Roundup: Cinco Spots For Cinco de Mayo

Nicholas Dekker, Columbus Alive contributor
The Pastor at Los Guachos

Cinco de Mayo comes at a time when we're ready for spring, patios and outdoor parties. We'll look for any excuse to celebrate the season, and Cinco de Mayo (which, altogether now, is NOT Mexican Independence Day) is the perfect opportunity for spring festivities. While everyone is diving into oversized margaritas with Corona bottles tipped upside down into them, you should be visiting these more authentic Mexican offerings around the city.

Los Guachos Taqueria

5221 Godown Rd. and 1376 Cherry Bottom Rd.

Los Guachos' al pastor tacos were named some of the best in the nation by the Food Network, which is no surprise to Columbus residents. The tacos here are the cream of the crop, with the al pastor as the real standout. Al pastor is spit-roasted pork that's been marinated overnight and topped with slivers of pineapple. Also worth checking out are the gringas (open-faced tortillas with cheese, pork, onion and cilantro), the lengua tacos and the tortas - all washed down with a cooling glass of hibiscus water.

Tacos Fogoncito

51 S. Hamilton Rd.

Like Los Guachos, Fogoncito grew out of a taco truck. The original truck, still in operation, sits on Morse Road just west of Easton. It's owned by family members related to the Los Guachos crew, so many of the recipes are similar. Just recently the restaurant opened its own brick-and-mortar in Whitehall. The shop offers a two-for-one al pastor taco deal on Thursdays, but has introduced other specialties like the tacototes - a big plate of corn tortillas with meat, corn, beans, pico de gallo, cheese and avocado.

Los Guachos

461 Commerce Sq.

We're willing to double-down on Los Guachos because the tacos and gringas are just that good. The Upper Arlington and Gahanna taquerias are well worth the visit, but you can head to the heart of taco truck territory on the west side, where Los Guachos' original gleaming trailer still sits outside a nightclub. Pull up a chair and nosh on tacos and gringas in the open air.

Panaderia Guadalupana

1977 E. Dublin Granville Rd.

Panaderia Guadalupana is a Mexican bakery offering terrific, fresh-baked goodies. It's really hard to go wrong with any of its sweet or savory offerings. Flavors rotate daily, so enter with an open mind. If it comes down to it, you can ask an employee to help you assemble a bag of treats. Easy wins include the cinnamon rolls, the shell-shaped concha or the savory bolillos.

La Plaza Tapatia

4233 Shoppers Ln.

La Plaza is both a grocery store and full-service restaurant. The supermarket side features everything you'd want: fresh produce, a full butcher counter, a bakery and a whole host of hard-to-find ingredients. The restaurant offers both a la carte fare and a buffet during the week. It'll take multiple visits to work through the menu of authentic dishes, so get started this Cinco de Mayo!

Nicholas Dekker writes about breakfast, beer, coffee and Columbus at breakfastwithnick.com. He leads breakfast and brunch tours for Columbus Food Adventures.