You have your usual Thai take-out place, or your go-to Mexican restaurant, but St. Louis has a whole world of food options outside of your take-out usuals just waiting to be explored. If you're willing to be adventurous, there are so many authentic restaurants and ethnic cuisines in St. Louis to try. Don't worry if you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of options—this guide will help you experience the cuisines of 24 different countries, and I'm willing to bet you haven't tried at least a couple of these well-received restaurants.

Ethiopian: Meskerem

Ethiopian cuisine doesn't involve pork or shellfish of any kind due to various religious restrictions which have influenced the country's food. This means that the cuisine is great for vegetarians and beef lovers. The basis of most Ethiopian dishes is a spongey, fermented flat-bread called injera. To eat Ethiopian cuisine, you tear off a piece of injera with your hands, use it to scoop up your food, and pop the whole thing in your mouth. For people that want to venture out of their usual knife and fork routine, this cuisine is something to definitely try.

Afghan: Sameem

Afghanistan's chief crops are wheat, maize, barley, and rice, so expect a lot of that when dining at an Afghan restaurant. Expect family-style eating at Sameem where your whole group can get to try new things. Yelp reviewer Saeed A. called it "real true Afghan food," Florencia P. claimed "their hummus is the best I've ever had." Try the "Mixed Grill" option on the menu and get a combination of grilled meats so you can try a little bit of everything.

Brazilian: Brasilia

At Brasilia, the vibrant blues, yellows and greens of Brasil's national flag can be seen throughout the South Grand restaurant. "It's like taking a little mini vacation," says the restaurant's co-owner, Rachel Carvalho. "You get that warm, happy, relaxed feeling like Brazilians have." Root vegetables like cassava and yams as well as fruit like mango, papaya, and pineapple make up a lot of the Brasilian diet, as well as their basic staple dish of rice and beans. At Brasilia, try the Pineapple Tropical drink—it's served inside a whole pineapple!

Saudi Arabian: The Palm Trees

Saudi Arabian cuisine is hard to find in the United States, and in St. Louis's, The Palm Trees is the city's only Saudi Arabian restaurant. At the beginning of your meal, you're presented with a gift of dates and a cup of Arabic coffee, spiced with cardamon and saffron. You'll notice these spices in many of the dishes, which include familiar Mediterranean food like hummus and falafel, as well as food you've never had before like Kabsa, a dish of rice with lamb, chicken, or shrimp, tomato paste, and a mix of spices.

Turkish: Sheesh

Just like at The Palm Trees, at Sheesh you're presented with a gift at the start of your meal. Here, it's a traditional tomato-based Turkish soup called ezogelin with rice, red lentils and bulgar. The menu offers traditional dishes like pistachio kebabs (ground lamb mixed with ground pistachios, onions, and spices), Iskender kebabs (grilled lamb toped served with a spicy tomato sauce, butter, yogurt, and pita), and gozlema (Turkish flatbreads filled with cheese and spinach). Turkey also is known for its unique coffee—fine ground coffee is brewed unfiltered and sugar is added during the actual brewing process. It's definitely a must try at Sheesh.

Vietnamese: Mai Lee 

Mai Lee was opened in the mid-80's as St. Louis's first Vietnamese restaurant. The first location had only six tables and only 10 menu items. Since then, the family-run restaurant has changed locations and now boasts over 200 menu items. Menu items include various Pho dishes, as well as Bun (vermicelli noodle soup), Chao (rice porridge), and Banh Mi (Vietnamese-style sandwiches). While you're there, definitely go for their spring rolls—there's even the option of constructing your own with their "Do It Yourself" spring rolls.

Nepalese: Himalayan Yeti

Himalayan Yeti offers both authentic Nepali and Indian cuisine, two cuisines that are very distinct, but work well together through their shared spices. Menu items at Himalayan Yeti include Momo (a Nepalese dumpling filled with meat or vegetables, to be dipped in chutney) a bone-in goat curry, or aloo bodi ra tama ko tarkari (a dish of black-eyed peas, bamboo shoots, and potatoes in a tamarind sauce). There's definitely something here for everyone.

Persian/Iranian: Cafe Natasha

Cafe Natasha was established in 1983 by the Bahrami's, a husband and wife duo, and named after their daughter. Today, it is still family-run and offers the same Persian specialties like saffron chicken kabob and various khoresh (Persian stews) that were being served from the very beginning. Cafe Natasha also offers an all-you-can-eat hummus happy hour every Tuesday from 4-7pm so if you're ever craving hummus, get yourself down there ASAP.

Bosnian: Grbic

You might be surprised to know that St. Louis boasts the largest Bosnian population outside of Europe. There's an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Bosnians in the city, and there's even a neighborhood in south St. Louis referred to as Little Bosnia. Grbic is the city's longest running Bosnian restaurant—this place has Bosnian food, as well as food from all over Eastern-Middle Europe. They also recently opened a new, more casual restaurant called Lemmons in South City.

Moroccan: Baida 

Baida is St. Louis' first Moroccan restaurant. Interestingly, the restaurant is owned and operated by a Moroccan family, the Meskines, but their head chef is an American named Jeremy Bowman. Bowman was taught the recipes and cooking techniques of Morocco by the Meskines themselves. but the Meskines taught him well, and the food is delicious. While you're there, try a tajine, a staple of Moroccan cuisine, or the flaky, rich meat-pie pastry called m'lwee.

Thai: King and I

Many swear by Blue Elephant's reasonably priced Thai food, but this may be because they've never experienced The King And I Thai's authentic, extensive menu. In 1980, this place was opened as the city's first Thai restaurant. The King and I Thai offers Thai favorites like pad thai, pad see ew, and tom yum soup, as well as plenty of interesting cocktails like the Lychee Martini or the Spray Tan (Thai Iced Tea, Sweat Tea Vodka, Khalua and Malibu Rum). 

Indian: Haveli

Haveli is an authentic Indian restaurant that's especially great for those that aren't super familiar with Indian food and need descriptions of menu items. If you want to try a variety of different specialities, opt for the buffet, available at both lunch and dinner times. Otherwise, order classics like tandoori, vindaloo, tikka masala, or somosas à la cart and expect reliable quality from everything.

Lebanese: The Cedars at St. Raymond’s

"Wednesday. Blessed Wednesday," Yelp user Monique F. starts off her review. On Wednesdays for lunch at St Raymond's cathedral in Soulard, crowds of politicians and lawyers take their lunch breaks at The Cedars, a ridiculously cheap, ridiculously delicious cafeteria of sorts. Referring to it as St. Louis' "best kept secret," Monique claims this is the "best Lebanese food ever." This is definitely a hidden gem of ethnic cuisines in St. Louis.

Korean: U-City Grill 

Another hidden gem of ethnic cuisines in St. Louis is U-City Grill. WashU's favorite Loop hole-in-the-wall diner doesn't offer a lot— there are only nine items on the Korean food menu. But what you get is packed with flavor and prepared with love by owners Mr. and Mrs. Sim. Also, everything is super cheap—when each menu item is around $7, you can fill your stomach without emptying your wallet. Just make sure to stop by an ATM on the way—this place is cash only.

Nicaraguan: Fritanga

The two biggest staple foods in Nicaragua are undoubtedly their corn and their rice and beans (fun fact: rice and beans are even eaten for breakfast in Nicaragua). But there's so much more to their unique cuisine—while you're at Fritanga, get our of your comfort zone and try dishes like repochetas, carne asada, or carne desmenuzada, and definitely try at least one of their many preparations of plantains. And to wash your flavorful food down, Yelp reviewers love the Rumtarindo, a cocktail of rum and tamarind juice.

Mexican: Chaparritos

You might be tied to Mission Taco or El Burro as your go-to Mexican restaurant in St. Louis, but there's a whole area of St. Louis that's rich with authentic Mexican food: Cherokee Street. Cherokee Street has a lot great options but Chaparritos is one of the best. A very small but lively Mexican restaurant, Chaparritos is as cheap as it is tasty. Tacos are all around $2 each, but if you want a little more food, get a combo of three with rice and beans for $9.99. Chips and salsa are complimentary and delicious.

Taiwanese: Tai Ke

Chinese food is a big part of ethnic cuisines in St. Louis (check out Olive Boulevard for all the most authentic places), but Taiwanese food is often forgotten about. Tai Ke is the first and only Taiwanese restaurant in St. Louis serving up authentic cuisine from the small island. If you're feeling adventurous, try the pork blood soup, braised pork ear, or spicy chitterling on the menu, but if you're wanting to stay in your comfort zone, don't worry—you can also order familiar dishes like stir fried noodles and crispy chicken.

Japanese: Nobu’s Japanese Restaurant

No, this isn't the same Nobu that you go to in LA to spot famous people dining on pricey sushi. At Nobu's in St. Louis, expect more than your usual California roll. Nobu's specializes in minimalist, high-quality sashimi and also offers noodle dishes and Donburi (Japanese rice bowls). Don't be deterred by the idea of sushi in the midwest here—Nobu's prides themselves on fresh fish, with certain fish even being flown in directly from Japan.

Jamaican: Caribbean Delight

Caribbean Delight was brought to St. Louis by married couple, Chrisanna Little and Danny Roofa, natives of southeastern Jamaica. The spot is a super no-frills and mainly take-out establishment, with a walk-up counter for ordering (cash only). If you go, be prepared for heat since, according to Little, "everything is very spicy" and "almost everything is stewed." Next time you're there, be sure to try Jamaican specialties like ackee and saltfish, callaloo, jerk chicken, beef patty, and goat curry.

Peruvian: Mango

Started by Peru-natives Nori and Jorge Calvo in 2004, Mango has stayed up-to-date and acclaimed 14 years later. Compared to most of the other ethnic cuisines in St. Louis on this list, Mango is definitely more expensive, so save it for special occasions and it won't let you down. If you're over 21, try the pisco sourmade with pisco (Peru's national drink; a type of brandy), lime juice, egg white and simple syrup.

Let this be your guide to stepping out of your comfort zone to try a cuisine you've never tried before. While knowledge of different ethnic cuisines in St. Louis is usually limited to Italian, Mexican, and Japanese sushi, it will definitely be worth it to stray from your usual Pastaria or Seoul Taco to experience a delicious world outside your bubble.