Table Talk

Latest quick-serve Mexican restaurant uses wood-fired grill

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Lorrie Cecil/ThisWeekNEWS
Israel Jimenez smiles as he talks about the new restaurant Hass. Jimenez is partners with Jose Banderas in Hass, which is a Mexican restaurant specializing in wood-fired ingredients. Hass is located at 7370 Sawmill Road in Dublin.
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In the world of quick-serve Mexican restaurants, Hass is in a class by itself.

In other words, it's not Chipotle.

The independently owned Mexican grill, which opened last week at 7370 Sawmill Road, uses something novel to central Ohio: a wood-fired grill using either mesquite or hickory.

Owners Jose Banderas and Israel Jimenez said they spent $175,000 in new kitchen equipment at the location, which seats 42.

Banderas, who owns two El Acapulco restaurants in town, said it was worth the investment for an increasingly adventuresome dining public.

"I think the new generation needs and wants something different," he said.

"The way you cook in Mexico, you were raised cooking on wood," Jimenez added.

Casual, affordable food -- similar to Chipotle and countless other taquerias throughout central Ohio -- is the goal, the two men said.

"What we're intending to do is bring high-end -- what people call high-end -- food into a regular restaurant," Jimenez said.

Tacos, for example, are $1.75 to $2.99 each. Burritos run from $6.99 to $10.99 and tortas, or Mexican sandwiches, are $7.99 each.

Chicken, pork (bacon included) and beef have top billing at the restaurant.

Also among the choices is al pastor -- marinated pieces of pork vertically spit-roasted with onions and pineapple.

Vegetarians are given an occasional nod with dishes such as the taco verde, which uses nopalitos, or grilled prickly pear cactus segments.

There are both shrimp and fried-fish tacos at the restaurant. Salsas and the flour tortillas are made fresh, in-house. Corn tortillas are purchased fresh from a local provider.

Hass is named after the popular avocado variety first cultivated in California and now widely distributed throughout the world.

The ingredient shows up in many of the dishes, said Banderas, who's been in the restaurant business for 30 years.

Meanwhile, Jimenez has been repairing and maintaining restaurant equipment for 10 years.

The business partners said they've been working on the concept of Hass for more than a year and did most of the build-out themselves.

The restaurant has a liquor license and serves popular domestic and Mexican beers as well as margaritas.

Hass opened next door to La Favorita, a Mexican market also owned by Banderas. With the opening of Hass, the market's kitchen will be phased out, Banderas said.

While the menu might seem limited for now, it will expand, Jimenez said.

Customers can look forward to chimichangas, burritos filled with rehydrated beef (machaca) and shredded beef with red sauce (Colorado) and an assortment of other options in the not too distant future, he said.

"We have a lot of specialties coming, but we wanted to start out with a basic menu," Jimenez said. "We want to have something to offer, a lot of things coming, but it has to be slow."

Hass is open for lunch and dinner daily. For more information, call 614-760-0155.

 

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Bar 145, a Toledo-based gastropub and live-music venue, has opened in the Grandview Heights area.

The tavern has taken over 5,400 square feet of space at 955 W. Fifth Ave., part of a new development east of Northwest Boulevard.

Company officials say local produce and meats are used as much as possible in the menu, composed mostly of burgers and other casual fare given a gourmet touch. Most individual items are in the $8 to $12 range.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.

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