Saturday, Nov 18, 2017
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Restaurant Reviews

Fuzzy's Taco Shop ups the ante at Westgate

OBJECTFuzzy's Taco Shop is a fast-casual Tex-Mex chain that is new to Ohio, with the restaurant's first Buckeye State location in West Toledo at 3332 Central Ave., Suite. C, as part of the expansion in Westgate Village Shopping Center.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

★★★½

Address: 3332 Central Ave., Suite C

Phone: 419-214-4291

Category: Casual

Menu: Tex-Mex

Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Wheelchair access: Yes

Average price: $-$$

Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V

The original Fuzzy's Taco Shop opened in Fort Worth in 2003 and now has more than 80 restaurants in Texas alone, with dozens of other locations nationwide, including Nebraska, Florida, Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Clearly Fuzzy's Taco Shop is doing something right.

And yet there were a few things wrong during our initial review visit to the Toledo location, beginning with the lukewarm shredded chicken nachos ($6.99). Despite the temperature issue, the nachos were still tasty and loaded with shredded and queso cheese, feta, pico de gallo, and garlic sauce, a staple ingredient of Fuzzy's menu.

The grilled shrimp fajita plate ($8.99) with borracho beans — pinto beans cooked in beer and bacon and spices — were quite good, but the meal's side of Latin-fried potatoes, diced and cooked with onions and a house spice, were perhaps old, certainly cold, and definitely overcooked.

A trio of taco samplings — shredded brisket in a soft corn tortilla ($2.59); spicy pork in a soft corn tortilla ($2.29), and tempura fish in a soft corn shell ($2.29), all of which were topped with garlic sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, and feta — were surprisingly unimpressive if not disappointing. The brisket was dry, the pork had an odd taste, and there wasn't enough of the crispy and tasty fish.

If you're looking for reasons to not like the Baja-inspired Fuzzy's, then you'll want to stop reading this review, as the rest of this critique is quite favorable.

In fact, the rest of that first dinner was quite enjoyable: a well-seasoned ground-beef burrito ($6.19) loaded with guacamole, shredded cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic sauce, cilantro lime rice, and black beans and wrapped in a stretched-but-didn't-break flour tortilla; and a traditional crispy ground beef taco with the moist and flavorful "Mix-Mex" fried rice blend, as well as a generously loaded shredded chicken soft taco, both of which were served with same taco fixins as those previously mentioned.

For our second visit, a recent Friday night, Fuzzy's was busy with patrons: Most of the tables inside the restaurant were occupied, while a local singer-guitar duo entertained a sizable patio crowd outside. Spotlighting area musicians for evening acoustic shows is one of Fuzzy's features.

Despite the buzz and busy kitchen, service was exceptional, as it had been with our other visits. Unlike many fast-casual restaurants, customers don't watch their order being assembled cafeteria style according to their requests. There are one or two cashiers at the front of the Toledo location, depending on how busy it is, where patrons place and pay for their orders, and then receive a pager that signals when their food is ready, which is picked up at the back of the restaurant in front of the kitchen.

Fuzzy's employees also frequent tables with diners to inquire how the food is and to take away those plates and plastic bowls that are empty or pushed aside.

Our second dinner featured the veggie quesadilla ($6.49), a delightful surprise with grilled vegetables including the delicious addition of crunchy slivers of carrots and shredded-turned gooey cheese sandwiched between just browned flour tortillas. The salty good drunken pig ($3.99), a bowl of borracho beans mixed with spicy pork and pico de gallo, and crowned with chips and shredded cheese, was good enough to be its own small meal.

We also tried two types of shrimp tacos and both were outstanding:

The California heat taco with tempura shrimp, bacon, avocado, feta, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and an irresistibly good and spicy sriracha-lime sauce served on a soft corn tortilla ($2.99), and the grilled shrimp taco with a soft corn tortilla and topped with, yes, garlic sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, and feta ($2.99).

The massive fajita steak burrito, which we ordered drowned in bubbly good queso, was pumped full with guacamole, shredded cheese, tomatoes, onions, refried beans, cilantro lime rice, and garlic sauce ($9.24). It may be the best item on Fuzzy's menu.

And don't skip on the fresh, homemade guacamole ($2.29), though the fire-roasted salsa ($.50) was merely OK. And for those wanting to add some heat and flavor to their tacos and other items, a bottle of Fuzzy's Taco Shop "Butt Burnin' Sauce" in original and habanero varieties -- is on every table and available for purchase.

This Fuzzy's Taco Shop location is almost a stone's throw distance from its primary fast-causal competitor, Chipotle Mexican Grill, as well as a nearby Taco Bell, and a more traditional Mexican restaurant close by on Secor Road.

That's a lot of Tex-Mex offerings in less than a mile. But Fuzzy's Taco Shop hits that sweet spot of convenience, reasonably quick meals and dining, and, most importantly, food good enough to keep customers coming back and for restaurants to keep popping up.

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