Best Of 2019

Best Taste of Syrian Cuisine: Baladi Restaurant & Bakery

The word “baladi” in Arabic means “my country” and introducing Cincinnatians to true Syrian cuisine, culture and hospitality is exactly what the Barazi family is aiming to do with their Clifton eatery Baladi Restaurant & Bakery. Husband and wife duo Sulhail and Hanan Barazi left Syria in 1986, relocating to Kent, Ohio and eventually moving to Cincinnati to be with their daughter, Rana. The family opened Baladi in 2017, serving a broad menu of authentic Arabic eats with an emphasis on delicious desserts and warm and welcoming hospitality. On the list of dishes, you’ll find familiar hits with influences from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. There’s hummus, falafel, kebabs and gyros, but branch out and try something you won’t find on other Middle Eastern-leaning menus, like Foul (fava beans, olive oil and lemon juice); Fatayir, a “cheese boat” baked in handmade dough, as the menu elegantly and aptly calls it; or the Syrian flatbread wrap. These are different than your average pita sandwich, with fillings like beef or chicken shawarma pressed inside handmade flatbread — a grab-and-go snack you’d literally be able to find at a Middle Eastern street vendor. Do yourself a favor and save room for a handmade dessert, like kunafa (filo dough, ricotta cheese and cream), or the mint lemonade. It’s not lemonade like we think of the drink — called limonana, it’s like a frozen sweet and sour slush made with fresh mint and lemon juice; super refreshing, very authentic and a rare treat. Eating at Baladi is an immersive and delicous experience. Baladi Restaurant & Bakery, 3307 Clifton Ave., Clifton, facebook.com/baladirestaurantandbakery.