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31 Ways to Eat Around the World at U.S. Restaurants

By Zagat Staff
November 18, 2013

Who needs a plane ticket? The wide array of cuisines offered in cities around the U.S. is growing by the minute, and we're not talking about an uptick in take-out Thai joints. Explore the international and exotic right in your own backyard with our local around-the-world dining guides in our various markets. Below we've selected a few picks from each in the slide show. What's your favorite spot for globally inspired eats? Tell us in the comments.

  • Photo by: Old Village

    Los Angeles: Georgian at Old Village

    We do not mean Georgia the Peach State, home of the Atlanta Braves and Walking Dead zombies. This Georgia is the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, whose traditional cuisine is similar to neighboring Russia. While you’ll find some Russian and even Armenian specialties at this cozy Glendale spot, it’s one of the few places in town to find specifically Georgian dishes like kinkali, a large beef-filled dumpling; ostry beef, a rich tomato-based stew; and kharcho, a lamb and vegetable soup.

  • Photo by: Donny Tsang

    NYC: Icelandic at Skal

    Icelandic cuisine's just barely cracking its way out of the food-trend eggshell, but with the rise of the "New Nordic" over the past few years and Iceland itself now a travel destination, we can see it coming. Case in point is Skal, which recently opened on New York's Lower East Side serving an outright Icelandic menu that features lamb, lots of seafood and some of the herbal flavors that are popular in this northern land - such as flowering coriander, red seaweed, verbena and lavender; also, Greek-yogurt-like skyr, a ubiquitous ingredient in the country. Other evidence that the trend is about to bust wide open include Icelandic food festivals that have been held in Boston in recent years and one happening later this month in Denver as well.

  • SF: Nepalese at Little Nepal

    This Bernal Heights restaurant feels like one of the most clean and serene in town. Indian food enthusiasts will recognize some similarities in the curries on the menu. This is also definitely the place to discover Nepal's version of beef dumplings, called momos.

  • Philadelphia: Ethiopian at Abyssinia

    From gored gored (beef cubes) to doro wot (simmered chicken) and yebeg alicha (lamb stew), the berbere-infused dishes at this West Philly dining room are full of authentic Horn of Africa flavors. If you’re looking for value, this is where to savor your next injera-scooped lentils.

  • Dallas: Indian at Mughlai

    A gamut of authentic Indian dishes await you in North Dallas, and Mughlai serves them up with incredible love and attention. A passion for sharing regional culinary highlights shines through in dishes such as the peppery kadhai gosht and paneer masala. The menu holds a nice variety of lamb and goat dishes too.

  • Austin: West African Fusion at Cazamance

    Chef Iba Thiam’s West African fusion food has been feeding our city for years now with dishes like yassa chicken and the Boy Dakar burger (lamb, brie, tomato relish and cucumber). The beautiful backyard of the CTC Garden makes for a romantic experience, especially with the twinkling lights at night.

  • Photo by: Tamara Palmer

    SF: Iranian at Lavash

    This cozy and charming cafe specializes in Persian kotlets (cutlets), kebabs and stews. Cute details, like hearts-on-the-rice platters (pictured), offer a homey feel from across the world.

  • Photo by: Sasoun

    Los Angeles: Armenian at Sasoun Bakery

    Los Angeles is home to the largest Armenian community in the country, so there is no shortage of traditional restaurants, cafes and bakeries in Glendale, Burbank and Little Armenia. One of the best is Sasoun, where baker David Yeretsian has built a local empire on cheese-filled boereks, thin-crust lahmajunes topped with seasoned ground beef, za'atar-coated maneishe and more. There are six locations around Glendale, Van Nuys and Reseda.

  • Philadelphia: Burmese at Rangoon

    Tucked between Thailand, India and China, the country formerly known as Burma has a unique cuisine that takes the flavors and techniques in all three of those neighboring nations and adds its own signature touch. This Chinatown kitchen provides a chance to discover what thousand-layer bread is and why you’ll want to dip it in all the sauces, from bean to curry and BBQ.

  • Chicago: Macanese at Fat Rice

    Off the southern coast of China are the peninsula and islands of Macau, a unique place historically imperialized by Portuguese settlers. Their influence is tasted in the region's fusion cuisine, the signature dish of which is arroz gordo (fat rice), a paella-style dish layered with Jasmine rice, Chinese sausage, salted duck, Portuguese chicken thighs, char sui pork, linguiça sausage, fatty prawns, clams and tea eggs.

  • Miami: Brazilian at Fogo de Chao Miami

    Enjoy all the Brazilian meats you can handle at this steakhouse serving sirloin and pork loin tableside. There's also an extensive salad bar with fresh vegetables, imported cheeses and warm cheese bread.

  • Dallas: Afghani at Nora

    The more upscale offshoot of chef-owner Matt Pikar’s Afghan Grill, this establishment and its patrons have been an essential part of Lowest Greenville’s revitalization. And since it’s named after Pikar’s daughter, you’d imagine he’d want the restaurant to make quite an impression - which it does, with spiced stews like the kofta chalao and steamed beef dumpling dish called mantoo.

  • NYC: Laotian at Khe-yo

    There've been some down-home restaurants here and there around the U.S. serving the food of this narrow country sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam (Vientiane Asian Grocery in Seattle and Mangez Avec Moi in New York, a mostly Thai place whose Laotian owner will prepare a meal from Laos if given advance notice). Yet it was Iron Chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione's opening a Laotian place, Khe-Yo, with one of his longtime employees who's a Laotian native that made us include the cuisine on this list. A dining population that's started to embrace regional Southeast Asian - mostly in the form of Northern Thai and Yunnan - seems ready to chow down à la Laos. At Khe-Yo, many menu offerings are just ever-so-slightly different from familiar Thai or Vietnamese dishes, like the pork belly and shrimp crispy rolls, lemongrass spare ribs and pork jowl curry. Just make sure any Laotian meal includes plenty of sticky rice, often used for scooping up shared dishes and typically eaten with one's hands.

  • Austin: Middle Eastern at Kebabalicious 

    Check out the new brick-and-mortar digs of Austin’s favorite Middle Eastern trailer on East Seventh Street. The cute house-turned-restaurant is now home to some mean lamb kebabs, falafel wraps, hummus and gluten-free zucchini fries. The restaurant is open until 10 PM, but if you really need late-night, check out the trailers until 3 AM (Seventh and Trinity, Seventh and Congress, San Antonio and 22nd Street).

  • Boston: Senegalese at Teranga

    Chopped winner Marie-Claude Mendy keeps a relatively low profile - she's not the type to spend more time in front of cameras than in the kitchen. We're glad, because her Senegalese restaurant, Boston's first, is a consistent performer that never fails to impress. Her sophisticated but simple Senegalese dishes spotlight the African, French, Asian and Arabic influences that define the cuisine (617-266-0003).

  • Houston: South American at Michael Cordúa's Restaurants

    Thanks to Michael Cordúa, high-end South American food is readily available. Any of his restaurants, including Américas and Churrascos, would be a great example of the genre. There's also plenty of South American steakhouses: Saldivia's South American Grill and Tango & Malbec, to name a few. Add Latin Bites into the mix for Peruvian fare and The Original Marini's Empanada House for Argentine-style empanadas.

  • Seattle: Filipino Dim Sum at Isla Manila

    While dim sum is traditionally served in Chinese restaurants, at Isla Manila, a friendly family-run Filipino restaurant, the all-you-can-eat buffet comes to your table on roving carts. In a low-key dining room in a strip mall near Northgate, the staff makes the rounds spouting colorful descriptions of dishes such as pancit and adobo. Crispy pata are chunks of deep-fried pork belly, and don't miss the flavorful sausages. Selections vary daily, with the largest variety showing up on weekends. The one constant are the mighty fine lumpia, the eggroll-like staple starter of this island nation. Tightly wrapped around a filling of ground pork, the cigar-shaped tubes are fried crisp, though they might not be right out of the fryer. The sweet chile sauce on the side brings out the savory seasonings inside.

  • Photo by: Ambar/Goran Foto

    Washington, DC: Balkan cuisine at Ambar

    If you take Greece out of the equation, Balkan cuisine is not something Washingtonians have been exposed to much on our home turf. The Southeast European peninsula now has a champion in Ambar, which delivers modern spins on the traditional dishes of Serbia and other Balkan countries with such dishes as stuffed sour cabbage with smoked pork and beef as well as pork roulade with horseradish dressing and apricot jam. The wine and cocktail lists also pull heavily from the region.

  • Photo by: De Rodriquez Cuba on Ocean

    Miami: Cuban at De Rodriquez Cuba on Ocean

    This Cuban restaurant hosts a comfortable vibrant setting in its quaint South of Fifth location. The food isn't bad either, with James Beard Award-winning chef Douglas Rodriguez leading the kitchen and serving Cuban shrimp and grits and paella Valencia with clams, mussels and lobster chorizo. 

  • Chicago: Swedish at Tre Kroner

    Velkommen to little Sweden on the north side, where elves dance along the walls and plates of kottbullar (meatballs) and gravlax (Aquavit-cured salmon) are as good as any little Swedish grandmother can make. Tre Kroner is a family-owned BYOB that lights up in the summer thanks to a lush patio.

  • Boston: Scottish at The Haven

    Great Scot. This cozy Jamaica Plain restaurant garners eclectic crowds, including plenty of expats seeking haggis or fish suppers. The huge craft beer list and beloved brunch scene are also a big hit with the younger hipster crowd (617-524-2836).

  • Houston: Vietnamese 

    You'll find a decent Vietnamese restaurant in just about every corner of the city, but for pho, the general consensus is that Pho Binh on Beamer is some of the best in the city. Others enjoy Le Viet for the overall menu, as well as Huynh. That doesn't even include places like Cali Sandwich & Fast Food for banh mi and all of the places located in Chinatown.

  • Photo by: Ethiopic/Neil Greentree

    Washington, DC: Ethiopian at Ethiopic Restaurant

    The area surrounding Ninth and U streets NW once reigned as the Ethiopian hub of the city, but the 2010 opening of this elegant little Ethiopian restaurant on H Street NE quickly changed that. Ethiopic is now generally regarded as the best Ethiopian spot in a city rich with excellent options for tasting that country’s berbere-spiced stews eaten with torn pieces of injera bread.

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