Margaret Mecklenborg / Lantern reporter
With friendly faces to greet you as you walk through the door, Moe’s Southwest Grill is a place with a delicious Mexican cuisine menu complimented by a modern and relaxed atmosphere.
The restaurant, which opened March 7 in Columbus, is located at 1305 W. Lane Ave., just past Carmack Road.
When I first walked into Moe’s, I was greeted with a cheerful “Welcome to Moe’s.” The employees seemed friendly as I walked up to the counter to place my order. I first noticed that the restaurant had a Chipotle-style setup, where you go down the line and tell the workers what ingredients you want on your burrito.
As I looked at the large menu that hung on the wall, I noticed that each food item had a unique name.
There are three choices of full-sized burritos: the Homewrecker, Joey Bag of Donuts and Art Vandalay.
Moe’s also offers a variety of other Mexican foods with memorable names and different reasonably priced combinations, such as quesadillas ($4.99 to $7.89), nachos ($6.49 to $7.99), stacks ($7.49 to $8.99), salads ($6.29 to $7.79), tacos ($2.99 to $3.89) and burrito bowls ($6.49 to $7.99).
I decided to order the Homewrecker with ground beef ($7.49), switching up my usual meat choice of chicken.
My friend ordered a John Coctostan Quesadilla with chicken ($6.69), which is a quesadilla with any of the restaurant’s fresh ingredients.
While chips and salsa are free, the cashier asked if we would like to add a 22 oz. drink and a side of queso or guacamole for $2.69. We both added the combination on and our meals together came to $19.56.
After we cashed out, we went over to the salsa bar which had five different salsas ranging from mild to insanely hot. I chose the insanely hot and my friend chose the mild salsa. There was also a Coca-Cola digital soda machine with a touch screen and numerous Coke products offered. I drank regular lemonade while my friend chose strawberry lemonade.
We found a comfortable booth near a window, where we could see several televisions. I was very satisfied once I sank my teeth into my Homewrecker. The ground beef was seasoned nicely, and the crunchy lettuce and onion complimented the creamy guacamole, cheese and sour cream. The rice in the burrito was cooked perfectly. I also added chopped jalapeÃ±os to the burrito, which added a nice kick. The chips were not as thick as Chipotle’s but were seasoned nicely with salt. The guacamole had chopped cilantro, onion and some type of delicious seasoning added. The queso was so creamy and warm. It really complimented my spicy burrito.
My friend said that his quesadilla was pretty good, but the chicken was a bit dry.
He also said he would classify Moe’s as Taco Bell meets Chipotle with fresh ingredients.
I was very impressed by the service at Moe’s. As we were finishing up our meal, the manager, Nathaniel Bates, came over and asked us how everything was and if we wanted more chips and salsa. He was very friendly, and I asked him how Moe’s compared to other Mexican restaurants in the area such as Qdoba and Chipotle.
“We have a much more vibrant environment,” Bates said. “When everybody comes in, we try and make them feel welcome and comfortable. The whole thing is that we have way more selection. Everything is customized. We don’t charge for chips, we don’t rush you out and we want people to stay as long as they want.”
But Ryan Richardson, manager at the campus-area Chipotle located at 1726 N. High St., said one thing was missing from Moe’s.
“In the fast food industry, they don’t have naturally raised food. Our veggies are organically grown, our cheese and sour cream come from dairy cows that aren’t given hormones,” he said. “That’s all a big deal to people now. People are trying to eat healthy. I still think we’re going to do well even with other competitors because we offer healthy food options that people love.”
Despite this, Moe’s also offers hormone-free and gluten-free food.
Bates said Moe’s Southwest Grill will celebrate its grand opening April 18, and the chain hopes to open 14 new locations locally in the next couple of years.
“We are planning to put one on High Street right there on campus,” Bates said. “The time is not set but we are looking towards next football season to open that one up.”
Moe’s is also currently working on accepting BuckIDs, Bates said.