No need for Ranchers to leave the country — or the county — to get their fix of international cuisine.
When the excitement of holiday comfort food has left the building, but a house full of guests remains, give everyone’s taste buds a vacay (and yourself a break from the kitchen) with a trip to any one or all of Main Street Lakewood Ranch’s international options. This guide to a flavorful escape offers worldly flair that takes you from Paris to Peru — minus the TSA security and hotel expense. So ladies and gentlemen, sit back, relax, and enjoy the scrumptious journey.
8131 Lakewood Main St. #103
Ah, the City of Love. With 12 years in the same location, Paris Bistrot has mastered the intimate Parisian feel without Americanizing any part of the cuisine. From omelets made the French way — incorporate the egg into the ingredients not just in the middle — and buckwheat crepes to beef bourguignon and sauce au Poivre, Parisian-born owner and chef Jean Christophe Nebra stays true to his heritage. That’s not to say he doesn’t infuse a little bit of his own flair. Nebra says that although French recipes hold the same foundation of ingredients, the recipe execution tends to be slightly unique, depending on who’s cooking. One of the most popular dishes is the pork Marco Polo — pork tenderloin covered in black pepper and cognac sauce (right).
Paris Bistrot serves lunch and dinner daily in a quaint cafe setting filled with leather booths, iron chandeliers and French accents aimed to immerse diners in an authentic Parisian experience. Although the lunch menu is consistent, dinner options can change from evening to evening and are served in more of a formal style. (Think warm light and white tablecloths.) Nebra opens early for breakfast on the weekend and also offers a fantastic French wine selection if you are into that sort of thing (wink, wink). If you want to get a taste of Paris in season, especially for dinner, be sure to make a reservation, or you’ll be fighting for a comfy seat in this gem of an establishment.
Main Street Trattoria
8131 Lakewood Main St. #101
Rooted in Italian history, “trattorias” were known to be simple neighborhood eateries with a menu full of variety and an atmosphere aimed at pleasing the entire family. Main Street Trattoria owner Gary Fennessy, originally from New Jersey, has captured that casual “anything goes” mentality with his 10-year-old trattoria. MST is a large space with a long bar and a bustling air about it. Indoor dining offers views of the open kitchen, where head chef Herbert Arguer is free to use his culinary creativity and diverse expertise to maintain a menu full of delicious comfort foods from traditional Italian dishes to work-of-art specials, such as filet and lobster tails and Mediterranean grouper over spaghetti. And, of course, what trattoria would be complete without a large pizza oven? Lunch at MST hardly strays from comfort with fantastic sandwich offerings including cheesy meatball subs to caprese chicken parm. Arger also makes desserts from scratch including the classic tiramisu (left) and a gluten-free chocolate cake. Ample outdoor seating offers the perfect setting for a sunset happy hour or boozy Sunday brunch.
8126 Lakewood Main St. #101
Casa Maya owner Ronald Kuroiwa considers his restaurant a combination of Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican cuisine. Kuroiwa, from Bolivia, says it’s his diverse kitchen staff hailing from many different Latin countries that allows him to bring the individual seasonings of their countries to the Casa Maya menu. One of the most popular dishes, and Kuroiwa’s favorite, is the Molcajetes (left). This Guadalajaran specialty consists of a heated volcanic stone (in the shape of a pig) filled with meat or seafood and grilled onions and peppers drowning in a homemade red sauce served bubbling hot and wafting amazing aromas that tempt you to sacrifice your tongue and ignore the accompaniments. If you do choose to practice patience as it cools and eat it as intended, you’ll scoop out the filling, put it on a tortilla and top it with desired fixings, such as sour cream, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo and guacamole. Casa Maya offers a lively, colorful atmosphere and warm customer service. The sangria and margaritas made from scratch in-house complement the fresh cuisine. A freshly updated menu incorporates even more traditional flavors and items for regulars to sample.
Hana Sushi Lounge
8126 Lakewood Main St. #102
Just south of the Casa Maya border is the hip and modern Hana Sushi Lounge. Thanks to extensive travels, Hana owner Jane Dokko stays up on the industry trends, from cocktail concoctions to innovative sushi rolls. And although you might not be stepping into a traditional Japanese “sushi-ya” when headed to Hana, your taste buds will no doubt still be in for a fun field trip. Dokko says they use the highest quality fish and that all the Hana sauces are made in-house. You are welcome to order simple sashimi, but with offerings like the popular volcano roll or the red diamond roll — spicy tuna, cucumber and scallops topped with red tobiko (flying fish roe) — the artful combination of beauty and flavor makes a strong case to go with a Hana roll instead. Hana also offers plenty of options for the non-sushi slammer, from udon noodles to fried chicken (yes, you read that right). Hana is family-friendly but also offers a fun night scene with lively bar culture, which is in constant flux with creative craft cocktails made from fresh, created-on-site cocktail mixers.
10667 Boardwalk Loop
The last stop on our worldly food tour is certainly not the least, but it is the newest international cuisine to hit Main Street. For this stop, head to south Main Street and around to Boardwalk Loop to enter Inkawasi (Inca House), which represents the vibrant foods of Peru. Peruvian owner Jimmy Arias, who learned to cook from his mom, has nailed the ambiance and cuisine in his cheerful, light and airy space, which features high ceilings, ample glazing and beautiful Peruvian art and tchotchkes. But the real star of the show is, of course, the eats. Influenced by the many cultures from the Spanish to Asian, who at one point in the country’s history colonized there, Peruvian cuisine is a melting pot of those country’s traditional foods using the native ingredients of Peru, such as corn, potatoes and yellow peppers.
On your first visit to Inkawasi, you must try the Lomo Saltado — beef flamed with red onions, tomatoes and cilantro leaves and served with white rice and french fries (right). To make it a traditional Peruvian meal, start with Inkawasi Ceviche — fish and shrimp marinated in a yellow pepper ceviche sauce served with sweet potato, Peruvian-toasted corn and seaweed. Also be sure to pair any meal you get with a chicha Morada — a jewel-toned beverage prepared from a base of boiled purple corn, cloves, cinnamon and pineapple. The flavor is as delightful as is the color, and the drink is rumored to naturally lower blood pressure. Inkawasi also serves house-made sangria and a selection of Peruvian beers and wines. Open for lunch and dinner; reservations are recommended for dinner.