Ethnic restaurants in out of the way places.
November 1, 2011 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I need examples of ethnic restaurants in countries you wouldn't expect to find that type of ethnic restaurant.

I have to make a small presentation to a work group in a few months, and I would like some real examples of ethnic restaurants in countries where you wouldn’t necessarily expect that type of ethnic restaurant.

For instance, there was a Mexican restaurant in Singapore in the early 1980's called Chico's N Charlie's (and it's still there, from what I gather.) But it was completly out of place in early 80's Singapore.

Other examples might be a Somali restaurant in Tokyo, a Malaysian restaurant in Namibia or a Mexican restaurant in Tasmania. Anything that caught your eye and made you go hmmmm, that seems a bit out of place here…..

Current actual examples if possible, though historical examples are welcome as well so I can put together a big list.
posted by lstanley to Food & Drink (114 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I keep reading that there is, besides other "ethnic restaurants", some excellent Italian food in Japan.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:29 AM on November 1, 2011

There is a Chinese restaurant in Brasov, Romania ... (or there was in 2006) ... it had been there for years and shocked the life out of me when I saw it.
posted by jannw at 9:30 AM on November 1, 2011

I ate at a place called Omar Khayyam's Indian Restaurant in Hue, Vietnam. It was actually pretty good and a nice change of pace from all the Vietnamese cuisine we'd been eating.
posted by gnutron at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2011

Harry's Oriental Restaurant bills itself as "the only Filipino-Icelandic restaurant in Reykjavik!"

(I asked my waiter if there were Filipino-Icelandic restaurants in other cities, and he agreed that probably it was the only Filipino-Icelandic restaurant anywhere.)
posted by mskyle at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I once ate at a Chinese Restaurant in Israel.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:33 AM on November 1, 2011

I ate at a place called Omar Khayyam's Indian Restaurant in Hue, Vietnam.

This is especially interesting since Omar Khayyam is a Persian poet.

Speaking of which, my boyfriend and his parents ate at a Persian restaurant when they were in Shanghai.
posted by phunniemee at 9:34 AM on November 1, 2011

There's a Mexican restaurant in Samara Russia called La Cucaracha. You apparently need a reservation to get a table...
posted by foodgeek at 9:34 AM on November 1, 2011

Sushi in Chihuahua, MX. It was terrible
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:36 AM on November 1, 2011

Swanky, expensive and yummy Japanese place in Dhaka, Bangladesh
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:36 AM on November 1, 2011

Excellent Mexican in Cambridge, England (it might have been Bury, England.)
posted by MansRiot at 9:37 AM on November 1, 2011

There's a fabulous little Nepali/North Indian restaurant in Yokosuka, Japan.
There used to be a great Ethiopian place in Reynoldsburg, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus).
posted by Runes at 9:37 AM on November 1, 2011

There's a pub in Brixton, London UK, called the Dogstar, which has (or had in 2006 and 2007) some really surprisingly decent mission-style burritos and other cal-mex type food.
posted by gauche at 9:38 AM on November 1, 2011

I once ate at a Chinese Restaurant in Israel.

Well, if Chinese food for Jews counts as an unusual ethnic restaurant, there are about 40 kosher Chinese and Japanese restaurants in Paris

Then again, you can also get kosher deli (not to mention falafel, and sushi) in Shanghai
posted by Mchelly at 9:40 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Texas Steakhouse in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Closed down due to losses re portion size. Tables for two for example would order a single appetizer to share, be full, and order nothing else.

Other restaurant nationalities:
Japanese, Sudanese, Indonesian, Ethiopian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Iranian, Mexican, Chinese (several different cuisines), Italian, Indian, Argentinian, Spanish, Greek, Slovakian, Thai, Russian, Egyptian, Surinamese...

Um, tell ya what. Name an unlikely nationality and I'll verify (if) it's here.
posted by likeso at 9:45 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

For some reason all the Indian restaurants in my town in SW England are actually Nepalese. This is at odds with the norm in England, where they are often run by Bangladeshis.
posted by biffa at 9:46 AM on November 1, 2011

A tiny seaside town in Australia (population had to be less than 2000) it had a Indian Restaurant with great Indian food he would make Naan from scratch every day and grind/roast all his own spices, a Tex Mex place AND a sushi bar with great miso soup. I have no idea how they all stayed in business, but the local beach had great surfing and all the owners/chefs loved to surf so I am guessing profits were not the main focus.
posted by wwax at 9:48 AM on November 1, 2011

Budapest has a surprising number of ethnic restaurants for a place as culturally insular as Hungary - there are tons of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian and Mexican places on top of the Italian, French and Belgian restuarants. probably the most unexpected to me is the Indonesian cafe that is next door to an Israeli hummus bar. plus I heard a Roma restaurant has just opened up.
posted by dropkick queen at 9:48 AM on November 1, 2011

Most major cities of the world have an "Irish Pub", in varying degrees of authenticity. Often a core "traditional" menu with a lot of local variation. Consider, for example, the menu at O'Malley's in Sao Paulo, which includes not just the pub classics (fish&chips, irish stew, irish breakfast) but stir fries, curries, and tacos.
posted by aimedwander at 9:49 AM on November 1, 2011

at least 2 Ethiopian restaurants in Canberra (probably lots more elsewhere in Oz)

Not sure if this qualifies but there used to be an eatery in Cairns (Qld) called "Lloyd's Curry and Pizza House". The pizza at least was decent, as I recall.
posted by Logophiliac at 9:50 AM on November 1, 2011

I ate sushi in Israel once. It wasn't fantastic.
posted by griphus at 9:50 AM on November 1, 2011

There are quite a few Chinese restaurants/grocery stores in Costa Rica. The food is 100x better than most of the Chinese food in the U.S.
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:50 AM on November 1, 2011

Chinese in Dublin. just wasn't expecting it for some reason. Guy talking to you over the counter in a Chinese accent with a Irish flair. very funny.
posted by zombieApoc at 9:51 AM on November 1, 2011

I've written about it before here, but there are Chinese restaurants in India, where it's the same sort of non-Chinese food you get here in the US, except tailored to the Indian palate (more veggies, hotter and spicier, etc). Some co-workers took me to an Indian-style Chinese restaurant in Atlanta, of all places. Pretty much a hole in the wall sort of place, and the food was hotter than 40 hells.
posted by jquinby at 9:52 AM on November 1, 2011

There are quite a few Chinese restaurants/grocery stores in Costa Rica.

I had a friend in junior high school whose parents ran a Chinese restaurant in Puerto Rico.
posted by griphus at 9:52 AM on November 1, 2011

I lived near an Irish pub in Madrid. Also in Spain, Barcelona this time, was a Chinese restaurant named Aleluya (Hallelujah).
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:52 AM on November 1, 2011

I have dined at the delicious and welcoming African Cafe (pan-African) in Tallinn, Estonia.
posted by matildaben at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2011

Oh, and I once showed up at a restaurant in a rural seaside Danish town for Mexican buffet night.
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2011

There was a small Bolivian restaurant in my not-so-cosmopolitan town in Japan. Mexican I would not be surprised at, but Bolivian was curious.
posted by that girl at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2011

There is also a Mexican restaurant in Brasov, Romania. Lacking jalapenos, black beans, and hot sauce. It was not very good, but the rest of the pico de gallo and chips were a hit!

(There was also an excellent French gelato place, though perhaps that's not quite as out of place. Mini cones with your cappuccino though!)
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:58 AM on November 1, 2011

There's a Cuban–Ethiopian restaurant in Sheffield.
posted by Jehan at 10:02 AM on November 1, 2011

I ate delicious Indian food in Kigali, Rwanda, and horrible Italian food ("pizza" in only the loosest sense of the word) in Ambohimanga, Madagascar.
posted by quadrilaterals at 10:05 AM on November 1, 2011

Outside of London, I find it is still notable to find other ethnic food besides Chinese and Indian. For example, I had excellent Nepalese food in Bath at the wonderfully named "Yak Yeti Yak".

Also, for some reason a lot of pubs serve Thai food. This might just be some sort of micro trend compounded by confirmation bias.
posted by like_neon at 10:05 AM on November 1, 2011

For some reason, I was very surprised to run across Illegal Jack's and Tex Mex 2 when I lived in Edinburgh, UK. I guess the idea of Tex-Mex (not Mexican, but very much Tex-Mex) in Scotland maybe shouldn't seem so strange—everything's so globalized now, and in many ways the UK felt like an alternative America with accents!—but the fact that there was actual good Tex-Mex in Edinburgh always shocked me.

Or maybe I just thought it was good because I was so starved of Tex-Mex.
posted by good day merlock at 10:06 AM on November 1, 2011

Years ago when Russia was the USSR there was a Chinese restaurant in Moscow called the Peking (I think). It was very swanky and rather stodgy and was clearly more about solidarity with their revolutionary Asian comrades than the food, which was only remotely recognizable as Chinese.

Also politically motivated, there is a Russian restaurant, The Volga, on upscale Connaught Circle in New Delhi. When I was there years ago it was decorated in typical Soviet style, hilariously out of place in contemporary India: maroon velvet upholstery, lace curtains, dark wood paneling, oil paintings. I think it was actually run by the Soviet government as a gesture of cultural exchange or something, because nobody seems to go there for the food.
posted by Quietgal at 10:10 AM on November 1, 2011

I loved eating at Chico's N Charlie's, even if they would take the cherry out of my coke and give it to my little sister.
posted by nomisxid at 10:10 AM on November 1, 2011

As a result of Stalin's capriciousness there is quite a lot of Korean food in some parts of Central Asia.
posted by JPD at 10:12 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Aside: if this is for work, you might be inadvertently insulting people from $COUNTRY by claiming that it would be unexpected to find an $ETHNICITY restaurant there, since that might carry the unwanted implication that people in $COUNTRY are culinarily timid or too ethnocentric to try other peoples' food or something. Or, that you might be implying that their major cities are rube-towns and not proper metropolises.

Granted that Japan doesn't have many Italians or Mexicans or French immigrants, but I don't think it should be surprising, at all, that Tokyo or Kyoto or other large cities around the world have restaurants from pretty much all the major cuisines.

Having said that: Ever see Babette's Feast? The chef who actually put all that together runs a restaurant in the middle of nowhere in southern Illinois, not far from Carbondale. But again, that maybe carries the unwanted implication that those country rubes don't want high cuisine.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:15 AM on November 1, 2011 [13 favorites]

Santiago in Chile has a lot of Chinese restaurants, locally called chaufas and generally not great.
posted by rhymer at 10:20 AM on November 1, 2011

There are a fair number of Chinese restaurants in Peru. Apparently Peru has a significant Chinese immigrant population along the coast.

Also, very disappointing Mexican food can be found in India.
posted by geegollygosh at 10:21 AM on November 1, 2011

Also, Manila has quite a few Korean barbecue restaurants. And I've been to Italians in Cebu City in the Philippines. While we're at it, there's a lot of French restaurants in Vietnam and an enormous German Beer place in Saigon.
posted by rhymer at 10:22 AM on November 1, 2011

The first place I had Vera Pizza Napoletana was in Kochi, southern Japan in 1990. The place is no longer there, as far as I can tell from the AVPN website.
posted by scruss at 10:26 AM on November 1, 2011

Ribs in the The Netherlands...excellent
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:27 AM on November 1, 2011

I lived near an Irish pub in Madrid.

These days I would be more surprised to be in a European city that doesn't have an Irish pub. I have personally tried them in Liverpool, London, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Oslo, Bergen, Copenhagen, Berlin, Kalmar, Lisbon (and others which slip my mind) and seen them in a lot more places.
posted by biffa at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2011

There's a pretty darn decent Chinese restaurant in Djibouti. They delivered, too--pretty surreal if you know Djibouti.
posted by swingbraid at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2011

A New Orleans born and raised roommate of mine once told me he and his girlfriend once visited this New Orleans 'inspired' restaurant while they were studying abroad in Scotland. It was in a strip mall and as soon as they walked in and saw it was empty, they walked back out...
posted by mostly vowels at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2011

Growing up in Chennai, India, I scouted all the interesting restaurants of various types I found and there were quite a lot of different "ethnic" restaurants. A partial list:
A Tex-Mex restaurant called Don Pepe
A Korean restaurant (run basically for the Korean expats working at the car manufacturing plants): In Seoul -- we were often the only Indians there.
A Japanese restaurant named Akasaka that served excellent sushi made from fish that they caught themselves -- also basically for Japanese expats
Indian-style Chinese food is ubiquitous -- not quite the same as Chinese-Chinese food, based on Schezuan style cooking, with the spices amped up.
I've had Irish pub style food too in Chennai. There was plenty of Italian, French, American and the like.
posted by peacheater at 10:30 AM on November 1, 2011

And on a related note, there is reportedly a Cafe Du Monde (the beignets place) in Japan
posted by mostly vowels at 10:31 AM on November 1, 2011

Well, this is closer to home: there's The Hole in the Wall a very good and apparently authentic Peruvian restaurant in Shields Saskatchewan, just outside of Dundurn, about 50 minutes from Saskatoon.

It's excellent; in a renovated Texaco station, and the only good restaurant I've been to that requires driving on gravel roads to get to.
posted by jrochest at 10:31 AM on November 1, 2011

I was amused by the Malaysian and Paraguayan restaurants in Panajachel, Guatemala.
posted by changeling at 10:32 AM on November 1, 2011

I don't know if this counts, but I've eaten at a Chinese buffet on a Cherokee Indian reservation.
posted by something something at 10:33 AM on November 1, 2011

There are KFCs and other American food all over, notably in China. Also several months ago there were news stories about Panda Express planning on opening American Chinese restaurants in China, but I'm not sure if that ever happened...
posted by brainmouse at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2011

geegollygosh: There's a long history of Chinese restaurants, knowns as "chifas," in Peru. Wikipedia. Also: Flickr. I have a book on the history of chifas.
posted by bentley at 10:36 AM on November 1, 2011

Italian restaurant run by a Romanian on a US Army base in Tallil in Iraq. Fantastic food when compared to the swill prepared by the US contractors.
posted by dangerousdan at 10:37 AM on November 1, 2011

I ate at a Lebanese restaurant in Thailand. Best food I've ever had.
posted by kingfishers catch fire at 10:40 AM on November 1, 2011

There is the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory at 65 Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv, Isreal. They come out and explain what pizza is to you, or did when I was last there a long time ago.

I also really loved the Japanese restaurant in the Nikko hotel in Mexico City. Excellent sashimi.
posted by procrastination at 10:47 AM on November 1, 2011

yeah, I'm kind of with ROU_Xenophobe. This isn't the 19th century. You don't have to get on a coffin ship and endure an arduous seaside voyage to emigrate to the land of your dreams. This is a world where Somali taxi drivers can be found in Shanghai and Filipino baggage handlers work the carousels of Moscow. Swiss emigres have their enclaves in Argentina that go back three generations. The Chinese did not just build railroads in the US, but in Canada, Australia, Paraguay and worked gold mines in South Africa. All of those communities get home sick and need to eat.

In this day and age, it might be more interesting to catalogue new and interesting collisions of possibly unlikely food cultures. Cuban-Chinese as distinct from Indian-Chinese, Kosher Chinese and American-Chinese. Pakistani pizza, Peruvian Japanese, or the sort of Malaysian\Indian\Greek\British stuff that's coming out of Australia.

I'm certainly kind of piqued by the idea of a Filipino-Icelandic restaurant if only to see if puffin or rotten shark could be improved with liberal doses of soy sauce and garlic.
posted by bl1nk at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2011 [13 favorites]

There are Chinese and Indian and Thai places in Yerevan, Armenia. They were built by students attending the medical university.
posted by k8t at 10:52 AM on November 1, 2011

There's an El Torito (chain Mexican) on the top floor of the Sky Building in Yokohama, Japan.

There's a great German restaurant (the Sea Castle) on the beach in Kamakura, Japan. (Japan Times story about the Sea Castle.)
posted by notyou at 10:56 AM on November 1, 2011

In Bologna, known as the foodie capital of Italy and resplendent with restaurants, there was one lone Chinese restaurant when I lived there in 2009.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:57 AM on November 1, 2011

We went to an American-style restaurant in Provence called "Le Tex," I believe. It had barn wood all over, old-timey pictures of cowgirls, etc. I had what was supposed to be an American pizza (that was actually very French) with merguez sausage. I think the only thing that was American about the cuisine there was the portion sizes--huge. The funniest part was that the "Montana pizza" was vegetarian.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:07 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was in Akureyri, Iceland, I went to a Thai restaurant AND an Indian curry restaurant. You may be interested in Chinese Restaurants, a documentary film series by Cheuk Kwan. It tells the story of the Chinese diaspora through families running Chinese restaurants all over the world.
posted by foxjacket at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2011

There's an Uzbekistani restaurant in Seoul. And, actually, there's a mini-Russian district there, near Dongdaemun.
posted by smorange at 11:10 AM on November 1, 2011

Here in Kampala, Uganda there is a Cuban restaurant. Also, in HCMC, Vietnam there was a restaurant with food from Réunion.
posted by hasna at 11:15 AM on November 1, 2011

German food in Nanjing

Chinese waitresses in Dirndl's aren't very...ummmm...filling.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2011

I used to make habit of going to places like these. A great Korean place in Lilongwe, Malawi. A well regarded Austrian place called the Calabash in Swaziland. A fantastic proper Italian pizza place in Maputo, Mozambique. Although you find Chinese places everywhere, I never understood why the one in downtown Maputo was called "The Sheikh". I found out that Filipinos went nuts for Dunkin Donuts.

But my best one is in London. L'Autre, the Polish-Mexican restaurant. Both cuisines on the menu. Pick and choose as you please.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2011

I've had atrocious Mexican food in restaurants in Hyderabad (the Indian one), Florence, Taipei, and probably half the states in the US.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2011

I had some awesome Mexican food in Osaka
posted by torisaur at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2011

Surprises for me were:

The best tapas in Copenhagen by a Spaniard chef from Barcelona who explained he started driving north one day until he reached the sea again.

Nepali restaurants rather than Indian ones across Helsinki, Finland

Italian restaurants in Malindi, Kenya (though not a surprise when you learn its a favourite retirement location for Italians but a surprise initially to find Italian spoken in the corner bakery)
posted by infini at 11:24 AM on November 1, 2011

There was some horrendous Mexican (and I use that word loosely) food in Munich, Germany when we were there. We found it so odd that we went in and at least we got a funny story out of it (no German waitress, I'm pretty sure it's pronounced po-yo not po-lo (pollo), but you have fun correcting me).
posted by katers890 at 11:25 AM on November 1, 2011

And the lonely Japanese restaurant in Torino, Italy
posted by infini at 11:25 AM on November 1, 2011

What about TGI Friday's in Doha? No pork or bacon--or beer. I'm still trying to compute a TGI Friday's without beer.
posted by Logophiliac at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2011

There's a Singaporean-run American-style burger joint in Pyongyang now. Doesn't get much more incongruous than that.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2011

The best pizza I ever had was in Bosnia. Absolutely flat crust was the key.
posted by Currer Belfry at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2011

Isn't it more unusual to find a town somewhere in the world WITHOUT a chinese restaurant?
posted by mary8nne at 11:42 AM on November 1, 2011 [4 favorites]

Love this question!

In the early 90s I bartended at Uncle Charlie's, a Mexican restaurant in Osaka, Japan. No idea if it's still open.

I was at a Chinese restaurant in Grenada a few years back--possibly this one.
posted by bassomatic at 11:53 AM on November 1, 2011

For what it's worth, there is one McDonalds in Venice. I was also told that there is only one Mexican restaurant in Sophia, Bulgaria but that may or may not be true. Also, KFC is huge, absolutely huge, in China
posted by Geppp at 11:55 AM on November 1, 2011

The Blue Banana (now closed), a great Thai place in Harare, Zimbabwe!
posted by janerica at 11:57 AM on November 1, 2011

I forgot one. For years "The Only Place" on Brigade Rd in Bangalore sold "American food", and was about the only place in southern India you could get a decent burger or steak. I understand they've moved and are under new management, but back in the 70's & 80's they rocked.
posted by Runes at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2011

German food on Kuo Samui in Thailand. Israeli restaurants on Isla Mujeres.
posted by supermedusa at 12:43 PM on November 1, 2011

Barrow, AK has a Mexican place, a sushi place, a Thai place, a Korean/ Chinese place and a Teriyaki place.

Swear to God.
posted by fshgrl at 12:50 PM on November 1, 2011

I've just been informed that there is also a Filipino Fast Food place in Barrow.
posted by fshgrl at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2011

When I in lived in Kampala, Uganda (2007-2008) there were the following restaurants:

-several Italian restaurants, many of which would deliver pizza
-several Chinese restaurants
-a Belgian steakhouse, possibly serving the best steaks anywhere in the universe
-a German/Dutch delicatessen that also sold flowers

Also, in Monrovia, Liberia, I was surprised after I moved there to learn about a restaurant called the Japanese Steak House which was

1. not a steak house
2. not owned or operated by Japanese people, and
3. did not serve Japanese food

They served an interesting style of Korean BBQ which was never complete without lots and lots of hot sake. Monrovia, astonishingly, also had a surprisingly good sushi place and several Lebanese restaurants that basically kept me alive for a while there.
posted by clockzero at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2011

Here in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (in West Africa, and the one of the world's least developed countries according to the UN), besides the expected French and Lebanese restaurants for a former French colony, we have:

An Indian restaurant.
A Korean restaurant.
A German restaurant.
A Vietnamese restaurant.
Two Chinese restaurants.
A Tex-Mex restaurant.
An Ethiopian restaurant.

We used to have a Thai restaurant, but the cook left.
posted by solotoro at 12:55 PM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Sushi in Chihuahua, MX. It was terrible.

Uh...sushi is everywhere in Mexico -- chilango hipsters live off that stuff (bastardized as it is with queso crema). Sushi Itto of Mexico is probably the largest chain of sushi restaurants in the world.
posted by wutangclan at 1:17 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've eaten at this Mexican restaurant in Helsinki.
posted by donovan at 1:21 PM on November 1, 2011

Lots of Italian places in Madagascar, especially the larger cities like Antananarivo and Tulear. Also at least two terrible Mexican places in Dumaguete, on the island of Negros in the Philippines.
posted by Falconetti at 1:41 PM on November 1, 2011

Filipino food is basically Mexican cuisine adapted to a Chinese pantry. Menudo, adobo and rellenos are pretty standard components of an everyday dining table.

I certainly won't dispute that there are terrible Mexican restaurants in the Philippines but to say that you were surprised to find Mexican restaurants in the country would be like walking around Boston and saying, "Gosh! Look at all of these Irish pubs! How novel and unlikely!"
posted by bl1nk at 1:48 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best Indian food I've ever had was in... Stockholm.
posted by kaszeta at 2:03 PM on November 1, 2011

Havana has a Chinatown, including restaurants (or at least it did when I was there ten years ago).
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:16 PM on November 1, 2011

I've eaten at a terrible Mexican restaurant in Prague. I forget its name, unfortunately.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:17 PM on November 1, 2011

Texas still has an Embassy in London that now serves food

Our Story

The building now housing the Texas Embassy is the former home of the famous White Star shipping line, owners of the Titanic. When the Titanic sank it was to this very building friends and relatives came to view the lists of survivors. An actual black and white photo of this time is hanging on the wall to the right of the main exit from the Cantina.

But our story really begins back in the early 1800's, in a vast and lawless wilderness ruled by Mexico. Bold Americans and Europeans settled the land and called their home TEXAS.

In 1836 Texans demanded their freedom, Mexico refused. The two sides met at the battle of the Alamo, where less than 200 brave Texans held off 4,000 Mexican soldiers for 13 days. Finally the Alamo fell, but soon after General Sam Houston led an army of highly outnmbered but determined Texans on a surprise attack. Screaming "remember the Alamo!" the Texans routed the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto and on April 21st 1836 secured Texas's independence.

Today a lot of Texans consider their state a country, but from 1836 to 1845 it actually was a country called The Republic of Texas and Ge. Sam Houston was its President. The Republic set up an Embassy right here in London. It currently is the Berry Brothers wine store on St James Street. A plaque still marks the spot where boisterous Texans and the reserved British struck up an unlikely friendship that continues to this day.
After independence came and tempers cooled along the Texas - Mexico border, cowboys and ranchers on both sides discovered some tasty foods around each other's campfires using Mexican staples like tortillas, jalapeños, beans, chicken and fresh vegetables. The result is what we call "Tex-Mex", a mix of the best from both sides of the border.

Back at the Embassy, England made a generous offer to defend Texas and help her remain independent forever.But events in America took over, and the first Texas Embassy closed in 1845 when Texas joined the United States. Now, 150 years later, the Texas Embassy is back with a border Cantina and some great Tex-Mex food.

posted by Blasdelb at 2:36 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Champor in Munich is an authentic and excellent Malaysian restaurant where they actually serve spicy food (remarkable for Bavaria).
posted by kdar at 2:41 PM on November 1, 2011

In Dushanbe, Tajikistan, there is an Argentinian restaurant, a Korean restaurant, and a Southern Fried Chicken/burger joint (this is a city with no western chains whatsoever - so no McDonalds et al, but there are at least two 'SFC's in the city).
posted by Gordafarin at 2:41 PM on November 1, 2011

"Welcome to House Frankfurt, the oldest German Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur."
Kebab shops in Florence.
posted by iviken at 3:41 PM on November 1, 2011

There's nothing odd about a Mexican restaurant in Tasmania.
posted by pompomtom at 3:54 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is a decent German restaurant on St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands. Limited menu, but tasty.
posted by elizeh at 3:58 PM on November 1, 2011

Jennifer 8 Lee's book on American Chinese food history has a small section on the ways Chinese restaurants spread. I can't recall the name and I'm on my phone, but it should be easy to get in libraries.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:05 PM on November 1, 2011

Apia, Samoa has some of the best pizza on earth at Giordano's Pizzeria, and just across the street is a not-too-shabby Indian restaurant.
posted by barnacles at 5:31 PM on November 1, 2011

I've eaten at a quite good Thai restaurant in tiny Dominical, Costa Rica. I do not recall its name, but I do remember it being excellent -- and two of our group had just been to Thailand and agreed that it was very authentic.
posted by devinemissk at 5:34 PM on November 1, 2011

Indian restaurant in Xi'an, China - actually two of them not far from each other, and pretty good too...certainly better than the Indian food in Brooklyn, although that's not very difficult

Thai restaurant in Akureyri, Iceland mentioned above, and one in Reykjavik too. Surprisingly good Thai for an island in the North Atlantic. Again, better than Thai food in Brooklyn (and again not very difficult)
posted by pravit at 5:54 PM on November 1, 2011

There are a bunch of excellent Korean restaurants in Chennai, India. It's because there's an enormous Hyundai plant there.
posted by eulily at 6:23 PM on November 1, 2011

There's a Singaporean-run American-style burger joint in Pyongyang now. Doesn't get much more incongruous than that.

In Guatemala City there are a few spot-on imitations of TGI Friday's-style American casual-dining joints. In fact, the one that I've been to is much nicer than any actual TGI Friday's. It's more like being transported into the Platonic Ideal Of TGI Friday's that you see portrayed in their TV ads. The Sizzling Somethingorother Breakfast Skillet I had there was the best goddamn Sizzling Somethingorother Breakfast Skillet I've ever had in my life.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:39 PM on November 1, 2011

Also, Austin, Texas now has a "Berlin-style doner kebab" place. There is basically no Turkish population here, and all the immigration from Germany happened like 150 years ago.

And if that doesn't strike you as just as incongruous as Tex-Mex places in Iceland or India or Nepal or whatever, then yeah, you need to readjust your assumptions about other countries. Everyone is connected to everyone now.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:41 PM on November 1, 2011

Blasdelb: I came back to add The Texas Embassy to this list. An (American) friend of mine got a job as a host and server there while we were studying in London.
posted by gauche at 7:36 PM on November 1, 2011

re: Chinese restaurants: they are everywhere, because Chinese people are everywhere. I don't think finding a Chinese restaurant in any country is unusual at this point.

Beijing and Shanghai have every type of "ethnic" restaurant imaginable, from American-style diners to Kosher Israeli places to Ethiopian to North Korean to Bagels and Lox!

I ate at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico too- I think Japanese are the largest Asian immigrant group in Mexico and therefore there are quite a number of Japanese restaurants.
posted by bearette at 7:49 PM on November 1, 2011

The next time you're in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, you should stop by the "Japanese" steak house (scare quotes because it's actually Korean). There was also a "New York Fried Chicken". Less surprisingly, there is a good Ukrainian restaurant.
posted by Loudmax at 8:03 PM on November 1, 2011

I had pretty atrocious Mexican food at a restaurant on Santorini called Senor Zorba's. I think they brought out tzatziki with tortilla chips? Ay yay yay.
posted by troublesome at 8:29 PM on November 1, 2011

Friends had a homestay student who returned to Malaysia and opened a Canadian restaurant.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:48 PM on November 1, 2011

nebulawindphone, there is a Döner Kebap place in Austin because all the hipsters have been to Berlin and now clamour for Döner. Same reason why there's a similar place in Seattle (and it is HORRIBLE).

But in re the OP's question- we don't even have "Canadian" restos in Canada, but they have one in Dresden. Menu is steak, pasta, flatbreads, so I guess "Canadian" means Earls.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:26 PM on November 1, 2011

In 2008/9 I worked in Sisimiut, Greenland, where I was astounded to come across a Thai restaurant, Misigisaq. (Read the whole page.)
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 1:51 AM on November 2, 2011

(Apologies in advance for the length, but South East Asia, more so Singapore, is a foodie paradise. And I like telling tales, so :D )

Russian fine dining in Singapore, originally owned by an ex-pat Russian couple, but now lovingly catered for by the original staff, who I believe bought over the place. My wife calls it the best "Hainanese-Western" restaurant there is; that is to say, the Russian food has a certain Hainanese flavour to it, not unlike "western" food that you get in hawker centers here.

There's a Nigerian /African restaurant near Sim Lim Tower. Speaking of which, there's always Cafe Le Caire at Ar, is ab Street, right next to Turkish, Egyptian, Moroccan and Palestinian (well, they have a huuuge Palestinian flag out there) restaurants. I suppose there's also a Lebanese restaurant in the mix; there are at least two in Holland Village.

There are a couple of Brazilian churrascaria's across the island too, just as there is an Andorran place at Robertson Quay. I heard there's a stall somewhere in Clementi that does authentic Chin state noodles, which I found interesting, in that they self-identified themselves as not Burmese, but specifically as Chin state, with all the associated politico-cultural identification / rebellion that it entails.

The most hatke se ("removed", for non-Hinglish speakers) eating joint I've ever seen in Singapore, though, is Romanian stall called, you'll never guess, Dracula, bang in the middle of heartland Alexandra village. Or at least, it once was; haven't gone back there in two years.

Internationally, well, let's see, I've had Ethiopian food at this hillside place in Seattle that I didn't entirely expect (although, in retrospect, perhaps not as much, judging by the fact that my cabbie into town was an Ethopian-American who wanted to sing Mukkadar ka Sikkandar songs when I told him I had been to Bombay. There is perhaps a sizeable Ethiopian community in Seattle, is what I'm sayin')

That was the third most culturally differentiated dinner I've ever had in my travels; I'll ignore the usual suspects, pizzas in tourist ghettos, doner kebabs in mainland Europe, Mexican food in SoCal or the many "Maharaja Palace"'s in small-towns in the US. The second most culturally differentiated dinner I've ever had, though, was the awesome brownies at Red Sun Falling, run by a chatty American from Chicago who's name I forget, but around whom most of the ex-pat community in those parts revolves around.

Brownies by themselves are quite, not to put it too finely, bleh, but to have them in this four-street town stretched along the Mekong some six hours out of Phnom Penh, mid-way to the remote Lao border was quite something else. This was Apocalypse Now country; not as desolate as the even remote Rattanakiri province further to the east, but certainly, Kratie town is a gateway of sorts into that part of Cambodia. I like to think of it as what the West would be, had it been colonized by not the Anglophone Americans, but by the French. Most of the road-signs were in French, if they weren't in Khmer; there was a shabby board announcing an Apothecare along Rue Mekong. The roads were dusty and the afternoon air was still as if the Magnificent Seven were about to ride into town, but on hardy Chinese-made bikes, and instead of swinging a door and storming into a Wild-West-style saloon, they'd plonk themselves down on a Parisian-style roadside cafe and ask for cafe du Vietnam au lait, perhaps.

That's the kind of a place Kratie was when I was there many years back. And you could get, not just awesome brownies and cheesecakes at Red Sun Falling, but also beer from most other South East Asian nations; a bunch of backpackers and I made it a point to buy Cambodian (Angkor), Laotian (Lao), Thai (Chang), Burmese (can't remember the name), Singaporean (Tiger), Indonesian (Bintang), Vietnamese (can't remember the name) and Filipino (San Miguel) beer from a nearby roadside shop, just for the heck of it. Wondered about the fact that it was pitch-dark across the mighty Mekong, with not even a single speck of an electric light on the other side. There were deer freely running around in the Governor's Mansion further down the road; there were boards in Khmer apparently asking people to return their guns to the authorities, a hand-drawn picture of someone handing a gun to someone sitting at a desk, with another smaller graphic with a gun and a big cross mark across.

I went back to my $3-room at the hostel after that; it was quite late for Kratie, everything was shut down by then. Because I had much alcohol by then, I wanted to have a fruit juice or something before I went to bed; I had six hours to travel back the next day and didn't want to risk a hangover. So I asked the guy at the reception if they had any juice left, and if there was, just bring it over, no questions asked. He nodded, peeked inside the kitchen, shouted something to another guy and came back. Some juice was left, he said, but it wasn't fresh juice; it was one of their mango-flavoured shakes they had on their other drinks menu. I said fine, I'll have it right here before I go back to my room.

The guy at the reception starts chatting; asks me where I was from, how long I was staying in Kratie and so on. He seemed to be rather amused when I told him I was from India; said he thought I'd say UK or US or something else. I suppose they only had backpacking British-Indians or Indian-Americans there before; not many who'd say they were from India.

Eventually my drink came. I paid the bill and tipped them a bit more for the late-night effort, and finally ask him what the drink was.

Mango Lassi, he replied, in Khmer-accented English.
posted by the cydonian at 2:49 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

In Conakry, Guinea there is (or was in 2001) a Korean restaurant with sushi buffet. I ate sushi there for the first time (yikes) and thus began my love and obsession with sushi.
posted by n'muakolo at 4:41 AM on November 2, 2011

The very best Chinese food I ever had was in an illegal joint in....Dublin. That still blows my mind.
In the early 80s, Ci-Lin, Rome's only Chinese restaurant, did a roaring business in an alley just off Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. I think it may still be there but it's not the only one any more.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:14 AM on November 2, 2011

I had some decidedly uninspiring Mexican food in Nuremberg. I can't remember the name of the restaurant, only that the menu described one of the spicier dishes as being "for real Mexicans."
posted by naoko at 5:32 PM on November 3, 2011

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