Written by | Scott Hall • Photos by | Dawn Hall Photography
If you haven’t been to Delaware in the past year or so, you might be due for a visit. The restaurant and nightlife scene up north has really come around in recent years and newcomer – 12 West – is no exception.
Roughly 30 miles north of downtown Columbus, lies the charming town of Delaware, full of excellent places to shop for locally made products, antiques and produce at the farmer’s market. With a slew of places to grab a craft beer like ‘Barley Hopsters – World of Beer’, Delaware’s own microbrew ‘Staas Brewery’, and even a few 5 star restaurants like ‘1808 American Bistro’ and the new kids on the block ‘Son of Thurman’ (as in THE Thurman Café), Delaware isn’t just a sleepy historic town. Most recently, the city of Delaware was graced with a new restaurant boasting the moniker ‘12 West’ across its windows, accompanied by a tiny cactus icon. It was enough to peak anyone’s curiosity. So my wife and I wandered in.
We were greeted by a friendly bartender, and were invited to sit anywhere we chose. The bar seemed like the perfect spot to belly up and get the down low on this new hot spot. So instead of reaching for the menu, I instead angled for a drink suggestion – dealer’s choice. He asked me if I like margaritas. “Who doesn’t?” I replied.
The bartender informed me that he serves two kinds, but that one was a little more special because it is made from scratch, and not with the traditional mixers. I went with that. My wife ordered a tasty pineapple beer from a Pittsburgh brewery. Moments later, I was sampling one of the most memorable margaritas that ever found its way into my hand. Of course, I am not at liberty to discuss its entire, top-secret composition, but the flavor was in direct correlation to a house made sour mix of natural fresh juices (lemon, lime & orange), Cuervo, a few unnamed ingredients, and finally topped with some Grand Marnier. Worth. Every. Penny.
“Any appetizers?” we were asked. Finally taking a minute to peruse the menu, we decided on the Nachos with Queso and Chorizo Dip. It was only $7.50 and came in a ceramic crock piled with green onions, cilantro, chorizo and the creamiest cheese that you could imagine. My guess is that it was made with several types of cheese, because there were so many flavors going on with each bite. Cheese perfection. The only downside was that as the cheese cooled down, the house-made nachos were not strong enough to lift the cheese without breaking. I suggest you eat it fast!
For dinner, I ordered the steak enchiladas with rice and beans. My wife chose a couple of à la carte tacos: the carnitas and the cod. Each taco came with 12 West’s signature topping of pickled radishes, thinly sliced jalapeños, red cabbage, and queso fresco. They were both very tasty. The kind of flavor where you can not wait to finish the bite in your mouth so that you can take the next. And at prices ranging from a mere $2 to $3.50, it is easy to get a few different ones and pass them around your party.
As for my meal, the rice and beans were a bit spicy for my taste. I am a self-admitted sissy when it comes to spice. My limit is Frank’s Red Hot and Sriracha. Anything beyond that, and I’m out. I felt that the enchiladas were a little on the thin side. There were two of them, they were very moderately priced, and the flavors were there, but I am the type of person that wants to sit for 20 minutes after I eat to make room for dessert.
All of the food I have sampled at 12 West has been enough to keep me coming back, and I have to say that even the 12 West Burger would hold its own in any burger competition. It has a patty blended with ground beef and chorizo, roasted pablano mayo, tomato, and avocado on a toasted roll. Delish.
12 West is a wonderful, little place with an excellent Mexican/American menu. The menu items are reasonably priced and you get decent portions. The atmosphere is very modern and the staff is beyond friendly. I had the opportunity to sit down with the owner, David DiStefano, and ask him a few questions.
Me: What brings you to Delaware?
David: Delaware is a great market. This area is seeing some major growth. It is very community-based and has that feel that you hope for as a business owner.
Me: From start to finish, describe the perfect meal at your restaurant.
David: It all starts with great friends! Then maybe an appetizer of the nachos and chorizo dip, even our tacos are great to share. For the main course, we have the Cowboy Ribeye. All of our wines are Spanish, so they are specifically made to accompany meals. I feel like they are the perfect thing to drink while you enjoy our foods.
Me: Are there any secret menu items?
David: (Chuckling) Actually, yes. We have a Mexican hot dog. It is a Chicago-style, natural casing hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep fried and topped with avocado, tomato, roasted jalapeños, and topped with sour cream. We also have a jumbo shrimp grilled burrito that is pretty tasty.
Me: Now for the hard one. What was your favorite childhood cartoon?
David: Easy. Hong Kong Phooey.
12 West Williams Street
Delaware, Ohio 43015
Hours: Mon – Thu: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun: 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
This article appears courtesy of Now It’s Dark Magazine where Scott Hall is an entertainment writer.