Broad Ripple Taco Joint Satisfies Your Late-Night Cravings
Writer / Matt Keating
Photographer / Ron Wise
Rafael Mendoza, owner of Raffi’s Mexican Tacos, 801 Broad Ripple Avenue, is similar to a late night talk show host.
He welcomes his guests with open arms, a positive attitude, some entertaining stories, and his own special brand of humor. He’s even been around several Hollywood stars.
The personable and funny Mendoza, and his delicious tacos are popular weekend fixtures in Broad Ripple. He stays open late on weekends to welcome the bar hoppers and late-shift workers, chatting them up and making great food.
Mendoza has had a colorful past. He previously worked as a caterer on several movie sets with stars Anne Hathaway, Tom Cruise, Christian Bale, and Sylvester Stallone. He’s been the personal chef for Indy 500 Race Car Owner Chip Ganassi. And he’s also known hard times.
When he was in his younger years, Mendoza was homeless.
“I was living in California and had no money, and nowhere to live,” Mendoza says. “Over the years, I worked in several places, including body shops and fish markets, before I later became a cook, and then later a chef, at different restaurants. I had to work my way up, but each job was better than the last one.”
He eventually started working as a chef for a catering company, “For Stars Catering,” that would provide food at movie sets across the country and world.
“I worked as a chef on the sets of ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ ‘Rocky 6,’ ‘Lions for Lambs,’ ‘Spider Man,’ and ‘Princess Diaries 2.’ It was a lot of fun, and I was able to travel to a lot of sets,” he says.
Mendoza later went to work as a personal chef for Ganassi for several years.
He started his taco restaurant in 2013, (which was previously George’s Mexican Tacos), and hasn’t looked back. A new restaurant name and some minor menu changes have kept things fresh.
“I love Indianapolis, and I love Broad Ripple,” Mendoza says. “This location in good for the weekends, which is when we did the majority of our business. People like to come in here late at night and get their favorites. Our tacos are our number one seller.”
The tacos come with meat or shrimp, with two topping choices, including cilantro, onion, lettuce, cheese, tomato, or sour cream. The meat choices include steak, grilled chicken, ground beef, chicken chipotle, or chorizo. The sides are rice, chips or refried bean soup. Queso is also offered.
The burritos at Raffi’s Mexican Tacos include the Custom Burrito, a choice of one meat, refried beans, rice and shredded cheese. There is also a Veggie Burrito with broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, and onions.
“You have to try our nachos too, which come with a choice of ground beef, or chicken chipotle, or you can get steak or grilled chicken,” Mendoza says. “They are great anytime, but again, the late-night guests really love them.”
Quesadillas are also offered, with a meat choice of steak, grilled chicken, ground beef, or chicken chipotle.
Raffi’s Mexican Tacos is closed on Sundays and Mondays. It’s open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and from 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s open from 6 p.m.- 3 or 4 a.m.
“I like the late night atmosphere,” Mendoza says. “This is a good spot to get something to eat when you get those cravings for great food.”
Raffi’s Mexican Tacos is located at 811 Broad Ripple Avenue or give them a call at 317-672-9816.