Best Of 2020

Best Syrian Sampler: 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. 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. And don’t skip the “beverages” section of the menu. Two super selections to bring to your attention: the fresh mint lemonade and the ayran. The mint lemonade is more like a mint and citrus slushie. And aryan is a chilled, savory yogurt drink. Variations of both can be found throughout the Middle East, but are hard to find at local restaurants. Baladi Restaurant & Bakery, 3307 Clifton Ave., Clifton, facebook.com/baladirestaurantandbakery.