El Pollo Loco

New Peruvian restaurant in Columbus

727 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228
614.754.6769

El Pollo Loco is a new – as in, opened yesterday (10/19/13) – Peruvian restaurant on the west side specializing in Peruvian charcoal-grilled rotisserie chicken or pollo a la brasa. If you had been to the late, lamented Fito’s on campus, you’ve almost certainly had a very similar style of chicken. Word to the wise – if you liked it there, you’ll almost certainly love it here.

pollo a la brasa in Columbus

The menu lists a wide range of options, but upon opening the chicken was just about all that was on offer, at least as far as entrees go. We did try an order of the salchipapas (french fries with thinly sliced hotdogs), and the papas a la huancayna (cold boiled potato slices in a creamy garlic sauce). Both are pleasant enough, though far from a reason to make a special trip.

el pollo loco peruvian chicken in Columbus

The special trip-worthiness comes from the chicken, which is incredibly moist and tender and wonderfully seasoned.

columbus peruvian food

El Pollo Loco also features a selection of Latin American sodas, including Inka Kola and Kola Inglesa, as well as some house-made beverages. The chicha morada, described as a purple corn drink, was particularly pleasant and had an interesting fruity, cinnamon flavor.

L’Appat Patisserie Cafe

L’Appat Patisserie Café
1159 Oak St.
(614) 252-6822
Website

L’Appat Patisserie in Olde Towne East is best known for its sweet treats, but owner Didier Alapini, has started offering a Pan-African day menu every Thursday. Didier is from Benin in West Africa but his weekly Pan-African menus span the continent from Morocco to South Africa and include all kinds of dishes. Here’s the menu from last week’s inaugural Pan-African day.

african food in columbus ohio

The menu will change every Thursday. Each week’s menu is posted in advance on their Facebook page.

“Panafrican Day” Menu (Thursday, October 3rd 2013)

Soupe du jour
Sweet Potato Soup (Zambia) $4.00
Creamy sweet potatoes, rice, fresh herbs, and spice soup

Sandwich du jour

N’Djamena Chicken Sandwich (Chad) $10.00
Sautéed chicken and bacon, in gruyère spinach sauce on ciabatta loaf, served with roasted potatoes

Entrees: (The first price is lunch and the second is dinner).

Black Olive Salad (Sudan) $9.00 $11.00 (with soup)
Mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and black olives with citrus vinaigrette.

Moussaka á la mauricienne (Mauritus Island) $13.00 $15.00
Lamb, beef and eggplant lasagna in eggplant sauce with salad and garlic bread

Dakouin (Benin) $11.00 $13.00
Grilled leg quarter with fresh tomato, green pepper and onion sauce served with Gari porridge

Fish Boulettes (Morocco) $13.00 $15.00
Fish meatballs in sweet peppers and onion sauce, served over vegetable rice

Here are a couple of the dishes that we enjoyed last week. Pavlova beef with a spicy peanut and spinach sauce, served with sweet potatoes and plantain. This Ghanaian dish was available hot or mild and the hot version definitely had a kick.

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Beef steak du nomade from niger – a panini style sandwich with suya beef steak and cheese. This was served with a large plate of roasted vegetables and potatoes.

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L’Appat is also offering a seafood night on Fridays.

Seafood Night Menu
September – October Special

(Every Friday Night only: 6:00pm -8:30pm)

Soupe du jour $5.50

*Salade Seychelloise $16.00
Shrimp, sweet corn, bell pepper and spring mix tossed in spicy vinaigrette
*Dish served with Seafood Barquettes and soupe du jour

Seafood Brik $22.00
Shrimp, sword fish, crab and vegetable in filo dough served with salad

Frites au poisson $18.00
Whole grilled Tilapia served with oven fried potatoes and salad

If you haven’t been to L’Appat we definitely encourage you to check it out. They have a really interesting (and good) assortment of pastries, cookies and cakes. The cafe is a nice light space, open for breakfast and lunch and their regular lunch menu includes soups, sandwiches and salads.

Lotte

Korean Market columbus ohio

Cuisine: Korean
4944 N High St, Columbus, 43214
614.885.3232
Facebook
Tuesday -Saturday 11-8pm (last order 7.30pm)

I have a sneaking suspicion that Korean restaurants are trying to hide from us.
The whole idea behind strip malls is that every storefront faces the parking lot, but Silla somehow manages to be tucked away behind a bar, accessible only by going down a forbidding path between the walls of two buildings. Arirang, another strip mall location, is a grocery with a restaurant in the back. You could shop the entire retail space without even knowing that the (essentially walled off) dining area existed. A solid restaurant with a primarily Korean menu on north campus hides in plain sight behind the name ‘Japanese Oriental Restaurant’. And, finally, does anyone remember the Korean restaurant on Lane & High in the ’90’s? It was stuck so far back in a building that the only way to get there was by going down a dank, dimly neon lit, vaguely Blade Runner-esque corridor.
lotte korean food columbus
Now there’s Lotte, an established Korean grocery with a new secret. Towards the back of their sizable retail area there’s an entry to a storage room. Enter, and you’ll see sacks of rice piled high among various other palleted goods. And a door. Enter that, and you’ll find their shiny new restaurant. And, if you’ve actually made it this far, chances are you’ve made your first mistake; you order at the grocery checkout, and take the receipt – which is your order ticket – to the employee working the counter in the restaurant.
lotte oriental food restaurant
The dining area is bright, clean, cramped, and no-frills. Like Arirang, water is self-serve from a dispenser and utensils are stored on boxes at the tables. Also like Arirang, the menu is small and largely focuses on better known Korean favorites, such as bulgogi, bibimbop, and kimbop. Service was brisk, and our orders arrived quickly.
korean grocery store columbus
All were solid, if not exceptional… at least until you factor in the pricing. Our group of 7 ordered the entire menu, ate almost to the point of bursting, took home leftovers, and paid just over $50 for the whole spread.
this is what happens when you order the whole menu
I’m tempted to think of it Korean fast food – it’s not the best, but it’s fast, cheap, and will take the edgy off of any Korean cravings.
lotte oriental new restaurant
Lotte probably has the widest selection of the three dedicated Korean markets in Columbus, including a large selection of prepared foods and banchan dishes. The staff are also helpful.
korean ingredients columbus
One last note – #5 on the menu is not translated into English, and it’s what we believe to be a regional Korean spin on kalbi tang stew (Woogeoji galbitang – beef rib and cabbage soup with soybean paste). This is the only place we’ve seen it in Columbus, and it’s a deeply vegetal beef broth soup with generous chunks of beef. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.

korean beef rib and cabbage soup

Kolache Republic

kolache republic Columbus

Cuisine: Czech/Slovak by way of Mid-America.

730 S. High St @ Frankfort
Mon-Fri 7am-2pm, Sat 8am-3pm. Closed on Sundays.
614.928.3151
Website
Facebook
Twitter

So, kolaches. Texans assert that they’re a Texas thing. Minnesotans may claim that they’re spelled ‘kolacky’, and have dubbed Montgomery, Minnesota the ‘kolacky capital of the world’. Iowans… well, they make claims, too… yeah, thanks for the input, Iowa.

Czechs and Slovaks undoubtedly find this Yankee bluster cute, and as best as anyone can tell, are the actual originators of the pastry.

About the only thing anyone could reasonably agree upon is that Columbus has no claim to involvement with this promiscuous pastry, or at least, that is, up to now.

kolache republic

Kolaches are apparently the kind of thing people get homesick for, so with Columbus’s significant transplant population, it was only a matter of time before someone arrived with the fix. Enter Kolache Republic, a tidy new little cafe on South High in the Brewery District.

kolaches in columbus

For the uninitiated, kolaches come in two basic forms (and people with too much time on their hands even bicker about this, but never mind) – square sweets, and elongated savories. Both begin with a light, pillowy, white flour pastry. The sweets are topped, somewhat like a danish, with any of a variety of fillings, with the blueberry and lemon curd being among our favorites. The savories are filled with a delicious kielbasa or ‘hot hot hot polish’, come in 3 flavors, and take a form not unlike a pig in a blanket.

columbus kolache republic

We’ve enjoyed both varieties, both here and at the food cart of the same name that came before. They’re absolutely destination worthy, especially when paired with some of their Cafe Brioso based coffee drinks.

But Kolache Republic has something we like even more. Something that’s served as a special, that we wish were always available. Something that’s not a kolache. That item is the runza.

runza at Kolache Republic

Nebraska claims this dish, though the Germans deserve the credit. Yep, another one of those things. It’s a larger bun, something along the lines of 6″ in diameter, perhaps made with the same dough as the kolaches, filled with seasoned sauerkraut and ground beef. That may not scan like something that’d generate excitement, but I’d encourage you to give it a go. My wife thought it sounded unpleasant, but upon seeing mine begged for a bite and thereafter pronounced it delicious.

Solid sides and a sandwich are also available, making Kolache Republic an ideal lunch stop. Do check ‘em out!

Si Senor Sandwiches & More

peruvian restaurants Columbus Ohio

Cuisine: Peruvian

72 E Lynn Street
Columbus, Oh 43215
614.227.0070
Website (warning -has music)
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Open M – F, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturdays, noon to 4:00 pm

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Si Senor, best known as a popular downtown sandwich shop, just relocated from Long Street to a new larger location on Lynn Alley. The “& More” in their name refers not just to salads and desserts but also to their weekly Peruvian specials. On Saturday lunchtimes, the owners offer Peruvian-style ceviche and a weekly Peruvian special.

The ceviche, which comes in two sizes, is made with small chunks of tilapia fillet, sliced red onion, hot peppers, aji amarillo (peruvian yellow peppers) and lots of fresh lime juice. It’s served with sweet potatoes, salad and sweet corn. It’s unsurprisingly acidic – the lime juice is used to ‘cook’ the fish – but we didn’t find it too spicy.

Si Senor Peruvian sandwiches

Weekend specials include dishes such as papa rellena, lomo saltado, adobo de chancho, arroz tapado and tallarin saltado con pollo y camarones. On our most recent visit the special was pollo saltado, a dish of sauteed chicken, onions, tomato, peppers mixed with soy sauce, Peruvian spices, and french fries, served with rice. As you can see from the photo below the French fries are stir fried into what amounted to a very hearty portion. We loved the caramelized onion and the flavors of this dish, though the chicken was perhaps slightly overcooked.

peruvian food columbus ohio

Another Peruvian speciality is the empanadas. Available daily, these are filled with ground beef, onions, garlic, raisins and hard boiled egg. The crumbly pastry shell is topped with powdered sugar, which creates an interesting sweet-savory dynamic. The empanadas are served with a wedge of lime and some house-made hot sauce, both welcome accompaniments. Overall, we liked these a lot.

peruvian empanadas si senor Columbus

You’ll also see Peruvian influence in the weekday sandwich menu. Our recommendations would be the chicharron Peruano with chunks of fried pork, pickled red onions and sweet potato mayo or the jumping beef sandwich with roast beef, sauteed onions and tomato, melted cheddar and avocado mayo. On Fridays you’ll often find the popular fish tacos as a special.

peruvian chicharron sandwich

If you still have room for dessert, Si Senor offers some Latin sweets including tres leches cake and flan. You may also find alfajores, buttery sandwich cookies with a homemade caramel filling in the middle (manjarblanco or dulce de leche), coated in powdered sugar.

Sichuan Hotpot

chinese food osu campus

1644 N High St (entrance is on Chittenden Ave)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 397-7493
Open 7 days a week, lunch and dinner.

Click here to map it!

Sichuan Hotpot is the latest addition to the campus area’s lineup of Chinese restaurants. Located in a tiny walk-up space on Chittenden Avenue that seats around 24 people, the owners have opted to provide a small, focused menu based upon, as their name suggests, hot pot. No General Tso’s, no orange chicken, just steamy, brothy noodle stew served with this disclaimer; ‘please be aware all hotpots are hot and spicy and may cause discomfort in some individuals’.

hotpot restaurant columbus ohio

All of the hot pots at Sichuan Hotpot include cellophane noodles (made from mung beans), seaweed, wood ear mushrooms (auricularia auricula), lotus root, dried beancurd skin, Chinese cabbage and bok choy. From that starting point, you can choose your protein (or a vegetarian option). There are 10 hot pot options in total: beef, lamb, shrimp, fish ball, shrimp ball, octopus ball, fish tofu, beef tendon ball, luncheon meat (aka spam) and veggie. All are priced between $5.99-7.99, and you can add additional proteins or enoki mushrooms for $1 each.

chinese restaurants in columbus

(clockwise from top left: fish tofu hotpot, beef tendon ball hotpot, lamb hotpot, luncheon meat hotpot)

Among our group of five, the favorites were the beef tendon ball (think flavorful meatball) and lamb (very lamb-y), with a couple of votes for the fish tofu (think mild fish cake) and the luncheon meat. The broth was very flavorful and would probably be classed as a medium spice level – additional chili sauce is available. Temperature-wise, all of our hot pots came to the table steaming and seemed to retain their heat surprisingly well. One bowl makes for a reasonably substantial meal.

chinese food ohio state

There are a few sides/appetizers to snack on while you wait for your hot pot to cool down: crunchy fried chicken, chinese cruller, spring roll and glazed crispy mantou (deep-fried Chinese steamed buns). The chicken was a little more greasy than crispy although the flavor was good, the spring roll was fine but not especially memorable and the mantou, served with a sweet glaze, could almost be a dessert. The cruller is light and crispy and works well dunked into the hot pot. The last (untranslated) item on the sides menu is a sweet Chinese herbal ice tea.

sichuan hotpot Left: glazed crispy mantou and spring roll, right: Chinese cruller 

For those in the campus area Sichuan Hotpot is a nice additional takeout lunch option.

Khyber

khyber restaurant columbus

Cuisine: Pakistani

425 Industrial Mile Road,
Columbus, Ohio 43228
614.275.2022
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This is the kind of story we like to write.

A cook from a restaurant we adore – Adil from Tandoori Grill – strikes out on his own to open a new restaurant, Khyber, in a new part of town. The owner of Tandoori Grill, Said, wishes him well; we’ve spoken to both and there are clearly no hard feelings. The food at Tandoori Grill remains great, the food at Khyber makes for an impressive debut, and just like that the city has doubled in quality Pakistani dining options. As far as we’re concerned, everybody wins.

Khyber occupies the west side space that previously held Azteca de Oro. As with Azteca, environs are humble but comfortable. As with Tandoori Grill, a small Pakistani grocery with a meat counter adjoins.

Pakistani food columbus

Khyber’s speciality is tandoori dishes – grilled meats and nan bread cooked in the tandoor oven. The nan bread is cooked to order and, like at Apna Bazaar/Tandoori Grill, it is thinner, less doughy, and in our estimation far preferable to most other options in town.

pakistani restaurant columbus

Of the tandoori meat dishes we’ve tried, we particularly like the seekh (ground meat) kebabs – available in lamb, beef or chicken. They are nice and juicy, feature a good amount of spicing and heat, and are great paired with nan and a little of Khyber’s yogurt based chutney.

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Also tasty  are the chapli kebabs – burger-like ground beef patties with onions, tomatoes, chiles and spices.

pakistani food columbus

The menu offers some interesting meat stews and satisfying vegetarian options. Stews include nehari - a rich beef curry stew with extremely tender slow cooked beef; goat quorma – a mild curry with lots of gravy and a meat based curry with wheat called haleem, barley, and lentils. Not listed on the menu but also available (and one of our favorites) is aloo keema, a ground meat and potato curry.

potato and ground meat curry

A little drier (in terms of the saucing) but still entirely enjoyable are the karahi dishes – curried meat, either goat or chicken, with tomato, green chili and onion.

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For vegetarians, or as a great side dish for the tandoor grilled meats, there are lahori chana (whole chickpeas in sauce), mash dal (white lentil dal) or bhendi (curried okra). We particularly liked the okra and the mash dal. Adil said that there would be at least one dal available daily.

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The menu is expanding and there are often specials. In addition to the listed items we’ve also tried samosas, goat biryani, cow’s foot curry and house made desserts including kheer (fragrant rice pudding) and semiya halwa (sweet, spiced vermicelli noodles).

One interesting, and somewhat incongruous, item is the New York style gyro. Served as more of a deconstructed dish, it’s comprised of rice topped with lettuce, gyro meat, pita slices, and a generous saucing. Unconventional though it may be, we’d take it over the vast majority of the gyros we’ve tried locally.

new york style gyro

With the most expensive dish priced at $8, and many served for far less, Khyber is very good value for the quality of food and a great addition to the West Side.