Condado offers a menu of customized tacos and a craft beer- and cocktail-focused bar.
A Columbus-based taco and tequila restaurant that boasts itself as Sauza tequila’s biggest account in the Midwest is the newest restaurant to sign at the Banks, entering the first floor of the new AC Hotel by Marriott.
Condado Tacos is taking over 4,850 square feet in the first floor of the hotel at 135 Joe Nuxhall Way with a planned opening of March 2018. Condado currently has five locations, four in the Columbus area and one in Pittsburgh.
“(The Banks) is right across from the baseball stadium, and I thought it would be a great area to walk around and be able to see a ball game,” owner Joe Kahn told me. “It’s a nice marquee location for our first Cincinnati location.”
Condado specializes in build-your-own tacos in the $3 to $4 range. It starts with either a hard corn shell or flour soft shell, but the restaurant’s specialty is double decker tacos with a flour shell stuffed with toppings like queso, guacamole, bacon refried beans, chorizo or sour cream and then filled with another shell and topped like a normal taco.
Protein options include house-made chorizo, roasted cilantro lime chicken, ghost pepper marinated steak, root beer and coffee braised brisket, pulled pork and shrimp ceviche. Vegetarian choices include a Thai chili tofu, barbecue pulled jackfruit and roasted portobellos.
Tacos can be topped with lettuce, cilantro, onions, slaw, tomatoes and cabbage as well as different cheeses, salsa and sauces like the chipotle crema, chimichurri, chipotle honey, cilantro-lime aioli, habanero mango barbecue, ghost pepper and Condado secret taco sauce.
Kahn said Condado is known for its margaritas. It offers its house-made margarita in seven flavors along with eight specialty margaritas. He claims that even back when he only had two Condado locations, he was Sauza’s largest Midwestern account.
Condado also serves specialty cocktails like an Oaxaca old fashioned or Diplomatico Exclusiva rum Manhattan as well as red and white wine and sangria.
“It’s a fun place that’s affordable. Our tacos are pretty big, so it usually only takes two to fill you up,” Kahn said.
Kahn uses the same group to design all of his restaurants, but the art inside of each reflects the city or neighborhood where it’s located. The hand-painted murals started out as more of a Day of the Dead theme but evolved over time into more street art with recurring characters. The music in the restaurant will be modern and trendy with as many local bands on the playlist as possible, he said.
Kahn started out in the restaurant industry as a busboy. He said he’s done every job in between that and owner, from front-of-house manager to general manager and consulting, before co-creating Barrio with a partner in Cleveland. Barrio is the same concept as Condado, but after creative differences he took the concept and renamed it, opening Condado in Columbus in 2014.
Condado is a mish-mash of different influences. Kahn said he wanted to create a restaurant that he would want to go to two to three times a week.
“I took Happy Dog from Cleveland and Big Star Taco in Chicago with influences from Chipotle and some sushi places, molded them together with music and artwork and it seemed to catch on,” he said. “It was a truly selfish concept and it worked, so I was very lucky.”
If Condado does well at the Banks, Kahn plans to expand with other locations in Cincinnati.
Condado was represented locally by David Sheehy of Anchor Associates in partnership with Joe Mannino of Terra National in Cleveland.
“It’s been a popular concept up in Columbus, and I think they’ll do well at the Banks because they’re entertainment-food oriented,” Sheehy told me. “Tacos and tequila is a strong concept.”