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Restaurants that transport you to another country.

Uptown Dave Oct 27, 2010 07:26 AM

I am looking for restaurants anywhere in San Diego County that make you feel like you are eating in another country.

For example, it could be a French bistro where the ambiance, the authentic menu scrawled on a chalkboard, the vin rouge served in tumblers, and the French-speaking staff combine to make you feel as though you were transported to some cute little place in Paris's 4th Arrondissement.

Game on!

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  1. Beach Chick RE: Uptown Dave Oct 27, 2010 09:01 AM

    Hey Dave!
    Hacienda de Vega always brings me back to a lovely restaurant in Cuernvaca.
    Mille Fleurs in RSF has the feel of a Country French home.
    Does the Blue Bayou in Dinneyland count?
    ; )

    1 Reply
    1. re: Beach Chick
      littlestevie RE: Beach Chick Oct 27, 2010 03:51 PM

      Depends, were you thinking New Orleans or Orlando?

    2. Josh RE: Uptown Dave Oct 27, 2010 12:01 PM

      That's a tall order. I can't say I've had an experience like that here, at least not fully.

      Pizzeria Bruno, food-wise, is very reminiscent of the pizzas we ate in Italy. Atmosphere isn't quite the same though, and the lack of Campari beverages is a real problem.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Josh
        stevewag23 RE: Josh Oct 27, 2010 12:19 PM

        Yeah, I agree. Tall order. Hell, I would be happy if we had more restaurants that transported you to another city. In America. Good idea for a thread though.

        That being said, I think the Yakatori spot can give you that feeling. It is usually 80-90% asian clientele.

        Puerto la Boca is actually pretty good rendition of something you will find in Buenos Aires. Although good, the steaks aren't the same.

        1. re: stevewag23
          Josh RE: stevewag23 Oct 27, 2010 01:31 PM

          Yeah, and I just realized Izakaya Sakura is a good candidate - though I haven't been to Japan, dining there late at night I definitely don't feel like I'm in San Diego, and not just because it's late. ;-)

          1. re: Josh
            honkman RE: Josh Oct 27, 2010 01:38 PM

            Went with japanese friends to Sakura and they mentioned that the food is comparable to some japanese places but the ambience is very American nothing compared to Japan.

            1. re: Josh
              cgfan RE: Josh Oct 27, 2010 10:42 PM

              No, not even close... I like to refer to Izakaya Sakura as the most un-Izakaya-like Izakaya around!

              I'd suggest either Yumeya or Oton as being the closest to fitting the bill. It's the tight quarters, simple folksy/Mingei-hin decor and personally attentive service of this family-run sake house that makes Yumeya a little bit of Japan in Leucadia.

              On the other hand at Oton the waitstaff is dressed traditionally and the customers remove their shoes before entering their own private dining rooms. Slippers are provided so customers can make the walk from the private rooms to the restrooms.

              1246 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

              1. re: cgfan
                Josh RE: cgfan Oct 28, 2010 02:22 AM

                I only meant that Sakura didn't feel like San Diego - certainly wasn't trying to claim it felt like Japan (as I haven't been to Japan).

                1. re: cgfan
                  SaltyRaisins RE: cgfan Oct 28, 2010 11:08 AM

                  Oton takes me there a bit, too. So does Nijiya, even though it's not a restaurant- a lot like the market I'd go to when I was a guest at the Kenin-ji shrine in Kyoto for a week some time ago.

                  Does time travel count? Because El Indio takes me back to my grandfather's vision of Old Mexico, down Mexico way circa 1950, where the tequila was strong and the enchiladas were saucy, and all the hookers were named Inez ("eye-nez"), even though I don't think they serve either tequila or hookers there.


          2. Josh RE: Uptown Dave Oct 27, 2010 12:10 PM

            El Paisa, in Logan Heights, is kind of like this, actually. Great tacos, but if you sit outside they have two radios playing at high volume, one from the truck, and one from the restaurant, and they're not playing the same music. It's a weird, Charles Ives-esque experience, that in some ways brings to mind the chaotic surroundings of some of TJs taco carts. (I'm guessing this isn't what you're looking for, though.)

            4 Replies
            1. re: Josh
              Fake Name RE: Josh Oct 27, 2010 01:36 PM

              Cuatros Milpas makes me think I'm in Mexico, specifically, the areas of Mexico that are close to the border. But in the country of Mexico. South of the United States. On the Mexico side of the line that separates Mexico and the US. In Mexico.

              The bar at Mikes Sky Ranch, too. Oh, wait...

              1. re: Fake Name
                stevewag23 RE: Fake Name Oct 27, 2010 01:37 PM

                "makes me thing I'm in Mexico- border areas"

                Wait, aren't we already "in a Mexico- border area"?

                1. re: stevewag23
                  MrKrispy RE: stevewag23 Oct 27, 2010 02:41 PM

                  steve that would be the other thread, "Restaurants that transport you to other parts of San Diego County"

                  1. re: MrKrispy
                    stevewag23 RE: MrKrispy Oct 27, 2010 03:07 PM

                    The Local in downtown "transports me to Pacific Beach".

                    And Tower 23 in pacific beach "transports me to the gaslamp".

                    Anyone feel the same way?

            2. n
              nutrition RE: Uptown Dave Nov 3, 2010 09:00 AM

              KaiserHof. This has to be the most authetic German restaurant, that I have been to outside of Germany.
              The food is consistently an Excellent rendition of what you might taste in the Munich area. The Weinerschnitzel and Red Gabbagd are always a treat, and I hardly can pass them by on the Menu.
              Other Black Board Specials at the Bar are reasonably priced over the Dining room dinners for a more complete meal. Nice with a Cucumber salad.

              11 Replies
              1. re: nutrition
                Josh RE: nutrition Nov 3, 2010 09:07 AM

                Wonder if it's as good as Berlin.

                1. re: Josh
                  Fake Name RE: Josh Nov 3, 2010 10:27 AM



                  <insert grass-fed reference here>

                  1. re: Josh
                    honkman RE: Josh Nov 3, 2010 11:28 AM

                    Unfortunately not. Kaiserhof is a mediocre, overpriced place with "German" food which can be found much better even in California. (And I don't even want to start a rant that the "typical German food" you find in "German" restaurants in the US have hardly anything to do with actual food in German beside some places for tourists. It's like saying that PF Chang is authentic chinese food

                    1. re: honkman
                      stevewag23 RE: honkman Nov 3, 2010 11:37 AM

                      Wait, PF Wangs isn't typical of a restaurant in mainland China?

                      1. re: honkman
                        Josh RE: honkman Nov 3, 2010 02:06 PM

                        Yeah, I figured as much.

                        One of my favorite restaurant reviews ever was written about Kaiserhof in City Beat:

                        1. re: honkman
                          Pentagarn RE: honkman Nov 3, 2010 03:44 PM

                          Where is this better German food to be found? I lived in Germany for about 6 years of my youth and loved a lot of the food there, but I've found only disappointments like Kaiserhof around here.

                          1. re: Pentagarn
                            honkman RE: Pentagarn Nov 3, 2010 08:47 PM

                            I haven't found anything in the US so far which even remotely resembles food you will get today today in German. German had and still has a very high percentage of migrant workers over the last 30 years which had an tremendous impact on food in Germany. German food today has hardly anything to do anymore with the old stereotypes and is one of the more interesting and continuesly evolving cuisines in Europe.
                            If you look for at least good versions of the "old fashion" dishes don't go to disappointing and low quality places like Kaiserhof or Tip Top Meats (but the butcher part of the shop is nice). The only good place for such food in California we have found so far is Brummis in Santa Barbara. Everything is made from scratch and is good:


                      2. re: nutrition
                        The Office Goat RE: nutrition Nov 3, 2010 09:07 AM

                        This? Who this?

                        1. re: nutrition
                          MrKrispy RE: nutrition Nov 3, 2010 11:35 AM

                          Hmmm Kaiserhoff seems to transport me to a German restaurant in the middle of Indiana. Weird.

                          1. re: MrKrispy
                            nutrition RE: MrKrispy Nov 3, 2010 09:23 PM

                            What is a 'food snob'?

                            1. re: MrKrispy
                              stevewag23 RE: MrKrispy Nov 4, 2010 11:14 AM

                              Kaiserhoff transports me to a San Diego restaurant in the middle of the Bavaria.

                              Which is even weirder if you think about it.

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