Foodie Diaries: The Newcomers

Ready for a chicken revolution?
Tostada For One
Save room for pie!

While the rain kept the players off the courts Sunday, we took free time to explore the food options around Lindner Family Tennis Center. For you, of course. (Though we benefitted too.)

On Sunday, we tried out the three new Cincinnati-based vendors at the tournament this year: Mazunte, Revolution and Carlo & Johnny. From tacos to rotisserie chicken to handheld fine dining, here’s a look at what to expect on your first trip to the food court this year. 

The first stop on our food tour was Mazunte, a taco and tostada specialist that stresses authentic Mexican flavors and natural food. Their kitchens open at 6 a.m. every morning to assemble the handmade ingredients.

Fish tacos receive top-billing on their tent menu, and it’s easy to see why. The soft corn tacos are loaded with grilled fish, slaw with bright pink cabbage, guacamole and mango habanero salsa. Topped with cilantro, this was one of the most colorful offering we tried today. 

For the tostadas, be sure to collect some napkins before leaving the tent, especially if you are sharing (if greediness doesn’t take over). There were a few meat options, but we had chicken, which played nice with black beans, goat cheese-based crema, shredded spinach, red onion salsa and avocado salsa. 

The tacos and tostadas both have a spicy kick but not too much. You don’t have to buy an extra bottle or two of water just to survive the encounter. 

Local Origins: Owner Josh Wamsley spent more than a year in Mexico learning from locals and brought his knowledge back to Cincinnati. He opened Mazunte in 2012 (and you can visit their brick-and-mortar store at 5207 Madison Road). 

Ready for the chicken revolution? It’s here by way of Revolution Rotisserie & Bar. 

Making its first appearance at the Linder Family Tennis Center, Revolution is the place to be for lovers of rotisserie chicken. It’s the focus of menu; even the gravy comes from the rotisserie chicken bones. This week they’re bringing some of their comfort food and pitas menu items from their year-old restaurant at 1106 Race Street. 

We had the chicken coup poutine, which is a generous mixed plate of tater tots, chicken, mozzarella and gravy. It’s hard not to like this combo because … who doesn’t like these food items individually? It’s a can’t miss. You’ll need a fork. 

Revolution has a number of chicken pitas (“chitas”) that are named after famous revolutionaries in history. We tried the “Nelson Mandela,” which was chicken, pepperjack, black beans, corn chips, tomato and chipotle ranch topped with cilantro. Owner Nicolas Pesola says most of their pitas are based on a healthier take on a gyro. It’s a tasty, holdable food option while watching a tennis match; if careful, you won’t suffer too many spills. 

Chicken Origins: The chicken come from Amish farms and have been raised on a vegetarian diet. No hormones there. 

Carlo & Johnny, part of the exclusive family of Jeff Ruby Restaurants, is in its 15th year of business in Cincinnati and first year on site at the Western & Southern Open. Carlo & Johnny brings its fine dining flair to the tent decor and — more importantly — to the food options. 

If you are a regular at Carlo & Johnny (9769 Montgomery Road), rest assured you will be receiving the same high-qualify meats at the tournament site this week. But instead of cutting steaks courtside, you can try their food in handier forms that are not on their normal menu. 

As far as entrees go, we had fresh kabobs and an Italian sausage sandwich. The kabobs really show off Carlo & Johnny’s flair for steak; the meat was fantastic and distributed among the occasional slice of onion and cherry tomato. The sandwich was contained Italian sausage, house-made marinara and bell peppers between local Cuban bread. 

And save room for pie! 

Carlo & Johnny’s butter pie is on site this week, topped with fresh blueberries. If you want dessert for dinner, the slices are large enough to make that happen. I was only able to snag a few bites before my coworkers finished off the rest; this was some high-demand business.