Thank you to Visit Fairfield County for inviting me to explore this area, and to El Pedregal for providing samples for me to review. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.
I’m super excited to share a hidden gem with you guys. Recently, I tried a new-to-me Mexican restaurant and I was BLOWN away.
The restaurant is located in Lithopolis, which sounds super far away, but it’s actually not. It’s about 25-30 minutes from Columbus, which is less than most people’s commute.
It’s totally worth the drive, people.
When I pulled up to the restaurant, I was totally intrigued by the outside. The restaurant is in a super cool building that used to be a house.
I walked in, said hello, and mentioned that we needed a table for two. Turns out, I was talking to Efrain, the owner.
Regulars call him E and he makes it a priority to stop by each table to say hello so he gets to know his customers.
No surprise to anyone, I ask a lot of questions, and when I realized E was the owner, it was game on. (Meanwhile my husband pretended not to know me and decided to instead fumble around on his iPhone…)
I asked him where the name El Pedregal came from.
He told me that “El Pedregal” loosely translates to rocky terrain or path, and it was a nod to the city of Lithopolis, which means “stone city” in Greek and was named after the valuable deposits of stone that were found there.
I asked him why he opened a restaurant.
Turns out, it’s in his blood. His family has been in the restaurant business for generations, and from the time he started working in his family’s restaurants at age 14, he knew this was what he wanted to do.
So then, naturally, I asked him about his family. (You guys already know that I’m nosy as hell, right?)
He’s one of 22 grandkids! And there are multiples of twins in his generation. El Pedregal is also a family business – E works alongside his brothers and sister.
I asked him what the favorites were on the menu, and he said that it just kind of depended on what I liked and if I had any food allergies.
Well, my husband and I eat anything and everything and I don’t have any food allergies. So I asked if he would just take the liberty of ordering for us.
El Pedregal has a large menu. Normally I give restaurants a side eye when they have large menus (Cheesecake Factory, I’m looking at you!), but in this case it makes sense.
The menu has all the Tex-Mex classics we’ve grown to love.
You can find tacos, fajitas, burritos, queso and guacamole. The tortillas are fresh and made to order. That’s right, it’s just a ball of dough until you place your order and then they are PRESSED and COOKED to order. They were delicious – soft, warm, and with a great flavor.
BUT, in addition to all the usual suspects, the menu is also chock full of CREATIVE and AUTHENTIC dishes, too.
Like this incredibly delicious and unique jicama taco. I’ve never had anything like it. They take a sliver of jicama, lightly fry it to make it soft, and then pile on coconut crusted chicken, topped with pico de gallo and a delicious chipotle sauce. We’re talking all the textures, flavors and fun, here folks.
I highly recommend this dish!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. When you sing you begin with do, re, mi” and when you eat dinner, you begin with cocktails.
I always struggle when presented with the option of sangria or margarita. Like, I really really want both.
And magically, as if they’ve read my mind, El Pedregal has a drink called the Sangria Margarita. I bet you can guess what’s in it. It’s super delicious and available either blended as a slushie or on the rocks.
Side note: El Pedregal has happy hour 7 days a week!
The Sangria Margarita goes really well with the chips and salsa. Thin, crispy chips and a yummy salsa. Both cocktails and the chips and salsa came out really fast.
And then I mentioned to my server that I’m obsessed with spicy things and asked if they had a spicy salsa. Of course they did, and it was SO GOOD. Smokey heat and a great flavor. I poured it over everything. If you’re a fan of spicy food, you should totally ask for this!
I also got a “Latin Lover” cocktail – it was a mix of Malibu, Midori, creme de banana, peach schnapps and pineapple juice. Then I tried to make a joke to my husband about how I was holding my “Latin Lover” while having dinner with him, my “German Lover” but all I got was a half-hearted smile, out of pity.
The only person I can ever make laugh is myself, apparently, because I couldn’t stop giggling at my own joke. Or maybe it was the alcohol?
Ready to keep going and dip our chips in? First up is the Queso Fundido. A blend of creamy cheeses and Mexican sausage and a steal at under $6.
I also really loved the Fiesta Guacamole. It may have been my favorite item of the night, and that’s really saying something because everything I tried was fantastic.
If I were to try to explain the Fiesta Guacamole to my six year old, I’d tell her it was more like a guacamole salad or a “deconstructed guacamole” and she would totally get it because she watches anything with Alton Brown in it.
Basically – it’s chunks of fresh avocado, tomato, jalapeños, cilantro, and onion, tossed with fresh lime juice.
Next up was the Avocado Chimichanga, another unique and fun appetizer! You get 2 chimichangas in an order – and they are stuffed with fresh avocado, crabmeat, cheese, and then queso is drizzled over the top. OMG. But it’s also served with additional avocado, fresh tomato pico and a salad so it’s basically healthy, right?
Speaking of healthy – did you know you can ask for tacos to be served in lettuce instead of tortillas? All you low carb/keto fans are going to love this place!
As far as the tacos go, you can pretty much find whatever you’re looking for. Tex-Mex fans will find classics like steak, chicken, and chorizo tacos, the pescatarians will love the mahi-mahi or shrimp tacos, and all my authentic-craving, adventurous foodies will love choices like the jicama tacos or lengua tacos.
If you’ve never had lengua (cow tongue), I suggest you give it a try. It was my husband’s favorite dish on the menu and it goes GREAT with their warm tomatillo dip!
Or try the El Pedregal house fajitas. With strips of grilled steak, chicken, chorizo, bacon, peppers, mushrooms, onions, and pineapple and then topped with cheese – it’s an epic dish.
Plus it comes with tortillas – freshly made to order and so soft and tasty!
And, also with a side of beans, rice, salad and sour cream. The portions are GIANT and I could probably feed my family of three on this dish alone. But it’s so good, you probably won’t want to share. Tex-Mex purists, fear not – they also have traditional style fajitas!
Next up is the Fried Grilled Burrito. It’s a giant burrito stuffed with an assortment of veggies and your choice of grilled steak or grilled chicken, wrapped up and deep fried. Then it’s topped with their yummy queso and served with rice and salad!
I don’t think you can appreciate the size of this thing from my picture. Here it is from another angle:
It is totally stuffed full! Yummmmmmm!
And for the sweetest ending ever…..
And, I’ve saved the best for last. You HAVE to end your meal with a CHURRO SANDWICH! Brand new on the menu. 2 hot churros with a delicious ice cream filling, topped with gooey caramel sauce. I sat there, mesmerized, as the hot churro “buns” melted the ice cream in a delicious dribble down the side.
It was hypnotic. I highly recommend. Promise me you’ll order it and be totally cool and post your photo on Instagram and tag me #lakesandlattes so you can make me totally jealous.
44 E Columbus St,
Lithopolis, OH 43136
T: (614) 829-2394