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The Russia House Restaurant
3200 Adams Avenue,
Normal Heights
(619) 584-6279

The new owners say things have calmed down since they took over from Marko, the wild, intellectual Georgian who loved folks getting up on tabletops and dancing on a Friday night (after a few vodkas, of course). But you'll still get drawn in. Start off with the borscht, the Russian soup of beet roots, cabbage leaves, onions, carrots, big chunks of potato, a couple of hunks of beef, and sour cream. Hum along with the soulful voices of the Russian Army Choir singing "Kalinka." Music and posters help create the heady atmosphere, like the one that says "Let's Kill German Capitalism by May 1st, 1920!" Another says, "Big Game Hunting in the U.S.S.R. Contact the Metropole Hotel, Moscow." Sooner or later, you'll be cross-table talking. Maybe it starts over the khinkali -- Georgian dumplings. They're dangerous. They have not just the meat stuffed in them, but also the gravy. If you chew into them wrong, you'll send a squirt right in your neighbor's eye. But don't worry. Toasts, not fists, will start flying. Georgians say they always start eating with three toasts -- to the wittiest person at the table, to your parents, "and to your chair, because you never know when it will give out under you."

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