Some of my favorite dining experiences have been at the many ethnic restaurants I’ve been lucky enough to try here in Southern California. No matter what your taste buds are craving, you can be pretty sure that not only can you find it here in SoCal, but that it’s going to be pretty darn delicious.
If you have an adventurous palate and love tasting new and interesting dishes, here are 8 of my personal favorite ethnic restaurants in Southern California that should not be missed. And, if you’re looking for a great vegan or vegetarian option, make sure to check out number 8 and add it to your list.
1. Felix Continental Café -- Orange
if you want to experience authentic Cuban and Spanish cuisine, you can't miss Felix Continental Café in Orange. Since the 1970s, this gem has been whipping up tasty dishes that continue to receive high praise from every food reviewer out there. For a unique and authentic breakfast, check out this place on Saturdays and Sundays from 8-Noon for their International Breakfast. What a feast! Pictured here: Paella Valenciana.
2. Alforon -- San Diego
Located in the Rolando neighborhood of San Diego, you'll find this delicious fusion Lebanese restaurant with mouthwatering cuisine made with the freshest ingredients. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the food is beautiful and flavorful. You must try the hummus -- it might be the best you've ever had. Seriously.
3. Kappo Honda -- Fountain Valley
Let's head to Fountain Valley for authentic Japanese cuisine. Most of the dishes are served tapas style, which allows you to sample lots of different flavors for the table. The interior is just as special as the food, which always enhances a dining experience. If you show up during prime time, expect a long wait which will give you time to work up your appetite. Pictured here: marinated squid.
4. Caspian Restaurant -- Irvine
Irvine is home to this fantastic Persian restaurant that you should experience at least once for lunch or dinner. The menu is divine, with a long list of flavorful kebabs that are all fun to try. One of the highlights you can expect when you dine here is the homemade bread baked fresh daily. Just look at that beautiful oven!
5. La Super-Rica Taqueria -- Santa Barbara
Have you ever heard about the taco shop made famous by Julia Child when she proclaimed it was one of her favorite places in Santa Barbara? Well, this is the spot. If it's good enough for Julia, then it's good enough for all of us. Expect a long line at this no-nonsense taco shop that delivers some of the tastiest authentic Mexican fare around.
6. Brussels Bistro -- Laguna Beach
If you can't hop a jet to Brussels, then head on over to Brussels Bistro for a memorable experience that will transport you to another corner of the world. You can expect authentic Belgium eats and drinks at this gem in Laguna Beach. If you only try one thing when you're there, you should definitely order the Belgium fries.
7. Night + Market -- Los Angeles
If you're craving some spicy Thai food you must try this award-winning Thai restaurant that keeps showing up on every foodie reviewers "best of" lists. It's one of the most popular Thai restaurants in Los Angeles, and it's easy to understand why once you take your first bite of this heavenly cuisine. Insider tip: the food is on the spicy side here, so if you prefer a mild spice like me, make sure to request a 1 or 2 when you order your dish.
8. Taj Café -- Ventura
Located on Main Street in downtown Ventura, this gem is hard to miss. The moment you step through the door, you'll notice the warm and inviting interior that creates a cozy ambience that will make you want to linger a while. They offer a variety of ancient Indian recipes that have been passed down for generations. Plus, they have lots of options for vegans and vegetarians as well. Insider tip: the naan bread is so delicious you should order extra to take home.
If you can’t hop on a jet for an international foodie tour, this might just be the next best thing. These restaurants in Southern California are all a worthwhile experience. If you could only pick just one, which place would it be? I know where I’m headed today, how about you?