Here’s a gem that we stumbled on by mistake: The Jumping Bean Café, tucked away at 786 Shadowridge Drive in Vista.
Owner-chef Brian Cloud has been in business just a year, with anniversary specials on drinks and Mexican (and fusion) meals served in what has got to be the most colorfully tricked-out eatery in town. The two large dining areas, separated by a full bar, are peppered with paintings, posters and knick-knacks. The latter include a frog that has a motion-activated croak.
Appropriately enough for a restaurant, the whole shebang is tongue-in-cheek with oils of fat ladies dancing and cartoons festooning the tabletops. The whole feeling is that nobody could be serious in a place like this.
Chef Cloud develops daily specials, displayed at the entrance. The Monday we were there, we bit. The seafood crepes and skewered honey ancho shrimp looked and smelled so good we threw caution to the wind and exceeded our budget of $10 for two. By a lot. We decided the place was so extravagant, we could be, too.
But sober reflection showed there were many possible economy meals including a taco salad for $6.95 or a beef or chicken tostada with rice and beans for $5.95. For an additionally modest $6.95 came a roasted corn and shrimp chowder with a red pepper aioli. The chips and salsa, served to all, were homemade and absolutely outstanding. We split the meals with each of us filling up wonderfully. The shrimp came with a tiny corn cake, which was as good as it was unusual.
Our waitress, Carley (no, she was not named for Carly Simon) said Brian was the most talented and imaginative chef she had ever met. Of course, she had an axe to grind. She knew we were writing a review.
Other house specialties bore out her assessment. Tequila shrimp, sautéed in a creamy agave sauce, shrimp mojo de ajo, marinated in fresh garlic and olive oil, and sautéed in white wine and herbs, and grilled mango curry mahi mahi, all for $13.95 or so. And a shredded chicken enchiladas mole poblano for $11.95. This is not your neighborhood Mexican restaurant. We looked forward to the day when we could splurge again.
Happily, we can go anytime. Jumping Bean is open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The café is at the end of a strip mall at the corner of Shadowridge Drive and Sycamore with plenty of parking and an easy entry from the street for the handicapped.
Best of all, the place is loads of fun.
Visit www.jumpingbeancafe.com for more information.
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