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.