For a small place in the middle of nowhere, Indiana, the towns around Taylor University do offer an abundance of choices in Mexican cuisine.
Between Gas City, Marion, Muncie and Hartford City, more than 10 local places serve up competing varieties of tacos, burritos, tostadas and more.
On Washington St. in Marion, Los Amores Restaurant is one of these options, hidden on the basement level of the Boston Hill Center.
Word on the Loop ranked Los Amores as a hidden gem in Marion and a perfect spot to enjoy a weekend meal. Unfortunately, my own experience left me with mixed feelings.
Right off the bat, Los Amores was easily accessible and had good parking. Keep an eye out for signs pointing you down the stairs to the open dining area, vaguely reminiscent of a mall cafeteria.
In favor of Los Amores were the cheap prices. Tortas and burritos were priced at $8, tacos less than $3 each and enchiladas around $12. Meat options ranged from steak to chicken, ground beef, pork, shrimp and more.
As with most Mexican places, gluten-free and vegetarian options are also available on the menu.
For a small restaurant, portion sizes were generous. My carnitas overflowed with flavorful pork on a warm corn tortilla. My friends enjoyed a stuffed pastor quesadilla mixed with marinated pork and juicy grilled pineapple that they were still talking about the next day.
The complimentary tortilla chips were crisp and salty, but the accompanying salsa and queso were subpar.
Though both pork dishes were juicy and flavorful, the under-seasoned chicken and ground beef dripping with grease disappointed me.
We rounded out our mixed-review meal with their new fried ice cream dessert: a scoop of vanilla coated in corn flakes and served in a crunchy cinnamon tortilla bowl. We all agreed that this was by far the best part of our meal.
Another interesting factor of the restaurant was the space itself. Whereas most Mexican restaurants fill their walls with bright colors and pieces of culture, Los Amores remains largely undecorated outside of a glass panel communicating their admirably prioritized values of “Love God, Love People, Love Food,” and a menu board announcing a weekly “Taco Tuesday” special.
Sensory-averse folks may find the bright overhead lights and echoey interior an unwelcome distraction from their dining companions.
All in all, Los Amores serves a decent meal for college-student prices, depending on how you order; though I may opt for one of the closer Mexican restaurants rather than make the 23-minute trek to downtown Marion.
However, with the right group of friends and the promise of fried ice cream, any restaurant is worth the trip.
Los Amores is open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and you can find a full menu on their Facebook page at Los Amores Restaurant.
I rate Los Amores 2.5/5 tacos.