Cleveland is lousy with conventional Mexican eateries — the kind where brilliance and creativity take a back seat to familiarity and contentment. And that's just fine, because we love those kinds of meals. But Momocho taught diners to look at Mexican cuisine through a different lens, a lens focused by chef-owner Eric Williams. His "mod Mex" might not be the world's most authentic representation of south-of-the-border fare, but it is the most unique, exciting and delicious adaptation that we can find in the region. In place of cheese-covered plates of bland burritos with refried beans and rice, diners are treated to creamy smoked trout guacamole, flavorful duck confit tacos, beer braised lamb tamales and jalapeno bread pudding. It doesn't hurt, either, that this sweet split-level restaurant is in Ohio City but off the (increasingly touristy) beaten path.
1835 Fulton Rd., 216-694-2122, momocho.com.
Staff Pick: Orale!