Devour San Diego’s Authentic International Cuisine

From First Smell to Last Bite



Photo by Charisma Cucina Italiana

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Whether you’re hitting the town with friends, on a date with your main squeeze or simply a full-blown foodie, finding authentic restaurants packed with flavorful international cuisine can sometimes be a challenge. While San Diego boasts real Mexican eateries on almost every corner, finding international cuisine from other nationalities isn’t quite as easy—so let’s narrow your search. Look no further for stellar San Diego joints serving authentic Moroccan, Italian and Russian dishes!

Kous Kous Moroccan

Known to many as our foodie district, Hillcrest is a neighborhood where it’s easy to walk down main street and run into numerous eateries with an authentic flair. For example, hidden in a basement along the bustling 4th Avenue is Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro. At first it can be a little strange walking down into the sunken entrance, but it soon becomes a flicker of magic that transports patrons to Morocco with the relaxing, dimly lit ambiance and culturally artistic design. Whether it’s owner and top culinary expert Chef Moumen or his brother Paul greeting guests upon arrival, the charismatic, humble and good humor of these well-traveled brothers adds warmth and an inviting atmosphere as an exemplification of what Moroccan cuisine offers the culinary world.

Ambiance and people are enough to enchant before even a drink touches the lips, but when one of Kous Kous Moroccan’s signature drinks ignites fireworks within any palate, the culinary element of the adventure has begun. Rose petal reduction, mahia fig liqueur and smashed cucumber are a few of the exciting flavors added in to the authentic cocktails for new tastes and exciting combinations.

Not to be outdone, the food is also beautifully presented and bound to overwhelm your palate with a mix of sweet and savory flavors. Starting with the caramelized carrot appetizer, Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro’s sweet and savory dishes are based in a style of fall-off-the-bone slow cooking—as opposed to sautéing in grease and fat—that help mix with incredibly flavorful yet muted spices for what could be the best chicken tagine or kous kous experienced in San Diego’s Moroccan cuisine scene. 

Charisma Cucina Italiana

Just a few feet down the street, Charisma Cucina Italiana is another remarkable restaurant owned by brother and sister Antonio and Maria Pia. Nestled amongst the fun, festive and fabulous eateries of Hillcrest, the sultry red color of Charisma’s sign and stylish simplicity of the outside decor stands on their own to grab attention and create unique curiosity. Upon entering, the energy switches direction to a calming cream and candle-lit space that is clean, cozy and quaint. Upon arrival, this Italian eatery transports guests to a family restaurant inspired by the Amalfi Coast. Charisma provides a perfect setting for an intimate or small group that wishes to feel like they’re eating in their own home in Italy.

The feeling of home and Italy flows through Charisma in the way Antonio and Maria Pia not only provide daily specials, but also craft personally requested dishes—some that aren’t on the menu. With a wonderful staff, Charisma’s welcoming and familial air will fill your heart while their delicious food will fill your stomach. Enjoy handmade pastas and decadent desserts for every occasion. Prepared with fresh herbs, Charisma’s Italian food is bursting with flavor—perfect to pair with a smooth Italian wine.