Credited with inventing the chicken sandwich in 1946, Truett Cathy opened the first Chick-fil-A in 1967, gaining fame with the original chicken sandwich and crispy waffle-cut fries. Breaded by hand, each boneless breast fillet tumbles in special seasonings before 100% refined peanut oil endows a crispiness as golden as the heart of Eugene Levy. Though tender fowl available in sandwich or nugget form fills out the majority of the menu, Chick-fil-A also carries an assortment of breakfast sandwiches, side salads, and desserts.
Pho Ca Dao might fill up fast, but the servers work quickly to keep the crowds moving. Bowls of hot soup brimming with meatballs or seafood arrive within minutes of ordering. And the food is as affordable as it is timely—most of the pho is priced around $4.
The name Annapurna, which means to be filled completely with food in Sanskrit, hints at a sprawling buffet and busy kitchen. Jumbo shrimp and boneless chicken marinated in a spicy yogurt cook inside a traditional Indian clay oven, and bite-sized bits of lamb simmer in a curry infused with Andhra spices and herbs. Chefs simmer milk, crafting it into thick paneer cheese, which pairs with a spiced gravy to fill out the range of vegetarian items. The scents of cardamom, cumin, chili, and pickled mangos fill the air. At the lunch buffet, heated pans hold mounds of rice, creamy sauces, and frozen popsicles that won’t give up information.
As its name implies, Pho Cow Cali Express specializes in beef. Its hearty bowls of pho brim with rare steak, brisket, and flank, though options for shrimp and chicken are hidden amidst all the tripe and tendon. The beverage menu attests to owner Tuyen Nguyen's Vietnamese roots, with drinks made from pennywort juice and preserved plums.
Bamboo Hut’s skilled chefs adroitly meld the flavors of specialties from Japan and Hawaii on its multifarious menu of fresh sushi, bento boxes, and more. Prime incisors with starters such as the shrimp and veggie tempura, which ensconces tempting seafood and greens behind a veneer of golden-brown batter ($6.95, 8 pieces).
Tucked into a strip mall in Mira Mesa and just off the 15 Freeway on Mira Mesa Boulevard, Ba Le French Sandwiches serves up delectable Vietnamese-French fusion sandwiches. This friendly and humble deli provides fresh-made fare for those who crave a taste of Vietnam. Their banh mi sandwiches are a real treat in a city in scarce supply of high-quality authentic options. One of the keys to these subs is the fresh-baked baguettes, always carefully toasted for a delightfully crispy crunch. A variety of ingredients can fill a banh mi, but typically they come with a choice of meat, pickled vegetables and chili peppers. The meat of the sandwiches may vary, from barbacue pork to ham or veggies, but the taste is always delicious. With a very affordable spread, Ba Le French has all the amenities one needs for a lunch on-the-go.