Restaurant Review: Cuco's Mexican Taqueria

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

So maybe you were beginning to think the blistering sun and searing heat were all behind us by now. Psyche!

Because obviously at the drop of a damp, salt-encrusted hat (sorry for that image), Mean Mr. Sol can come charging back and uncork a few 90-degree scorchers like we had to endure last week.

On those days, I'm liable to creep up to the stove or grill, pause, crinkle up my sun-burnished nose, and head straight for the take-out menu drawer. Or sometimes I jump into the car and motor off to Cuco's for ceviche.

You know ceviche, don't you? I suppose you could call it Latino sushi, because it's fish "cooked" only by the acid in (usually) lime juice. The high-toned flavors are generally fleshed out by salsa-like ingredients. In my experience, Cuco's ceviche is - locally at least - the biggest and best out there.

You know Cuco's, don't you? It's the one-time Mexican grocery store with a tiny taco counter that's grown into a full-fledged, justifiably successful restaurant that still sells a few Mexican goods. But as Cuco's loyal following expands, its retail inventory seems to shrink. In fact, every time I stop in, it seems there's a little less shop and a little more seats.

OK, the ceviche. First of all, it's a pretty great deal. For $6, you get a very large bowl that might translate sizewise into two good servings of cereal. Scooped up with tortilla chips or spooned onto tostadas (an option here), it would easily be enough appetizer for four eaters.

But I often order it as an entree - and unless you're super hungry or an OSU lineman, it's plenty of dinner. You get a bright mix of diced, firm white fish that's heavily marinated in lime juice and tricked out with chopped cilantro plus just the right amounts of diced serrano pepper, tomatoes and sweet red onions.

Topped with a rich and creamy foil of avocado slices and resting on a shallow bed of romaine lettuce, Cuco's ceviche does not taste in the least bit "fishy," and can basically function like a crisp and refreshing salad - perfect for hellaciously hot days.