Restaurant Review: Poblano's

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Except for the hardest-working and quickest-moving waitstaff in town - servers literally, stunningly and unfailingly jog across its wide-open and winding-around spaces -Poblano's is nothing you haven't seen before. That said, this bright and tidy newish Mexican restaurant's food was consistently a cut above the norm.

Occupying a rambling, double-decker edifice spread out over several rooms, Poblano's is a big and splashy establishment. Kind of fun in a kitschy and touristy way, its brash color scheme alternates from one tropically tinted wall to the next.

So as you're skittering head attempts to follow that kinetic waitstaff rapidly scattering to the beat of relentlessly uptempo cumbia music, your eyes will rush past tones like tangerine orange, avocado green, mango yellow and chili pepper red.

After the arrival of fresh and above-average chips and salsa, you're probably going to want some of the slightly orange-flavored house margaritas. I recommend eating the worth-it upcharge for a lasts-forever (and potent!) half pitcher of "Poblano's" Margaritas ($17) made with Hornitos tequila and Cointreau.

Appetizer-wise, though the homey, oregano-flecked and salty chicken and tortilla soups were both pleasant enough (each $2.50), my favorite starter was the extra-large and super-valued Whitefish Ceviche ($6.50). I liked how its abundant, creamy and unblemished avocado chunks calmed down the assertive yet enticing fresh lime juice mixture (with diced tomato and onion) in which the plentiful chopped raw fish was "cooked."

From the "House Specialties" entrees, El Amigo ($15) will definitely live up to its name and be your friend - if like me, you're a big eater. A virtual Mexican smorgasbord on a single plate, it was spilling over with nicely seared shrimp plus rice and beans (they grace most every meal and yes, they're better than most), crisply grilled slices of thin beef (carne aside) and a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Both terrestrial proteins tasted great beneath their layers of rich melted Mexican cheese and zesty, greasy chorizo (but what wouldn't?).

Real Mexican chiles rellenos have an eggier batter than you generally get in America. Since I got something approximating that at Poblano's, I'd rate theirs ($10.50) on the higher side. I mixed and matched a chicken (stewy) with a beef (hamburger vastly improved by being cooked with onion, carrot and potato) to fine effect.

Though I doubt it was completely made from scratch, the mole sauce on my Enchiladas Poblanos ($9.50) was thicker, less sweet, richer and more complex (tasting of roasted chilies with a hint of cinnamon) than average. It was slathered over a trio of tortillas wrapped around nice chicken stewed with rajas (roasted poblano pepper strips). Nice.

Also quite nice was a massive platter of Chile Verde ($11). That one featured huge chunks of tender, stewy pork shoulder enlivened by a piquant tomatillo salsa.

I'm a sucker for Pastel de Tres Leches, and Poblano's version ($4.50) did not disappoint. Soaked in sweetened condensed milk, slightly perfumey and elaborately decorated with caramel icing piped into rococo decorations, it was a piece of cake that tasted as good as it looked.

Poblano's Mexican Restaurant

1200 Noe-Bixby Rd., Whitehall

614-866-5881

Cuisine: Mexican

Price: $$ ($10-$20 per person)

Patio: Yes

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday