After my initial visit to Nada, a new upscale Mexican restaurant in the Arena District, I was flummoxed by its name — which is Spanish for nothing. Considering that the place scored high across the board in food, service, drinks and atmosphere, I figured that a more fitting moniker would be T odo — Spanish for everything.
The Cincinnati import is part of the Boca Restaurant Group, whose stylish Queen City eateries (including the original Nada) have earned acclaim. This Nada is doing its part to replicate those accolades in Columbus.
The interior is pretty. Inviting lighting leads through dramatic and distinct spaces, beginning with a curved bar with liquor bottles twinkling in front of glass grids and first-come, first-served communal tables — a noteworthy option as Nada has been booked solid lately.
The open and airy main dining room is divided; one side features a banquette, the other offers booths. Both make judicious use of red and gold, tile, floral patterns and curvilinear forms. There is also a semiprivate back room and a patio.
All areas are attended by a courteous, knowledgeable and superbly trained staff.
For starters, consider my new favorite cheap margarita (Nadarita, $7). If you’re more ambitious, the Suprema margarita ($13) is well-named. But from the vibrant pink grapefruit ($10, enriched by small-batch sorbet) to the lively chili-mango ($10), every margarita iteration I sampled exhibited a rare balance between sweetness and citrus tartness.
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