The mostly inexpensive Tex-Mex fare from this popular Texas-based chain rarely rises above the expectations of a fast food restaurant
After my initial visit to Fuzzy's Taco Shop, my first thought was, “Wow, I haven't had a meal like that for a long time!” My second thought was, “Wow, I hope I don't have another meal like that for a long time!”
That night, the mostly well-intentioned staff got most of my order wrong, and when I was served the right items, some of those still seemed wrong.
This included a one-note House Margarita,dispensed from a slushie machine, that resembles frozen limeade but at least is inexpensive (18 ounces for $6.50); a “Primo” margarita that isn't inexpensive ($9.75), but should be; tacos with chewy Shredded Brisket ($2.79) and so-so Spicy Pork ($2.29) that paired well with the margaritas only because they were nearly as chilly; and dishes that had me calling Fuzzy's home base — Texas — the “Lone Salt State.”
Except for a Grilled Veggie Salad ($7) that put the “sad” in “salad,” subsequent visits resulted in generally better experiences. During those meals, I was served fairly average Tex-Mex fare in a place bright enough to perform surgery, but with tables that say “Eat Me” on them and are topped with bottles of something called “Fuzzy's Butt Burnin' Hot Sauce.”
Based on a press release from Fuzzy's promising “uniquely flavorful foods” served in a “fun atmosphere” by a business that's “earned a cult-like following,” this fell short of my expectations. Because, even though it inhabits the (aggressively redecorated) space occupied for decades by the former Japanese Steak House, the first Columbus link in the over-100-member Fuzzy's chain is in essence a fast food-style restaurant with a bar.
Make that a fast food-style restaurant where diners are handed a buzzer after ordering at the counter and must wait for it to activate to get their food. In my experiences, without explanation, items were sometimes brought to my table before and after the buzzer went off, and sometimes I had to fetch food or drinks myself.
One of the better main dishes I sampled was the Migas ($7). Part of Fuzzy's all-day breakfast menu, it's a sizable platter of eggs scrambled with chorizo, pico de gallo and tortilla strips. The OK-tasting sides could've used fine-tuning: stiff refried beans topped with shredded cheese plus “Latin-fried potatoes,” which are cubes that are nicely browned but textured like mini marshmallows.
Although not part of my actual order, the Fajita Beef Burrito ($8) I was served turned out to be a highlight. It's big and filled with warm flavorful meat accompanied by plenty of rice, a few black beans, shredded cheese, guacamole, house garlic sauce, tomatoes and onions.
The Enchilada Plate ($7) falls in the same “adequate value” category. Two relatively supple tortilla tubes with a choice of filling ? I went with innocuous shredded chicken — are swamped in melted cheese and tangy salsa verde. The price also affords diners a choice of two sides.
The best sides I tried were the soupy Black Beans flavored with onions and peppers, and the accurately named Cilantro-Lime Rice. The sides I liked least were the alarmingly salty Borracho Beans and the nondescript Mix-Mex Fried Rice.
Fuzzy's tacos are garnished with lettuce, shredded cheese, tomatoes, garlic sauce, feta and cilantro. I tried four; none arrived even warm. The most interesting one had thickly battered little fried shrimp, bacon, brown-edged avocado chunks plus a Sriracha-based sauce (California Heat Taco, $3.49).
Fuzzy's also offers 16 beers on tap. The selection isn't world-class, but the brews are poured into 18-ounce glasses and are generally inexpensive (Miller Lite, $4.25). Add an order of thin, house-fried tortilla chips dusted in a barbecue-style spice mix sided with a decent queso and chorizo dip ($5) and, well, you can do worse.