We try to compile all the "exotic" foods in SD
Exotic meaning a non-familiar nationality (so no Chinese, Indian, Mexican)--unless it's really unusual.
Ethiopian: Harrar, Red Sea, and 1 other place
Somali: African Spice, Taste of African Cuisine, more places
Salvadoran: El Salvador, more places
Argentine: Buenos Aires (TJ)
Lebanese: Mama's, Ranoosh (awful)
Laotian: Asia Cafe
Afghan: Khyber Pass, more places
Basque: Chikki Jai (TJ)
Greek: Zorba's, more places
Parallel 33 (& Blue Lotus next door) is very exotic to me: Inspired by a theory that all locales along the 33rd parallel (San Diego's latitude) of the globe might share the rich culinary traditions of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley (birthplace of civilization), chef Amiko Gubbins presents a cuisine that beautifully combines flavors from Morocco, Lebanon, India, China, and Japan.
The other Ethiopian place is Awash. It's in a bad part of town and the place looks run down but the tables were freshly cleaned and the food was good. Cheap too.
There is a good Argentine place in Little Italy though they mix in more then a bit of Italian and French cooking as well.
Cafe LA Jolla Persian Cuisine & Fairouz Restaurant & Gallery have decent Iranian/Persian food.
Armenian Cafe has some fairly traditional Armenian food.
Rei do Gado, Brazil by the Hill, and Brazil by the Bay along with others serve Brazilian food.
Modus Supper Club serves a lot of Polish and Hungarian dishes.
Amici Peruvian & Latin Food serves mainly Peruvian but also a number of Chilean foods.
Andre's Cuban Restaurant is the only decent Cuban place I've found in the city.
There are numerous Filipino places in Mira Mesa but they all kind of suck.
Jamroc 101 Caribbean Grill has some interesting Jamacian inspired dishes.
Sheila's Cafe has some nice kosher Jewish/Israeli food as does D.Z. Akins.
Jasmine Bistro pretends to be Thai though the owner is Malay and there are many Malaysian things on the menu.
On the Mexican front, Super Cocina often has dishes from parts of Mexico that you won't find elsewhere. Yesterday, for example, they had pork in a green mole made from pumpkin seeds and Oaxacan-style eggs.
Also, there is a swap meet in Escondido with a Oaxacan restaurant inside that serves tlayudas and fried grasshopper tacos.
Chicki Jai is an interesting experience. Hemingway used to eat there, but when they remodeled and de-rusticated the place they took down the photo of him on the veranda.
Lots of seafood. One dish is squid cooked in its own ink. Not sure I'd recommend that one, it's pretty intense. The things I remember most about the meal were that it began with hot french bread and bleu cheese brought to the table, and they had this really great cream for the coffee. The entrees don't stick too well in my memory, as I recall it was good but not mind-blowing.
Actually it is Chiki Jai at 1388 Av. Revolucion (at 8th street)
Chiki Jai has the best paella I have had outside of Spain. They make it in a giant paella pan that you can see if you look in the kitchen. I really liked the squid in its own ink as well. Owners Paquita and Manuel Monje are awesome hosts. This is an excellent restaurant, and is so worth the trip to TJ.
We, Filipinos, have a dish called "adobong pusit," where pusit is Tagalog for squid and adobo is simmered/stewed in a vinegar and soy sauce mix/marinade. (I'm sure some of you enjoy chicken/pork adobo.) This adobong pusit sometimes is tinted purple due to the ink, but none of the dishes I've eaten have tasted bitter (I read that squid ink can cause bitterness).