San Diego's Miramar and Clairemont neighborhoods are probably best known for the military base and ethnic cuisine that can be found in the area. However, this expansive region just 15 minutes north of downtown is also home to some amazing visual art.
Start on the campus of the County of San Diego Operations Center to see some of the best public art in the city. Renowned artist Anne Mudge's nature-inspired wire chandeliers hang in clusters in the main lobby, as does a delicate hanging work by Los Angeles artists Ball-Nogues Studio. Sculptor Christopher Puzio made two additional metal works suspended in the lobbies of the Medical Examiner & Forensic Center. Local artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw created large aluminum loops inspired by planetary orbits that hang from the ceiling and cast shadows throughout the main lobby space. Take an hour or two to walk throughout the campus, and see how this stellar collection of public art has brought excitement and life to a structure many would expect to a utilitarian governmental building. Guests that fall in love with the work of Joyce Cutler-Shaw can make arrangements to visit her studio, which is located nearby.
The Mesa Art Gallery on the campus of San Diego Mesa College is a great place to see work by established and emerging artists. The college's art faculty is top notch so the faculty exhibition is always impressive. Student exhibits are also interesting and diverse, and the gallery mounts additional, carefully curated shows throughout the year.
When it comes to the culinary arts, there seems to be no end to the ethnic food options in this part of town. For fine Indian cuisine, check out Ashoka the Great. That atmosphere at Punjabi Tandoor on Activity Road might feel sparse, but many say this spot offers the best Indian food in town. For affordable, vegetarian Indian food, try Surati Farsan Mart on Black Mountain Road. Quick, traditional Filipino food can be found at Manila Fast Food and Desserts. Each fall, check local calendars for the annual San Diego Night Market, where dozens of local vendors serve up the chance to taste treats from a variety of Asian cultures.
If inspired by all the yummy exotic foods, try shopping at Ranch 99 Market to start experimenting in your home kitchen. Here visitors can buy authentic ingredients for any Asian meal, from the obscure (duck embryo or Indonesian soy sauce) to the slightly more common, like fresh lemongrass and tamarind paste. If you want more of a Korean focus to your food shopping, try H-Mart on Mira Mesa Blvd, and for Filipino ingredients, stop by Seafood City just down the street.
After a day exploring art and eating delicious ethnic food, stick around the neighborhood until nightfall for a good belly laugh. The Comedy Palace delivers lineups that have included comedians as well known as Dana Carvey. If you're feeling extra brave, head over to the Chorus Karaoke Bar on Convoy Street. It's a modest, laid-back spot where guests can secure a private room and sing off-key in front of their closest friends instead of a room full of strangers. There's a full bar with craft beers and the menu includes everything from chicken wings to bulgogi, a Korean beef dish.
The neighborhoods of Miramar and Clairemont may not be as well known as some of San Diego's downtown neighborhoods, but incredible food, shopping, stimulating visual art, and memorable nighttime options make them well worth a visit.
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