We Cincinnatians are a lucky bunch, as we can please our palates with many of the world’s offerings without ever leaving the Tri-state. And the menu keeps expanding. Foods that were once unknown to the area have become familiar. A bowl of pad thai is almost as easy to find as a bowl of chicken noodle soup; and you can actually pull a brain muscle trying to decide which Hyde Park sushi bar to go to.
But there is still novelty to be found.
The list below features local restaurants whose styles of cuisine or methods of preparation are still hard to come by. At least, for now.
Dai Trang Bistro
4970 Union Center Pavilion Dr.
West Chester, OH 45069
The menu here is like an encyclopedia of Asian cuisine, featuring dozens of dishes from all over the continent. Filipino food is the star, and Dai Trang is Cincinnati's go-to spot for the rich, tropical flavors of the Philippines.
Favorite Dish: Definitely the adobo. You can order it with chicken or pork. It is served over rice, with a tangy vinegar and garlic sauce. This dish gets marinated for four days — plenty of time for those savory juices to work its magic. Seriously, this sauce is so rich it could buy a sports franchise.
Marrakech Moroccan Cafe & Grill
341 Ludlow Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
This funky Clifton joint is bringing Moroccan food to the Queen City. Our response: It’s about (dang) time! You’ll find a lot of the classic Mediterranean dishes on the menu: hummus, shawarma, gyros, and falafel. Many of the dishes, though, are strictly Moroccan, and you would be hard-pressed to find them anywhere else in the area.
Favorite Dish: lamb tajine. Tajine is a stewed meat dish, slow-cooked for hours, until it it is succulent and tender. Marrakech serves its lamb tajine on the bone, with onions and prunes. This is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, succulent, and savory.
8100 Blue Ash Rd.
Deer Park, OH 45236
A Deer Park takeout joint cranking out ridiculously good Venezuelan food. You order through a window on the street. Out of that window comes meaty sandwiches and flavorful grilled entrees that will have you booking the first flight to Caracas.
Favorite dish: The grilled steak and onion is a sweet and peppery classic: a flat, juicy steak liberally topped with caramelized onions. It’s Caracas cafe meets New Jersey diner. As with most of their entrees, it comes with two sides. For an authentic Venezuelan side, try the tostones. These salty slices of fried plantain provide the perfect contrast to the sweet meat.
11774 Springfield Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45246
Mexican food may not be hard to find here in the Tri-state, but Tortilleria Garcia offers an amazing addition to this ubiquitous cuisine. Namely, they make their own tortillas. You can buy a package of tortillas to take home, and you can even buy raw masa if you are feeling ambitious enough to make your own tortillas. For our money, the best use of these fresh tortillas is for the delicious tacos they make in house.
Favorite Dish: tacos al pastor. This is a sweet and spicy blend of marinated pork and pineapple. The pork itself has a freshness to match those hot-off-the-press tortillas. We recommend it with onion, cilantro, and their spicy (but not mouth-numbing) house-made red sauce.
79 S. Main St.
Centerville, OH 45458
That’s right, you’ll have to make the trek up to Centerville for this one. But trust us, it’s worth the excursion. This is the area's only spot dedicated to Bolivian food.
Favorite Dish: rotisserie chicken. This is the star of the show at Nelly’s. It's smoky, juicy, and packed full of flavor. It can be served American-style on a hoagie bun with a side of french fries, or in a more traditional, Bolivian-style without the bun and with a side of rice and beans.
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Alright, folks... hungry yet? Don't forget to scroll back to the top to visit photo gallery. That'll give you a real sense of these restaurant gems.