Happy hour at Momocho

These Brief Reviews of Brief Meals posts focus on the after-work food available on the near West side of Cleveland.

Momocho is a "mod mex" restaurant and bar; for the year or two I've been coming there, their happy hour has reliably offered one food special:  half price taquitos.  They're excellent, filling, a bargain, and there are fifteen or twenty kinds to choose from.  You can also get margaritas at a reduced price - most recently, the one on special was the traditional recipe.  It was predictably excellent, with plenty of lime and not too much sugar.  Some margaritas make me feel like I've chugged a rum and Mountain Dew; not this one.

Momocho is chef Eric Williams' main haunt; he's also a partner at the Happy Dog, and you'll see many of his sauces in both places.  (This does cause me a little cognitive dissonance.)  The bar is bright, lively bordering on the noisy side, and really popular.  I once arrived at 5:10PM on a Thursday and couldn't get a seat.  The staff is professional and friendly without being intrusive - they've usually got their hands full.  The vibe is of groups of people there for some occasion, maybe a rare after-work gathering or starting the night with food before moving on to clubbier venues.  Friendly with a dash of nervous laughter.

I've had several of the taquitos offerings (it's a dish of filling, with sauces and tortillas on the side) and never been disappointed.  Last week I had the one with ground lamb shoulder; it's supposed to have mint, but that was probably drowned out by the mole sauce.  About halfway through, I realized what it reminded me of:  the Irish bar classic shepherd's pie.  Without the mashed potatoes, of course.  Besides that one, I can recommend the machaca and carnitas; I know I've had others, but I can't remember which.

I'm always surprised at how good Momocho is.  The cucumber margaritas are a revelation.  It's even cheap.  And you can't ask for more than that after work.