My dad and stepmom are habitual diners. Before they fled for the Carolinas, I knew I could find them in specific places on specific days. Breakfast? First Watch. Drinks? El Vaquero. Dinner? Applebee’s. I used to joke that they know their waitress at Applebee’s more than they know me, but then I wondered if it might be true, so I stopped. As much as I avoid suburbia and its chain restaurants, I know why they’re successful, especially with my family. People want consistency, they want convenience. And sometimes, they just don’t want to think. After a long week, it’s understandable.
I noticed a similar pattern starting to develop with my weekend evening activities, recently. For two weekends in a row, I’ve been ordering carryout from Don Patron III, a Mexican restaurant within walking distance from my house, to enjoy at home with a book. This restaurant has changed names three times since I’ve lived in the neighborhood, and I think that the most recent rendition of the restaurant is the best.
With sister stores in Pickerington and New Albany, this small chain may be looking to rival Columbus’ Mexican sweetheart, the previously mentioned El Vaquero. Personally, I believe that they’re really two different camps of restaurants. Don Patron’s menu is, simply put, manageable. I don’t have to read through hundreds of combinations to determine what I want. And while the prices seem higher than your typical shopping center fare, the quality matches.
This past Friday, I chose Carnitas Michoachan to accompany Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees. The chunks of slowly-cooked pork, accompanied with fat, were tender and perfectly-cooked. Paired with the orange slice and the flavorful rice, it made for a satisfying dinner for $11.95. I’ve previously had Burrito de Luxe (a pair of so-so burritos covered in limp lettuce and sour cream) and a few of the seafood entrees (tossed with a wine and butter sauce that makes my heart do back flips.)
My growing admiration for Don Patron III is, perhaps, based on the same reasons that my dad has his favorites. It’s close. It’s convenient. It’s consistent. I don’t have to think. And, I might add, with the exception of Maya’s birthday, it is never packed. Which makes the carryout process a calm and stress-free one, allowing me to get home to my book, all the more quickly.
Don Patron III
2977 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43202