After more than a year of renovation, a former Japanese steakhouse has been transformed into an American sports bar with a touch of Tex-Mex.

Munchies Comfort Food and Drinks opened last month at 2045 Brice Road, Reynoldsburg, in the building that housed a Genji Japanese Steakhouse for more than 20 years.

"It's been quite a journey; it took us a little over a year," said Sarai Pulido, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Victor. "It's our baby, so like any mother you think your child is beautiful. So for me this place is beautiful. There's detail in everything that we did – from the woodwork – to even some of the soda is locally made."

A graduate of Ohio State University, Pulido grew up in Texas working in a tortilla factory and taqueria of her aunt and uncle.

"From the age of 6 until 17, I grew up making corn tortillas," she said.

Along with staples like burgers and wings, diners will find tamales, chicharrones and empanadas, made with homemade dough, on the menu.

It's a reflection of an "American sports bar with a taste of Mexico," Pulido said. "We want to embed part of our culture in the menu and infuse our flavors."

The zesty bombas are among the most popular appetizers, made from whole potatoes that are reshaped "to look like a thick mozzarella stick and they are stuffed with cheese or bacon," she said. "It's a savory dish that you get to crunch into because it's been double fried."

Munchie's is meant to be a sports bar, though, make no mistake.

"We installed 40 TVs," Pulido said. "It wasn't meant to be fine dining, but for you to be able to enjoy a great atmosphere and a game with friends. I love the name Munchies, because you can eat most of the items on the menu with your hands. It's food that's easy to munch on. All the recipes were made at home. Most of our items are made from scratch."

The menu does include a few things that require cutlery, like salads, and a kids menu also is available.

With a selection of craft beers and signature drinks like the Senor Sac Sac, named for the Korean Concord grape juice with which it's made, Munchies offers happy hour Mondays through Thursdays.

The 5,100-square-foot restaurant seats 126 people inside with patio space for 56 and a party room available for rent.

Although Munchies is locally owned and operated, "our dream is to become a franchise," Pulido said.

Munchies is open seven days a week, until 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, call 614-604-8895 or go to munchiescolumbus.com.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews