Lookwhos: Look Whos Eating - Swami Naidu Sunkara

Owner, Cactus Pear

Graham Lienhart

Swami Naidu Sunkara

Indian-born restauranteur Swami Sunkara has been a regular fixture on the local dining scene for years. Back in 1994, when I first arrived in Cincinnati, it was at his Clifton Indian restaurant Mayura that I discovered my complete ineptitude for waiting tables. I lasted approximately two-and-a-half shifts before becoming entangled in a potted plant and quitting in a huff. Those days are long gone. A couple of years later, Swami bought Tex-Mex joint Cactus Pear, which sits a few doors farther down Jefferson Avenue, and then opened another Cactus Pear in Blue Ash. Last year Swami finally sold Mayura, the scene of my downfall, to concentrate on his Cactus Pear venture.

CityBeat: Where did you eat your last great meal and what was it? Swami Naidu Sunkara: Last Monday, at the China Gourmet. It's on Erie Avenue. They have the fish, the walleye, steamed and the green beans. I like it very much.CB: What's in the Cactus Pear salsa that makes it taste so damned good? SS: Roasted tomatoes. We make everything here, so we roast everything. That's why it tastes different.

Cactus Pear, 3215 Jefferson Ave., Clifton, 513-961-7400; 9500 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-791-4424.

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