Tacos Don Deme is the Real Deal on Columbus’ West Side

Street tacos are the obvious order at this restaurant tucked into a strip mall, but don’t skip the excellent quesabirria.

Bailey Trask
Quesabirria tacos at Tacos Don Deme, located on Murray Hill Road on Columbus’ West Side

Forget the latest taco chain to arrive in town; instead head west for Tacos Don Deme.

Need a respite from the doldrums of winter? Tacos Don Deme, located in a West Side strip mall, might be just the fix, offering both the taste buds and eyes a lively dining experience.

Vibrant green and yellow walls are adorned with posters of Mexican revolutionaries. A wall of sound, including both Mexican music and streaming telenovelas, provides an awakening of the senses. Most of the 10 tables are set up like booths, with individual upholstered seats providing comfort and flexibility. Water, chips and a thin salsa are delivered immediately. This friendly and efficient service is a consistent feature of the Tacos Don Deme experience.

The 4-year-old restaurant offers a wide variety of both traditional and fusion eats, with three different menus to peruse: a main Mexican menu that includes breakfast, a California menu (the new-ish owners, Gerardo and Monica Lopez, previously lived in the Golden State), and a selection of “new and popular” items. I selected dishes from each.

Given this establishment’s name, tacos are an obvious choice. Delivered in small Koki’s corn tortillas, tacos come topped with chopped onions and fresh cilantro, garnished with limes and cucumber. And they each offer impressive portions of protein. The well-seasoned, spit-grilled pastor ($2.50) with crispy bits is a standout. But other enjoyable options include the tangy and stringy beef barbacoa ($3.50) and the fatty lengua ($4).

A selection from the California menu, the steak California burrito ($17.99) left me puzzled. This foot-long flour tortilla is loaded with a large portion of marinated beef, mozzarella cheese, pico de gallo, a chipotle cream sauce and a layer of french fries (instead of rice and beans). It’s accompanied by green and spicy red salsas. In my opinion, the burrito would be better without the fries, because the tangy steak is overpowered by the double serving of carbs.

Hunting for the best birria tacos has almost become a national pastime, and the quesabirria ($13.50) from the eatery’s “new and popular” menu do not disappoint. I’m told they are the restaurant’s most popular offering. Slow-cooked birria beef and its accompanying broth are the keys to this entrée. Three large, double tortillas are dipped into broth, amplifying the flavor and color, and fried before being loaded with stewed beef, stringy mozzarella, chopped onions and a mountain of cilantro. When dipped into the broth, the result tastes like a hearty, hand-held stew. With cheese.

Speaking of stew, don’t skip the caldo de res ($11.99). Hefty chunks of beef, sizable carrots, potatoes and cabbage are served in a pungent. clear broth alongside rice, cilantro and onions. It’s one of the restaurant’s healthier options.

With its ample portions, mastery in flavor and fine service, Tacos Don Deme deserves to be a West Side staple. Stick with the standards and avoid the fusion, and you’ll surely agree.

Tacos Don Deme

75 S. Murray Hill Road, West Side, 614-465-9014

This story is from the February issue of Columbus Monthly.