Hilary Frew / Lantern photographer
What started out as a simple food truck became a full-blown establishment. Located in a tiny strip mall, Los Gauchos Taqueria doesn’t look all that appealing – until you bite into your first taco.
I visited Wednesday night and, surprisingly, there were barely any seats available. A horse wearing a sombrero and plaques bearing glowing reviews from the press greet guests at the door.
Customers order at the counter, seat themselves at a table and wait for their food to be brought out. It took only 10 minutes for the food to be prepared and looked very appealing for such a short wait.
The menu consists of a variety of authentic Mexican cuisine: corn tacos without cheese, gringas (flour tortilla with melted cheese, onion and cilantro), quesadillas and burritos. Salsa verde and hot sauce are placed at each table. The prices are reasonable for the college budget, $6 and less for most items.
I ordered “Tacos Al Pastor” ($1.50 for two small tacos) – I chose to get mine with the slow-cooked marinated pork, which was served in a corn tortilla with cilantro, onion and pineapple. The pork was savory and looked similar to bacon. It wasn’t overly salty and had the perfect blend of heat and various spices. The cilantro added a fresh and earthy quality that most tacos do not include. Finally, the pineapple added a zing of citrus flavor that pulled the taco’s flavor from light to heavenly.
For my drink, I ordered non-alcoholic piÃ±a colada water ($1.50 for 16 ounces). It was light, refreshing and tasted more like coconut with an aftertaste of fresh pineapple.
The walls are painted orange on one side of the restaurant with aged, brown brick on the other. Oil paintings are hung on the walls depicting what looked like a Mexican homestead. The restaurant is very well lit, more suitable for families and friends than a date. The tables are big and it’s almost like sitting at a native Hispanic family’s dining table, sharing their homemade traditions with new friends.
Guests can sit on bar stools in the back of the restaurant and watch their food being prepared in an open kitchen. Most of the guests looked like regulars, conversing and catching up on life with the staff in Spanish. There were two flat screen TVs set on CNN’s Spanish channel, which a few patrons watched.
The only regrettable part of my experience there was that the staff did not understand English very well. In short, do not get a complicated order unless you speak fluent Spanish.
Also, the tacos are much smaller than American tacos and do not have cheese on them. So make sure to ask for two orders with cheese on top, if you so desire.
Los Gauchos Taqueria is located at 5221 Godown Road off Bethel Road in northwest Columbus. Its hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to midnight and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.