LIFT Akron: Try New Foods

The Devil Strip staff

This month, our LIFT Akron task is an easy one: Visit a new restaurant and try a new type of food.

We have dozens of cuisines represented in greater Akron’s restaurants. From jerk chicken to jambalaya, momos to mofongo, it’s not difficult to find something you’ve never had within a few miles.

Whatever you eat this month, share it using #LIFTAkron2019. We’ll spread the word.

If you need a push, our team went through our archives and picked a few of our favorite reviews. We also threw in a few of our favorite restaurants.

Chin’s Place. This longtime West Hill restaurant serves Cantonese dishes for eat-in or takeout. If you’re a first-time visitor, owners recommend the shrimp with black bean sauce.

Da Bayou. At this Cajun spot in the Merriman Valley, the owners recommend that first-time visitors try the gumbo and the seafood boil. Tyron Holstein visited Da Bayou in 2018.

Hayuya Restaurant. Grace Dubravetz visited this new Puerto Rican restaurant in Ellet in January, and owner Amelis Repollet described the food simply: “Flavor.” Amelis recommends trying mofongo with the meat of your choice. Read more.

La Loma. This Mexican restaurant in Goodyear Heights has been making waves for a while. Holly Brown visited in 2017. Her findings:

I want to give a HUGE shout out to the variety of salsas that are just sitting on the table! While we got to sample a spicy and juicy red salsa with our complimentary chips, they also provided two supplementary bottles of salsa: one salsa verde and one spicy, brown salsa. Mixing these two salsas with the chicken was the best decision I made. The earthy, smokiness of the brown salsa mixed with the bright tang of the salsa verde complimented the peppery chicken in a way that I am so thrilled I got to experience.

Of course I couldn’t order tacos without sampling the al pastor (my absolute favorite). This al pastor came with a large chunk of pineapple placed delicately on top of the juicy pork. The amount of pineapple was unlike anything I had seen. This version of al pastor allowed the pineapple to be a main element of the dish. The sour, juicy crunch meets delicious fattiness is a flavor I can certainly get used to. My last taco of the evening was the asada and, if possible, it was even juicier than the al pastor! The spices were smoky and salty with just a bit of kick.

From the archives: LA Soul

Lyeh Thai. A hidden gem in North Hill, this Thai restaurant has one of Akron’s highest Yelp ratings. No one on our team has tried it yet, much to our chagrin, but you can bet we’ll be there this month.

From the archives: Mexico City

Ms. Julie’s Kitchen. This delightfully welcoming Firestone Park spot does all vegan food, some of it grown in Ms. Julie’s community garden. Owners recommend the Hempatty, black bean burger or sloppy mac. Rachel Roberts can also vouch for the sloppy mac.

Nepali Kitchen. North Hill’s bustling Nepali Kitchen does a brisk takeout and dine-in business. Holly Brown visited back in 2016. And nothing gets editor-in-chief Rosalie Murphy through an issue of the magazine like a bowl of thukpa, a warm, spicy noodle soup perfect for chilly nights.

New Era. This East Akron mainstay specializes in Hungarian dishes. Business development director Jessica Goldbourn recommends the first thing on the menu — chicken paprikash — and “some of the best apple strudel you’ve ever had.”

Nicole’s. For a soul food fix, head to Nicole’s in West Akron. For dinner, the owners recommend pork chop rib or honey fried chicken, both served with two side dishes and cornbread.

From the archives: Not Yo’ Daddy’s Hot Sauce

Pots and Pans Jamaican Cuisine. Writer Tyron Holstein visited this downtown restaurant in 2018. His findings are here. This week, the owners made their own recommendation to The Devil Strip: Chicken Frikazee. “It is dark meat fried then cooked down in tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions. It is semi-sweet, a little tangy, and definitely a customer favorite.”

Papa Joe’s. For authentic Italian (and an extensive wine menu) in the Merriman Valley, try Papa Joe’s. For lunch, the owners recommend the grilled 1950s Reuben; for dinner, any of their classic Italian entrees.

Sanabel Middle East Bakery. This South Akron bakery and lunch spot specializes in Middle Eastern savory pastries. They also have groceries, including oils and spices and frozen breads you can take home to eat later. Ask the owners when you visit for their recommendation — they’ll give you a great one.  

From the archives: Shawarma Brothers

Photo at top: Ilenia Pezzaniti. Other photos, respectively: Grace Dubravetz, Holly Brown.