La Indita

Went to one of my favorite Tucson restaurants, La Indita, on 4th Avenue, last night. Fourth Avenue is near the University of Arizona, and is the artsy area of Tucson.

La Indita is a family-owned little hole in the wall place. It hasn’t changed a bit in the eight years I have been going there, although last night I noticed that they had finally ripped off the tattered seat cushions in the booths and just left bare benches.

Their chili rellono is unbeatable, and is served with refried beans and rice, as well as a big tortilla. The tortilla, in this case, could be described as lefse with an attitude. Looks just like lefse, feels like lefse, but you really have to take after it with your teeth to rip it apart.

Members of the staff sit around and talk in Spanish, which allows me to imagine that they are saying much more colorful things than they probably are.

Last night, a guitarist walked around the tiny cafe singing snippets of Spanish songs. He was a nervous sort, though, and never finished a song. He walked back to the kitchen with his guitar several times to yell at the cooks. Finally, they produced a plate of food for him, and he laid his guitar across a table and sat down to eat.

While he was eating, a big bearded Latino man with a chef’s hat and an apron came out from the kitchen and started singing loudly with an exaggerated vibrato. Everybody laughed. It seemed he was making fun of the guitarist, but the guitarist didn’t mind.

A happy place. The Latino restaurants are usually happy places. Lots of singing from the kitchen, lots of laughing, teasing, carrying on.

Earlier in the day, I had the oil changed on my pickup. I was worried about my U-joints, too, since there seemed to be some lurching going on in the drive train. Well, they looked the U-joints over at the oil change place and said nothing was wrong.

But it was a typical Latino approach to service. Very quiet. No con-artistry, no trying to get you to fork out money for transmission flushes and new windshield wipers, no asking for your phone number, no signing you up for a customer-for-life program. Like a small town. Lots of joshing around. The Latino kid who checked out my pickup said goodbye by saying “Don’t work to hard!” I assured him he needn’t worry.