not looking to reinvent La Indita.
“I don’t want it to change.”