Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Sep 18, 2009 03:52 PM

Mira Mesa Help New to Niegborhood

Just moved from PB up to Mira Mesa (Calle Cristobal and Camino Ruiz area) and I'm looking to for some specific recommendations. We've been eating out all week (stove was just delivered yesterday) and have had some good food. Highlights so far have been Roast Duck and Snow Pea Greens at Silver Ark, Pho at Lucky, Kabobs @ Ariana, Sisig and Lechon at New Manila, and of course Popeye's. I think the places I will miss the most from the PB area are Pata Negra/Costa Brava, Home Grown Meats, Wine Time, Pops, Cass St., The Fishery, Great News!, Charlies Best, French Gourmet, Ota, LJ Farmers Market, Cantina, 3rd Corner, Azucar, blah, blah.

First thing I need is a butcher, Bischers in Poway seems kind of far are there any closer options? I will still make a road trip to LJ for grass-fed, and little Italy for Curtis's chicken.

Sushi - Closer than Katio.

If I had guests comming and needed good sherry vinegar fast, where would I go?

Burgers, wings, good beer - not many places cover the trifecta but High Dive come close are there any options in MM?

Bakery - Baguette, Boules, Batards any thing in the area? I know I can get some good pan de sal.

Don't get me wrong I will travel great distances for food, just trying to get the lay of the land. Any word on Azteca market? Got some props on the chorizo thread. Please feel free to share you favorites. I'm very happy to be close to many of the Asian markets and eatery's. Thanks for the assistance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. "First thing I need is a butcher," - Lucky Seafood and Seafood City (and North Park Produce in Poway) have a decent variety of meat but for a "real" butcher Bischers is your closest option.

    "needed good sherry vinegar fast" - Major Market in Escondido, WF in LJ

    "Bakery - Baguette, Boules, Batards any thing in the area" - Nothing decent.

    "share you favorites" - I live also in MM and mostly travel for pretty much everything. Mira mesa is not bad for Vietnamese food, Punjabi Tandoor (and the whole Indian community on Black Mountain) is closeby. Ume No Ya on Miramar for homestyle Japanese food is not bad. El Maguey (in the same shopping mall as China Chef 2) is decent for some fast tacos.

    2 Replies
    1. re: honkman

      Also the New trader Joes (Mira Mesa Blvd @ the 15) is HUGE.The manager there said it's the largest in San Diego.

      1. re: modfood

        It's huge but surprisingly has overall less items than the one in LJ. I don't like TJ too much since I hardly buy any processed food but the few things I need a few times weren't available.

    2. For Burgers, wings, and good beer Callahan's is what you're looking for, in the Target Shopping center, next to El Torito. There is also a Wings and Things in the Bank of America shopping center, if you need just a wings fix. You could also go into O'Briens on Convoy and get your trifecta, with the best beers on tap in all of San Diego.

      As for a bakery, even though it's a chain, go to Panera in the Edwards Theater shopping center. Personally, I think they make great bread, and I love their dark blend coffee. It's next to Bucca di Beppo.

      For Mexican fast food, the grand winner of the area hands-down is Harvest Taco on Clairemont and Ruffin. So, get familiar with the south backroad connection of Mira Mesa Blvd to Black Mountain Road, to Miramar Road to Kearny Villa Road into Ruffin. It's a very quick trip once you get it down. Sombrero's on the other side of the 15 off Mira Mesa Blvd is a good second choice. I believe they opened a Trader Joe's over there as well, where I assume you could get the Sherry vinegar. And while you're on that side of the highway don't forget to stop in at Ballast Point's hidden away brewery location, where you can stop in for a pint and pick up a growler or three of their delicious brew.

      Now that you live in Mira Mesa you also have quick access to some of the best (if not THE best) Indian food in all of San Diego. Ashoka the Great off of Black Mountain Road and Miramar, in that Indian center with the market, is phenomenal. Both for takeout and to eat in.

      Don't forget to check out San Diego Wine Co and Vintage Wines, both on Miramar Road.

      For sushi, you need to drive into Convoy and go to Dokoro Shirahama or Sakura. Go to Tajima and Mitsuwa for Ramen.

      Good job on visiting Lucky Pho, the best pho in San Diego imo.

      35 Replies
      1. re: cookieshoes

        I think Ashoka is mediocre compared to Punjabi and Suranti . And Panera just makes lousy bread.

        1. re: honkman

          Well, to each their own. But I certainly wouldn't call Ashoka "mediocre" compared to any Indian restaurant in town. Not by a mile. Because there are others, even in that same shopping center as Ashoka, that are definitely mediocre.

          As for Panera....he asked for places in Mira Mesa. To which, there does not exist a decent place to get the bread he's asking for save for Panera, or buying from the aisle at Trader Joes. He asked for baguettes, batards, etc. Sorrento European bakery does not count. Nor does the Albertson's or the Ralphs across the street from it. He'd be better off crossing over the hill and going to that nice Vons on Scripps Poway Parkway, which does have a decent bakery, and a nice international foods aisle.

          1. re: cookieshoes

            Sorrento European has pretty good baguettes

        2. re: cookieshoes

          I would never recommend Ashoka - just not good. Punjabi Tandoor is very good and I enjoy Madras Cafe for southern Indian. I lived in MM when I first moved to SD and I still miss the convenience of that Indian shopping center for a quick fix. Definitely visit and explore.

          1. re: Divamac

            Wow, not a lot of love for Ashoka. "I would never recommend Ashoka"?


            Well, I've had several good meals there. And, each time I've been there, the place has been filled with elderly Indian people eating up a storm.

            Anyway, going in that area one has their pick of the litter.

            1. re: cookieshoes

              Don't love Ashoka either. Don't even like it. Underspiced and underflavored food, of which Indian food is not supposed to be! Punjabi Tandoor and Surati Farsan Mart easily beat it hands down.

              1. re: daantaat

                If it is under spiced then it is because you are ordering it wrong. I go with Indian friends and it the food is served Indian hot if you know what I mean and I like things heavily spiced. The odds are if you're white they automatically tone things down unless you tell them other wise so when you order tell them "I like spicy, like, Indian level spicy not white person spicy" and they'll give you what you want.

                1. re: oerdin

                  I think a lot of people rate "Ashoka the Average" on their buffet.

                  I also like this whole "Indian people like spicy food" generalization. I interact with quite a few Indians on a daily basis, and I've found that a good percentage do not like spicy food.

                  1. re: RB Hound

                    let me clarify--when I said underspiced, I did not just mean lack of chili pepper heat-like spice. I also meant lack of the complexity of different types of spices that go into Indian food. As Divamac said below, it is bland. I do not think any ethnic restaurant should dumb down their food for someone who is white (or otherwise) and ones that do, get thumbs down in my book.

                    Punjabi Tandoor and Surati Farsan Mart, on the other hand, never ask you how "spicy" you want your food or dumb it down, depending on your ethnicity. They just take your order and serve you good food.

                  2. re: oerdin

                    When I first moved to San Diego, I ate at Ashoka often and never ate the buffet. I found the spicing to be somewhat muddled. And while I like spicy, I'd rather taste my food than be overwhelmed with heat. I just didn't find the spicing to be distinct - everything tasted bland. If that's because I am white, then shame on them. Perhaps that's changed. It's been at least 5 years since I dined there.

                    I also found that their menu was set up to nickel and dime you if you enjoy chutneys and pickles as part of your meal. It's been a while, but I do recall not thinking that the quality was worth the prices.

                    Lastly (and this was the thing that makes me say I would never recommend them) I especially love lamb curries and had several lamb dishes at several different visits and universally found their lamb to be overly-gamey to the point that I questioned the freshness of the product. My husband will no longer order lamb in an indian restaurant because of one particularly bad dish as Ashoka. I regularly order lamb dishes at Punjabi Tandoor and find hem to have higher quality food with better, more distinct spicing. When both places are so close, why recommend the inferior place? So, yes, I would never recommend Ashoka.

                    1. re: oerdin

                      I have several Indians colleagues who found the food at Ashoka too much americanized and lacking good flavor which was also my experience

                      1. re: honkman

                        That's no surprise. What do they say about Punjabi, because it sure isn't anything like India either.

                        1. re: royaljester

                          Most Indians I talked about food think that Punjabi is the best Indian food in SD if you like meat. And even though it is not India they think that the quality at Punjabi is not bad.

                    2. re: daantaat

                      I think it warrants mentioning that Ashoka and Surati don't even serve the same kind of food. Yes, the people behind the counter are Indian, but the regions they represent aren't even close. Surati's a chaat joint!

                      I, and many Indian people I know, like Ashoka. Their buffet might be the best Indian buffet in SD, but it's still a buffet so you get what you pay for. Then again, when I want that kind of Indian food I go to Punjabi Tandoor. I haven't been to Ashoka in a while, but I still think it rates fairly highly in comparison to the other Indian restaurants around town.

                      Annapurna is in the same mall as the Vinh Hung market and Target (on the Cam. Ruiz side) and serves Southern Indian food from the Hyderabad area. It's pretty good; good enough that my Hyderabadi friend goes there, a lot.

                      1. re: RTee

                        Yes, I am well aware that Ashoka and Surati Farsan Mart do not serve the same kind of food and that Surati is a chaat place. However, if Surati's chaat was bland and underflavored, I would have the same comments about them that I do about Ashoka.

                        We'll have to check out Annapurna some time--thanks for the tip!

                        1. re: daantaat

                          Can anyone recommend some dishes at Annapurna that are distinctly Hyderabad style? When I went there I tried to avoid ordering the punjabi style dishes (although those are pretty much the ones that I'm mostly familiar with) but nothing really stood out to me.

                          1. re: mliew

                            My friend swears by Hyderabadi biryani. Otherwise, the dosas aren't bad, and they're enormous. i haven't been there enough to try the rest yet.

                2. re: cookieshoes

                  Second Shirahama and Sakura. Sakura has a good selection of non-sushi items (noodles and cooked fish entrees). Shirahama is tiny, quiet, and serves sushi only.

                  1. re: cookieshoes

                    I went to Harvest Taco today after seeing this. I'm having trouble understanding why people would say this is the best Mexican in Mira Mesa. The tortillas were tough and leathery, the fish taco came with lettuce rather than cabbage and had almost no white sauce, and the pollo asada was nearly tasteless. It wasn't awful, but it was far from the best.

                    For Mexican I'd recommend El Maguey or Los Primos on Mira Mesa, Jalapeno's in Carmel Mountain, or Cockteleria La Playita on Clairemont Mesa.

                    1. re: y6y6y6

                      Sorry that you didn't like Harvest. We all have different tastes, of course. To me, El Maguey is the typical generic mexican fast food. Sure, Harvest is mexican fast food as well. But for me it is definitely a cut above. The tortillas, the salsas, the meats, etc. Sombreros just across the 15 is just a notch below Harvest, and very very good. But El Maguey is a notch (or two) below that. Much less regard to ingredients, no real taste factor on any item...pretty standard stuff. I'd rather go to Alejandros down the street and just get that particular fix done right. The standard California Burrito or Carne Asada Nachos late-night craving. Whereas, Harvest does all of that a significant degree better. The tortillas there have a significant "grill" and texture to them. That is the hallmark of a good joint for me.

                      1. re: cookieshoes

                        Going to have to disagree cookie, I do not consider a place that has menu items such as Lengua, Cabeza, Birra de Chivo, Sopes, Caldo de Res and executes them well as "generic Mexican food". I'm not stating this place is earth shattering but it is a good local option. Labeling it as generic with its myriad of well prepared menu items a little harsh and unfair. Different strokes.

                        1. re: stevuchan

                          Again, to each their own. Don't quite see the "harsh" or "unfair" aspect of not liking the place. Lots of places in town serve all of those dishes. Having lengua on a menu does not automatically make a place excellent. And when the sopes are served using the pre-packaged already-stale stuff that 90% of the places in town serve, I don't bother ordering them. The Caldo de Res is made using the same pre-packaged broth mix at most places as well. And if most places are doing it that way, guess what, it becomes generic.

                          But, that's why I don't ever go to Mira Mesa for Mexican Food. Just like I don't go to Oceanside for a nice French Dinner or Poway for Sushi.

                          1. re: cookieshoes

                            "Having lengua on a menu does not automatically make a place excellent" - But having very good lengua on a menu makes a place excellent

                            1. re: cookieshoes

                              Yes to each their own, kind of missed my point. Lots of generalizations and assumptions above, are you familiar with their kitchen practices? What did you have that was not good? Hard to wrap my brain around knocking El Maguey and stating that Sombrero's is "very very good".

                              1. re: stevuchan

                                No, I got your point. You listed that the place had certain items, and that they did them well. I've had many of those items there, so there's no assumptions or generalizations going on. I've eaten there more than my share when I lived in Mira Mesa (not that having lived in Mira Mesa has anything to do with anything). You can taste when a tortilla is homemade or a sope was made from fresh masa. And having lengua, etc. on a menu doesn't make a place automatically excellent. Quantity doesn't equal quality. Sure, if that's good there, then go there for that. But for me, overall the place has never been a standout.

                                Sombrero's is a recommendation because they do what they do well. There are many varieties of mexican food in town, and most are along the lines of cheap quick food. Some of those quick and cheap places offer things like Menudo on the weekends, and birria and lengua. Doesn't automatically make them good if they do. Alejandro's is the typical lower end of the scale, with Sombrero's above that, and Harvest significantly above that. But there's a threshold there when comparing places. At some point you can say for yourself that for a particular style of mexi fast food, one place does things better than another. Would Sombrero's or Harvest compare to Mama Testa or Super Cocina or Mariscos German, or any of the places in Chula, etc.? No. But, sometimes I want a nice plates of nachos with carne asada, with the cheese and the sour cream and all of that. So, for that, I know where to go.

                                Remember, it's personal opinion. I can't tell you that you have "bad taste" and that I have "good taste". Just as any observation about a restaurant, when speaking of the details like how the dishes are made and what the ingredients are, is not eligible to be considered "harsh" and "unfair". It's a restaurant, not someone's kid.

                                1. re: cookieshoes

                                  Having different tastes is fine but you didn't answer the question how do you know for sure that they use "pre-packaged already-stale stuff". Not liking a restaurant is OK but slamming it for use of lousy ingredients is something else.

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    Last time I checked, this board was for people who like to eat out, and for hearing about their observations of the food served at the places around town. "Harsh", "Unfair", and "Slamming"...I'm not talking about your best friend, I'm talking about a restaurant. Pointing out what they use to make their food isn't anything more than an observation.

                                    You can tell when the meat in a fried taco has been sitting in the frozen shell for days/weeks vs tacos that have freshly cooked meat that was then placed in the shell and fried. And you can taste when a salsa is made with a base that consisted of using a canned tomato sauce vs fresh tomatoes. You don't need to run back into the kitchen and watch the guy open the can. You can either tell or you can't.

                                    1. re: cookieshoes

                                      Apparently you can't. I don't claim the restaurant is using high end ingredients but their tacos, meat is defintiely not sitting around for days/weeks.

                                      1. re: honkman

                                        Who said "sitting around"? I'm not talking about raw meat laying on a counter.The vast majority of taco shops take a frozen shell with meat in it, and pop it into the frier. It would be ridiculous for them not to. It's not high-cuisine, it's a mexican joint.

                                        But this is neither here nor there, because I brought up the meat and salsa examples as context with regards to being able to tell that a place does or doesn't use certain ingredients, and that you don't have to physically be in the kitchen to know what the ingredients being used are. The ultimate point was about the sopes.

                                        Try the sopes, and report back if you'd like.

                                  2. re: cookieshoes

                                    Did not state that just because some place has any particular menu item that it make them good.

                            2. re: cookieshoes

                              "The standard California Burrito or Carne Asada Nachos late-night craving."

                              Ah....... Okay, this is where our disconnect is. Fair enough.

                              1) I think people should be free to like what they like. You and I have very different ideas about what is good. And that's fine in my opinion.

                              2) When someone mentions a place is good for California burritos that's a red flag that I won't like it. There are plenty of exceptions, but it makes me nervous. A California burrito has nothing in common with Mexican food. I doubt you could buy such a thing in most parts of Mexico even as a custom order.

                              So when people ask me about Mexican food I tend to steer them towards places that have at least marginally authentic Mexican dishes. Mira Mesa isn't a good place to find such things, but El Maguay comes closer than the other options.

                              Bottomline - Everyone is going to like different things. And that's fine. Personally I have no idea how Sombrero's can stay in business it's so bad. But lots of people like it, so good for them.

                              1. re: cookieshoes

                                I'm pretty sure Alejandros isn't there anymore. I think it's a Cotixan now.

                            3. re: cookieshoes

                              Agreed on Ashoka, Punjabi isn't bad either. In Carmel Valley they have awesome bread at the bakery next to Jimbo's, but I haven't seen baguettes. Some stores like Ralphs and Whole Foods sell Bread and Cie delivered from Hillcrest which is pretty good.

                              1. re: royaljester

                                I will give the bakery a shot, saw some decent looking bread at the Poway farmers market this Saturday. It is pretty nice little market, was able to grab a lot of good produce. Added bonus was La Playita (Clairmont) has a booth there serving tacos and cocktails. The shrimp tacos was amazing, as were the cocktails.

                              2. re: cookieshoes

                                cookieshoes: I've never gone to the Ballast Point brewery in Scripps Ranch (right next to the old Scripps-Davis family ranch) but I have been to Ale Smith's brewery right where Maraloni turns into Cabot (kind of the southern edge of Mira Mesa/North end of Miramar) and their beers are excellent. Sadly, Callahan's no longer brews their beer in Mira Mesa since they got bought by the San Diego Brewing Company but they still use the same recipes but brew it at SDBC's brewery in Mission Valley so it is still fresh & local.

                              3. I'll second Honkman's rec for Luck Seafood and El Maguey, and Cookies back road route from Miramar to Kearny Mesa. It's quick and a handy route to know when the freeway is backed up. Unfortunately, I can't share his enthusiasm for Panera.

                                Across the street from Panera tho' is an Albertson's that is amazingly well stocked. You can find just about anything you want in there. Yeah, it's a chain, but it's about the best Albertson's I've been in in San Diego and W-A-Y better than the one closest to my house. I'm sure they'll have multiple options for sherry vinegar.

                                Across the street is the In-n-Out if you need that fix.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                  Thanks for all the good tips, have not been over to the little India area since the move, but it will be a regular stop. Thanks for the Albertsons tip, I pretty much wrote off the chain because the one in PB is limited in stock. I've been to Ume No Ya a few times, good Udon. El Maguey and Harvest Taco are both new for me and I will give them a shot. Is there an equivalent of Great News up this way? Looking forward to checking out NPP and the butcher as well.

                                2. I grew up in Mira Mesa. Since you are right on Cristobal and Camino Ruiz, you must be within spitting distance of Mexican Fiesta (right next to the 7-Eleven and NY Giant Pizza). Try their carne asada. It's different than most, and one usually loves or hates it. There is a market nearby it too I believe.

                                  I still eat my pho at Hoa Cali (Now it's called Cow Cali or something). My parents like Lucky (we're vietnamese). I used to like their pho when they were still at 79 before it shut down and moved to Lucky. Right down the way from Lucky is a noodle shop. Tan Ky My Gia, give their noodles a shot. Egg (mi - pronounced me) or Flat white (hu tieu - who theo). When you want homestyle vietnamese food across the street try Pho Bolsa. Their chicken pho is great, not just regular pho with chicken in it. My family goes there when we want to eat together, but are too lazy to cook (our favorite restaurants are Bolsa because its close, and Pasteur down in Kearny Mesa).

                                  30 Replies
                                  1. re: deeznuts

                                    I also second Pho Cow Cali in addition to the OP's Pho Lucky for Pho. I tend to give the nod to Pho Cow Cali over Pho Lucky, but I enjoy both and see them as different styles. Pho Cow Cali has a more refined taste and also to boot seems to have no weak spots across their menu, whether it be Pho, Com Tam, Bun, or Bun Bo Hue. Pho Lucky's Pho to me has a more straightforward and rustic taste with a less layered flavor, though I still enjoy it as a change of pace.

                                    I've found Pho Bolsa to be weak all across their menu with the notable exception of their Pho Ga which is nice and as a bonus is served on the bone.

                                    As for Tan Ky My Gia I really enjoy their Mi Gan Bo Kho (beef stew and tendon with egg noodle soup), which I feel is the best along MMB, though I pefer Luong Hai Ky's egg noodle. The beef in their Bo Kho is always moist and tender, and the broth definitely leans more towards being beefy over being tomatoey, a better fit for the Mi. I particularly enjoy the huge and perfectly yielding chunks of Gan in the bowl, almost reminding me of the Pata that gets added to Las Brisas Taqueria's Menudo.

                                    Ume no Ya, though not in Mira Mesa, is a favorite of mine and is discretely treasured by many Japanese who don't mind their very "patient" service. Not a far drive at all from MM.

                                    For Sushi I can't recommend anything along MMB - they're all horrid. Shirahama in Kearny Mesa is your closest bet, but given the 11 mile drive Kaito is only another 6 miles more and worth every extra mile.

                                    You should also consider Opera, a board favorite and just right next to the 805, though I've only checked them out for their espressos. (Horribly bad when I caught them near their opening, but markedly improved, though not earth shattering, during a recent visit.)

                                    Speaking of which if you're a fan of espresso or the traditional espresso-based drinks, I'd highly recommend Zumbar in Sorrento Valley, right next to the south bound I-5 on-ramp. Right now they are doing the best espresso in the county, though there's still some room for improvement.

                                    1. re: cgfan

                                      Great Recs here everyone, thanks again for all the feedback. During breaks between unpacking were were able to have a few good meals. First stop was El Maguey, broad menu with lots of specials, had the 5 taco plate (Lengua and Cabeza). We will be heading back for sure to check out the rest of the menu, the lengua was outstanding. Next was Luc's Bistro just up the road in Poway, cool little spot despite its strip mall location. Started with the mushroom ravioli, housemade pasta with duxelle filling topped with pesto and shave parm. The pasta had nice chew, the filling was well seasoned and the pesto was a good compliment. Entrees were a salmon special and steak pom frites. Really nice sear on the salmon, cooked perfectly, it was served on a bed of vegetables, kind of a deconstructed ratatouille. Steak (Sirloin) was cooked a little past med rare topped with blue cheese and a wine reduction, served with frites (really good). Had a nice bottle of Bordeaux for under $40 (Chateau Piede or something like that), If I remember correctly nothing on the list was over $40. Bill came in around $80 for a nice dinner, really good value. Service was great, but the place was empty on a Saturday night at 8:30. Going to try the Carne Nutz mentioned, as well as the beef mi. I've had the roasted duck mi at Tan My Gai and liked it a lot. Guess I'm going to have to do with out a neighborhood sushi joint, but most people do. We have Zumbar delivered to the office and it's right down the street, it is excellent. Also looking forward to Pho Ga, I'm always a #1 bowl guy, and by always I mean like 10 years have not ordered any Pho besides #1.

                                      1. re: stevuchan

                                        You know, it's not on Mira Mesa Blvd. but Chez Nous is one exit down on Carroll Canyon in the Carl's Jr. shopping center. It's a great little lunch spot.

                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                          Completly forgot about that little center, IIRC there was also a good hawaiian BBQ/plate lunch spot around there as well. Check out Albertson's, no luck on the sherry vinegar, but a real nice store none the less. Just an observation, but that is the least busy In and Out I have ever seen.

                                          1. re: stevuchan

                                            "Just an observation, but that is the least busy In and Out I have ever seen."

                                            Which is what makes it a little gem. You can get in and out of there reasonably quickly and not have to wait forever in a long line of fume producing cars :-). Even at the height of the lunch rush it's never swamped like many others.

                                            I think one of the reasons it's not as busy as other In and Out stores is because it's not super visible from the street. There is so much going on at that intersection between the traffic lights, cars, pedestrians, sign twirlers, and businesses that In and Out gets lost. Also, if you drive by that intersection much watch the gas prices at the Shell station, they're high now, but they're usually pretty competitive.

                                            1. re: stevuchan

                                              "but that is the least busy In and Out I have ever seen" - Don't go there on Friday or Saturday nights or you have to wait for 30-45 minutes.

                                              1. re: honkman

                                                I grew up there so that's the one I frequent the most but it's certainly busy enough for me hah. I'd hate to imagine how bad the others are. Of course I don't eat until 2pm so I avoid most rushes.

                                                Ya have to try the chicken pho. It's divine. At bolsa there are a few things we like, usually ordering home/family style and sharing. Not the greatest in San Diego but for Mira Mesa its the only choice and pretty decent (usually canh chua ca and ca kho to as the base, then build out from there). Although my girlfriend now doesn't like Fish as prepared viet style (and yes she is traditionally Viet otherwise lol) so its canh chua tom with shrimp instead. Funny enough I'm not a huge shrimp fan

                                              2. re: stevuchan

                                                The Hawaiian place (was Da Kitchen, then Mo's) stevuchan is referring to above is no longer there.
                                                Kirk has a couple reports on the chef's new place over more by Mesa College.

                                                The closest, best Hawaiian plate lunch place to Mira Mesa is now a bit further south on the 15, east on the 52 and take the Santo Road exit. It's called Island Style Cafe.

                                                1. re: The Office Goat

                                                  Thanks OG, just read Kirk's update on Mo. I'll give Island Style a try next time I make a dump run. Just saw a new island style place while driving through UTC in the Renisance Center, Surf Brothers or something like that. Right next to Rubio's. Was driving by a bit too fast to gather further info.

                                                  1. re: stevuchan

                                                    SurfBrothers is a small local chain of Teriyaki chicken/beef restaurants. Nothing outstanding but also not horrible. But you get much better food in this shopping mall at Wired (good breakfast, lunch, but dinner is below average) and Barolo (Northern Italian, one of the better Italian in San Diego).

                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                      Big fan of Wired (Croque Madame), Barolo, and also the $15 hot dog lunch at Chicago on a Bun.

                                                      1. re: stevuchan

                                                        Haha.. I hear you about the $15 hot dog lunch. The hot dog and homemade chips are really good but is it definitely on the pricey side considering what it is. I guess they have to be able to afford rent in UTC but still.

                                                        What's even more surprising is that Viva Chicago or whatever its called on Miramar is similarly priced for the same kind of stuff. Are chicago dog places just expensive or what?

                                                        1. re: mliew

                                                          Viva Chicago on Miramar was always about $3/less than COB for a standard fries/chili-dog/coke (~$8). But unfortunately, it has been replaced by a Teriyaki place... :-(

                                                  2. re: The Office Goat

                                                    How does Island Style Cafe compare to Da Kine's at Liberty Station?

                                                    1. re: daantaat

                                                      I've never been to the LS DK (only the old PB and MM ones), but I like Island Style a bit better than my recollection of the best of the old Da Kines (when the PB one was firing on all cylinders).

                                                      Island Style is a very mellow, family-run place. Very impressive, though, in its own way: even their home-made salad dressings impressed me, and I'm not a big salad person. I like their mac salad better than DK's, too.

                                                2. re: DiningDiva

                                                  Chez Nous is amazing. Their roast beef sandwich is really flavorful and the right amount of horseradish, as I recall (that's my personal taste, though). The lamb sandwich is also good, and fairly unique. The spicy chicken sandwich is not exactly a culinary masterpiece, but you can't mess with good flavor. It's almost like sriracha, mayo and melted cheese with chopped up chicken.

                                                  Tan Ky Mi Gia is a winner for soupy noodles too, I have to agree with that rec.

                                                  Also in that plaza is Bale French Bakery, I think that's the actual title.. just look for Bale. They serve arguably the best banh mi in SD. At $2.95 to $3.50 it's not the cheapest banh mi around, but it's worth the price.

                                                  1. re: RTee

                                                    Although I no longer remember exactly how Bale's Banh Mi was, I do remember not being thrilled by it. My first bet for Banh Mi in the area goes to Sorrento European Bakery. Lucky Seafood's deli also puts together a Banh Mi that I do once in a while that's alright and a bargain, but SEB is my fave for the area.

                                                    1. re: RTee

                                                      I am not sure if I would call the banh mi at Bale the best in SD but for us it is the best in the MM area. Sorrento European Bakery has good bread but the other components of the banh mi are lacking. (But I like the bakery for their European style cakes etc. The owner lived and worked for many years in Sweden and other parts of Europe.)

                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                        Just curious, but when you say the other components are lacking, are you referring to the quality of their ingredients or merely the quantity?

                                                        (Personally I like SEB's Banh Mi because of the fine balance they achieve between the filling and the bread. The protein items are perfectly seasoned and due to SEB's characteristic restraint, (these are very light Banh Mis), the protein doesn't overwhelm the delicate nature of their bread.

                                                        It's nice, light and balanced, with clean distinct tastes where you can taste every single component, something I personally look for in a good Banh Mi. When I come across a Banh Mi stuffed with too much of the main protein item, that's when I start taking points off.)

                                                        1. re: cgfan

                                                          The quantity is fine but for me it is the quality. I have from time to time the Number 5 (Dac Biet) but I wish they were using pate instead of mayo . I also found the ham not really good (hard to say what was missing but it tasted somehow watery.). A little bit more cilantro would also help the balance of the banh mi. I think the bread from SEB with the different meats from Bale would make a great banh mi.

                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                            Perhaps. I'm not familiar with Vietnamese ham, as I've never ordered it in any form. My reference is always a Banh Mi Thit Nuong, and theirs just strikes an incredible balance. Mmmmmm...

                                                            With respect to the Dac Biet, I can't imagine that the pate and mayo are interchangeable; one's a protein item, the other a condiment. Could you please clarify? I may have misunderstood what you were trying to say....

                                                            1. re: cgfan

                                                              I am used to have pate on a dac biet but SEB only has mayo on their dac biet but no pate.

                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                Are you sure the dac biet at SEB doesn't have pate on it? I could have sworn seeing pate listed as one of the ingredients on the menu.

                                                      2. re: RTee

                                                        Bale next to Tan Ky and Lucky? My uncle and aunt opened that shop. Funny enough. They were horrible business owners and so someone took it over, but they started that sandwich (and che/dessert) place a few years ago. My other aunt worked for them, complained about how poorly ran they were. Now she works at Lucky with my other aunt and uncle. Lol.

                                                        I'm not a big fan of banh mi at all, even though I grew up eating it, so I can't give a good opinion. My girlfriend's good friend's family owns K Sandwiches in Kearny (pssttt, my GF doesn't even eat there). Her mom just gets banh mi from Orange County (usually Lee's) and meats from specific places around Westminster/Little Saigon and make their own at home all the time.

                                                        Anyone at at the Chinese place inside the Mira Mesa mall? 25 years I've never eaten there. Mandarin Garden its called. Judging from Yelp reviews they've changed owners and it isn't so great.

                                                        EDIT: Just spoke to my girlfriend, and apparently the owner of SEB is also her friend. She's sent me pictures of her cakes before, but I never made the connection. Small world.

                                                        1. re: deeznuts

                                                          I've been to Mandarin Garden for lunch on a couple of occasions, and their Niu Rou Mian (beef and noodle soup) and various other soup dishes aren't bad, if sometimes a bit salty (MSG?). That was before the ownership change though.

                                                          I spoke to one of the waitresses there (in Chinese, otherwise she probably wouldn't have said anything) and she said the new owners were Filipino. She seemed enthused about the development, to say the least. To say she was unhappy or even almost disgusted would not be an inaccurate portrayal.

                                                        2. re: RTee

                                                          Is Bale in Mira Mesa affiliated with BaLe near Sab-E-Lee in Linda Vista?

                                                        3. re: DiningDiva

                                                          Hmm I've never heard such raving reviews of Sorrento European Bakery before. I suppose I need to finally give it a try...

                                                          1. re: RTee

                                                            Definitely give it a try... it's a great little bakery and the owner's a good guy. Their cakes are quite good, along with the little boxes of cookies, meringues, etc. Also, the pate choux in the little heated cabinet next to the register are pretty decent. They're puff-pastry filled with a pepper/onion/pork meatball. I know, "pate choux" is the name of a dough, but that's the only name I've ever known for this pastry.

                                                            1. re: geekyfoodie

                                                              I thought it was pate chaud?
                                                              I've had Sorrento European's screwpine (pandanus) cake as my birthday cake a couple years. Very tasty.

                                                              1. re: The Office Goat

                                                                Oh man... do I need French lessons. Yes, I mean "pate chaud". Thanks!

                                                                Their take on the strawberry bagatelle (yellow chiffon cake, fresh strawberries, whipped cream) is also really nice. A thin layer of strawberry jam and another layer of custard give the cake a nice twist.

                                                  2. Recently had dinner at China Chef which someone recommended early. I really enjoyed the boiled fish in hot sauce. Wasn't has hot as Ba Ren's version that I've tried, but I liked it. I also tried the cumin lamb. I had ordered this to go on a prior visit and wasn't too thrilled with it. I thought I'd give it a go while dining at the restaurant. I still didn't really care for it too much. Perhaps its the way the dish is supposed to be prepared, I don't know, but I thought the cumin flavor was a bit mild. I've only had cumin lamb here so I have nothing to compare it to. I went in imagining an intense cumin flavor and while cumin was there, it wasn't as strong as I was expecting which left me disappointed. Anyhow, seems like there are a lot of other things at China Chef and will definitely be back.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: daimyo

                                                      Thanks to all for the Bolsa recommendations, we stopped in last night for dinner. Started off the meal with some Cha Gio, which were very good and an excellent Ban Xeo. I'm not a Ban Xeo expert but this was one of the best ones I've ever had, perfectly cooked, crispy with a little tender. Lettuce, mint, and the pickled ginger carrot were all fresh and well prepared. The Nuoc Cham was a little mild, but not overly sweet as are many, complimented the food nicely. The Pho Ga was up next, looked deceptively simple, noodles we spot with good chew and not all clumped on the bottom of the bowl, and the broth was mild yet complex with a really good mouth feel. The service was also great, completely the opposite of the almost curt yet efficient service I'm used to at most Vietnamese joints where they drop the 500+ item menu on your table and stare you down until you order. The two ladies who served us were extremely nice and paced the meal perfectly, appetizers arrived first, cleared and then the entree, refreshing. We asked about the broth, and were given a detailed description of it's preparation involving numerous chickens, once again very friendly and warm. Looking forward to returning.

                                                      1. re: stevuchan

                                                        Great to hear you had a good experience. Makes me want to go back right now for some chicken pho. Nice alternative to the beef pho all the time. What kind of chcken did they give you? Depending on if you even want it, if you ask for ga "chut" (that's a phonetic spelling of course) you'll get better pieces instead of the torn chicken pieces. But they change their approach often so I'm not sure if that's needed anymore.

                                                        1. re: deeznuts

                                                          Pho LaJolla has Pho with chicken breast and I have been longing to try it instead of the Rib eye. It is the only place that I have gone to, that serves it like that.
                                                          Has anyone been tried it there?