Sometimes the best meals are the ones we unexpectedly stumble upon, whose flavors and textures transport us beyond the ambiance of the restaurant itself. A few of our favorite dishes are so good in their own right that they’ve ended up on our permanent rotation.

Nam Khao Tod (Crispy Rice Salad)Crisp-fried puffed rice is tossed with loads of fresh cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and slivers of ginger, punctuated by salty roasted peanuts, sweet red onion, housemade sour pork sausage, and a hit of hot chile. This traditionally Lao and northern Thai dish isn’t easy to find in restaurants, but Supannee House of Thai makes a particularly addictive rendition.Supannee House of Thai2907 Shelter Island Drive #110, Point Loma

Tamale in Rice and BeansThis barrio institution has been around since 1933 and is open for breakfast and lunch. There’s a line around the block by 11am on most days at the cash-only establishment, so the pro move is to go for a breakfast of hand-rolled tortillas, hot sauce, taquitos, crispy tacos, and our must-have bowl of tamale, rice, and beans. You’ll find your tamale practically submerged in a stew-like symphony of toothsome pinto beans and red rice. Be sure to add a scattering of cilantro, raw onion, and lime.Las Cuatro Milpas1857 Logan Avenue, Barrio

Ghormeh SabziYou may head here for groceries, but stay a little longer for this dish of beef braised in an herbaceous broth of parsley, cilantro, chives, and fenugreek. Infused with aromatic Persian lime, the turmeric-tinged stew is satisfyingly spooned over basmati rice alongside blistered tomato, flatbread, and a chopped herb and cucumber salad. Portions are generous, so share or look forward to leftovers.North Park Produce Bakery & Grill12342 Poway Road,

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