Andy’s Mediterranean Grill
Flavor: Expect maximum Mediterranean flavor at Andy’s, from the signature Shish Tawook, a marinated chicken kebab that’s won awards at Taste of Cincinnati, to authentic stuffed-grape leaves and many varieties of baklava and Turkish coffee. Guests rave about the Labneh (Lebanese yogurt spread) and the crisp Macedonian Tzatziki Salad. There are lots of combo platters if it’s just too hard to choose.
Flair: Andy’s started as a deli but has grown into a landmark, with a reputation for fun and great food. Pick from the shish tobacco and toke a hookah or just sit back and enjoy the lovely belly dancers with your meal. Winner of “Best Mediterranean.”
906 Nassau Ave., Eden Park, 513-281-9791. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$24.
Flavor: Of the many places college students can get coffee or booze, Baba Budan’s has developed into the hippest option. The friendly staff serves up coffee drinks, smoothies or one of the many beers available. There are also tons of sandwiches — “budanwiches” — and baked goods to munch on.
Flair: Comfortable, dim and urban. Work by local artists adorns the walls. Entertainment includes local DJs, bands and readings by UC students.
239 W. McMillan Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-221-1911. Open 7 days. $5-$8.
Flavor: The food will reignite your passion for Mediterranean with its blend of Turkish, Greek and Lebanese dishes. Reserve the Ottoman room, where you can eat on ornate pillows strewn across the floor, rural Turkish style.
Flair: Tucked into Anderson Towne Center, Café Mediterranean is an oasis in a desert of chains. The service is impeccable and professional, so much so that it seems choreographed. The dining room is spacious and the decor is elegant and sophisticated.
7454 Beechmont Ave., Anderson Twp., 513-232-2400. Open 7 days. $12.95-$16.95.
Flavor: Floyd’s is a modest-looking, family-owned restaurant that serves your favorite Mediterranean fare without all the bells and whistles. One of their specials is offered each day, and the tabouleh here is all the rave … or is it the garlicky lemony lima beans? Don’t miss the fabulous spit-roasted chicken in its various forms (whole, half or on a sandwich).
Flair: Sit up front in the casual, small dining room and watch the passersby or make your way to the secluded patio on a warm evening. You’ll find college students, professionals and families gathering here on any given day.
127 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-221-2434. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $7-$13.50.
Flavor: A unique blend of cultures where the food is prepared according to Kosher guidelines under the supervision of Vaad Hoeir of Cincinnati. Classic Israeli delights of falafel, babaganush, stuffed grape leaves and homemade chumus appear on the menu. Select Italian offerings include eggplant parmesan, fettuccini Alfredo, baked ziti, spaghetti and gourmet pizzas. Vegetarian options abound.
Flair: Cool, airy, Mediterranean. Authentic flavors produced by Moroccan native Avner Chriqui and his wife, Karen. Expect them to be true to standards and staples; if they can’t find the best ingredients locally, they are imported to maintain the quality of their dishes.
8316 Plainfield Road, Deer Park, 513-791-1777. Open Sunday-Thursday. $5.50-$13.95.
Flavor: In the mood for a great gyro? Head to Clifton. The meat is juicy and perfectly spiced, while the tangy yogurt sauce offers great, cooling contrast. Prefer vegetarian? Get hummus and lemony tabbouleh on a nice, chewy pita wrap. The friendly fellows on Ludlow will gladly tell you the difference between their fresh Arabic baklava and other types of baklava, but that’s more information than you need. Just eat it. It’s delicious.
Flair: This is a deli, and, though there are a few tables in the back, if the weather’s decent, get your food to go and hike over to Burnet Woods for a picnic.
314 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-6060. Open Monday-Saturday. $2-$5.
Mirage Mediterranean Food
Flavor: Owned by a family that hails from Armenia, a land-locked former Soviet republic wedged among Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Mirage offers a decidedly authentic taste of the cuisines from throughout that region: Russian borscht, Armenian kebobs (chicken, pork, beef or lamb); Middle Eastern falafel, hummus and baba ganoush; and even gyros from Greece. Traditional cakes and baklava are popular. You might want to order dessert first!
Flair: Heavy drapes, tablecloths and dimmed lighting at night soften the hard edges of a fairly plain room in the middle of a strip mall. But the gracious, engaging staff is so enthusiastic about the terrific homemade food that you’ll feel like you’re family. BYOB is welcomed.
11379 Montgomery Road, Symmes Twp., 513-469-0089. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$15.
Flavor: You won’t just find a Greek salad and gyros on the menu here. Owner George Psihountakis takes his heritage very seriously and offers authentic Greek cuisine that is unparalleled. Dishes such as mousakaa, cabbage rolls and many of all the great Greek dishes George loves. Ask about dinner specials.
Flair: Mythos is so popular, they have opened a large dining room at their Fourth Street location. Soon, you will be able to eat, drink, be merry and, to round out the experience, watch belly dancing. The owner is a charmer, and as one customer put it, the only bad thing is that you can’t eat the foil your gyro is served in! Liquor license at the Fourth Street location is coming soon.
410 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-3601; 100 E. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-381-3042; The Chiquita Center, 250 E. Fifth St., Downtown. Open Monday–Saturday. $4-$12.
Flavor: The longtime West Side lunch haunt is just as delicious as you remember it. An ethnic meat-lover’s heaven, the menu offers numerous Greek items and what many consider the best gyro in Cincinnati. The gyro meat also shows up in the Greek Salad and the Dolmathakia dinner (grape leaves with gyro meat).
Flair: Family-run, friendly ambiance. Most orders are carryout, but there are a few tables and booths. Watch the gigantic cones of meat spin in front of heat lamps, ready to slice and serve.
5209 Glenway Ave., Price Hill, 513-471-2100. Open Monday-Saturday. $3-$9