An Indianapolis Original
In 1984, Larry and Lori Rangel opened the original La Margarita in Speedway. The timing and location couldn’t have been better for the young couple. There, just a few blocks away from the yard of bricks, at the corner of 30th and Georgetown Road, was their small cantina and kitchen.
For six years it played de-facto hospitality room to the greatest spectacle in racing — in a lot of ways it still is! On any given night in the month of May, you’d find more racecar drivers bellied up to the bar over plates of tacos and pitchers of margaritas than you could spot in the paddocks on race day.
Looking to improve on the yearly race-season crowds that carried their business, the pair moved the restaurant to the north side of town, where things were steadier, and where the pair could grow their customer base and raise their young children.
The first of two north side locations was at 86th and Township Line Road. From 1990 to 2005, the restaurant grew up alongside a second generation of La Margarita-goers, all the while remaining faithful to the Speedway crowd that followed it.
It was the longest lasting location. And like Speedway, it was a hell of a good time: Cinco de Mayo ushering in patio season each year; the eight-piece Mariachi Band drifting and crooning their way through the packed restaurant on long summer nights; Larry’s cooking, singing, and cursing emanating from the kitchen for all to enjoy; and all the while, Lori, keeping it all together, while selling traditional Mexican pottery out of the front of the store.
But tragedy struck in 2000. The La Margarita family lost its patriarch. Larry, with his best friends Tony and Shirley Bettenhausen, and Russ Roberts, tragically lost their lives in a small plane crash on their way back from a week in Florida.
Lori could have packed it up. The story of La Margarita could have ended there. But that’s not her nature. And thank goodness for Emilio Montes. He stepped in as chef that year, and has been the heart and soul of the La Margarita kitchen ever since.
The 86th and Township location carried on the best it could for the next five years. And in early 2006, La Margarita moved once more, this time to 96th and Meridian, a fresh start.
For a half decade the restaurant continued to serve the north side of Indianapolis its homemade Mexican fare. It was a location that benefitted from busy office park lunches and early evening diners. But something was missing, which leads us to where we are today.
Longing for a return to what made the original location so magical, Lori, with her son Jon Carlos, and Emilio as partner-chef, looked to Fountain Square as the next iteration of their quintessential Indianapolis Mexican restaurant.
And since late 2011, La Margarita Fountain Square has sought to combine all the greatest aspects of what made all the other locations so great: an intimate garden and patio on the Indianapolis Cultural trail; a small, cozy dining room and bar with enough agave to be its own liquor store; and the same wonderful food that’s kept customers coming back for decades.
Our restaurant, today, is the culmination of over 30 years serving the great people of Indianapolis.
Thank you, Indy.
The La Margarita Family