My brother is a bellboy at the Cincinnatian Hotel, and when he turned 20 this past January, there was only one place he wanted to go for his birthday dinner: OTR’s Salazar. His obsession was well placed — the former executive chef at the Cincinnatian’s Palace Restaurant, Jose Salazar’s eponymous bistro serves up some of the best small plates in the city. (If you’ve never had the restaurant's fried oyster sandwich with kimchi, do so immediately.)
Getting a table at a small space that doesn’t take reservations can be a nightmare, though, so my brother opted to use his birthday money for Elton John tickets instead. But once his 21st birthday rolls around in a few months, there will be a second Salazar restaurant in town — Mita’s — and this time they take reservations.
The 6,000-square-foot Mita's — inspired by the decor, food, beverages and culture of Spain — will be on the first floor of the 84.51 building (aka the new dunnhumby building) on the corner of Ffith and Race streets. Named after and inspired by Salazar's expression for his grandmother, the space will hold 130 seats for full-service dining. The interior, designed by local MSA Architects, will feature hand-painted tiles and reclaimed wood floors, echoing the Moorish architecture of the Iberian Peninsula.
“I wanted to tap my Latin heritage by incorporating the cuisines of South and Central America,” says Salazar. “There isn’t yet a place like that in Cincinnati.”
According to a recent press release, the concept was inspired by Salazar's close relationship with his Mita (who turns 87 tomorrow, June 27). He spent summers in Medellin, Colombia with Mita, watching her cook and paint. So in terms of food and drinks, expect a collection of sweet and savory dishes, including tapas, ceviches, crudos, cured meats, paella and large plates, plus several Colombian dishes inspired by Mita's Colombian kitchen. The curated wine list will include one of the city's largest collections of Spanish wines; cocktails will feature customary liquors from Latin American cultures.
Current projected hours are 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with bar service until 1 a.m. on weekends. Salazar plans to be open by late summer, with lunch expansion plans in fall. For now, follow progress at facebook.com/SalazarCincinnati.