Columbus is full of cultured eateries that offer a vast selection of genres in the food world, but none come close to the classic Mexican restaurant. Cazuela’s, Condado Tacos and Abuelo’s are just a few of the Mexican eateries in Columbus, but they each offer a different angle on what is one of the most beloved food choices for college students everywhere.
If you’re looking for a close spot on campus to get good Mexican food and stellar margaritas (if you’re of age) at a great price, Cazuela’s is the place for you.
“The biggest thing about us is probably our specials and our variety,” said manager Jessica Quezada. “We have a big food combination menu and over 10 flavors of margaritas. Our servers are friendly and you’ll just have a good time here.”
The burrito is a popular dish at any Mexican restaurant, but Cazuela’s offers a burrito and a challenge like no other on campus.
The Mucho Macho Burrito Challenge is the restaurant’s signature special: 12 inches of flour tortilla that includes rice, beans and your choice of meat. It costs $9.99 but is free if you can finish it all in one sitting and in the time limit of 20 minutes. Winners even get a free T-shirt. Easy, right? Well, there’s a catch. It is covered in the restaurant’s special sauce made from habanero ghost peppers, one of the spiciest peppers out there.
Apart from the giant burrito challenge, Cazuela’s also offers regular specials and deals. The lunchtime menu ranges from $5 to $9 dishes and patrons can buy a margarita glass that they can reuse and bring in anytime to get a margarita half off. T-shirts for sale hang from the walls, offering a Tuesday special in which you can get $2 margaritas and $5 for all lunch plates if you wear it to the restaurant.
It’s not always the big, fancy plates that bring people in. Sometimes the atmosphere is the biggest part of going to a restaurant. The warm light and tiny indoor dining room offer a cozy space or the outdoor, sun-baked patio are both great places to bring your friends or family to sit down and enjoy not just the food, but each other’s company, too.
Cazuela’s is located at 2247 N. High St. and is open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the weekdays and until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Sitting at the entrance of the Short North is a newly opened Mexican place that offers a seemingly stark menu. It only serves tacos, but these tacos are specialized. The ingredients are made in house on a daily basis and can even be stacked in their very own Double Decker Taco.
“I’m pretty sure there’s something like 7.2 million possible combinations of tacos that we can make here,” said owner Joe Kahn. “Now, of course we serve things like guacamole and queso, but yeah, we only serve tacos.”
Condado Tacos offers a spread of really specific ingredients. Kahn used names like “Dirty Sauce,” which is a smoky chipotle-based sauce, or the “JuJu Shell,” which is one of the taco shell combinations that they use for the “root beer-braised beef.” The build your own taco concept has made the place a relative hit, the owner said.
The restaurant has specials like a regular happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., which includes its entire liquor selection and applies not only to the bar, but also to the large, wooden community tables that span a third of the entire floor space.
“We try to promote a fun and upbeat environment here. For us, it’s kind of like having a party every day, which we want to pass on to our customers,” Kahn said, looking out at the patrons.
The walls of Condado are splattered with deliberate murals in black and white. Cow skulls, sugar skulls, flowing curves and geometric images of skeletons and variations of the restaurant’s name are painted into the art. There’s even a real, physical skeleton couple riding a bicycle, wearing sunhats in the corner of the restaurant.
It’s clear that Condado is a different option, but one that offers a chance to make your own experience food wise and enjoy the cultured environment that permeates the dimly lit, yet soothing, space that exists in the yellowed glow of the giant “Tacos,” sign that sits behind the bar.
Condado is located at 1227 N. High St. and is open Monday through Friday noon to midnight and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Easton Town Center is very classy with shops and restaurants, but on the corner of the last plot of department stores is a Mexican, southwestern restaurant called Abuelo’s that is a refreshingly affordable, yet high quality, choice for those visiting Easton’s shopping center.
The atmosphere is instantly different when you walk in. Most Mexican places are themed to be south of the border-esque, but Abuelo’s looks like a provincial Mexican town square.
The restaurant’s namesake is solidified by the giant pewter statue of an older man with his apparent grandson in the middle of the dining room, the ceiling above painted to look like a slightly cloudy blue sky.
The bar adjacent to the dining room offers an even balance to the dining-only setting, and the drink menu includes everything from Mexican-focused beers to peach sangria and blended, frozen cocktails.
As soon as you sit down, tortilla chips are brought to the table. A mild red salsa, a sweet salsa verde and a smoky, dark red pepper salsa accompany the chips, all three of which are outstanding. The contrast of taste is cool to experience.
Abuelo’s head chef incorporates a lot of authentic recipes from Mexico, and many of the dishes represent individual towns and regions of Mexico.
“All of our ingredients are prepared fresh daily. Like the salsa, we mix all the ingredients and make it in the morning every day. It just tastes better,” said waiter Dason Williams.
A typical dish ordered at the restaurant is the enchilada combination platters, in which you can have up to four enchiladas and the choice of different sauces that range from cheesy and creamy to spicy. The price for an average plate is $10–$15.
But, of course, they also offer more expensive things, such as the sirloin wrapped in bacon and slathered in a Mexican seasoning.
The sheer array of choices of food — everything from seafood to typical Mexican cuisine — exists at this restaurant.