Welcome Momocho: bringing excellent, innovative modern.mex to historic Ohio City

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 07/12/2006 - 02:10.


 I was sad to learn that the Fulton Street Bar and Grill was closing this Spring, as that was an Ohio City institution and great place to stop for a drink or meal in one of my favorite neighborhoods.. within a few blocks offering great locally owned, high quality dining options, from landmarks Johnny Mangos, Hecks, Great Lakes, and Parker's to relative newcomer Le Oui Oui Cafe. But as a destination and neighborhood, Ohio City can benefit from as much great culinary density as possible, and the loss of the Fulton seemed tragic. But what's new in this oldest part of town is definitely NEO and Ohio City's gain, as the fantastic "modern.mex" joint Momocho (slang for small boy, named in love of the chef/owner's son) is unique to the region and will be a major draw that is already attracting crowds in on the buzz. Momocho also comes in through a very friendly transition - the owner bought the restaurant from the owners of the Fulton, and one Fulton owner John McDonnell is well managing Momocho for the new chef/owner Eric Williams, who is busy in the kitchen making the food... well, hot!



 Evelyn took me for dinner at Momocho, a few weeks back, and I couldn't have been more impressed. The space is still much like before, so very familiar, and the crowd so far is neighborly, mixed with Clevelanders in the know, meaning relaxed and low stress. The comfortable, informal downstairs dining and bar area is filled with eclectic music and conversation - there's a lush patio out back, and more dining space upstairs... all told, a great scene.



But who really cares about all that, when it's cocktail-time? Besides a full bar and I'm sure some great wine and beer, this is mod.mex and the menu features lots of innovative margaritas, made with fresh juices (that is a rarity in itself) and offered with a variety of top shelf Tequilla's - I went with the simple classic margarita with Cuervo Gold for $6.50 and it couldn't have been better, but if you want something more creative the blood orange margarita is spectacular, for like $0.50 more.



 Too much tequilla on an empty stomach... bad idea... and for starters Momocho has created a variety of Guacamole, served with fresh, hot, homemade corn chips, not to be missed - we had the goat cheese guac that was awesome... I will add that combination to my mod.mex repertoire at home - great shared starter for $8 or so. For the real meal, I ordered the enchiladas divorciadas / grilled chicken / tomatillo verde / mole coloradito / queso (I think that was $14) and Evelyn ordered pollo / achiote chicken / guacamole tradicional ($16?) - and between courses we chatted with the server, who was friendly, and manager John, who charms, and learned more about how Momocho came to be.



 I asked John (who was an owner of Fulton), what happened to his old place, and he explained it was time for a change, and he had wanted to hire the new owner and chef for years, but Eric Williams would have none of that - he wanted his own place and they all worked together to make something great happen. How many happy business transitions like that have you ever seen? Such smart small business in NEO is something to celebrate... not to mention the food. Perfect attention to details and quality - everything hand-made on site - luxurious sauces - perfectly excessive portions - what more could you want? The enchiladas divorciadas had a full-bodied homemade corn tortilla on the bottom, with mounds of succulent grilled white meat chicken and grilled onions layered with another corn tortilla, topped with portions of tomatillo verde, mole coloradito and queso. Being a mole freak, I can't remember better - the combination was pure elegance... and we're talking mex here. Evelyn's chicken was as perfect.



 Not that we needed more food, the deserts are homemade and life is better with chocolate so the oaxacan mocha cake / chipotle chocolate mojo was a must... not to be missed. Mexican chocolate (with cinnamon) dense cake with a chipotle chocolate sauce... ever had spicy chocolate? Do. Rocks. What more can I say.

Great space, scene and tunes. Cool owners and team... the best NEO could hope to have and offer the world. Perfect, inventive food. World-class margaritas. Proof the NEO revolution and new economy will not succeed from afar but from within, that we have the talent we need here, and that the key to the future of our economy is that everyone not so cool as the folks at Momocho must be real and go where excellence, action and greatness are found here, now. Lots of us already know that and are hanging at Momocho, so get to Ohio City ASAP and join the revolution. But, call John and make reservations, as this will be a very hip place to hang.

Check out the new decor

I liked Momocho so much I wanted to go back the week of July 4th with some friends, but they were closed for "cleaning and redecorating" -- the sign said. It was disappointing, but I will be excited to see if they have changed the decor much. Previously, it looked the same as it had as the Fulton.

Great food photos!

It's always great to stumble upon images on REALNEO.  The above photos and experiences captured here--show folks around the world that NEO IS a great place to live. 

I recently visited another metropolitan area that gets a lot of press and, frankly, the food there can not compare to the food experiences to be found in NEO.  Visit US--you'll be surprised and amazed at the variety here. 

Food is LOVE!