Walking into the dimly lit establishment off College Avenue, Livery’s welcoming atmosphere of kitchen clanging and scented candles were a pleasant surprise. Before stepping into Livery, I had no idea what I was walking into other than a Latin American restaurant, and the first impression did not disappoint.
The room I sat in was surrounded by windows where I could get a glimpse of the rush of cars throughout my meal. The alternative music playing over the speakers replaced the bustling sounds of the city. I felt cozy and welcomed.
Going into this establishment, I knew I had to be careful with what I ordered, since I do have a sensitive stomach. While the menu contained plenty of authentic spicy flavorings, the small number of mild selections was what I was limited to.
The waitress started the meal off with complimentary chips called chicharones. They were shaped like little wagon wheels and made of rice flour, garnished with chili lime seasoning on top. The flavorful chicharones were almost like a sneak peek into the flavors and culture surrounding the dishes, getting my palette ready for what was to come.
For the appetizer, I had the yucca fries, which are similar to large french fries. The earthy taste to the fries themselves contrasted well with the chihuahua cheese and paprika mixture that lay at the bottom of the bowl for dipping. While the sticks were full of flavor. they were greasy, which I did not like.
For my main course, I decided to have the steak empanadas. The three empanadas were small, but I was impressed by how much favor fit into each one. The fluffy, crispy crust of the empanada melted in my mouth when mixed with the warm and juicy steak inside, and the brown sauce oozed out even after I had put it back on the plate. It was also paired with an orange dipping sauce called guajillo crema, which didn’t add much of anything to the dish except heat—the added touch, however, might appeal to those who enjoy spicier meals.
My friend I went with got a different main course, the pork pastor tamale. They let me try a bit, and I almost wished I got that dish instead. The presentation was appetizing, with a split open tamale and some red sauce spread elegantly on the plate. The onions, pineapple, jalapeno, cabbage and cilantro were piled high and well mixed. The pork was just as well cooked and sliced as the steak, but the dish was more mild and packed with savory flavors, and it was well-seasoned and juicy. When mixed with the tamale dough in the corn husk, there was an instant flip to a sweet flavor. It was a nice contrast from the homogenous texture and taste of the dish, since it did not come with a side.
For my last course, I ordered churros, sticks of fried dough with sugar on top. Coming out in a small pyramid, they were very tiny sticks unevenly coated in sugar with dulce de leche— a heated version of sweetened milk that tastes similar to caramel— resting at the bottom. They were hot when they first arrived, so the texture was very doughy, but once they cooled off I was pleased by the crunch.
Overall, I really enjoyed the meal and would recommend it to anyone on campus because of the classy dishes brought for a decent price. The fries and empanadas were $9 each and the pork pastor was $15. While you have small portion sizes, you’re really paying for the flavoring and nice ingredients that go into the dishes, so I consider it worth it. Livery was a nice, comforting environment with food that was able to suit my needs. I would definitely go back, and I recommend it to anyone who wants a nice restaurant experience without the high prices that come with downtown Indy.