November 2002 Update: The restaurant has changed ownership, but is still open in the same location with the same menu; reports are that the food is still delicious. The previous owners have opened a new restaurant called La Costa ("The Coast") in the nearby suburb of Worthington, Ohio. The new restaurant can be found in a small strip mall at the corner of Worthington Woods and Worthington Galena. Very nice decor, and modestly more expensive than Cancun.

The Cancun Mexican Restaurant is, hands-down, the best Mexican restaurant I've encountered in the Columbus, Ohio area. I discovered this family-run place only recently, but have been there a half-dozen times and it's always been wonderful. If you find yourself in Columbus craving good Mexican and you're staying in the knot of hotels near 161/I-71 or up near Polaris, this would be an excellent dining choice.

The restaurant is hidden in the end of a strip mall in a somewhat unprepossessing part of suburbia; it's in North Columbus off Dublin-Granville Road and the precise address is 5701 Maple Canyon (the phone number is 614-847-1266). To get there from I-71, you'll want to take the 161 exit east for a couple of miles, then turn south (right) onto Maple Canyon. You'll pass a Huntington Bank on your left, and to your right you'll see a dingy-looking little shopping center with a Mexican grocery. The restaurant is right beside the grocery.

The interior of the restaurant is clean, well-lit, and cheerful with a kitsch-Mex decor with brightly painted fish and posters. The wait staff is generally cheerful and prompt -- I give the service a solid "A" rating.

But the real reason to go to Cancun is the food -- delicious and inexpensive (particularly considering the huge portions). Everything on the menu is good; they particularly specialize in shrimp dishes. My personal favorites include:

Arroz Con Pollo: This dish is made with rice, a mild tomato sauce, chicken breast, mushrooms, and cheese. It's extremely yummy.

Chicken Mole: With this, you'll get pieces of chicken breast in a to-die-for mole poblano sauce along with refried beans and a tomato-lettuce salad. Best damn mole I've ever had -- just the right combination of sweet, spicy, and savory. I absolutely don't want to know how many calories it has.

Margaritas: Tasty. But be careful drinking these, because they make them deceptively strong.

Burritos: Meaty. Huge. Delicious. But if you don't like sour cream, be sure to ask the waiter not to include it.

Frijoles de la Olla: The regular refried beans that come as a default with most meals are fine. But the frijoles de la olla are a better choice if you're concerned about fat intake. They are whole beans cooked in a light broth. Ask for them, and the cook staff will be happy to replace your refritos with these lovely legumes.