Meeting up with my pal and colleague, CMH Gourmand, at Garcia's Internazionale Restaurant seemed like one of the oddest suggestions I'd heard in a while. Naturally, I couldn't refuse.
It turned out that the food was better than I'd expected from this eatery which I hadn't visited in at least a decade--and which that evening was called things like "The Latino restaurant at the end of the universe" and "Unsettlingly like a set from Kill Bill" and "Where other Mexican restaurants go to die" (inside are recycled signs and assorted other detritus from defunct Columbus Mexican food outlets).
Less surprising, the strangeness quotient did not disappoint as the empty joint slowly attracted an almost-crowd of eccentric, hipsterish 20-somethings gathering for "Thursday movie night." They wound up watching the highly profane Kevin Smith "I'm still a Catholic" flick called Dogma on a big screen TV at an exceedingly high volume.
Here's a few things we tried (n.b. the Peruvian-tinged, Mexican-touting Garcia's is now run by the Jack and Benny's wing of the family. Also, the place was a Latin food pioneer back in the day and has been serving its brand of grub for over 30 years):
$3 margaritas are a mainstay here--not bad, but I preferred the taste of the pisco sour better--if not its $7 price.
These are called something like Jeff's Nacho's Nachos. They taste exactly like they look.
The spicy, crisply and heavily battered chili relleno was fun to chew on
Wrapped in a mammoth banana leaf, this Peruvian tamal was approximately the size of the flag that flies over Ohio Stadium during gameday. It's like a cross between a Mexican tamal and a loaf of cornbread--pretty good, actually.
Jumping Beef was like super juicy fajitas and french fries all mixed together
The Cilantro Pork was the best thing I tried--stewy, tender and aromatic with its namesake herb, it had a pleasant, faint acidity to it
Though I don't think I've been converted to Thursday movie night "regular" status, it won't be another decade before I visit this supremely odd outfit again.