Whether you're a foodie or not, chances are you’ve had your fair share of Mexican, Chinese and Italian meals, but how about the more obscure ethnic foods like Austrian or Lebanese? You don’t have to travel the globe to experience some of the world’s greatest cuisines. Right here in the state of Pennsylvania, we are home to an eclectic array of restaurants, true to their backgrounds and homelands, and a great alternative to the more common event and meeting places.
Mojito Cuba Caribe, New Hope
New Hope has many stellar restaurants packed into a quaint town. One in particular that always converts first-time diners to lifelong regulars is Mojito Cuba Caribe, serving authentic Latin and Cuban cuisine. Menu favorites include mahi-mahi mango (seared mahi-mahi topped with a sweet mango sauce and tropical salsa) and ropa vieja (classic Cuban shredded brisket stewed with tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions and garlic), according to owner Therese Albertini. Mojito Cuba Caribe also specializes in traditional and seasonal drinks. The family behind Mojito has a 50-plus-year history in restaurants, starting from a seaside community near Havana, Cuba. Now on South Main Street, the restaurant caters to not only new guests and New Hope regulars, but groups and parties of up to 40. “Our full menu and bar service are available and we also offer on-premise catering to your home or office,” says Albertini. Mojito Cube Caribe also has live music and entertainment on the weekends, a monthly chef cook-off and a monthly salsa dance night.
Herwig’s Austrian Bistro, State College
Trademarking the tagline “Where Bacon is an Herb!,” Herwig’s Austrian Bistro has an unsurpassed reputation and dining experience that has earned it the annual award of Best Ethnic Restaurant from State College Magazine. Serving high-quality food like the Rosmarin Schweinsbraten (ROSE-mar-in SHWEYENZ-bra-tin), two thick rosemary roast pork slices, freshly roasted to perfection and served with handmade sauerkraut and bread dumpling. Following in his father’s footsteps, owner Bernd Brandstatter attended culinary school in Salzburg, Austria, where he perfected traditional Austrian dishes. “Herwig’s is interactive cuisine,” he says. Brandstatter takes the bacon tagline very seriously, creating homemade classic Viennese, American and bacon-based desserts daily like the almostfamous Cinnabaconrolls. Herwig’s also caters for events and parties for groups of 50 in the restaurant, or off-site for 100-125.
Conflict Kitchen, Pittsburgh
Quite possibly one of the most unique ideas for a dining establishment is Conflict Kitchen, located in the Oakland neighborhood. The restaurant serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict, rotating identities in relation to current geopolitical events, according to Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, co-owners of Conflict Kitchen. Some cultures that have been showcased since its opening in 2010 are Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela. Currently the restaurant is focused on the food, culture and politics of Palestine, Iran and Afghanistan. According to Rubin and Weleski, individuals and groups can reserve the tent from the Pittsburgh Park Conservatory, accommodating up to 200, and Conflict Kitchen provides on-or-off-site catering including buffets and boxed lunches, and buffet-style catering for large groups (more than 50) with advanced notice.
Mezza Cafe, Lebanese Kitchen & Lounge, Lemoyne
Recipes at the Mezza Cafe have been passed down for generations. From a diverse selection of fresh, made-from-scratch Lebanese dishes to street food sandwiches, there is something for everyone in this casual Middle Eastern restaurant. Located just west of the Susquehanna River, you can either eat in, take out, rent the space (up to 45 guests) or hire them for all your catering needs. “Our customers love our food,” says co-owner Colette Roderick. “The falafel [sandwich] is the most popular item on the menu. It’s made with fava and chickpeas with onion, garlic, herbs and spices, then fried and served on pita bread with lettuce, tomato, pickles, radish and tahini sauce.”