Don Deme does tacos right
Tacos Don Deme, serving on the West Side, offers everything from delicious, street-style tacos and mouth-watering birria to top-notch pozole and carne asada
Columbus is dotted with so many places that offer delicious tacos nowadays that it’s hard to keep up with them all. The West Side is an especially rich area to mine for good Mexican food, and that’s where you’ll find Tacos Don Deme, one of my favorite new Mexican eateries.
I should amend that statement to “Mexican eateries that are new to me,” because Tacos Don Deme has been open for a couple of years. I’d also like to acknowledge another terrific taco source — Alebrijes Food Truck (which I reviewed in November) — for alerting me to Tacos Don Deme via an enthusiastic recommendation on Instagram.
The restaurant is located in an interesting little strip mall, designated “La Plazita,” that includes a fine Mexican bakery and a Honduran eatery that I plan on exploring soon. Inside Tacos Don Deme, I encountered a modest-sized but pleasant and upbeat space with Univision playing on TVs, serape-like covers on shiny wooden tables and big lacquered posters of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa (heroes of the Mexican Revolution) on guacamole-green and lemon-yellow walls. The service I received ranged from efficient to super-friendly, and even large orders came out rather quickly.
As I’d hoped given this restaurant’s name, it excelled in “street style” traditional tacos: good warm corn tortillas loaded with seared, juicy and flavorful meats garnished with onions and cilantro and presented with zippy green and a fiery red salsas.
Unsurprisingly for a casual real-deal Mexican eatery, the pork fillings I tried — fragrant and fat-edged pastor, lusty carnitas and zesty and addictive chorizo — soared high for a low price ($2 per taco).
I could say the same thing about the beef tacos I sampled: lean-but-flavorful steak (asada, $2) and cinnamon-scented pot roast-style meat (barbacoa, $3). Heck, even the chicken ($2 per taco), a protein that’s often a shrug at many local taquerias, was a winner at Don Deme.
Have an adventurous palate? Offal-filled tacos ($3) assembled with tongue, tripe, stomach and cow-head meat are available, too.
Heard about birria? I’ve been eating it in Columbus for at least a decade, but the stewed meat (usually beef served with broth) has become somewhat of a pandemic-era national phenomenon. Order the “quesabirrias” ($13.50), and you’ll get three huge and phenomenally crunchy, broth-dunked-and-fried barbacoa tacos enriched with melted cheese and served with a light, aromatic beef broth.
Order a gordita, and you’ll receive taco meat, cheese, mayo and lettuce sandwiched between crispy fried masa disks. Meal-sized and priced at only $3.50, Don Deme’s delicious gorditas are a fantastic deal.
The milanesa de pollo ($9) was yet another highlight. In fact, that massive and outstanding chicken-cutlet torta was easily among the best in town.
Ditto for the carne asada platillo ($12.99). Served with compatible cebollitas asadas (grilled big-bulbed scallions), tortillas, plus above-average Mexican rice and refried beans, this inexpensive steak dinner starred thin but deeply flavorful beef that conjured the steak equivalent of a smash burger. The same meat topped three delectable cheese enchiladas swamped in a perky tomato sauce in the first-rate enchiladas con bistec ($12, with rice and beans).
The Pozole ($10.99) was one of the best around, too. This classic pork-and-hominy stew featured spork-tender meat (some on the bone), a lively paprika-and-chile-spiked broth, plus enhancing add-ons, such as tostadas, onions, limes, shredded lettuce and cilantro.
Watch for chalkboard specials. Because a recent pipian mole ($11, with rice and beans) — a falling-off-the-bone chicken breast drenched in a plate-licking-worthy sauce made with roasted chiles and pumpkin seeds — merits alterations in previous meal plans.
Some final tips: The inhalable cheesecake-style homemade flan anointed in a dark caramel sauce ($3.50) doesn’t need its spray-on whipped cream garnish, but if dining with others, you’ll need multiple orders of it to prevent fighting.
Tacos Don Deme
75 S. Murray Hill Rd., West Side