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Apr 12, 2012 05:14 PM

Best ethnic restaurants in San Diego?

I'm trying to discover the best of (insert cuisine) within a30-40 minute drive of downtown San Diego. Here's a list of the places that are my current go-tos. I'm sure that some of my current list can be beaten - does anyone have better recommendations? I care about the quality and authenticity of the food more much more than atmosphere or anything else like that.

Greek: Cafe Athena
Moroccan: Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro
Persian: Darband Fifth Avenue Grill (Is there a Persian place with more stews/rice dishes rather than kabobs?)
Ethiopian: Muzita Abyssinian Bistro
Mexican: Super Cocina (I also like Mariscos German)
Thai: Amarin
Japanese (Ramen): Tajima (Santouka as well)
Japanese (Sushi): Sushi Ota
Italian (Pizza): Caffe Calabria
Italian (Other): ????? (Italy totally spoiled me, seriously is there good/authentic non-Neapolitan Italian food somewhere in SD?)
Chinese: ????? (Any good recommendations?)

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  1. Peruvian - Latin Chef
    Barbacoa - Aqui Es Texcoco
    Italian Pizza - Luigi's
    Italian Food - Fugettaboutit!

    1. Persian: Sufi
      Mexican: Super Cocina (I also like Mariscos German)
      Thai: Sab e lee
      Japanese (Ramen): Santouka
      Japanese (Sushi): Sushi Ota
      Italian (Pizza): Caffe Calabria
      Italian (Other):Bencotto or Bice
      Chinese: Does not exist
      Vietnamese: Minh Ky

      5 Replies
      1. re: chezwhitey

        Where in China have you eaten for comparison?

        1. re: berliz

          I've only been in San Diego for about 2 years and none of the places that are touted as the best are any more than mediocre, compared to, say, L.A.'s San Gabriel Valley. I'll make the drive to Irvine before I head to Convoy (granted, I'm in Carlsbad, which is closer to the OC than someone who actually lives in SD).

          Dumpling Inn is meh. Red Moon was close to horrific. Haven't yet been to Spicy City, but I'll head on over shortly and report back. A lot of the other places that are rated highly are Viet/Chinese, which is weird to me.

          Any suggestions that you'd like to make that would change my mind? :-)

            1. re: Joycesq

              The topic here, "ethnic restaurants", covers a lot of ground. What's your favorite ethnic cuisine?

              If it's Chinese, yes do try Spicy City as you've planned, but also Qi Wei Kitchen and Mr. Chin (black menu).

              1. re: Joycesq

                The original owner (Xiao Zhou) of Spicy City now has a place in Poway called Beijing City that the wife and I really like. We even like it much better than Spicy City. Plus a big bonus there is plenty of parking and you don't have to venture in to the Battle Royale parking lot of Spicy City.


          1. Japanese (Ramen): Yakitori
            Thai: Siam Nara
            Peruvian: Q'ero
            Pizza: Blue Ribbon

            5 Replies
            1. re: honkman

              Didn't care for Q'ero. Thought it was over priced for the quality. My entree came out a bit dry. Nothing particularly stood out.

              For Thai I'm a big fan of Original Sab-E-Lee
              For Indian, I love Punjabi Tandoor

              1. re: yanks26dmb

                Punjabi Tandoor is good for SD, only made it so far to SEL in Santee which was OK but also had quite a few misses. For us Q'ero was excellent and much better than Latin Chef (even though we still like Latin Chef quite a lot)

                  1. re: globalevent

                    It is awful and it has different owners than the ones in Linda Vista and Rancho Penasquitos. Not the same place.

                1. re: yanks26dmb

                  Punjabi Tandoor has had some quality issues lately. I believe they've lost some staff to their new Anaheim outpost and the food has suffered as a result. For Indian I would pick Surati Farsan Mart instead. If you focus on their chaat and Gujarati foods, it is very good.

              2. Lebanese: Alforon.
                Afghan: Ariana Kabob House

                2 Replies
                1. re: The Office Goat

                  Good on Alforon

                  Sultan for Turkish
                  Mien Trung for Bun Rieu and Bun Bo Hue

                  1. re: Ed Dibble

                    Agree about the bun rieu and bun bo hue at Mien Trung, and would add bun thit nuong to the list. Also their chao vit, for those who enjoy chao in general and chao ga in particular. No pho at this place!

                2. Italian (Pizza) - Pizzeria Bruno (its about four blocks from me, as opposed to Caffe Calabria, which is about 15 blocks).
                  Italian (Other) - I like Arrivederci in Hillcrest and Cucina Urbana
                  Chinese: China Max and maybe, Spicy City
                  Lebanese: Mama's Bakery