One of the friends we have made in the course of our taco trucking endeavors called us up to ask if we were free for dinner. As she was responsible for introducing us to Los Guachos it was unlikely that we would say no. She said that she wanted to try a restaurant called Los Galapagos and gave us directions. When I saw the sign I remembered seeing it in a blog post that Columbus Foodie wrote last year, and when I whipped out my iphone to see what she recommended I found that we were there almost a year to the day from her post. I remembered that I had wanted to try it but amidst all the taco trucking it somehow got lost.
Los Galapagos is a family run grocery store and restaurant specializing, as the name would suggest, in Ecuadorean food with some Colombian dishes thrown in for good measure. It is definitely off the beaten path, on Grener Avenue, south of Broad Street near the exit from 270 but well worth searching out. A couple of notes: It closes at 8.30pm so get there early if you want dinner and some of the Ecuadorean specialities (such as the hornado) are only available at the weekend.
It was a cold night and the morocho (a hot spiced milk drink made with dried corn kernals) was a very popular choice.
The food is all cooked to order and while we waited for our main dishes we snacked on some tostados (roasted corn kernals).
We also shared some empanadas. They had two varieties, chicken and cheese of which the cheese was most popular. Taco Drew thought that the chicken tasted like pot pie.
And we couldn’t resist some plantain maduros.
Hunger staved, our eyes almost popped out of our heads when we saw the size of the main dishes. The prices are extremely good value. This was my chaulafan, an Ecuadorean take on chicken fried rice with ham , bacon and vegetables. It was really good and enough for two people.
CMH Gourmand and Taco Drew opted for the bandeja paisa, a Colombian platter with rice, avocado, ground meat, pork rind, egg, plantain, chorizo and arepa and beans (served separately). It was a feast of a platter and neither got anywhere near finishing theirs.
The arepa was different to the ones we have had at trucks tasting more like grits than yellow cornmeal. The chorizo was particularly tasty and I was pleased to find that I could buy some to take home. Our friend had a soup with shrimp and plantains, not really a hit because the plantains gave it a peculiar slimy texture. Although we didn’t try them on this visit we heard that the broth based soups are very good.
Like Restaurante Salvadoreno on the opposite side of town, Los Galapagos offers the chance to experience a different Latin American cuisine from the more common Mexican fare. A visit to one of these restaurants is a step beyond arm chair travel – when you walk in the door you almost feel like you have left Columbus. This is a no frills dining experience with satisfying, unpretentious food, generous portions and genial hosts.