I know that most people are really feeling a bit strapped due to the economy. If you're like me, you're always on the look out for fun, inexpensive activities to do, relatively close to home. Got to save on gas after all, right? Well there are some real savings AND benefits to being a resident of Mira Mesa in North County San Diego. We have some of the best restaurants in the county.

Now I know that a lot of you may be scratching your head. Mira Mesa? That's just Asian food right? WRONG! Mira Mesa is a verifiable Mecca of flavors including but not limited to cuisine that come to us from Mexico, Afghanistan, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Ireland, the Philippines, Hawaii, etc. It even has a great variety of American foods in case you're craving a burger and fries, pizza, or steak and potatoes.

If you're looking for some quality Italian food, you should head to Capriccio's Italian Restaurant (Corner of Black Mountain and Mira Mesa Blvd in Oak Tree Plaza next to Mr. Wasabi's). This place is filled with old-world charm and has great food to boot! The staff are always friendly at this place and the food is always fresh. The pasta sauce they make has a sweetness to it that I haven't found elsewhere in San Diego yet. Their manicotti pasta (pasta tubes filled with cheese and spices and topped with sauce and more mozzarella) is to die for, and their pizza has just the right amount of crispiness in the crust and spiciness of sauce to keep this guy coming back again and again!

If you're in the mood for some sushi, you should try Happy Sushi (Mira Mesa Blvd near Rite-Aid)for some traditional good sushi. This place has a bit of a sports-bar feel to it but is still great for families to visit too. When you're in the mood for some Pacific Islander style Sushi you should visit The Bamboo Hut in Black Mountain Village (Corner of Black Mountain Road and Mira Mesa Blvd next to Wings-N-Things). This place also serves fare such as lumpia and spam and eggs (which is this reviewers favorite belt breaking breakfast).

Vietnamese is a tough one. Mira Mesa is filled with great pho' restaurants, and choosing one is near-to-impossible since everyone has their own favorite style or private tastes on the matter. As far as value and flavor go, I think that Pho' Cow Cali (Black Mountain Village- Same as Bamboo Hut Sushi) is the best. I always get the Pho' Tai and a fresh loaf of French Baguette to go with it. They also have great spring rolls. The food is always out fast and fresh, and their veggies are simply amazing. If you're looking for a quality night out with the girlfriend and you're in the mood to have some great food at a great rate, THIS IS THE PLACE.

Thai food is always a great date food. They have such a variety of flavors that it's nearly impossible for someone NOT to find a future favorite. As far as Thai goes in Mira Mesa, I can recommend two places, ironically across the parking lot from one another (Mira Mesa Blvd. in the Bevmo! and Fresh & Easy Mall). The first is if you're in the mood to spend some money at a NICE sit down thai restaurant. It's a chain called Spices that you can find in many areas of San Diego. They have one dish that you get served in a hollowed out pineapple! Anyway, this place is great, but my favorite is just across the parking lot from them, and it is called Amarin Thai Restaurant (located in the food court next to an Indian Food restaurant). This place has great ambiance, great service, interesting music choices (from Nat King Cole to the Asian Spice girls- always a surprise!), and amazing food. I recommend their Pad Thai to anyone going there. Remember, if you don't like it hot, don't make it higher than 2 or 3! I love spice, so I always go for an 8 or above here. Keep in mind, you can alway have them bring you more spice to add to it, but you can't take it out once it's added.

When it comes to Chinese food I get a bit picky. I hate it when the food tastes like it's been sitting out for hours under a heat lamp, because lets face it, many restaurants still practice this culinary faux pas. I've found that The Mandarin Garden (smack dab in the center of Mira Mesa Mall- Mira Mesa Blvd and Camino Ruiz- Next to Vons and across the street from Target) is a great place to get some steamed dumplings. Their dumplings practically burst in your mouth when you bite into them. Just remember to order them on a bed of lettuce (trust me on this one). Their tours are great if you're eating out as a family or in a group because you get a nice variety of foods for relatively little money. I recommend the Chungking Tour if you like Hot and Sour Soup. I also recommend their broccoli and beef and Kung Pao Chicken. My friends often order their General Tzo's Chicken and rave about it. If they are busy their service can get a bit slow, but their food is worth it, and their staff is always friendly and willing to give a recommendation from their menu.

You can get American AND Irish food at Callahan's Pub (Mira Mesa Blvd. in the Target Parking lot next to Soup Plantation). This place is a great place to watch the game, get a beer, or eat out with the family. I recommend the Plowman's Plate off of their Appetizer's Menu if you're feeling extremely peckish. It has sausages, fruit, veggies, cheeses and dips. They also have a fairly unique beer that tastes like blueberries! Strange I know, but try it, and I bet you'll like it.

Many people tend to go to places like Downtown San Diego, Hillcrest, Pacific Beach, and other more "shi-shi" areas to eat, but I feel like they are selling the suburbs of San Diego short. This area boasts great food, great service, and great prices. Many of these restaurants are independently owned 'mom & pop' style shops. They take pride in the quality of the food they make, and the service they provide. I could probably find a quality restaurant of nearly every style of cuisine in Mira Mesa, and tell you all about them, but why don't you get out there, check some more reviews out here on Sandiegoreader.com and take a chance. You might get a taste for it.

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