Upon entering Mita’s, Jose Salazar’s bigger, better downtown 2.0, diners are greeted by cards bearing a stately black-and-white portrait of his Colombian grandmother, the restaurant’s namesake. Her maternal spirit flawlessly informs a menu that’s surprisingly manageable for a variety of budgets and occasions.
Fall in for a sharply sophisticated happy hour of authentic, high-acid caipirinhas or a dos caminos—a drinkable homage to nice girls who crush on bad boys, combining a safe house red with cult tattoo-legend Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum. Both pair exceptionally well with razor-thin slices of acorn-fed Iberico ham that melt on the tongue; warm marinated olives tossed with cubes of drunken goat cheese; and the braised short rib empanadas—steamy, savory meat pockets that were a close second for our favorite dish.
But you’d be remiss to avoid the entrées, despite their occasionally hefty price tags. The humble pozole gets a corner-office update with plenty of lobster, shrimp, squid, and red snapper. And while $63 may sound steep for paella, it feeds four and is worth the 30-plus minute wait. Sit for a spell and sip a glass of the 2013 Mayu, a faintly floral Chilean white made from sherry grapes. Like many choices on the carefully compiled list, it tastes like it was designed explicitly for Mita’s menu. Once again, Salazar’s zealous dedication to detail shines through.
g501 Race St., downtown, (513) 421-6482, mitas.co