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Ethnic Restaurants

Maister

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It used to be you had to have a concentration of an ethnic group locally to enjoy its food but the last 4 decades have changed all that. Every city with a population over 10 now has at least an Italian and a Chinese restaurant. It seems, anecdotally to me at least, that Thai and Indian restaurants are becoming more more prevalent lately. What different ethnic restaurants has the Throbbing Brain dined at recently? I have recently had the pleasure of dining at a restaurant called 'The Schnitzlebank' which features German food in a 1930's German pub motif (it opened in 1934 and isn't a chain - so this isn't corporate kitsch)
www.schnitzelbankgr.com
 
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There's a Belgium restaurant, "Clementine's," tucked away off the beaten path that BEK and I are very curious about. The last ethnic restaurant that we dined at was Vietnamese, "Pho Tau Bay," - this particular restaurant has the BEST vermicilli (sp) dishes. :)
 

biscuit

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I'm an ethnic food nut. I'll seriously eat just about anything - excluding mayo that is...bleeech :-#

Yesterday I had Cambodian for lunch. On Tuesday I stuffed myself at a new Indian buffet that opened downtown (yum). Last Monday I gulped down some great Turkish fare. And last Saturday I had sushi for lunch while out apartment hunting.

There's a new Russian place near my office that I've been wanting to try (what would Russian cuisine consist of anyway? vodka and beets? ;-) ), and we finally got ourselves an Ethiopian restaurant. I think we had to be the largest city in the US without one.
 

Maister

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Planderella said:
There's a Belgium restaurant, "Clementine's," tucked away off the beaten path that BEK and I are very curious about.
This is why I posted this thread. That sounds so cool - I have never even heard of a Belgian restaurant before (unless you count the 'Belgian waffles' I had at IHOP last weekend)......yet, I'm sure the folks in Belgium have to eat once in a while ;-) . I'll bet the cuisine is very French in character.
 
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I LOVE our local Pakistani restaurant. They took over a former Pizza Hut on one of our commercial strips, and on the rare occasion that I have a lunch date with a friend with an adventurous palate, I take them there.
 

PlannerGirl

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In the Washington area we have just about anything you can think of but more and more middle eastern places-I love me some Afgani food!
 

Maister

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Downtown said:
I LOVE our local Pakistani restaurant. They took over a former Pizza Hut on one of our commercial strips, and on the rare occasion that I have a lunch date with a friend with an adventurous palate, I take them there.
Wow, a Pakistani restaurant. Is it similar to Indian but maybe featuring more meat dishes?
 

Repo Man

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A Persian/Iranian restaurnat opened up down the street from me and I can't wait to check it out. In Milwaukee we have some great Thai and Indian restaurants. I have not had a bad meal at any one of them.
 

biscuit

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PlannerGirl said:
In the Washington area we have just about anything you can think of but more and more middle eastern places-I love me some Afgani food!
The first time I ever had Lebanese was in Arlington a couple of years back. Man was that some good eats! :-D
 
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Maister said:
Wow, a Pakistani restaurant. Is it similar to Indian but maybe featuring more meat dishes?
Pretty much. The only negative is that Rob (the blandest eater in the world, possibly) drives me home from work and keeps the windows open the whole way to air the car out from the smell that gets in your clothes and hair.
 
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The soon-to-be Mrs...Star and I go to an ethnic restaurant every month. We're up to Ethiopian fare now. Any suggestions for restaurants in the MD-DC-VA area?
 

jresta

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Here's my circuit - If any one else in Philly (or visiting) hasn't been to any of these check them out.

Kabul (afghani) Front & Chestnut
Abysinnia (ethiopian) 45th & Locust
Nam Phuong (vietnamese) 11th & Washington
Lovash (indian) 2nd & South
Nan (indian) 40th & Chestnut
Azure (carribean/mediterannean) 2nd & Fairmount
Sahara Grille (middle eastern) Walnut & Juniper
Gianna's Grille (vegan cheesesteaks!) 6th & Lombard
Monk's (belgian - with an 8 page beer menu!) 16th & Pine
Beau Monde (breton Creperie) 6th & Bainbridge

We actually have 'Cafe de Laos' and 'Porky & Porkie Korean BBQ' opening up at the end of my block. Being vegetarian i don't think the later will help me out much.
 

giff57

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I live in rural Iowa.... it's beef or pork ;-)

Fairfield has 3-4 Indian places, and I miss them.
 

Zoning Goddess

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In our suburban/slightly redneck area, it's mostly Italian or Chinese or Mexican. We finally got a little Cuban place several months ago, and I've had lunch there a couple times.
 

Seabishop

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What's Ethiopian food like?

Lebanese is awesome - I used to go to a hole-in-wall buffet which was good, so I'd love to try a better place. I love to eat those little lambies. :-D

My wife (who reads this stuff every so often, and happens to be quite charming and beautiful :)) is a vegetarian, so its hard to try strange ethnic restaurants without risking her having to just eat bread.
 

jresta

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Seabishop said:
What's Ethiopian food like?

Lebanese is awesome - I used to go to a hole-in-wall buffet which was good, so I'd love to try a better place. I love to eat those little lambies. :-D

My wife (who reads this stuff every so often, and happens to be quite charming and beautiful :)) is a vegetarian, so its hard to try strange ethnic restaurants without risking her having to just eat bread.
Ethiopian food is hard to explain. There's a lot of lamb so there's that arab influence but the rest of the food is bean, seed, and vegetable based (usually about the consistency of hommus but served warm) and you normally order several different kinds - they spread it out on injira bread which is large and flat like a pita but moist and spongy. Then each person at the table gets their own piece of injira folded up to eat with. There are no utensils - you eat with the bread - so in that sense it's like a meal of appetizers. By the time you're done the injira bread on the bottom has soaked up most of the food so it's first come first served with that. It's really filling as you'll find the bread seems to continuously expand. It's the only time i ever eat heartily and find myself still feeling stuffed 2 hours later.
You're in the Boston area? I hear Lewiston, ME has lots of ethiopian places if you're ever in the area.

As for veggie dining companions - My aunt, while sitting down to dinner once, asked me what i ate if i didn't eat meat. I said, "well if I ate like you i wouldn't eat much." Her plate, of course, was piled high with chicken with a small helping of mashed potatoes and a string bean garnish. That seems to be how most americans and europeans eat. It seems like everyone else centers their meal around grains and vegetables, potatoes, etc and the meat is the garnish or is mixed in sparingly. Anyway, I find ethnic food much more accomodating to vegetarians than good 'ol american fare. I also think that most ehtnic restaurateurs understand this and play it up.
 

lowlyplanner

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I ate at an Argentine restaurant in Queens once. There's flag on every table, like a mailbox. When you put the flag, a man comes by and starts slinging meat down on your plate - all grades, everything from nice Sirloin steaks to tripe sausage and worse. Then he puts the flag down. When you're done with that, you put the flag back up.

I can't say it was the best food ever, but it was interesting.

Also, our town has a sizeable Lebanese population, so we've got plenty of Arabic restaurants. There's also a unique type of place called a"Lebanese Deli" - which features normal sandwich shop food, plus pita bread, hummous, tabouli, etc. I didn't realize how odd this was until I moved away and couldn't get my turkey rider on pita with tabouli at the local sandwich place.
 

mgk920

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Our area has its share of great Italian, Mexican, Greek, Chinese, Thai, etc, joints and is about to get its second Asian-Indian restaurant (veggies and heavy on the spicy curry sauces).

One that I have not yet seen anywhere is American-Indian. I think that it would be an interesting experience, if any would open up. :)

A major rule for me while looking for a place to dine is that more often than not, the BEST balance between price, volume and quality is at any place owned/operated by first-generation immigrants, a plus if it is a family-run operation. ;-)

Mike
 

cololi

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mgk920 said:
One that I have not yet seen anywhere is American-Indian. I think that it would be an interesting experience, if any would open up. :)
The Navajo Hogan in SLC has some pretty interesting concoctions. It is the only American Indian food I have ever had, so I have no idea how authentic it is. Basically, everthing is put on flat bread, much like a tostada. It is very similar to Mexican Food
 

Cardinal

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cololi said:
The Navajo Hogan in SLC has some pretty interesting concoctions. It is the only American Indian food I have ever had, so I have no idea how authentic it is. Basically, everthing is put on flat bread, much like a tostada. It is very similar to Mexican Food
I spend a good deal of time in the Four Corners area, and have had authentic Navajo food. Do they serve mutton or lamb? If so, it is probably authentic. By flat bread, do you mean fry bread (Mmmmm...)?
 

Doitnow

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The ethnic food around my place is 'quite ethnic'.
South Indian Cuisine is popular, nutritious and also exotic( some of the dishes).
Chinese is a plenty.
Lebanese and continental is picking up.
Ancient links with Iran ensures that there are still many remnants alive.
The mixing of the Mughalai( close to afghani) with the local cuisine provides some excellent non vegetarian cuisine.
Thai and Mexican is available in the few ethnic restaurants now.
On the whole, Hyderabad has been known for its Hyderabadi or Deccani Cuisine( Deccan Plateau of India).
This city is a food city. And the variety is growing.
:)
 

BKM

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Mexican is of course big in California-we have some great choices. We have a great Indian restaurant with a lunch buffet to die for (given how I stuff myself-that may be the case). Crepes seem to be an ongoing trend. And, Berkeley has Nepali and Tibetan restaurants and a vegetarian "sushi" restaurant that seems to pack 'em in.
 

biscuit

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BKM said:
Crepes seem to be an ongoing trend.
Mmmmm.... Crepes. :-D

One of the fiancee's favorite places to eat, especially on a Sunday morning, is Crepes Parisiennes in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Their spinach, tomato, mushroom and french feta cheese crepe with cream is just about the best brunch type meal I've had. Although the downside with crepes is that you're hungry again in just a couple of hours.
 

plannerkat

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the north omaha star said:
The soon-to-be Mrs...Star and I go to an ethnic restaurant every month. We're up to Ethiopian fare now. Any suggestions for restaurants in the MD-DC-VA area?
There used to be a place called Zed's in Georgetown that served pretty tasty Ethiopian fare. It's been some time since I've been in the DC metro area though, so I have no idea if they're still around.
 

Plannerbabs

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We've got just about everything here. There's a couple of amazing Vietnamese places we like to frequent for the pho and lemongrass chicken, and an Indian place nearby that does a great tikka masala and kheer. My husband will inhale any naan placed within five feet of him, and the naan there is particularly good. Always warm. Mmmm. We had a great Eithiopian place, but it closed. However, 2 more have opened up, and we're going to have to try those. There's a German restaurant that's been in business for generations and has amazing wursts from a local butcher. We also have a number of Japanese places, including a couple that specialize in noodles, and one that has spicy shrimp rolls I wake up thinking about.
Now I'm hungry. Must go to lunch.
 

The One

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Yummy In the Tummy

Try:

I don't remember the name, but there was a fantastic little restaurant in downtown Brandon Manitoba (1993) that served authentic (everything made from scratch) Mennonite meals :p Still one of the best/finest dining experiences of my life :-}
(Anybody know if this is still open? Name?

Their used to be a "GREAT" Afghan restaurant in Georgetown in the early 1990's. Again don't remember the name or address.....
 

JNL

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I tried Cambodian last week. Ordered a spicy chicken dish - yummy. Also visited a Nepalese cafe recently - that was good too. We have so many choices in this city, including Indian, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian, Pacific-influenced, Welsh, Caribbean, French, Greek, Italian, Mexican, Korean, Mongolian, Turkish, and Vietnamese! Oh and fish and chip shops of course :)
 

Maister

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The One said:
Try:

I don't remember the name, but there was a fantastic little restaurant in downtown Brandon Manitoba (1993) that served authentic (everything made from scratch) Mennonite meals :p Still one of the best/finest dining experiences of my life :-}
(Anybody know if this is still open? Name?

Their used to be a "GREAT" Afghan restaurant in Georgetown in the early 1990's. Again don't remember the name or address.....
That's interesting. There's a Mennonite/Amish restaurant about 50 minutes south of me near Shipshewana, IN called "Das Essenhaus". Food is served family style (big bowl of mashed potatoes or stuffing or green beans). Very German-oriented menu. No booze served.
 

Plannerbabs

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MmmmmmmDas Essenhaus. Amazing pie. Great fried chicken. And a huge amount of gift shops, if I'm thinking of the same place. I have never seen so many places to buy wooden spoons and quilts.
 

Bear Up North

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Quite a few years ago there was a good Polish restaurant in beautiful downtown Gaylord, Michigan. I would often stop in on my way up north. (Gaylord is "up north" to a lot of folks, but to me it was about a third of the way to Lake Superior's shoreline in Marquette County, Michigan.) This restaurant has since closed.

(Anybody know of a good Polish restaurant in the midwest? I love duck blood soup and all the other Polish goodies.)

Tony Packo's in east Toledo is an interesting (somewhat Hungarian ethnic) place. Stop in and see all the buns, in little plastic cases, signed by all sorts of celebs. Jamie Farr (from north Toledo) mentioned Packo's on MASH quite a few times.

Toledo has quite a few Mexican restaurants. Actually, the metro area is home to many Mexican-Americans. Many families came to this area years ago, as migrant workers, and liked it and stayed.

My fave Mex is Loma-Linda's, near Swanton (bedroom suburb), next to Toledo Express Airport. Great food. My wife loves the "margos". We go there often.

Senor Bear
 

pete-rock

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Bear Up North said:
(Anybody know of a good Polish restaurant in the midwest? I love duck blood soup and all the other Polish goodies.)
I've honestly never eaten at a Polish restaurant, but there are literally dozens of them along a 5-6 mile stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

Soul food, I eat plenty of soul food. Does that count?
 

Maister

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Decided to revive an olde thread after last night's dinner. Most of us have had goulash before (you know - hamburger, tomatoes, macaroni, and a thousand variants of 'whatever else' added). Last night we got a recipe out of a Hungarian cookbook for "Gulyas" (goulash). I tell you there is little comparasin! Goulash is what you cook when you got a pound of hamburg and have 45 minutes to get dinner on and don't know what else to make. Hungarian Gulyas, on the other hand, is a rather sophisticated dish with subtle flavorings that takes a good 90 minutes to do right. it's a dish worthy of serving with company over for dinner.

I think I've mentioned elsewhere that Mrs. Maister and I like to have an international cooking night every couple weeks or so where we'll try to make a dinner together using genuine recipes from various regions. Since last night's theme was central Europe we got to talking about the fact that you just don't find many restauarants that specialize in Polish, Hungarian, or Czech (heck, even German is becoming more uncommon) cuisine. This is surprising when you consider that in this part of the country (Great Lakes region) there was a significant central European presence. Here's a Google sampling for Polish restaurants
http://www.google.com/search?q=Polish+restaurants&hl=en&lr=&start=20&sa=N
Note that most of them are in places like London, New York or other cosmopolitan/urbanized areas. You would have expected to see either more mom & pop or even Polish, Czech or Hungarian themed regional chains in places like Grand Rapids, Buffalo, or Toledo. I find this fact curious. Can anyone explain why this might be? My wife says it's cuz central European foods feature too much calf's thyroid, goat spleens, chilled monkey brains and duck blood soup. I don't entirely buy this because there's a lot of foods that aren't based on gross animal organs that would likely appeal to American palates.
 
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jmello

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Our past circuit in Boston has been:

Shanti: Bangladeshi & Indian
Pho Pasteur: Vietnamese noodle & pho (soup) dishes
Ba Le: Vietnamese sandwiches for $2.00
Shwarma King II: great Middle Eastern sandwiches
Rod Dee: authentic Thai
Cafe Brasil: romantic Brazilian
Cafe Belo: a kilo (by the kg) Brazilian
Suishaya: Korean & Sushi
Ginsa: Japanese
Rainbow Cafe: incredibly fresh and healthy American-style Chinese food
Chau Chou City: dim sum (Chinese breakfast) on Sunday
Penang: Malaysian
Elephant Walk: Cambodian & French
Topacio: El Salvadoran (heavy rice, beans and meat)
El Cafetal: Columbian
Chacarero: Chilean sandwiches
and assorted taquerias

Ethiopian is the only ethnic food that I don't like. I am not a great fan of goat or mushy stews.

There is a Cape Verdean place and a Trinidadan roti joint down the street from our house. We have meant to try them, but now we are leaving Boston.

I am a little worried about the restaurant selection in Wilmington, NC, our new home. I know there are great Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican places, but I worry about becoming bored.
 

Bangorian

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Bear Up North said:
(Anybody know of a good Polish restaurant in the midwest? I love duck blood soup and all the other Polish goodies.)
Get yourself down to Hamtramck baby! - there's still a few good eateries down in poletown.
 

ofrc3

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There seems to be a large proliferation of Peruvian chicken joints in the DC metropolitan area. They're basically rotisserie but my question is--what makes it specifically Peruvian?
 

donk

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Within a 20 minute walk of my house

Multiple Falafel Stands
Multiple Polish
Thai
Tibetan
Indian
Chinese - both NA and "real"
Jerk Pit
Southern Style BBQ
Viet Namese
West Indian - Roti Stands/BBQ
Middle Eastern Halal
Mexican

Now if I travel a bit further abroad, I can pretty much eat any food from anywhere in the world.
 

Maister

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donk said:
Within a 20 minute walk of my house
Multiple Polish
You're talking about actual restaurants? Not kielbasa stands?
Why the heck don't we have any around here? There's tons of Pollocks around these parts (including Yours Truly). Maybe I need to open one myself!
 

Maister

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jmello said:
There's a great sit-down Polish restaurant in South Boston, a 15-minute walk from our house. The wife won't eat there, as she's not a fan of heavy meat-and-potatoes food.

http://restaurants.boston.com/restaurants-view-6172690110-cafe_polonia-south_boston-ma.htm
Any chance of you (or anyone else out there) bringing home a copy of their menu, scanning it and posting it? I'd like to be able to see what varieties of standard dishes are listed on menus at various Polish restaurants.
 

DetroitPlanner

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Maister said:
Since last night's theme was central Europe we got to talking about the fact that you just don't find many restauarants that specialize in Polish, Hungarian, or Czech (heck, even German is becoming more uncommon) cuisine. This is surprising when you consider that in this part of the country (Great Lakes region) there was a significant central European presence. Here's a Google sampling for Polish restaurants
http://www.google.com/search?q=Polish+restaurants&hl=en&lr=&start=20&sa=N
Note that most of them are in places like London, New York or other cosmopolitan/urbanized areas. You would have expected to see either more mom & pop or even Polish, Czech or Hungarian themed regional chains in places like Grand Rapids, Buffalo, or Toledo. I find this fact curious. Can anyone explain why this might be? My wife says it's cuz central European foods feature too much calf's thyroid, goat spleens, chilled monkey brains and duck blood soup. I don't entirely buy this because there's a lot of foods that aren't based on gross animal organs that would likely appeal to American palates.
Hmm that czarnina (Duck Blood Soup). Most of them gizzard foods are french. Detroit has a fair number of Polish restraunts with even one evolving to a mini-chain (Steve's Three Brothers). I've seen neighborhoods in Toledo and Chicago that are also heavily Polish with similar types of restraunts. In my mind GR seems to try to be too trendy, but in a dutch reform church sort of way, I doubt that polish restaunts with portraits of the pope and leich welesa would be seen as favorable.

My neighborhood has polish, lebanese, soul food, and various other ethnic restraunts within walking distance.
 

donk

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Maister said:
Any chance of you (or anyone else out there) bringing home a copy of their menu, scanning it and posting it? I'd like to be able to see what varieties of standard dishes are listed on menus at various Polish restaurants.

Yes, they are all real restaurants, in addition to kielbassa stands. Next time I'm out, I'll snap some picture of the menu's in the windows. Tripe soup is a popular menu on the sandwich boards in front of the restuarants.
 

Richmond Jake

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The nearest ethnic restaurants to my house (within about 2 miles) are Waffle House, Beef O'Brady's, PoFolks, and Taco Bell. ;)
 

jmello

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Maister said:
Any chance of you (or anyone else out there) bringing home a copy of their menu, scanning it and posting it? I'd like to be able to see what varieties of standard dishes are listed on menus at various Polish restaurants.
Most Boston restaurants have menus online, as does Cafe Polonia:

http://www.cafepolonia.com/
 

passdoubt

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Aren't pretty much all restaurants "ethnic," other than chains and diners? I'm not sure I know what non-ethnic food is. Pulled pork BBQ? Shepard's pie? Hamburgers? Lima beans?
 

illinoisplanner

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My favorite type of ethnic restaurant by far is German. Maybe because that's my ancestry, or maybe it's because they have the best sandwiches, the best potato chips, the best potato salad, the best drinks, and the best ice cream. There's this one place that me and my family stop at in Wisconsin every time we go on vacation...we can't get enough of it.
 

Maister

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passdoubt said:
Aren't pretty much all restaurants "ethnic," other than chains and diners? I'm not sure I know what non-ethnic food is. Pulled pork BBQ? Shepard's pie? Hamburgers? Lima beans?
You're right, in one sense all food is 'ethnic' at one point. It simply ceases to be considered 'ethnic' food once it's completely integrated into the daily diet of the dominant culture (like hamburgers - folks eating at McDonalds aren't thinking 'My, those folks in Hamburg, Germany certainly devised a clever and tasty way to serve ground beef...'). It's largely a definitional thing.
 

BKM

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ofrc3 said:
There seems to be a large proliferation of Peruvian chicken joints in the DC metropolitan area. They're basically rotisserie but my question is--what makes it specifically Peruvian?
Peruvian food is quite different-a lot of seafood (ceviche). I was sad to see the Peuvian bakery that briefly popped up in my town closed (she never really gave it a go, imo).

We've just had a new Italian restaurant open, and a new Indian place seems to be doing ok (I like the food at the Indian restaurant in Fairfield mentioned up thread a lot more, but these guys are a 5 minute walk away!). Also: they are putting the finishing touches on a new sushi restaurant a few minutes walk away in downtown Vacaville. I hoppe it's good! There seem to be a real explosion of sushi restaurants in Solano County this past year. We lost the elegant Vietnamese place in Fairfield, though :(. Finally, I should mention our excellent German bakery/cafe, Pure Grain Cafe. It's my regular morning stop now.
 
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