New taco concept coming to Short North

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

If all goes as planned, by the end of the month the Short North could have a new Day of the Dead themed taco joint to add to High Street's growing list of eateries.

Called Condado-Spanish for a borough of a city-the concept is from a Cleveland restaurateur with some familiarity running a taco and tequila joint. Joe Kahn is the former co-owner of popular neighborhood taqueria Barrio, which earned a following for build-your-own tacos and healthy helpings of fresh queso and guacamole dips. Kahn split with his partner this year, turning his sights south to bring a similar approach to tacos to Columbus.

"Me and my (new) partners really wanted to take this concept national, and that's the biggest reason for coming to Columbus," Kahn says. "We wanted to test out the waters."

The 124-seat Condado will take over the former Circus bar space at 1227 N. High St. The theme is Day of the Dead with skeleton murals telling a taco revolution story line. Old church pews will be rehabbed into banquettes. Garage doors will be added street side to open up the space in warmer weather. Behind the bar, Kahn says they will have specialty margaritas and craft beers, adding 24 draft lines, plus a 75-bottel selection.

The concept is create-your-own tacos from a sushi-style menu diners fill out at the table, selecting tortilla, protein, cheese, toppings and sauces. And lest you think the simple choice of corn or flour tortilla is too boring, Condado looks to spice this up. "We're really focusing on these specialty shells," Kahn says. For example, order your taco on the Juju and you'll get queso and chorizo sandwiched between a soft flour and hard corn shell. Choose the Sweet Lucy and you'll get queso and guac with a hard corn and soft flour shell. Or there's the Goodie Goodie, a soft flour tortilla with guacamole, sour cream and a hard corn shell crumble.

"We're more gringo," Kahn says of his tacos, mentioning house-made chorizo and braised beef as two of his favorite proteins on the menu. He's brought in Ohio native and longtime New York chef Nick Nostadt to lead the menu. "It's great, fresh ingredients with everything made from scratch daily."

There will also be sharable appetizers like house-made guacamole and queso. And Kahn emphasizes the menu will be vegan and vegetarian friendly. Food service will run to 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Kahn's goal is to open Condado by the Ohio State versus Michigan football game on Nov. 29, but says it could be early December, depending on inspections.