Wind slowly past the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Cahuenga on a weekday evening in Hollywood, and one will undoubtedly spot the corner car wash. Behind that, just up the street towards the lights of Hollywood proper, is a smog shop and auto body repair joint, and just next to that is Indimex Eats, a quiet new Indian-Mexican fusion spot where chicken tikka masala fries and spiced lamb tacos come to play.
The whole setup, from the food to the name to the location, feels uniquely LA, and follows closely in the tradition of compelling Mexican food (or in this case, Mexican hybrid food) located within very close proximity to car washes.
It’s hard to say exactly what the allure of the car wash taco is, for both operators and customers. Taco Tamix’s original location in Pico-Union held car wash real estate, as does the current Echo Park-adjacent Tacos Leo not far from Downtown. Longstanding physical restaurant La Cañada Taqueria is little more than a takeout window just off Pico Boulevard that’s similarly attached to a car cleaning operation, and the list goes on and on.
Perhaps it’s the open real estate, or the guarantee of customers passing through who likely have a bit of time on their hands — after all, nobody washes their car when they’re in a hurry. Or perhaps, in this city threaded with dining options at all levels, from the $1 taco stands in the gas station off Vine to Curtis Stone’s glossy Gwen, it’s (as always) all about what one can get for the money.
For Indimex Eats, that means a small, tight room with one row of booths and an ordering counter capping the end of a hilarious three-quarter wall between the kitchen and the dining room. It’s not enough to hide the sizzle and sounds of the meal being made, just enough to obscure the faces making it.
The menu at Indimex doesn’t skew to the Indian side in some places or the Mexican side in others. It’s an almost down-the-middle blend of the two, where the only options for tacos are a curried tofu, or chicken/beef/lamb/shrimp tikka. Their ‘house chutney’ is mostly just a straight-up salsa, but the one dollar squirt of masala sauce on the burrito (which is laced with bell peppers, garbanzo beans, and basmati rice) feels like a unique and entirely on-the-money touch.
It’s the samosas that stand out as the least fusion-y dish of the bunch, though they’re delicious enough on their own to not warrant much of an overhaul. At the other end of the spectrum is the collection of masala fries, shown as above with bits of cubed chicken inside. The potato and masala flavor combo is a common one (frankly, a better poutine’d version can be found at Downtown’s Badmaash), but it’s still perhaps the most engaging example at Indimex of cross-cultural success. Not that fries are somehow a uniquely Mexican food — rather, the chicken masala fries end up feeling like something new altogether for the restaurant, a thing one wouldn’t get at a Mexican or an Indian place.
So is Indimex the most engaging new restaurant in a city full of exploratory flavors? Not hardly, but there is something more than a little unique about the place, from the big menu to the car wash location. Plus, just like Korean flavors inside a street taco, much of Indimex simply just works as a combination, even if it doesn’t neatly fall into any one particular category.
That’s the true Los Angeles restaurant secret: everyone has spent so much time rubbing elbows in midway neighborhoods like this pocket of south Hollywood that interesting creations are bound to happen. Add in the car wash element, and there’s something that simply couldn’t exist anywhere else in the world.
1106 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Open daily: 11 a.m .to 11 p.m.