Greater Cincinnati Hidden Gem Restaurants You Need to Try

While there are tons of hip new restaurants CityBeat covers, some of the best restaurants in Cincinnati are unsung heroes. They may not get tons of media attention, but these local neighborhood favorites really show what the Queen City has to offer. From restaurants offering Mediterranean fusion to those with authentic Indian cuisine or just really, really good, lip-smackin' BBQ, you won't want to miss out on these spots.
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The Birch
702 Indian Hill Road, Terrace Park
The Birch is smartly charming and sweetly nice in its style and menu, but to assume that the restaurant is just for those in the surrounding ‘burbs would be selling both it and yourself short. When you come to The Birch, perhaps beckoned by its signature spring green door, you’ll be greeted with delicious food, hip decor, music and bocce ball on their outdoor patio. The menu consists of light and fresh options, like sandwiches, soups and salads, complemented by a wide selection of wine and local brews. They also offer a subscription service, delivering a hand-selected case of wine based on your tastes to your door each month.
Editor’s note: Please note, The Birch is temporarily closed as they rebuild from a fire.

The Birch

702 Indian Hill Road, Terrace Park
The Birch is smartly charming and sweetly nice in its style and menu, but to assume that the restaurant is just for those in the surrounding ‘burbs would be selling both it and yourself short. When you come to The Birch, perhaps beckoned by its signature spring green door, you’ll be greeted with delicious food, hip decor, music and bocce ball on their outdoor patio. The menu consists of light and fresh options, like sandwiches, soups and salads, complemented by a wide selection of wine and local brews. They also offer a subscription service, delivering a hand-selected case of wine based on your tastes to your door each month.
Editor’s note: Please note, The Birch is temporarily closed as they rebuild from a fire.
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Veracruz Mexican Grill
3108 Price Ave., East Price Hill
Located in the heart of Price Hill’s Incline District, Veracruz’s food is fresh, flavorful and served with housemade chips. The menu features Mexican and Guatemalan specialties crafted with house-made ingredients. To drink, an ice-cold cerveza could suit you just fine, but just as refreshing are their massive margaritas, poured in cute glasses dressed with salt rims, limes and paper umbrellas.
Photo: Provided by Veracruz

Veracruz Mexican Grill

3108 Price Ave., East Price Hill
Located in the heart of Price Hill’s Incline District, Veracruz’s food is fresh, flavorful and served with housemade chips. The menu features Mexican and Guatemalan specialties crafted with house-made ingredients. To drink, an ice-cold cerveza could suit you just fine, but just as refreshing are their massive margaritas, poured in cute glasses dressed with salt rims, limes and paper umbrellas.
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Adriatico’s
113 W McMillan St., CUF
While this may not be a hidden gem to University of Cincinnati students, Adriatico's is a Cincinnati spot that all pizza and beer lovers need to try. They have a huge draft beer selection and 64-ounce growlers to go, plus spicy, garlicky sauce, oversized pepperonis and the super-thick crust that their pizzas are known for. Good luck finding calzones like theirs, too. By the way, the Bearcat Pizza will feed your entire party.

Adriatico’s

113 W McMillan St., CUF
While this may not be a hidden gem to University of Cincinnati students, Adriatico's is a Cincinnati spot that all pizza and beer lovers need to try. They have a huge draft beer selection and 64-ounce growlers to go, plus spicy, garlicky sauce, oversized pepperonis and the super-thick crust that their pizzas are known for. Good luck finding calzones like theirs, too. By the way, the Bearcat Pizza will feed your entire party.
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Phoenician Taverna
7944 Mason Montgomery Road, Mason
Phoenician Taverna serves up superb, authentic Lebanese food in a Mason strip mall. While the menu’s main dishes are primarily meat-based, there’s no lack of options for vegetarians, who can make a meal out of mezza here. Appetizers are listed in three sections: cold mezza vegetarian, hot mezza vegetarian and not vegetarian. The hot mezza vegetarian list offers mouth-watering items such as a a spinach pie (fatayer b'sbanigh in Lebanese), described as homemade dough filled with spinach, pine nuts and sumac onions in lemon and extra virgin olive oil, or the cheese pie (fatayer b’jibne) filled with feta. There's also cauliflower with tahini, spicy hot potatoes, beet dip, spiced aged feta and pumpkin kibbeh on the unique list of hot and cold dishes.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Phoenician Taverna

7944 Mason Montgomery Road, Mason
Phoenician Taverna serves up superb, authentic Lebanese food in a Mason strip mall. While the menu’s main dishes are primarily meat-based, there’s no lack of options for vegetarians, who can make a meal out of mezza here. Appetizers are listed in three sections: cold mezza vegetarian, hot mezza vegetarian and not vegetarian. The hot mezza vegetarian list offers mouth-watering items such as a a spinach pie (fatayer b'sbanigh in Lebanese), described as homemade dough filled with spinach, pine nuts and sumac onions in lemon and extra virgin olive oil, or the cheese pie (fatayer b’jibne) filled with feta. There's also cauliflower with tahini, spicy hot potatoes, beet dip, spiced aged feta and pumpkin kibbeh on the unique list of hot and cold dishes.
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Café Alma
6111 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Health-focused Mediterranean restaurant Café Alma offers delicious but healthy dishes that use high-quality ingredients packed with good flavors. Breakfast offers everything from a build-your-own omelet to four different options of the Middle Eastern breakfast favorite shakshuka. Heading into lunch, they have salad, bowls and sandwiches all packed with fresh ingredients. The restaurant is also certified Kosher.
Photo: Casey Roberts

Café Alma

6111 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Health-focused Mediterranean restaurant Café Alma offers delicious but healthy dishes that use high-quality ingredients packed with good flavors. Breakfast offers everything from a build-your-own omelet to four different options of the Middle Eastern breakfast favorite shakshuka. Heading into lunch, they have salad, bowls and sandwiches all packed with fresh ingredients. The restaurant is also certified Kosher.
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Galactic Fried Chicken
624 Sixth Ave., Dayton
Dayton, Kentucky’s retro sci-fi-themed Galactic Fried Chicken serves up crispy delights for carnivores and herbivores alike, all made using gluten-free batter. Owned by husband-and-wife team Shane Coffey and Kathy McDonald, the menu features the titular fried chicken, plus chicken tenders, sandwiches and classic sides like fries, deviled eggs, Texas toast and fried pickles. For vegetarians, the jackfruit nugget meal comes with eight nugs, a side of Galactic Sauce, slaw and housemade pickles. Galactic also doesn’t skimp on servings — there’s enough to keep for leftovers or a midday snack.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Galactic Fried Chicken

624 Sixth Ave., Dayton
Dayton, Kentucky’s retro sci-fi-themed Galactic Fried Chicken serves up crispy delights for carnivores and herbivores alike, all made using gluten-free batter. Owned by husband-and-wife team Shane Coffey and Kathy McDonald, the menu features the titular fried chicken, plus chicken tenders, sandwiches and classic sides like fries, deviled eggs, Texas toast and fried pickles. For vegetarians, the jackfruit nugget meal comes with eight nugs, a side of Galactic Sauce, slaw and housemade pickles. Galactic also doesn’t skimp on servings — there’s enough to keep for leftovers or a midday snack.
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Good Plates Eatery
235 W. McMillan St., CUF
Good Plates opened in 2020 with a menu focusing on simple foods and bold flavors. They offer a variety of sandwiches and bowls (of the quinoa and salad variety) for both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Menu standouts include the Adobo Brisket and Cheese sandwich, which features braised brisket in an adobo red wine sauce; the Meatball Sub, made with chorizo and beef and complemented by a sweet red sauce (there's also a vegetarian version); as well as their fried chicken sandwich, which is served cold with pickles and a garlic aioli.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Good Plates Eatery

235 W. McMillan St., CUF
Good Plates opened in 2020 with a menu focusing on simple foods and bold flavors. They offer a variety of sandwiches and bowls (of the quinoa and salad variety) for both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Menu standouts include the Adobo Brisket and Cheese sandwich, which features braised brisket in an adobo red wine sauce; the Meatball Sub, made with chorizo and beef and complemented by a sweet red sauce (there's also a vegetarian version); as well as their fried chicken sandwich, which is served cold with pickles and a garlic aioli.
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Sichuan Chili
10400 Reading Road, #205b, Evendale
Located in Village Crossing, Sichuan Chili features a menu dedicated to traditional Chinese and Sichuan meals. The fully-stocked menu offers both Sichuan classics like Kung Pao Chicken and Bo-Bo Fish, as well as more modern dishes like their Ma’La Rabbit. New specialties are introduced nearly every month, making this spot a must-visit.

Sichuan Chili

10400 Reading Road, #205b, Evendale
Located in Village Crossing, Sichuan Chili features a menu dedicated to traditional Chinese and Sichuan meals. The fully-stocked menu offers both Sichuan classics like Kung Pao Chicken and Bo-Bo Fish, as well as more modern dishes like their Ma’La Rabbit. New specialties are introduced nearly every month, making this spot a must-visit.
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Pig Candy
5901 Kellogg Ave., California
Serving up food so good it’s criminal, Pig Candy BBQ offers a menu of craft barbecue, homemade sauces and inventive sides from their location in a former jail. Meats are smoked on-site and the sides and sauces are made from scratch. Specialties include their Pig Candy Waffle (a gluten-free waffle pressed with pulled pork, topped with maple peach glaze and served with Pig Candy’s tangy white sauce on the side); mac ‘n cheese topped with pulled pork, the sweet and sour red sauce and slaw; and a sampler so you can try a little bit of everything.
Photo: Provided by Pig Candy BBQ

Pig Candy

5901 Kellogg Ave., California
Serving up food so good it’s criminal, Pig Candy BBQ offers a menu of craft barbecue, homemade sauces and inventive sides from their location in a former jail. Meats are smoked on-site and the sides and sauces are made from scratch. Specialties include their Pig Candy Waffle (a gluten-free waffle pressed with pulled pork, topped with maple peach glaze and served with Pig Candy’s tangy white sauce on the side); mac ‘n cheese topped with pulled pork, the sweet and sour red sauce and slaw; and a sampler so you can try a little bit of everything.
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Delhi Palace
7133 Montgomery Road, Silverton
Silverton’s Delhi Palace has you covered when you’re looking for delicious and authentic Indian cuisine. The menu is expansive, with specialties ranging from vegetarian and rice to seafood, chicken, lamb and goat. If you’re a newbie to Indian food or you’re not sure what to get, you can’t go wrong with Delhi Palace’s Chicken Tikka Masala — tender boneless pieces of chicken cooked in a creamy sauce with fresh tomatoes, best served over rice or some garlic naan (flatbread). Another highlight includes their Tandoori Chicken — bone-in chicken marinated overnight in cultured yogurt and spices and flame-broiled in a clay oven. If you have a sweet tooth, try their Mango Lassi, a chilled drink made with blended mangos and yogurt.

Delhi Palace

7133 Montgomery Road, Silverton
Silverton’s Delhi Palace has you covered when you’re looking for delicious and authentic Indian cuisine. The menu is expansive, with specialties ranging from vegetarian and rice to seafood, chicken, lamb and goat. If you’re a newbie to Indian food or you’re not sure what to get, you can’t go wrong with Delhi Palace’s Chicken Tikka Masala — tender boneless pieces of chicken cooked in a creamy sauce with fresh tomatoes, best served over rice or some garlic naan (flatbread). Another highlight includes their Tandoori Chicken — bone-in chicken marinated overnight in cultured yogurt and spices and flame-broiled in a clay oven. If you have a sweet tooth, try their Mango Lassi, a chilled drink made with blended mangos and yogurt.
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Zorbas Greek Restaurant
6520 Glenway Ave., Green Township
At his restaurant, Zorbas, Kostas Vasiliou makes food just like his mother and grandmother made while he was growing up in a small village in northern Greece. Vasiliou brought that slice of home with him when he fulfilled his lifelong dream to open a restaurant, decorating the space to match the blue waters of Greece and crafting traditional recipes with spices used in his home country. On Zorbas’ menu, you’ll find a variety of Greek-style dishes, from the classic gyro with tzatziki sauce and pastichio (Greek lasagna) to stuffed grape leaves — served either with gyro meat or vegetarian-style. The menu also features classic Greek and Mediterranean sides like spanakopita (handheld spinach and feta pies), olives and peppers, falafel, hummus and tiropita (stuffed feta pie).

Zorbas Greek Restaurant

6520 Glenway Ave., Green Township
At his restaurant, Zorbas, Kostas Vasiliou makes food just like his mother and grandmother made while he was growing up in a small village in northern Greece. Vasiliou brought that slice of home with him when he fulfilled his lifelong dream to open a restaurant, decorating the space to match the blue waters of Greece and crafting traditional recipes with spices used in his home country. On Zorbas’ menu, you’ll find a variety of Greek-style dishes, from the classic gyro with tzatziki sauce and pastichio (Greek lasagna) to stuffed grape leaves — served either with gyro meat or vegetarian-style. The menu also features classic Greek and Mediterranean sides like spanakopita (handheld spinach and feta pies), olives and peppers, falafel, hummus and tiropita (stuffed feta pie).
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The Standard
434 Main St., Covington
Covington's The Standard has a menu as playful and bright as the 1930s garage it’s housed in. They serve lunch and dinner with a weekend brunch that features dishes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch-crusted french toast and a goetta, egg and cheese sandwich. Signature cocktails like the EnGINe Refresher are on-brand with the establishment's overall garage theme,and it has both indoor and outdoor seating, with plenty of patio space beneath the garage's canopies.
Photo: Savana Willhoite

The Standard

434 Main St., Covington
Covington's The Standard has a menu as playful and bright as the 1930s garage it’s housed in. They serve lunch and dinner with a weekend brunch that features dishes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch-crusted french toast and a goetta, egg and cheese sandwich. Signature cocktails like the EnGINe Refresher are on-brand with the establishment's overall garage theme,and it has both indoor and outdoor seating, with plenty of patio space beneath the garage's canopies.
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Kealoha’s Kitchen
3428 Decoursey Ave., Covington
For authentic Hawaiian and a touch of the Aloha spirit, you can’t go wrong with Kealoha’s Kitchen. The restaurant, named in honor of the owner’s brother, features a selection of Hawaiian barbecue and Asian- and Polynesian-inspired dishes. Try the Bento Box with your choice of protein and scoop of rice or elevate it to the Aloha Plate and add a salad or side and a lumpia (fried spring roll). Proteins include short ribs and brisket marinated with a house-made pineapple-teriyaki sauce; teriyaki chicken; pork loin marinated in soy sauce, mustard and garlic sauce; slow-roasted pork with cabbage and onions; garlic shrimp and ahi tuna poke. Get their spicy papaya salad or Spam Musubi on the side for even more flavor.

Kealoha’s Kitchen

3428 Decoursey Ave., Covington
For authentic Hawaiian and a touch of the Aloha spirit, you can’t go wrong with Kealoha’s Kitchen. The restaurant, named in honor of the owner’s brother, features a selection of Hawaiian barbecue and Asian- and Polynesian-inspired dishes. Try the Bento Box with your choice of protein and scoop of rice or elevate it to the Aloha Plate and add a salad or side and a lumpia (fried spring roll). Proteins include short ribs and brisket marinated with a house-made pineapple-teriyaki sauce; teriyaki chicken; pork loin marinated in soy sauce, mustard and garlic sauce; slow-roasted pork with cabbage and onions; garlic shrimp and ahi tuna poke. Get their spicy papaya salad or Spam Musubi on the side for even more flavor.
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Buddha Barn
6625 Gracely Drive, Sayler Park
Located in a cute hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Sayler Park and outfitted with a number of Buddha statues, Buddha Barn offers some of the freshest Thai food in the city. Using family recipes and those gained from experience in New York City Thai restaurants, owner Niruti Puakkawe crafts both traditional and modern Thai dishes — from classic Pad Thai and coconut curries to out-of-the-ordinary offerings like the GaGa Gangpa: your choice of beef or pork cooked in red curry (without coconut) with anchovies, squash, string beans, bell peppers, peppercorns, Thai ginger and basil and served with a side of white jasmine rice. Or, try one of their All-Time Fabulous dishes, like the Cashew Pineapple, made with your choice of protein and pineapple, cashew nuts, onions, red bell peppers, celery and roasted dried pepper in hot chili oil paste.

Buddha Barn

6625 Gracely Drive, Sayler Park
Located in a cute hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Sayler Park and outfitted with a number of Buddha statues, Buddha Barn offers some of the freshest Thai food in the city. Using family recipes and those gained from experience in New York City Thai restaurants, owner Niruti Puakkawe crafts both traditional and modern Thai dishes — from classic Pad Thai and coconut curries to out-of-the-ordinary offerings like the GaGa Gangpa: your choice of beef or pork cooked in red curry (without coconut) with anchovies, squash, string beans, bell peppers, peppercorns, Thai ginger and basil and served with a side of white jasmine rice. Or, try one of their All-Time Fabulous dishes, like the Cashew Pineapple, made with your choice of protein and pineapple, cashew nuts, onions, red bell peppers, celery and roasted dried pepper in hot chili oil paste.
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Cedar
701 Main St., Covington
Cedar serves high-quality and locally sourced comfort food for breakfast, brunch and lunch in a relaxing and welcoming environment. The popular Hangover features house-made breakfast potatoes, chorizo, avocado, sunny-side-up eggs, crema, cilantro, jalapeño and house pico. For lunch, try the Cedar Burger — made with a house-made blend of ground beef and local goetta, topped with bacon jam, arugula, green olive-garlic aioli, heirloom tomato and fried egg and served on a Sixteen Bricks bun.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Cedar

701 Main St., Covington
Cedar serves high-quality and locally sourced comfort food for breakfast, brunch and lunch in a relaxing and welcoming environment. The popular Hangover features house-made breakfast potatoes, chorizo, avocado, sunny-side-up eggs, crema, cilantro, jalapeño and house pico. For lunch, try the Cedar Burger — made with a house-made blend of ground beef and local goetta, topped with bacon jam, arugula, green olive-garlic aioli, heirloom tomato and fried egg and served on a Sixteen Bricks bun.
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Bee’s Barbecue
5910 Chandler St.; 1403 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Bee’s believes good barbecue takes time and that smoking meat is an art – one they practice every day with patience and passion, using high-quality and locally sourced ingredients – even the wood they use is locally sourced. What results from that patience and dedication is a menu filled with tender, fresh barbecue you can buy by the half-pound or pound, on a sandwich or as a plate complemented with sides like creamy mac ‘n cheese, sticky BBQ beans and sweet honey cornbread. If you have any room left for dessert (or if you just want to power through), you won’t want to miss Bee’s Bourbon Peach Cobbler, crafted with bourbon- and brown sugar-laced peaches with a sugar crumble crust, or proprietor Bee’s personal favorite: the banana pudding – made with fluffy layers of fresh bananas, whipped cream and vanilla wafer cookies.
Photo: Provided by Bee's Barbecue

Bee’s Barbecue

5910 Chandler St.; 1403 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Bee’s believes good barbecue takes time and that smoking meat is an art – one they practice every day with patience and passion, using high-quality and locally sourced ingredients – even the wood they use is locally sourced. What results from that patience and dedication is a menu filled with tender, fresh barbecue you can buy by the half-pound or pound, on a sandwich or as a plate complemented with sides like creamy mac ‘n cheese, sticky BBQ beans and sweet honey cornbread. If you have any room left for dessert (or if you just want to power through), you won’t want to miss Bee’s Bourbon Peach Cobbler, crafted with bourbon- and brown sugar-laced peaches with a sugar crumble crust, or proprietor Bee’s personal favorite: the banana pudding – made with fluffy layers of fresh bananas, whipped cream and vanilla wafer cookies.
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Tuba Baking Co.
517 Sixth Ave., Dayton
Specializing in artisan sourdough Swabian-style soft pretzels, this German gastropub in Northern Kentucky packs a punch of flavor with its made-from-scratch Southern German cuisine. On the menu, you’ll find fare like Flammkuchen (a sort of German flatbread/pizza), Spätzle (a type of egg noodle) and the Christoph Von Bayern, a massive sandwich topped with pork loin, ham, gherkins, Gouda and a house-made spicy, whole-grain mustard. Tuba Baking Co. also has a bar with German-centric beers, wines, liquors, cocktails and ciders that you can enjoy inside or out in their new “brezelgarten.”
Photo: Drew Rath

Tuba Baking Co.

517 Sixth Ave., Dayton
Specializing in artisan sourdough Swabian-style soft pretzels, this German gastropub in Northern Kentucky packs a punch of flavor with its made-from-scratch Southern German cuisine. On the menu, you’ll find fare like Flammkuchen (a sort of German flatbread/pizza), Spätzle (a type of egg noodle) and the Christoph Von Bayern, a massive sandwich topped with pork loin, ham, gherkins, Gouda and a house-made spicy, whole-grain mustard. Tuba Baking Co. also has a bar with German-centric beers, wines, liquors, cocktails and ciders that you can enjoy inside or out in their new “brezelgarten.”
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Yuca
700 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue
This Latin-American restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, serving items like The Hangover: two sunny-side-up eggs laying on a bed of spicy chorizo and homemade potatoes with pico de gallo and avocado on top. Or try the Big Bad Wolf: a shredded pork waffle with crispy pork belly, spicy candied bacon, orange chipotle honey and powdered sugar. All of Yuca’s recipes will be made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients.
Photo: Francisco Huerta

Yuca

700 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue
This Latin-American restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, serving items like The Hangover: two sunny-side-up eggs laying on a bed of spicy chorizo and homemade potatoes with pico de gallo and avocado on top. Or try the Big Bad Wolf: a shredded pork waffle with crispy pork belly, spicy candied bacon, orange chipotle honey and powdered sugar. All of Yuca’s recipes will be made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients.
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Katch the Kitchen
4172 Hamilton Ave., Northside
After operating as a food truck for some time, Katch opened a brick-and-mortar breakfast, lunch and dinner spot in Northside in March 2021. Their menu consists of everything from French Toast Roll Ups with a vanilla cream cheese glaze to fries loaded with chicken, shrimp, crab, cheddar jack cheese and ranch. And for just $6, you can get a delicious breakfast burrito loaded with eggs, cheese, peppers, potatoes and your choice of meat.

Katch the Kitchen

4172 Hamilton Ave., Northside
After operating as a food truck for some time, Katch opened a brick-and-mortar breakfast, lunch and dinner spot in Northside in March 2021. Their menu consists of everything from French Toast Roll Ups with a vanilla cream cheese glaze to fries loaded with chicken, shrimp, crab, cheddar jack cheese and ranch. And for just $6, you can get a delicious breakfast burrito loaded with eggs, cheese, peppers, potatoes and your choice of meat.
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Kumo Asian Fusion
4990 Delhi Ave., Delhi Township
Kumo offers an extensive menu featuring dishes inspired from countries across Asia. While you’ll find a variety of hibachi dinners, Chinese-style entrees and appetizers and fried noodle and rice dishes, this Asian fusion restaurant on the West Side is best known for its sushi and sashimi. Try one of the classics like their California or Spicy Tuna roll, or take it up a notch with one of their specialty rolls. (The Sunday Morning and Fire rolls do not disappoint.)

Kumo Asian Fusion

4990 Delhi Ave., Delhi Township
Kumo offers an extensive menu featuring dishes inspired from countries across Asia. While you’ll find a variety of hibachi dinners, Chinese-style entrees and appetizers and fried noodle and rice dishes, this Asian fusion restaurant on the West Side is best known for its sushi and sashimi. Try one of the classics like their California or Spicy Tuna roll, or take it up a notch with one of their specialty rolls. (The Sunday Morning and Fire rolls do not disappoint.)
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