Music City Diner

Stuffed into the corner of a strip mall north of Nashville, this Greek-inspired diner is a small, but very homey place to eat. Staged like an old-fashioned eatery of southern America, you’ll walk in to classic songs on the jukebox and a “how y’all doin?” from the very friendly waitresses. In spite of these, this restaurant is anything but dated. It’s in fact a place where creative kinds of dishes are made and Greek cuisine is the norm.

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Cedarland Bakery

The east Dayton suburbs hold many surprises, especially in the world of little local restaurant operations. Cedarland Bakery is a great example; offering a specific flavor in Lebanese food amid a larger backdrop of Mediterranean dishes that might be a bit more familiar. Very popular with the immigrant community in the city, the grill enjoys relatively little fanfare from the suburbs because of its low-key presence. Very much a hole in the wall, this place has lots of sweets to take home with you, but you’ll want to try that lunch menu.

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Istanbul Cafe

A downtown Cincinnati destination that specializes in Mediterranean, specifically Turkish, cuisine, Istanbul Cafe is popular with groups and larger crowds, specifically for events that might be a little nicer and more upscale. It’s got a following with tourists, a space popular with the local Turkish American population, and brings people in quantity on weekend nights. Plenty of great dishes from kebabs, falafel, lamb dishes, chicken and more. It’s a delightful place, a nicer restaurant that still delivers with friendly service and good food. The restaurant has landed some good reviews in local media, but where it continues to find good ratings, really, is with crowd-sourced reviewing sites.

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Yaffa Grill

A dive restaurant in Fairborn across the street from Wright State University and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Yaffa Grill is a pretty simple restaurant operation and attached grocery store serving Mediterranean cuisine. Busy during the lunch hour for its variety of fresh food and relatively healthy options. This place is all made for convenience, whether you want carry out or a quick buffet. The food here is fresh and pretty good.

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Andy’s Mediterranean Grille

A bar and restaurant in Walnut Hills, on the cusp of downtown Cincinnati, Andy’s Mediterranean Grille specializes in Middle Eastern dishes that aren’t to be found in many other places in the area. Aiming to be a little more upscale and drawing a crowd for its distinctly Greek cuisine. With belly dancers to entertain on the weekends and a friendly staff that helps serve up hummus, tabbouleh, lamb burgers and a number of other regional specialties alongside more Americanized dishes like pizzas. The spot isn’t the first place you might think to go, but it does have a charm that grows on you after a few visits. It’s the wait time and the price that can make it hard to swallow.

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Abigail Street

Opened in Over-The-Rhine in downtown Cincinnati as another of its much-loved experimental restaurant concepts, Abigail Street is a Tapas bar with a flair for making great small-plate Mediterranean specialties. Served up easy to divide and meant to be shared with friends, this spot has a long wait for its food on the weekends, but the quality of the food is immediately apparent, from when the first dish lands on your table to when the very friendly service sees you off at the end of the night. The concept is definitely unique on this street for the experience that it offers.

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House of Kabab (CLOSED)

Lebanese food has come into Dayton with several new restaurants in recent years, but House of Kabab is one of the oldest, set up along Centerville’s main stretch south of town. The restaurant serves different Mediterranean specialties, the kinds of foods up until recently you could find in few other places around town. But as some of the other Lebanese food places seek to re-imagine the recipes or rework the ingredients into something more westernized, House of Kabab goes for the classic feel. You come here for shwarma, seared lamb, falafel and other foods with a simple, unfiltered flavor.

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Taza – A Lebanese Grill

With many restaurants in the western part of downtown Cleveland, Taza is still a relative island for the uniqueness of its Lebanese food concept among a sea of bars, grills, and other kinds of food. In fact, you set foot into the cavernous interior of the restaurant, and you’re almost blinded by the glitzy, gold interior. But turn your eyes quickly to the oversize bar and the wide menu of vegetable and Middle Eastern dishes, and you’ll find something great cooking up.

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Shish Wraps (CLOSED)

Shish Wraps is a fast-casual concept serving Mediterranean-style food to go. Having recently opened up along Brown Street near downtown Dayton, this concept caters primarily to the busy University of Dayton student population, but I’ve got to say it’s the kind of thing a lot of other people would like. You order a wrap or a bowl of food, prepared either the “shish” way or your own way, with a number of options.

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Salar Restaurant & Lounge

A new restaurant anchoring the west end of Dayton’s Oregon District, Salar has a menu that it a little hard to describe as any one genre. With ravioli, empanadas, duck, pizza, burgers and quinoa, you’ll also find many of the dishes blur the traditional lines between the classic ethnic recipes. Whether it’s pork belly and sweet potato, pizza topped with chorizo, or quinoa topped with pine nuts and cilantro lime dressing, this is the kind of place you’d want to drop by if you had a hankering for something you’ve never tried before. Lunch or dinner, cocktails or a feast, I have been impressed every time I have come back.

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