I recently interviewed 1008 Key Club executive chef Clay Lillie for a story involving the 1008 Fourth St. eatery's new spring lunch menu.

I'm been a longtime fan of Chef Clay's food since it often uses international ingredients.

For instance, Lillie's just-introduced Bahn Mi Burger mimics the famous Vietnamese sandwich with a handful of Asian ingredients. Yet it get an extra punch of flavor from slivers of smoky, south-of-the-border carnitas that he uses to top his burger.

In addition, the addition of a sesame kale slaw gives the Key Club's fish taco an unexpected pop.

America is a melting pot country, Lillie likes to say, and Sioux City is a melting pot community.

This melding of tastes will be found at Gyro Fest, which is taking place from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday, at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 900 Sixth St. 

It is even more apparent at Sioux City's many Greek-owned restaurants. 

Whenever I'm in the mood for pastichio -- a Grecian variation on lasagna -- I know I'll be able to find it on the menu at Johnnie Mars (2401 East Fifth St.)

Similarly, Diamond Thai Cuisine (515 West Seventh St.) is my go-to place for outstanding larb.

What's larb, you ask? It is regarded as the "unofficial" national meal of Laos. Consisting of ground meat, veggies, chilis, limes and a dash or two of fish sauce, it is spicy, sour and, altogether, satisfying. 

Even more ferocious than Diamond Thai's larb is Shahi Palace's vindaloo. But if you ever order this ultra-spicy meat-and-potatoes-and-curry dish, expect to sweat ... a lot.

The servers at the 3146 Singing Hills Blvd. restaurant always warn you that the vindaloo is, by far, their spiciest dish. They're right.

However, if spice isn't your thing, check out California Pupusa (1500 Villa Ave.). Made with a thick cornmeal flatbread, pupusas come made with a meat, cheese and veggies of your choice.

Even more exotic is the Ethiopian cuisine at Elilly Restaurant and Coffee House (1529 Pierce St.).

At Elilly, we always get something called kitfo, which is beef served with flavorful chili peppers. However, don't expect the meal to come with any silverware.

Instead, you scoop the food using a delicious flatbread called injera. It takes a a little practice, but this is quintessential African finger food.

When people think of Midwestern cuisine, they think of bland, unimaginative fare. That's a bad misconception, especially if you live in Sioux City.

America's strength comes from its people and the same holds true for Sioux City. 

We are a nation -- and a community -- built on immigrants. 

That taste is in our food and we look forwarded to exploring Sioux City one melting pot at a time.

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