Most out-of-place dishes you've seen on a restaurant menu

Sounds like a friend of mine (although she was just a boring eater not a boring person). She grew up in a family that ate the blandest food possible all the time. She considered Pizza Hut to be too exotic to eat at.

When I was a kid I worked at a burger and fries drive thru for a while. Their schtick was that you couldn’t have it your way, all burgers were served the exact same way to make the line move more efficiently. So everything had mustard, ketchup and pickle, the ‘deluxe’ had lettuce, tomato and mayo, no exceptions or extras.

Very basic menu, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, deluxe burgers, fries and drinks. No fishwich or chicken patties or nuggets or whatever. The one glaringly out of place offering was the double olive burger, a double deluxe burger with sliced green olives. Not that it’s not an interesting take on a burger, but certainly not the most common one, if they were going to deviate you’d think it’d be something like a bacon cheeseburger or such. Nope, green olives, wtf?

They’re there, you know, for kids.

One of my clients is a restaurant, and they have chicken fingers along with their much better items. But in their defense, they’re the best damn chicken fingers you’ve ever had. The cut and bread them fresh every day. No frozen fingers shall ever darken their menu!

On a similar note, there’s a place near here that’s a mix of American diner fare like country-fried steak and meatloaf, and Greek ethnic dishes. Because the owner/chef is Greek. It’s more of a half-and-half split, though, rather than one single out-of-place dish.

That’s very common here in the northeast. A large number of restaurant proprietors are Greek, and no matter what cuisine they present as primary, there are Hellenic dabs throughout the menus.

Sometimes the reason that a restaurant offers items that you don’t expect is that you don’t know the full extent of a country’s cuisine. For instance, there are sometimes Italian dishes on Ethopian and Eritrean restaurant menus. This is because Ethopian (as well as Eritrea, which was then part of Ethopia) was controlled by Italy during various periods. We tend in the U.S. to think of other countries as being fairly ethnically pure, while we are influenced by everybody. It’s more complicated than that. Another example is that there are massive amounts of Indian and Pakistani food items served in the U.K., so much so that it would be surprising to meet a Brit who hasn’t experienced those cuisines a few times.

Locally, there is a restaurant called Pedro O’Hara’s. They advertise “Mexican, American, and Irish cuisine.” Always thought that was really strange. I’ve never been there, but it’s popular and successful.

In this Mexican town I’'m currently in there’s whole restaurant that’s out of place. It’s an Asian/South Asian place. The other half of the menu is Italian. And the menu is a book. All signs to stay away, right?

But the place is packed every night and it’s some of the best Asian food I’ve ever eaten. The pizza’s okay too.
On top of that, on weekends they have a blues band of expat Americans.

The hostess is an Australian woman of mystery and charm and the kitchen staff looks like they spent a decade hard duty on a tramp steamer. Waiters are Mexican.

I’m not sure if they put those little umbrellas in their drinks or not but I did see the mother of all cockroaches scurry along the wall one evening and a lizard in the lounge area. Out of place!

(Kinda hard to keep 'em out when there are no doors or windows.)

There’s a ‘casual Italian’ place we like to go in Sacramento, Paesano’s. Its menu has all the things you’d expect at such an establishment: there’s mushroom ravioli, fettucini Alfredo, spaghetti carbonara, fresh-made pizzas…and at the bottom of eh menu…pad Thai.

DC has a couple good ones. Out in Shaw, there is a shady fish and chips joint that also serves…bulgogi.

Going up Georgia Ave. towards Silver Spring, there is a restaurant that claims to be “Ethiopian-Mexican.” I’ve never had the guts to try it, but it’s certainly an unexpected combo.

Or even regional cuisine. I thought it was unusual the first time I saw a BBQ joint in Arkansas serving tamales. But I found out that tamales have become a common part of Arkansas cuisine.

We used to have a place about ten minutes from me called Samurai Sal’s. They served Sushi and Italian food.

I never tried it.

I did not know this. The menu item makes a lot more sense now.

Fusion restaurants: That’s also not what I intended this thread to be about. I know about fusion restaurants, and their whole bit is that anything from whatever they’re fusing is fair game. Heck, Missoula even has a couple fusion restaurants: Sean Kelly’s sounds about as pseudo-Irish a pub as you’d ever want to get faced in on St Paddy’s Day, and it largely is, but their motto is “Where the Gaelic & the garlic mix.” and the Italian aspects of their meals aren’t bad.

The other is Nara Korean Barbecue & Sushi, which is not the only sushi place in town but is your only option for a bowl of bibimbap.

And, yes, I should have remembered the token American item sometimes seen on menus.

There’s some mediterranean/middle eastern place that opened near me a few months ago. I’ve never eaten there (not my type of place) but have seen their menu.

They have tacos.


There used to be a twin set of chain restaurants named Carlos Murphy’s (Irish-Mexican) and Luigi Murphy’s (Irish-Italian). The Irish part was largely silly window dressing; the first, at least, had decent Mexicanish food. Haven’t seen either in years.

Most sushi/Japanese places in the US are run by Koreans. Many will have Korean food available, though they won’t necessarily advertise that fact.

Chicken and waffles also just became the latest flavor of Lays potato chips per a user submitted contest .

Which means we’ll probably see them at Sam’s Club, the usual venue for such controlled consumer experiments.

If they even come close to Chicken-in-a-Biskit, however…

I’m holding out hope that Sriracha wins.

The Blue Nile in St. Paul MN is an Ethiopian joint with good dishes, but they oddly have the best damn french fries in the state. And they’re not at all advertised as such. They’re just on the bar food section of the menu. Oh, and speaking of the bar, they have some of the best/hard to find craft beers on tap in the Twin Cities - which is really saying something.