Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe in Paseo Colorado

After a some-what quick run-through at a bridal show last month held at the Pasadena Convention Center, my sister and I were famished and in need of something refreshing to wash down the sweets we sampled at the show.

As we walked back to our parking in the Paseo Colorado structure, we spotted Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe off of Green Street and decided to check it out.

The menu looked pretty expansive with salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups, paninis, smoothies and more. I opted for the Spicy Chicken Tender wrap while my sister went with the Peach Paradise smoothie.

The wrap has bacon, spicy chicken tender pieces, provolone cheese, romaine lettuce, sprouts, salsa and ranch dressing wrapped in a jalapeno-cheddar tortilla. It came with tri-colored tortilla chips and salsa.

 

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All the flavors blended well with each bite. The refreshing crunch of the romaine and alfalfa sprouts with the spicy and warmth of the chicken, saltiness of the bacon cooled with the ranch dressing. It was a very tasty and satisfying wrap, and although it seemed healthy, this 10 ounce wrap comes with 799 calories. Definitely more than I thought or planned.

The Peach Paradise smoothie also refreshing and tasty and although it said it had peaches and honey, I don’t believe I tasted real peaches in it, but still pretty tasty and not too sweet.

Camille’s also has some breakfast selections and offers catering and lunch boxes to-go. Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe has various locations throughout California.

The Pasadena location is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. It is located at 285 E. Green St., 626-440-1212.

Dining on a budget: Los Gueros in Monrovia

By Lafayette C. Hight Jr.

The best way for a restaurant to develop a following is to wow you within the first few minutes of sitting down at your table.

I had such an experience at Los Gueros last week after happening upon them while strolling down Myrtle Avenue with a rumbling stomach.

I’ve actually known about the restaurant for years, however. They were located in a large, barn-sized building in Pasadena for such a short while – at least it seemed that way to me – that I didn’t get a chance to visit before they closed. I remember now that I was told of their Monrovia relocation, but it obviously faded from my memory.

So, a few seconds after being seated at one of their outdoor tables, I decided to order guacamole to complement the chips and salsa.

Literally, a few seconds after that, a guacamole cart was wheeled over and a staff member started peeling and mashing avocados, mixing jalapenos, onions, tomato, lime, salt and pepper into a healthy green mixture that doubled as a conversation piece, since everybody walking down the street felt compelled to comment on how delicious it looked. 

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It was so good, in fact, that I completely forgot about the menu, and wasn’t ready to order for a little while. But I eventually decided on carne asada enchiladas.

I wondered if the main course would arrive in the same three-minute window that the guacamole appeared, but it wasn’t quite that lightning fast.

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The best thing about their menu, whether lunch or dinner, is that the most expensive items are about $13. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a bar.

I even tried a banana margarita, to satisfy my curiosity. It was just okay, and I wasn’t too crazy about it. But I think it’s because I generally think the only time bananas should be liquefied is when they are put into a smoothie.

I quizzed my server about the name, Los Gueros, which to those of us who speak Spanish, might seem an odd name. According to him, however, the Frenchman who started the business earned the moniker `Guero,’ which then led to the restaurant’s name.

But back to the food. Whenever I dine at a Mexican food establishment, I judge the meal by the quality of one simple element of the meal. (Interestingly enough, it’s the same for Chinese food.) 

The rice. It’s simple to prepare, but too many times in my dining experiences I end up at places that serve dry, hard rice, and I’ve had to write them off.

I’m happy to say that the beans and rice at Los Gueros were great. And the asada steak was well-seasoned and marinated. I’m looking forward to sampling more of their menu.

And ordering the guacamole again.

Los Gueros, located at 423 S. Myrtle Ave. in Monrovia, are open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday an Saturday  and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information, call (626) 358-0200.

Dining on a budget: Manny’s El Loco in Covina

By Eric Terrazas

As a lifelong enthusiast of Mexican food, I am always on the lookout for eateries that serve good Mexican cuisine.

One place I decided to sample was Manny’s El Loco in Covina, which I had never visited until a recent Friday.

After a quick look at Manny’s menu, I decided to order one of their several combination plates – the two cheese enchiladas plate, which came with rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. The meal cost me $6.75.

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I have tasted enchiladas at many different eateries over the years. Some of the fast food places that serve delicious enchiladas include Super Burrito, Hacienda San Isidro Grill and Los Sanchez, all located in Whittier.

After cleaning up my plate at Manny’s El Loco, I left a happy customer. I would rate Manny’s cheese enchilada meal among my favorites.

The enchiladas had a little spicy taste to them, which posed no problem with me. I also had no trouble finishing my rice, beans, lettuce and tomatoes. The sour cream also added to the enchiladas’ taste.

After finishing my meal, I cooled off my taste buds with a small horchata. It was a nice way to wrap up my lunch.

Other $6.75 combination plates Manny’s offers include quesadillas, two chile rellenos, chicken or beef fajitas, two sopes, steak picado, two beef tacos, and three rolled taquitos. All plates come with rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.

If you don’t want the combination plate, you can order individual burritos or tacos. Several different kinds are available.

Manny’s menu also includes hamburgers, hot dogs and pastrami sandwiches. Being a big fan of burgers, I’m wondering what Manny’s take on the cheeseburger tastes like.

Breakfast choices are also available. Combination plates offered include huevos rancheros, machaca, chorizo and two eggs, two bacon and two sausage.

Now that I have tasted their delicious enchiladas, I definitely plan on returning to Manny’s. I might order one of their burritos, tacos or burgers on my next visit.

Manny’s El Loco is at 845 W. Cypress St. in Covina, and at 437 Glendora Ave. in West Covina. For information, call the Covina location at (626) 339-6025 or the West Covina location at (626) 814-3474.

Dining on a budget: Loli’s in Glendora

By Maritza Velazquez

Finally a dining experience that’s both quick AND fresh.

It’s pretty hard to combine those two words when describing a restaurant, but Loli’s Fresh Mexican Grill has got it all.

The family-owned and family-run eatery opened in 2006, when brother-and-sister duo Caleb and Zoar Cabrera decided to offer their mother’s original recipes to the public.

Mom Dolores Curiel (Loli) oversees quality control, making visits to the restaurant to make sure her son and daughter are serving up the same great dishes she used to cook for her own family.

Loli’s, located in Glendora, offers a menu full of some of the typical Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos, but also adds in some lesser-known creations, with inspiration from the Yucatan Peninsula.

I wanted a little variety during my visit, so I went for combo No. 2, which lets you choose two items like chicken or asada tacos, chicken or beef enchiladas, or a chicken panucho.

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I went for an asada taco and the chicken panucho. It’s a great deal for $7.85, and includes a drink, chips and Mexican rice and choice of black or pinto beans. If your appetite is a little larger, there’s also a three-item combo for just a dollar more.

When the food arrived about five minutes after I ordered at the front counter, I was pleasantly surprised. The peppered asada was flavorful and the panucho was different from the many Mexican dishes I’ve tried in the past.

Actually, I had to ask Zoar Cabrera, who was working the register at the time, what a panucho actually was.

I found it’s made with shredded chicken, lettuce, pickled red onion, avocado and tomato. The cook puts together three small corn tortillas and fills it with pureed black beans. Then, the tortillas and beans are pan sauteed.

But what I loved most about Loli’s was how fresh it was. Even the salsa is homemade. And according to Caleb Cabrera, everything is made fresh in the morning and nothing is made with lard, preservatives or MSG.

There’s even some authentic Mexican breakfasts at Loli’s. They serve huevos rancheros, beef chorizo and eggs and breakfast burritos.

The service here also matches the quality fresh eats. The staff brought over some tortilla chips to munch on before my meal was ready. I saw that many other customers received the same service.

I wouldn’t hesitate to visit Loli’s again. 

Loli’s Fresh Mexican Grill is located in the Lone Hill Center at 1832 E. Route 66 in Glendora. For more information, call (626) 963-9200.

Dining on a budget: Casita Taco in Irwindale

By Claudia Palma

Always looking for something new to try, I decided to give the new Mexican restaurant near our office a chance.

Casita Taco Mexican Grill added to its family with a new location in Irwindale, or Baldwin Park depending on which map you use (It’s on the border of both.) Surrounded by a Vietnamese and a sushi restaurant, it was a welcome sight for those needing fresh-tasting Mexican food.

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The menu consists of typical Mexican fare, such as tacos, burritos, tortas and combination plates, among other items.

I ignored the daily specials of arroz con pollo, or chicken with rice, and three-taco plate tempting me at the entrance window and at the counter. Instead, I went for the taco and enchilada combo plate for $5.99.

The combo consists of one soft taco with your choice of charbroiled steak, chicken, pork or carnitas (braised or roasted pork), one cheese enchilada topped with a mild tomatillo salsa and sour cream (which I forgot to ask to be left out), and rice, beans and a small serving of green salad. 

I added a small serving of guacamole on the side for 79 cents more.

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The carnitas were perfectly tender and so warm and juicy that by the time I got back to the office the tortillas couldn’t hold themselves together anymore. But, like Carl’s Jr. said, “if it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face.”

After taking off as much sour cream as I could, I was able to enjoy the generously filled Monterey Jack cheese enchilada that I topped with guacamole and spicy salsa verde.

The Spanish rice and beans, as well as the chunky guacamole, definitely tasted homemade. I washed everything all down with a non-alcoholic Senorial sangria beverage (I think it’s better than the alcoholic version).

The plate was definitely worth the price since I had plenty left over for a small dinner.

Casita offers something for everyone. For vegetarians and salad lovers, there’s the vegetarian lover’s burrito or tostada and a Caesar salad. 

Casita also offers shrimp and fish tacos, as well as quesadillas, nachos and popular Mexican beverages such as horchata, jamaica or tamarindo.

Catering is available.

Casita Taco in Irwindale is located at 15646 Arrow Hwy., (626) 856-5670. Other locations include Burbank, North Hollywood, Los Angeles and Studio City.

Dining on a budget: Tito’s Market

By Eric Terrazas

One city I visit frequently is El Monte, which features a few of my favorite eateries.

That list of favorites includes Tito’s Market, which serves delicious sandwiches and other good food.

My favorite item on Tito’s menu is the salami sandwich, which comes in two sizes. A small salami sandwich, which I usually order, costs $3.29. For those with bigger appetites, a large costs $6.59.

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Tito’s salami sandwich, which also includes tomato, cheese and mayonnaise, tastes very good. It makes for a delicious lunch.

Other cold sandwiches on Tito’s menu include submarine, ham and cheese, pastrami, capocolla, roast beef and turkey. All cold sandwiches include tomato, mayonnaise and cheese.

For those craving a warmer meal, hot sandwiches are also offered.

Tito’s hot sandwich offerings include breaded steak, meatball, steak fajitas, hamburgers, veal, New York steak and filet mignon.

The hot sandwiches, like their cold counterparts, come in both large and small sizes. Most small hot sandwiches cost $ 3.79, while most large sandwiches cost $7.19.

Tito’s side orders sound good as well. On my next visit, I plan to try their ribs. Both pork and beef ribs are offered for $7.69 a pound.

Other items on the side order menu include chicken wings ($5.49 a pound) and spicy chili cheese peppers ($5.99 a pound). Spicy fries and onion rings both cost $3.99 per pound.

A favorite Mexican food of mine is an empanada, which is a turnover. For $1.19, you can order either a chicken or beef empanada.

In addition to sandwiches, Tito’s also offers several kinds of potato chips, soft drinks and dessert.

Tito’s Market is located at 9814 E. Garvey Ave. in El Monte. For information, call (626) 579-1893.

No more liquor

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Reporter Jennifer McLain has a story about Mariscos Uruapan, a Mexican restaurant in Irwindale that may be using a fake permit to serve liquor.


ABC
issued a liquor license to Mariscos Uruapan in 2003 for the sale of
beer, wine and hard liquor, but a city permit only allows it to sell
beer and wine.

Records used for the 2003 liquor license show that a
planner, Marcos Bereda, authorized the approval. But city officials
said that no planner with that name ever worked for the city.

The city concluded last month that ABC “erroneously” issued
the restaurant, at 16034 Arrow Highway, a license four years ago and
relied on false records to do so.

Although I’ve driven past this restaurant several times, I’ve never eaten there before. Anyone?

Tasty tacos

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Although I’m no expert on tacos or Mexican food, I know what I like. And I like the carnitas tacos from Birrieria y Cenaduria Apatzingan in Baldwin Park.

I’ve had their carne asada, chicken and carnitas tacos, as well as the milanesa torta and cheese quesadilla. All of it is great tasting and inexpensive. I especially like their salsa, which packs a lot of flavor and heat, but isn’t so hot that it burns your taste buds.

The tortillas are hand made and very fresh.

Birrieria y Cenaduria Apatzingan
14901 Ramona Blvd.
Baldwin Park, CA 91706
(626) 813-3797

Boca Del Rio tacos

Dining on a budget:

I have tasted a lot of good Mexican cuisine over the years, whether it be homemade or of the fast-food variety.

Some of the best Mexican food comes from small mom- and-pop eateries. Boca Del Rio, located in Covina, is one such place that serves delicious fare.

Tacos and burritos dominate Boca Del Rio’s menu, which also offers drinks such as an Orange Bang and a horchata.

When I visited Boca Del Rio, I ordered three tacos. After finishing my meal, I came away thinking that I just tasted the best tacos out there.

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My tacos consisted of meat, cheese, cabbage and a red chili sauce that gave my dish the right amount of spicy kick. Carne asada and grated cheese enhanced the taste of the tacos.
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