Beyond Breakfast: Los Guachos Taqueria | Columbus, OH

August 1, 2013

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If you’ve followed the blog at all, you know that I do indeed eat things other than breakfast. The joy of writing these Beyond Breakfast posts is getting to share more fun meals or favorite stops, and this one – Los Guachos Taqueria – fits the bill nicely. The Taqueria grew out of one of Columbus’ most popular and most decorated taco trucks, also called Los Guachos, which we first learned about through the work of Taco Trucks Columbus (link above goes to their post). The brick-and-mortar space signified a success for the taco truck world, as one truck had done well enough to establish itself permanently (with a second location in Gahanna coming soon!).

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Alongside the taco trucks scattered around the city, I’d put Los Guachos Taqueria as one of our best – and most authentic – Mexican restaurants. Maybe my years of food writing have led to some type of snobbery, but in many ways I’m happy to have moved past the rice/beans/cheese/margarita/Corona type of Mexican restaurant. Those restaurants have their place – and I’ve certainly never said no to a Chipotle burrito – but I think it’s time that some of us move past the “where’s my basket of chips and salsa?” phase and try something with better flavor, more dynamic ingredients, and that’s honestly less expensive but just as filling.

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The Los Guachos space is clean and welcoming, employing counter service with a large overhead menu that explains their dishes fully. If you’re at all intimidated, you can rest easy with choices like quesadillas, burritos, and tacos. Aside from the food, there’s an assortment of unique drinks like the rich and tart hibiscus water.

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Once you’ve placed your order and taken your seat at the counter or any of the massive wooden tables and chairs, you’ll notice a variety of condiments before you. If you’re a hothead who likes to sweat, then feel free to pile these on; although I pride myself on liking a decent amount of heat, some of these are even a little too much for me. One such is the bowl of hot peppers and onions.

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There’s also a hotter red pepper sauce, but my preference is for the green cilantro/avocado sauce. This is the type of stuff I would freebase if no one were looking.

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Los Guachos has a small kids menu, or they can tailor dishes to your needs. Our boys like simple tacos with chicken and cheese, served on a double layer of corn tortillas.

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Los Guachos has a range of winning dishes. Not pictured here are the tortas, a crispy sandwich served on thick bread with a cooling layer of mayo, lettuce, and avocado along with mozzarella, tomatoes, beans, onions, and your choice of meat. We love love love the tortas, but our choice almost always leans toward the tacos and the gringas, all served al pastor. Every dish is customizable in terms of meat; the choices include chicken (pollo), steak (asada), tripe (tripa), beef tongue (lengua – very tender), brisket (suadero), and pork (al pastor). Pictured above are a couple al pastor tacos and a gringas. The tacos are served on two corn tortillas and topped with onions and cilantro, while the gringas comes on a slightly larger flour tortilla with cheese, onions, and cilantro.

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Al pastor is a time-consuming preparation of pork that involves marinating thin slices, stacking them on a trompo, then searing and carving them to order with a slice of pineapple. It’s a similar preparation and origin to lamb gyro meat. This preparation lets the meat marinate in its own juices along with drippings from the pineapple.

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What I like best about this food is that there’s no filler: no mounds of generic rice and beans, no smothering with sticky cheese. A true Mexican taco is simple: corn tortillas, onions, cilantro, and a seasoned meat that carries a bulk of the flavor. It’s simple, filling, and rich.

This is why, the next time you have a hankering for good Mexican food, I encourage you skip your usual and try Los Guachos or any of our city’s taco trucks. Good nights to visit Los Guachos include Monday nights, when al pastor tacos are two-for-one, or Wednesday nights, when al pastor gringas are $2.

If you want to visit:

Los Guachos Taqueria
5221 Godown Rd. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43235
(614) 538-0211
losguachos.com
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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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