Chef Andie Hubka has been brightening up the east valley food scene for a decade now. She’s introduced fresh, contemporary concepts including Cooking With Class, Cork and Fork, Heirloom Craft Kitchen and Citrine. With Indio’s Tu Madres Cantina and Grill, she’s now bringing her signature flair to Mexican cuisine.

When I first met Hubka in 2019, she pitched Tu Madres as “modern Mexican, lots of seafood, healthy, vegan options, prepared with fresh organic ingredients.” She’d been inspired by trips to Baja California with her husband.

“Mexico’s culinary scene is off the charts,” she raved. “It’s not Mexican food like Americans understand it. It’s very Mediterranean: beautiful, clean food, a lot of local produce and fish.”

A delayed start led to Tu Madres launching in December 2019, during the busy Christmas period. “By February, we were just hitting our stride,” Hubka said. “Then the whole world shut down. It was a really bad time for us.”

Having procrastinated, we missed the opportunity to check out Tu Madres, and it would be nearly 18 months before we finally made it there. It was everything I’d anticipated.

Tu Madres is ideally located for residents of Indio and La Quinta, and just 10 minutes from the Jefferson Street exit from Interstate 10, for those coming from elsewhere in the desert. The minimal décor is modern, fresh and clean—an ideal prelude to the food. The left side of the room offers a mix of tables and booths, while the right houses the showcase bar. It is indeed a showcase, with more than 50 tequilas and 20 mezcals on display.

We were initially drawn in by the dedicated vegan menu. (Yes, Coachella Valley restaurants, we’re part of that annoying but ever-growing crowd in search of flexible dining options.) Vegan food is something Hubka has embraced and facilitated across her concepts, along with gluten-free options.

While my wife enjoyed her fried avocado tacos and her salsa trio, it was time for this omnivore to explore the menu further.

The short rib barbacoa is fantastic. It’s perfectly seasoned and melts in the mouth. I enjoyed the creative appetizer that saw barbacoa spread over a grilled avocado and topped with queso fundido and tortilla chips. You’ll also find the barbacoa as an entree plate and in a burrito. The aforementioned queso fundido is available as its own appetizer, too; made with a blend of Oaxaca and goat cheese, it’s creamy with an intriguing tangy and earthy twist.

While we were off to a great start, the pick of the appetizers was definitely the shrimp taquitos. They wrap jumbo shrimp and flash-fry them in local corn tortillas, then top them with chipotle lime aioli, pico de gallo and micro cilantro. It’s a fun presentation that satiates both the palate and the eye.

You’ll find plenty of traditional fare like tortilla soup, carne asada tacos and carnitas, each with an original touch—but it’s the reimagined dishes that really shine. Chiles gueritos are filled with shrimp and dressed with mayo and soy sauce. The Baja shrimp cocktail comes with an optional tequila shot. If you’re stuck deciding between beef or shrimp, try the surf and turf burrito. “Baja Bowls” include ahi, chicken and a rotating seafood selection. They’ve even created Mexican versions of the Caesar and the Cobb. The sides extend beyond rice and beans to include beach fries, esquites, zucchini and mushrooms.

Courtesy of Tu Madres Cantina and Grill

Tu Madres is also a fine bar and happy hour spot. That’s no surprise, since Hubka’s first restaurant, Cork and Fork, was founded on small plates and shareables. There’s an eclectic array of small plates at Tu Madres as well. If you’re just there for drinks, grab the salsa trio. At $5, it’s an absolute steal. Expecting three small ramekins the first time we ordered it, we were nodding in approval at three full cups of salsa verde, charred tomato salsa, and pico de gallo.

The tequila and mezcal selections make Tu Madres a Coachella Valley standout. For newcomers, check out the tequila flight. The place has attracted a sizeable following of catadores (yes, there’s a term for tequila-tasters). Tequila has been so popular that Tu Madres has doubled its selection during its brief existence. Several tequilas are off-the-menu reserves, so be sure to ask about them.

The craft-cocktail menu is equally impressive, with everything made from scratch. Tequila is barrel-aged in-house for one recipe, and infused over whole rosemary for another.

“It’s just as important as the food,” Hubka said, “If you’re going to have food that’s made with love, you have to make the drinks with love, too.”

Tu Madres has become a staple for us. We live on the opposite side of the valley, but we’re hooked enough to regularly make the drive. As she’s done across her concepts, Chef Hubka has reimagined Mexican cuisine, presenting it with an exciting breath of fresh air.

Andrew Smith been writing about food and drink for more than 20 years—and turned to food-writing after working for many years in the restaurant industry. His passion for good food correlates to his limited...

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