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Review: Cazuela’s Grill

 Morgan Kelley Review: Cazuela’s Grill
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The University District and The Old North Columbus neighborhoods are teeming with dining options. Unfortunately, aside from a few stellar standouts like Alana’s and Blue Mile, most everything else caters exclusively to the college student demographic. Which isn’t always a bad thing, as you can find some great food sprinkled in with the rest of the cheap junk, but it means that the odds are stacked against you if you’re looking to wander off the beaten path and try something new on a whim.

Which brings us to Cazuela’s Grill, located at the corner of High Street and Northwood Avenue. This Tex Mex eatery is in the heart of the student population, and caters to them quite clearly with the promise of cheap domestic beers during happy hour and multiple tvs tuned to sports other than fútbol. Still, Cazuela’s manages to not feel quite as contrived as say… Mad Mex, and there is some authenticity that comes across through their somewhat hole-in-the-wall ambiance.

The Appetizer Sampler ($10.99) includes 1 chicken flauta, 1 beef flauta, 1 chicken quesadilla, 1 cheese quesadilla, 1 mini chimi and three kinds of condiments (guacamole, white cheese sauce and a semi-spicy red tomato-based sauce). This platter was half off during happy hour ($5.50), which meant a lot of food for a low price, but most all of the items were fairly mediocre. Having a trio of condiments to mix and match with was a nice feature. A good plate to share with a guest or two if you’re looking to try several things at once without the desire for something more adventurous.

The Chicken Burrito ($3.75) was ordered as a side dish and was a fairly substantial portion for the price. Sides of lettuce and guacamole can be ordered separately for a small price to dress it up, which is needed, as the red sauce alone doesn’t make this dish too special. The shredded chicken used in the burrito was pretty underwhelming, as if t hadn’t been seasoned at all.

The El Cochino ($8.10) translates to “The Pig” in English, but I’m not exactly sure why. This dish is essentially a shredded steak fajita burrito filled with marinated steak and grilled peppers and onions. The burrito is topped with traditional rojo, queso blanco and verde salsas, mimicking the format of the Mexican flag. This dish was the standout item of the meal, and perfectly encapsulated that familiar grilled fajita flavor inside of an easy to eat burrito dish. If there was one criticism to be made, it’s that it was served with a side of refried bean soup in a bowl, which tasted no different than refried beans served by themselves as a standard side dish. Really though, that’s a minor detail, as the rest was delicious.

The Fried Ice Cream Chimichanga ($3.95) is one of several desserts on the menu. This dish includes a healthy dose of vanilla ice cream served inside a fried flour tortilla, and topped with multiple sauces: cherry, caramel, chocolate and mango. The ice cream was somewhat generic, and had the consistency of soft serve ice cream. The tortilla had a nice crunch to contrast and the quadrupled sauces were a nice touch. Once again, for the price, this wasn’t a bad dessert.

Overall, nothing really jumped out to impress me, but considering the small amount of money spent, I left Cazuela’s feeling as if I had gotten a pretty good deal. There are certainly much better Tex Mex restaurants in Columbus, most of which aren’t too much more expensive anyway, so I don’t see myself returning to this one too quickly. If you live nearby, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re a college student. And if you’re a college student then you can probably appreciate having some affordable Mexican grub located close to home. If you live elsewhere, you’ve probably got better options that are closer.

Cazuela’s Grill is located at 2247 North High Street, just north of Lane Avenue. Hours, menus and more information can be found online at www.cazuelasgrillrestaurant.com.

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