Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pescaderia Mr. Fish -- 3109 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $23.49 for 2. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars

I hope that everyone had a happy holiday season as we finalize 2016 I'm in the home stretch for Eating Garey Avenue. After ham, roast beef, and all the holiday fixings, it was a great time to take the Lovely Mrs. C out for a nice fish lunch, so we headed to the Grove Center on north Garey just south of Foothill Boulevard. Since this will be my stop for this and the next four weeks (through January), we walked around to familiarize ourselves with it. With the Assadiq Islamic school just to the north, this is a diverse area of the city with hispanics, muslims, and African-Americans all converging and the makeup of the center reflects that. In addition to the 5 restaurants here (3 middle eastern, 2 Latin American) there is also a blend of a smoke shop, barber shop and beauty salon, and a bakery among other businesses.

Today's adventure took us to Pescaderia Mr. Fish. This is a site that we've been going to for over 25 years. Originally, to us, it was the Hamburger House, a standard diner style sit-down restaurant which was average but good for a quick inexpensive meal. It then had at least one other incarnation (Chinese Fast Food?) before becoming Fat Burger. This was exciting as I've eaten at others in the chain and liked it. However it closed a fairly short time after opening. Next it was (wait for it) Fat Burger? Yes, it reopened as Fat Burger and I assume under a different franchisee, but I really couldn't tell the difference. I think I got the opportunity to eat there about twice before it closed once again and was gone. Finally it sprang to life as Mr. Fish which is a fresh seafood market that also cooks the fish that you buy per your instruction (another fish market in town is Pomona Fish Market in downtown, the one with the great neon sign).

Once inside, the place is spacious with about 10 tables for four or more and a high-top counter along the windows. The Fat Burger counter has been replaced with iced fish coolers where the fresh seafood is displayed. You can purchase any fish by the pound to take home and cook, or they will cook if for you either grilling for frying per your pleasure. In addition to fish they also have produce, tortillas, and a selection of sauces and other fish related items, as well as tortillas.

They also have a wide selection of dining options. Some of these are also "by the pound." One that was on special was grilled shrimp dinner for $19.99 per pound and included beans and rice. The counterman told us that it was plenty enough for two. We saw one that someone had  ordered and it really looked good and large enough for two (maybe 3 or 4?). We promised ourselves that in the future we'd try it as a to-go meal for one of those times we didn't want to cook, but didn't want to go out.

They have a selection of seafood tacos from $1.99-$2.59. They include shrimp ($2.59) fish, octopus, asada and carnitas. They have the same options available as Burritos or Tortas ($5.99-$6.99), Tostadas ($3.15-$4.99). The also have fish, shrimp or 7 Mares soups, several ceviches, and oysters.

Dinner plates are available with everything from Fish & Chips to a dozen oysters, shrimp cocktail, seafood appetizer plate, to a seafood salad.

Top is the Lovely Mrs. C's shrimp plate. the shrimp were placed on a piece of foil which overlapped the salad. This kept the shrimp hot and the salad cool. To the right is the remainder of the chips and salsa. Below left is the fish burrito with lime wedges and a green salsa, and to the right is the order of fries (note that this is a HUGE order of fries).

So, now it was decision time. The Lovely Mrs. C decided to try the Shrimp Plate (Camerones al Gusto). She was given the choice of grilled or breaded and fried shrimp. She chose the breaded shrimp, and a bottle of Mexican Coca Cola (they still use cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup used here in the USA).

I decided to try a fish burrito. Again, I was asked if I'd like it grilled or battered and fried. I chose battered because that just sounded to me like what a fish burrito would be. I ordered a fountain diet Coke and a side order of fries.

We were then given a plate of tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa, along with our drinks. The food was prepared to order so it took probably 10-15 minutes during which time we munched on the chips and a very hot salsa. The lovely Mrs. C would do a quick dip with just the very edge of her chip about every third chip and declared that was all she could handle. I, on the other hand, did full scoop dips but it definitely left a fiery impression.

When the food arrived, Mrs. C was pleased that the shrimp were put on a piece of foil which kept them hot but shielded the salad, which they overlapped, and kept it nice and cool. She allowed me to have a taste of the beans which I found to be decent, creamy pintos. She declared the rice to be moist and good. It also came with foil wrapped tortillas. She was especially impressed with the salad, which came with a small side of ranch dressing, saying that the lettuce, cucumber, red onion (which she took out), tomato, and yellow and red pepper, was quite good and refreshing.

My burrito included a couple of pieces of flaky, tender fish along with rice, avocado, cilantro, and tomato. The first half was eaten without any accouterments and I was very pleased with the flavor combinations. As I got to the second half I decided to try it with the green hot sauce provided, but I have to say that it was so hot that it overpowered the other flavors. I then tried it with some of the red salsa from the chips and this was a little better, if you like heat it would probably be a good combination. Finally I took advantage of the lime wedges provided and this brought a nice freshness to both the fish and the avocado which made it even better. My only comment would be that the rice and other items in the burrito made the breading a bit soggy so you didn't get the crunch that I usually like in a fish taco, but I wouldn't let that deter me from ordering it again (although probably grilled). The fries were a very large portion and we only ate about half of them, be warned. They came with seasoned salt which meant that they were a bit salty but with a good flavor. The were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, just as a good frie should be 

A very pleasant after holiday meal and we'll certainly be back.

UP NEXT:  Zuby's Cafe

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Taqueria El Jefe -- 2880 N Garey Ave., Ste C, Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $10.24, including $.75 credit card fee. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars

This place is hidden behind Jiffy Lube on Garey just across the street from Casa Colina at Harrison. In preparing to go there I looked on Yelp and read more 5 star reviews than I've seen on any other restaurant I've visited. Maybe a good sign? But among them were also some 1 and 2 star offerings which questioned the cleanliness and some of the food. Even the good ones were critical of the carne asada.

First off, sorry for the bad photography. Not sure what I did with my phone/camera but nothing turned out very good. The above image was snagged from Yelp as my photo of the outside seemed to have disappeared.

This is a place where you go to the counter of the open kitchen and order. The counter woman was very gracious and patient. The menu has a variety of Mexican dishes including $1 street tacos in all of the different meats (tripas, buche, cabeza, lengua, asada, carnitas, and al pastor), as well as tortas, burritos, and other items. They also have a selection of aguas frescas including horchata.

Also at the entry is a counter with a variety of snack food, candy and bottled sodas. In the corner is a video slot machine (10 cent per play) which promises the chance to win a 72" TV. Not sure that the "for amusement only" designation makes it legal, but I'll leave that up to others to determine.

Inside was clean with 7 tables for dining in, with the walls featuring mural paintings of life in a Mexican village. A TV in the corner was playing cartoon network (a bow to the fact that this is a family owned place?), fortunately, not so loud that it couldn't be "tuned out" as I read a novel on my tablet.

After having read the Yelp reviews and looking over the menu, I decided to try the super nachos. You get a choice of meat in this version and I chose the Al Pastor (pork). I also decided to chance not getting a diet drink and go with the large jamaica (hibiscus) agua fesca for my beverage. I was a little taken aback to see on my receipt that I had been charged 75 cents for using my credit card. As we're quickly becoming a "cashless" society it is jarring to see this kind of charge. Just a minor complaint.

I got the beverage at the counter and they fairly quickly brought my order to the table in a styrofoam take-out container. The nachos were a bed of tortilla chips covered in beans, nacho cheese sauce (from a can?), the al pastor (a decent quantity), shredded white cheese, a generous amount of both cilantro and jalapeno slices. I added some chopped onion from the condiments/salsa bar. There were three salsas, one medium and two marked as spicy (a red one and a green one). I took some of the red spicy which when tasted was quite spicy but ended up not really using it because the dish itself had a fair amount of fire. This is not a dish I would recommend to the Lovely Mrs. C, but I enjoyed it.

This was definitely a "nachos" that you would eat with a fork, not with your hands. Between the runny nacho cheese sauce and the beans which were on the runny side, the tortilla chips quickly became limp and did not hold up. I had to take about three forks full before I even found the tortilla chips.

Not a bad option if you're having your oil changed or visiting someone at Casa Colina.

UP NEXT:  Pescaderia Mr. Fish

As this is Christmas week, I want to wish anyone who is reading this the happiest of holidays. I've got about 8 more places to visit and should be wrapping up in February. I hope that 2017 turns into a good year for everyone and that it continues to be good eating.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Farmer Boys -- 2790 N. Garey Avenue Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $13.48. Health Rating A. Yelp 3.5 stars

Getting closer to the end of the mission of this blog. Only 9 more weeks left. Whew. With the excitement of the Pomona Christmas Parade just past it was time to get something healthy (or at least the opportunity to get something healthy), so this week I headed north to Farmer Boys at the corner of Garey and Bonita.

The location has a well lit, clean and friendly dining room for those who want to eat in, and a lively drive-thru. Farmer Boys is all about fresh food. They have a farm to table philosophy which shows in their food. This is my go-to place when I feel like a salad. Their large Cobb or Southwest Salads are more than enough for a meal and full of nice fresh veggies. The lovely Mrs. C also likes their Chicken Avocado sandwich and I've been known to have a Pastrami (better than Samos, nearly as good as The Hat, but, as always, less than Langers --but closer than downtown LA). They also have a pretty large breakfast menu as well as unique sides like their fried zucchini.

The staff is friendly, but it appeared that on this visit that they were understaffed a little. In past visits they have been very good about checking with us at the table, making sure we had everything we needed and keeping things clean and tidy. During this lunch period they seemed to be limited to someone to bring the food out to the table. I even had to stand at the counter for a few moments while the person at the drive thru slipped over to take my order. Even with this, they were friendly, if a little busy.

Being on Parade committee, I had the pleasure (?) of standing in the middle of Garey Avenue at Fourth Street for over three hours in the cold. So, while I was pretty much thawed out by Monday, I thought I'd really like something warming. Not part of their regular menu, but a special seasonal item, they have Sourdough Soup Bowls. A round of fresh baked sourdough bread, scooped out and filled with Cheddar Broccoli, Clam Chowder, or scratch made Chili. I opted for the Chili with a medium beverage (Diet Pepsi in this case) and an order of 4 of their gigantic onion rings.

Now I've always been intrigued by the "bread as a bowl" concept but usually see this type of thing when I'm out with the Lovely Mrs. C who has an aversion to "sopped up bread." She doesn't like the concept of sopping up gravy with bread and even eschews stuffing because of it. But since she wasn't with me on this trip I decided to give it a try.

The chili was excellent. It was a meat only chili (no beans) which reminded me of the Chili on a Tommy's burger. It was topped with grated cheese. The young woman who took my order asked if I wanted onions and they appear on my receipt but I didn't get them. She may have miscommunicated because I also ordered onion rings. Because I could see that they were busy, I didn't press the issue and it was very good without. I wasn't sure about how filling the chili would be so I ordered their onion rings. I actually could have done without, but the rings here are excellent. Hand battered on site and cut very thick so that four is really more than enough for a meal. They come with a ranch dressing dipping sauce as well.

The bread was dense enough that the chili did not penetrate it very much. On the one hand that meant that it didn't make the chili dry, but on the other, once you've eaten the chili there's nothing really special about the bread, and unfortunately, at my stage in life I just can't eat a full round of bread so there was a bit of waste. But I was fully satiated and satisfied regardless.

Again, a very fresh, healthful alternative to most of the other fast food places along Garey. I'm sure that in the spring when the weather gets a little warmer I'll be back for their refreshing salads.

UP NEXT:  Taqueria El Jefe

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

UPDATE!! DeAnda Tacqueria now Vic's Tacos

My Meal Cost: $8.44. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars (Ontario Location)

The past several weeks I've been making the Home Depot run regularly as I've had to replace holiday decorations and extension cords. Over the past couple of weeks I've noticed that De Anda Tacqueria (original post was April 25, 2016) has taken the De Anda off of its signage, so I figured it was time to go back and see what was going on with the venerable Orange County tacqueria chain, called by Gustavo Arellano (Ask A Mexican) one of the best street taco places in the country.

When I turned into the parking lot at about 12:10, there was only one parking space available, and some cars lined up at the drive-thru. 

This is a photo from Yelp which shows the Ontario location. The Pomona location has similar menu boards.
From the outside it appears that only the removal of the signage on the building itself is the only change. The monument sign at ground level still says De Anda and a banner in the window still touts Thursday specials with De Anda on the sign. So what gives?

Once inside, the place was packed and I took my place in line. I did notice there was a new menu board inside at the counter, but couldn't remember if the items were the same or not. The menu appeared to be pretty much the same with the main thing being street tacos with burritos also available. A little different was a combo plate. Futbol was blaring in Spanish from two big screen TVs and the predominant language heard was Spanish from the crowded dining room.

As I was placing my order, I asked what the name of the place was now (I had a bit of trouble making myself understood to the man behind the counter, he motioned for his boss, who answered my question by pointing to an embroidered patch on his shirt). The answer is it is now Vic's Tacos although as you can see from the photo above, they must have taken over with a supply of De Anda drink cups. I did some research online and found that Vic's has three locations, their original one in Whittier (4.5 yelp stars), and one in Ontario (1866 S Euclid Ave, Ontario, CA 91762 -- 4 yelp stars).

I decided to try a combo plate. For my meat I chose Al Pastor. It also comes with beans, rice, and tortillas (I chose corn although you can also have flour). I also got a medium diet Pepsi (not self serve) and picked up some radishes and a lime slice at the counter.

The meal is in a Styrofoam to-go container which isn't divided so the beans tend to run into the meat and rice. I didn't see any salsa or hot sauce although it may have been available (it would be nice to have it at the table). The Al Pastor (barbecued pork) was excellent, well seasoned and slightly crispy. The beans were a little runny, but quite good. The only negative was that the rice was a little dry. Not having a sauce to moisten them I squeezed some lime juice on which improved the dryness, but created a flavor that, while good, was not good for comparing their rice to either De Anda's or another location.

I was concerned with the idea of losing De Anda, but I have to say that if it had to go, Vic's is an excellent replacement. Since this location is right near the DMV maybe you'll want to give it a try the next time you need to renew your registration or license.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Johnny’s Famous Hamburgers -- 2302 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $25.41 for 2. Health Rating A. Yelp 3.5 stars

There are those times when we've been to meetings or out shopping, or doing whatever it is that we've been spending the day doing and we get home and neither of us really wants to cook but we're tired and don't want to slog off to a sit-down restaurant. That's when we start the discussion on what do you want? I dunno, what do you want? I don't care, anything? OK, how about Mexican (probably Lily's)? No it would be too spicy. OK, how about pizza? No it's just a bit too much. Eventually we get to Chinese (our go-to is Cachanilla on Holt/Palomares), and chicken (Donahoo's of course). But if none of those sound good we end up at burgers. Then it's In-N-Out or Johnny's.

Johnny's which is a little closer is where we often end up. Our usual orders are either patty melt or pastrami for me, and Johnny burger (burger, cheese, bacon, and avocado) for the Lovely Mrs. C. She really likes the onion rings and I opt for the fries and we end up sharing. Because this is a to go order, it's usually Placed at the drive thru window.

For this post, the Lovely Mrs. C and I decided to actually go inside and enjoy our meal in the dining room. On our arrival at about 11:45 am, the place was completely full and there was only seating at the counter. However, leaving Mrs. C to peruse the menu, while I ordered she was able to secure a booth before ordering was finished. This is a normal fast food type dining room with 8 booths and seating at a counter. The room is open and airy with windows surrounding three sides and the order counter on the fourth.

We both decided that it was time that we ordered something that we had not tried here before. I can already vouch for the pastrami (not quite to The Hat standards and well below Langers--OK, all other pastrami is below Langers) but very good, and I'm a fan of their patty melt. I'm not a fan of a lot of bread so the patty melt which is more of a grilled cheese with burger and grilled (very well caramelized) onions.

Mrs. C decided to try the steak sandwich as a combo with self-serve soft drink and (one of her favorites) onion rings. I opted for the Polish Sausage sandwich as a combo with drink and fries. The food was brought to our table with little delay. The server and the counter person were friendly and very pleasant.

The lovely Mrs. C. stated that the steak was tender and had good flavor. Probably her only complaint would have been that there was too much lettuce. The onion rings at Johnny's are always good with thick slices of onion in a good crispy batter. This is not one of those fried from frozen things that you often see, nor was it an overly puffy breading, but good light crisp batter. Not quite tempura, but a cousin.

My sausage sandwich also had a lot of lettuce, but I didn't mind it. The sausage was grilled and cut in half and came on a soft roll with lettuce, tomato, and a very light smear of mayo. It was quite good with great snap when you bit into it (pretty good since it was sliced, which usually makes the skin not snap). My only complaint was that it was a little bland and needed mustard (which they were happy to give me on request). The fries are thick and were crispy on the outside and had a nice creaminess on the inside. I'm not a ketchup person so I only added a little salt to enjoy them.

As we sat dining, we noticed that there was a continuous line of cars at the drive-thru. A good sign that business is booming at Johnny's.

UP NEXT:  Farmer Boys

ADDED NOTE: Next door to Johnny's on Arrow Highway is THE BRICK. While not on Garey, so not part of this blog, I have to report that if you're looking for something a little different in the way of a lunch sandwich I can recommend The Brick. It's one of those places that is part store and part deli counter with tables for dining. The roast pork and the chicken Shawarma are especially good as are their salads.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pizza Hut / WingStreet -- 2301 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $5.71 Health Rating A. Yelp 2.5 stars

It's the week after Thanksgiving. The extended family was at our house for Turkey dinner with all of the trimmings, which means we've been eating turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, yams, jello salad, etc. for days now. So I was somewhat looking forward to pizza as an alternative.

Note that the location has a sign that says that it's a Pizza Hut and WingStreet. The location is in a building that is large enough to have a decent small seating area, but it doesn't have one. The public entryway/order area is crammed into a very small area on the north side of the building.

Inside is spartan with a counter, some signage, a pepsi cooler and a bench. Note the WingStreet tile and the nicely lit WingStreet sign.

So I had decided that I'd order the same thing I've ordered at all of the pizza places I've visited on this odyssey. The usual is the smallest pizza (in this case personal pan--just like the one on south Garey) with mushrooms and sausage. I also have been ordering the smallest order of wings to compare. Since These places have not have seating and sodas were by the can or bottle, I've opted to take the meal home and drink my own Cherry Coke Zero.

The problem here is that when I asked about wings (not seeing anything on the menu or the menu boards) I was informed that they're "temporarily" not doing wings. Huh????? All of the pizza places have had wings, including those who don't have wings on their signage (Papa Johns, Pirate Pizza, Dominos, etc.). So I ended up with only a personal pan pizza, which I took home.

Obviously, Pizza Hut is catering to the delivery market and doesn't really care about drop-in traffic. No one is at the counter and you have to ring a door bell to get someone to come to the front, which takes a little time, but that was time to look at their menu, so . . .

The pizza took 12 minutes to prepare and was presented with the box open for my inspection. It looked OK and after 12 minutes of sitting on a bench I was anxious take it and leave. There was no offer of pepper flakes or Parmesan cheese, which I didn't think to ask for, so I got home and had to scrounge some up from another pizza previously ordered.

As with the Pizza Hut on south Garey, this one was a bit doughy but had good flavors and more than adequate toppings. I don't think this will move me away from the places I prefer, so I doubt I'll ever be back.

Oh, and if you're looking for something sweet to go with your Pizza, Daily Donuts is just next door.

UP NEXT:  Johnny’s Famous Hamburgers

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kentucky Fried Chicken -- 2294 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $8.37 Health Rating A. Yelp 1.5 stars

It's Thansgiving week so it's definitely a fowl week that I have KFC as next up. The lovely Mrs. C is definitely not a KFC fan, much preferring Donahoos fried chicken (and I echo her feelings on this one). However, I rather like KFC for those times when I'm at a meeting or pot luck and someone brings it, especially original recipe.

This one, at the corner of Garey and Arrow Highway is one of the ubiquitous versions I've seen all over the world (London, Shanghai, Paris, Montreal, etc.). Nothing stands out. It's "regular." A clean and fairly nice place with a decent sized dining room, but no character.

It seems that the 1.5 stars on Yelp is mainly for a perception of bad service, I can't say that was my experience. The service was efficient, but not terribly friendly. A little too much "chatter" behind the counter, but nothing obnoxious.

In addition to the dining room, this location has a drive-thru which seems to be very popular.

Since it was a cool, wet day (the rains were threatening but the pavement outside was starting to dry out after the previous evening's deluge) it seemed like a good day for something warming and comforting. I looked at the chicken pot pie, but decided instead on the Colonel's Famous Bowl (combo #8). The young woman behind the counter asked if I wanted biscuits as they didn't come with the combo. I figured, what he heck, and got the 2 biscuits for $1.69. 

The meal was ready by the time I finished pouring my Diet Pepsi. It included the bowl which was a bed of mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, and fried chicken pieces topped with shredded cheese. It also included the drink and a chocolate chip cookie. The biscuits came in a little bag on the side. However, they gave me two packets of honey but no butter/margarine, I don't use honey but would have used the spread (sigh). However, the biscuits are always good and these didn't disappoint, even without butter.

The bowl was a bit salty and the chicken was not real fresh. This definitely quenched my "potato craving" and filled me up, but afterward there was no satisfied feeling like you get after a good meal. The cookie was good, but not unlike something you might have gotten at the grocery store. For what it was, it was OK, but, as with most things at this location, nothing special.

UP NEXT:  Pizza Hut / WingStreet

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pancakes R Us -- 2282 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $28.41 for 2 plus tip. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day. For myself, I rarely eat breakfast at home but on occasion I do like to go out around 10 am, after I've gotten fully awake and had a cup of coffee, to have a special breakfast. Some of  my favorite places to go include the Twisted Sage in San Dimas where you can get a great Rosemary biscuit and sausage gravy, or Norms Hanger at Brackett Field where you can watch the planes and enjoy a good old fashioned diner breakfast, or BC Cafe (originally in Pomona but now in Claremont) where the breakfast is excellent and the portions gargantuan, with the same for Flappy Jacks in Glendora. I was pleased when Mr. D's opened on Foothill as they also have a very good, hearty breakfast.

Pancakes R Us opened on Garey a few years ago replacing a failing Sizzler which had been there for decades. A group that I belong to had their lunchtime meetings there for a few months and I was singularly unimpressed with the lunch options so I really didn't consider it for breakfast, a mistake that I will now rectify.

The space has been little modified since it was a Sizzler with the exception that the salad bar has been removed and tables installed. The space is comfortable and the service was pleasant. This is a place where you pay at the cashier on the way out. I've never really understood that. What, don't they trust the wait staff to be able to handle money?

First, one of the keys to a good breakfast is a decent cup of coffee. Norms Hanger for example doesn't have good coffee which sets the wrong tone--but the airplanes (and once even a blimp taking off) make up in ambiance. Pancakes R Us has a good cup of joe. The coffee is not Starbucks, but is a step ahead of most "diner" coffee. It's served in a carafe left at your table (ala IHOP) so you don't have to worry about flagging down the waitress for a refill.

For my meal I ordered the corned beef hash breakfast with two slices of bacon, two sausage links, 2 eggs, 2 pancakes, and hashbrowns. I didn't have to worry about lunch as this kept me full until dinner.

The hash was excellent with a lot of onion and peppers (if you like a lot of onion and peppers). The sausage was mild, the eggs cooked just as I like them (over easy) and the bacon was just the right amount of crispy. The hash browns were exceptional, crispy on the outside and tender inside. While, had I thought of it I probably would have opted out of the pancakes (I actually prefer toast and can't take all the sugar of the syrup), I forgot and I was very pleased with what I ended up with. The buttermilk pancakes were light and fluffy and took in the butter and syrup, but were not dry so didn't need as much of a dousing as I worry about.

The lovely Mrs. C accompanied me on this outing and she ordered the French Toast breakfast which came with two eggs and 2 sausage links. She likes her eggs "over dead," (she hates runny eggs) which she explained to the waitress who was able to translate the message to the cooks and got it "perfect." The French Toast was thick and well made with lots of butter and a dusting of powered sugar.

While I don't think this will become my "must go" place, it will certainly be in consideration for our next breakfast outing.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Juan Pollo #44 -- 2233 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $7.62. Health Rating A. Yelp 3 stars

Here it is the day before the elections and this week I visited another Juan Pollo in the shopping center at the south-west corner of Garey and Arrow Hwy. This center is anchored by a Dollar General Market and LA County offices, as well as a dry cleaner and a gift shop.

My visit coincided with some spucing up of the center so I had to work my way around the painters and ladders.

This location doesn't have the charm of the historic building downtown (see my post on that site here). AND, it doesn't have the rotisseries with the spinning chickens in the window, but tucked back behind the counter area where they're not really visible. So there was not the anticipation of seeing the chicken dripping its juices and in the various stages of cooking.

However, the dining room is quite large and uncrowded (they could easily fit three more tables in here and you still wouldn't feel cramped. The space was clean and had murals at the one end which made it a quite comfortable place to sit and enjoy a lunch or dinner. The lunch crowd was steady with both dine-in and take out patrons.

I'm afraid that I didn't check the blog post from my earlier visit to Juan Pollo before venturing out here and so forgot that I had ordered the lunch special. In my pre-election state I just ordered what looked like the best deal so there is not a whole lot new to say about the food. Except: At this location, the very friendly counter worker had my order ready by the time that I sat down at the table. I don't think this was a good thing as it seemed that the meal must have been sitting back there ready when I walked up. I'm not sure how long it had been sitting, but the chicken's skin was a bit greasy and limp instead of the crispy skin that I was hoping for (although the spices made it quite tasty). However, the chicken flesh itself was somewhat dry and needed the help of the salsa. This time I did order the hot salsa and it was quite spicy. Adding it to the rice may have made the fairly dry white rice a bit too spicy. Since I don't mind, it was OK, but for flavoring my rice I would actually have preferred something a little milder. Just a preference. As in my previous post, the potato salad was good. The cold creaminess a nice contrast to the chicken and the rice.

Again, not a bad experience but not a home run. I think I'd vote for it, but not enthusiastically.

UP NEXT:  Pancakes R Us

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sabor Mexicano -- 180 E 6th St. Pomona, CA 91766

My Meal Cost: $12.52 plus tip. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars

Backtracked this week back to downtown Pomona to pick up a spot that I missed. Driving up and down Garey I thought that there was a vacuum cleaner repair on that corner. Turns out, there's just a sign for a vacuum cleaner place and that Sabor Mexicano has actually taken over the entire building (although the restaurant doesn't actually extend back that far--I'm guessing they use it for storage or something). But it does qualify because its side does face onto Garey. AND it was highly recommended by a person with a downtown business and someone who spends a lot of time at the School District just down the street.

In addition, I had read a week ago in the Saturday LA Times restaurant section about Tlayuda, the Oaxacan pizza so was intrigued when I was told that this is the best Oaxacan restaurant around.

While this is what it looks like on Garey, the sixth street side makes it clear that this is a restaurant. The space is small with an unobtrusive door, but plenty of parking.

The interior is nice and clean. This is a sit-down place although they do have a menu board for those who want to order to-go. An unobtrusive television was at one end showing Spanish language programming (I was there for Halloween so got to see a talk show with costumed hosts and guests--I didn't understand a word but it was very interesting non-the-less).

There was a fair lunch crowd for a Monday with tables turning a couple of times while I was there. The waitress was extremely friendly and brought out a bowl of chips and a small bowl of salsa. The salsa was interesting. I usually like a thick salsa with my chips. This one was thin, but did have chunks of onion and tomato (or tomatillo?) and cilantro. Not too hot. I only wish it stuck to the chips better instead of dripping down the front of my shirt. But it was very tasty.

In looking over the extensive menu I wasn't sure what to order, so I asked the waitress what she considered the house specialty. While I was thinking of Tlayuda, her quick response that the chicken mole was probably their best (she did warn me that it was a little sweet) pushed me in that direction. The meal came with a drumstick and thigh of chicken in a dark mole sauce. The sauce was only a little bit sweet with a mild spiciness that snuck up on you. Not too hot, but it was there. I think it was mild enough to please the self described "ginga," the Lovely Mrs. C.

The chicken was very moist and tender and fell away from the bones. Mixed with the mole it was a delightful mouthful. It came with a side of Mexican rice with bits corn and peas, a little dry but very flavorful. In addition there were two very rustic tortillas for sopping up mole sauce or filling with the items. This was not a pressed flat store-bought tortilla but a fairly thick obviously hand made tortilla which was warm and browned. Fairly substantial so that it didn't flop around when you folded it to receive some of the chicken and rice.

Definitely a place I think I'll go back to.

Next week I'll be back up north to make a visit to a second rotisserie chicken location. Should have thought of that before I ordered chicken this week, especially since two weeks after that I'll be at KFC (cluck cluck cluck).

UP NEXT:  Juan Pollo

Monday, October 24, 2016

Taco Bell -- 2204 N Garey Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $10.76. Health Rating A. Yelp 2.5 stars

Taco Bell is an old friend. I remember when the first one I was aware of opened in Glendora, where I lived, in the late '60s  and ALL items on the menu were 15 cents! Tacos, bean burritos (red or green), refried beans and cheese cup, and tostadas. Small menu but at 15 cents each well worth it. So now my trek up Garey Avenue has brought me back once again to a place that is as different as it is familiar.

This is the current look of Taco Bell, but back in my day it looked like this: 

A Mexican with a sombrero sitting on a bell. Almost as racist as when my friends would exclaim: "Notice you never see any cats around taco bell?"

Anyway, if it feels like I'm vamping to avoid getting into the actual review, yup. As with last week it's as hard to write about Taco Bell as it is to write about McDonald's. They're ubiquitous and everyone knows what they are and what they offer.

This location is a bright, clean location with plenty of both indoor and covered outdoor seating. Since all the furniture is bolted to the floor, there's not an opportunity to move back if you're a person of girth, but they seem to have taken that into account.

The staff behind the counter was friendly enough. The one draw back is that they seem to concentrate on the drive-thru and those of us who are inside get to wait an extraordinary amount of time to get our meals. My register receipt said that I ordered at 12:21 and they didn't call me with my order until 12:37. If you're only on a half hour lunch break you might want to skip this place as the fast food isn't very fast. 16 minutes is a long time for them to make my order.

I was feeling a little nostalgic (as you might be able to tell) so ordered something simple from a menu that has expanded to so many items that it takes quite a while to read through them all. Gorditas, soft tacos, Doritos tacos, quesadillas and doubledillas (cute), crunch wraps, rolled tacos, nachos, meximelts, chalupas, grillers, bowls, and lord knows what else. A looonnnggggg way from the original 4-5 menu items all for 15 cents.

My choice was a #1 combo which included a beef burrito supreme, a taco supreme, and a large drink (my only sugar free option was Diet Pepsi, sigh). To this I added one of my favorites, pintos and cheese (the original refried bean cup), as well as a new item that intrigued me, the chicken rolled tacos (2 to an order, with a choice of dipping sauce, I chose nacho cheese).

The pintos and cheese cup has gone down in size since I last ordered it by at least a quarter, and the price is $1.39, way more than that 15 cents I paid in the late '60s. Not sure why it couldn't have been included on their dollar menu which has the original taco and bean burritos. The burrito supreme was well made with plenty of ground beef, cheese, lettuce and sauce. A good filling burrito and what one would expect. The taco supreme was likewise what one would expect with a hard shell, ground meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a bit of sour cream.

The new item for me was the chicken rolled tacos. I'm not quite sure what the difference is between a rolled taco and a taquito, but this one actually was better than any tacquito I've had. Chicken wrapped tightly in a corn tortilla, then deep fried, with the shell (tortilla) having a nice light crispness. If you use the dipping sauce, at least for me, you can't taste the chicken, but it is in there, I could see it.

All in all a normal trip to a fast-food joint that lives up to its roots and reputation.

UP NEXT:  Sabor Mexicano

Next week I double back to a site that a friend told me I missed. It was described to me as the best Oaxacan food they had ever tasted. And since the LA Times last Saturday did a big article on Tyaluda, I knew it was time to do a backtrack and pick up a missed opportunity.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

McDonald's -- 2200 N Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91767

My Meal Cost: $7.40. Health Rating A. Yelp 2 stars

I heard that a scary clown hung out at this place but only saw him on a TV monitor. However, be forwarned. :-)

Kind of hard to get too excited about going to McDonald's. The lovely Mrs. C had foot surgery a couple of weeks ago and we had a post surgery appointment with her surgeon in Baldwin Park. It was difficult to pass by the In-N-Out Corporate location, 5 Guys, and some of the other places where we could have stopped for lunch so that I could "get to McDonald's." Sigh.

This location is a Play Place location which means that it was originally set up mostly as a kid-friendly location. It has been updated since I used to take Number #1 daughter there to crawl in the kiddie hamster trail. That is no longer there and the main dining room has been given a facelift and has a clean/modern look with an etched glass brick water feature and digital menu board.

The main dining area is quite pleasant and there are plenty of seats where you're not faced with a TV showing McDonald's branded content (where I saw that damnable clown). Everything was clean, bright, and shiny. The play area is still there but it doesn't have any "physical" activities with playground style equipment being replaced by educational touch screen monitors and an area with a projector and sound system that I wasn't able to figure out (should have brought a kid).

As a result, the space is a little schizophrenic in that it tries to appeal to the kids and family while also trying to give the McCafe vibe.

The staff behind the counter was friendly and service was actually better than I've had from the drive-thru at this location. I had actually tried, in the past week, one of their new signature sandwich options, the sriracha burger on the artisan roll and was disappointed finding it dry and overcooked (which will always be a problem with a burger from frozen meat which needs to be cooked well done).

Now for this blog, I needed to try SOMETHING that I could write about that wasn't a Big Mac (what can one say about that?).

I opted for the signature crafted Pico Guacamole as a medium combo. 

I opted for the beef (you can get the same sandwich with chicken or beef) on a potato roll (other options are the artisan roll or sesame roll). It came with ranch dressing, a generous amount of guacamole, and a somewhat spicy pico de gallo, as well as lettuce and a slice of indeterminate white cheese (jack? cheddar? ??). The fries were fries, what can one say about Micky D's fries except that they are an addictive guilty pleasure. While this location doesn't have a Coca Cola Freestyle machine, it does have a large assortment of beverages in the fountain and I opted for diet Dr. Pepper (a nice change from Diet Coke or Pepsi).

The burger was actually very good. If the meat was dry, it was counteracted by the three different sauces that adorned it. I don't think this location is as bad as the majority of Yelp reviews make it out to be but, as always be warned, "your mileage may vary."

UP NEXT:  Taco Bell