We provide a comparative analysis of various routing strategies that affect the end-to-end performance in wireless mesh networks. We first improve well-known link quality metrics and routing algorithms to enhance performance in wireless mesh environments. We then investigate the route optimality, i.e., whether the best end-to-end route with respect to a given link quality metric is established, and its impact on the network performance. Network topologies, number of concurrent flows, and interference types are varied in our evaluation and we find that a non-optimal route is often established because of the routing protocol's misbehavior, inaccurate link metric design, interflow interference, and their interplay. Through extensive simulation analysis, we present insights on how to design wireless link metrics and routing algorithms to enhance the network capacity and provide reliable connectivity. (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier B.V.