Restaurant Review: Tasi Cafe

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Anyone who goes to lunch at Tasi is putting in some effort.

The comfy cafe is in the Short North, but not right on the High Street strip. Instead it's on Pearl Alley, which runs parallel to High. You can't spot it as you're driving through Short North, so if you're not lucky enough to be able to walk there, you'll have to remember exactly which street to turn on (Brickel) lest you get lost on the district's back roads.

Plus, there's very limited parking, so if you don't snag one of the five or so spots, you'll be stuck parking and walking.

But all that effort is well worth it. Because Tasi offers one of the best lunch experiences I can think of in the city. The place looks hip and slightly industrial while still feeling homey, the top-notch seasonal fare is made with fresh ingredients, and the prices are more than fair.

Rough-hewn picnic tables are a nice contrast to the exposed brick walls and polished concrete floors, while bright red enameled chairs add a pop of color. Jazz plays softly in the background, making Tasi a calming spot even during the busy lunch rush. A display case is filled with beautiful breads from Eleni Christina Bakery, prepared-in-house pastries and colorful novelty pops.

The lunch menu is made up of a nice long list of neat sandwiches - like chevre with roasted peppers, arugula and pine nuts on multigrain bread, or an Italian option with mortadella, salami, coppa and tomato aioli - and a couple soups and salads.

Cubano Panini, $8

I once had a truly memorable traditional Cuban sandwich from a street vendor, and ever since sampling that tasty combo of pork, Swiss, pickles and mustard, I order them whenever I see them. Some are great, most not so much.

Tasi's, while not really a traditional Cuban, is on the highly recommended list. The nice and hot sandwich is made with thinly sliced and falling-apart tender pork roast, melted mozzarella, a medley of pickled veggies (I spotted carrots, onions and cauliflower) and a bright green Bolivian salsa tasting of cilantro and jalapenos.

That tasty salsa is spread thin on an olive oil roll, then pressed and toasted panini-style. Basically, Tasi takes the best elements of the original inspiration and elevates them with exciting new flavors. So yes, the bread's not really Cuban and the mustard's swapped for salsa, but I promise you won't miss any of that stuff.

Super-thin, super-crispy house-made potato chips, dusted with sea salt, fill the remainder of the plate, rounding out a meal that's definitely worth the extra effort.

Cubano Panini, $8

Tax & Tip: $1.74

Total: $9.74

Tasi Cafe

680 N. Pearl St., Short North