Restaurant of the Week: Jarritos, Athens, Pho Century

This week’s restaurant? Broadly, it’s the Upland Center, on the southwest corner of Mountain and Foothill (the shopping center with Big Lots and Stater Bros.), which had three previously unsampled restaurants. This week I tried all three of them.

Monday: Jarritos Mexican Restaurant. The interior is large but seating is spaced apart, giving everyone plenty of elbow room. Cheerful and brightly lit, the walls are colorful. Except for one wall near the kitchen, which has a black and white mural of scenes from “Casablanca.” Must’ve been left over from a previous tenant and nobody could bear to paint over it.

The food was above average. I had barbacoa ($7.79), which is tender barbecued beef, with sour cream, rice, beans and tortillas.

I was prepared to rule it the best Mexican food in Upland. To be sure, though, I tried the only (to my knowledge) other Mexican place I haven’t eaten at, Rancho Los Magueyes at 16th and Mountain, on Wednesday. Not bad. So I’ll declare it a tie.

Tuesday: Athens Gyro House. Or, as the sign and its ads put it, Athen’s Gyro House. One hesitates to recommend a place as authentic Greek when it betrays uncertainty how to spell Athens. (I felt the same about the defunct Cajun restaurant in Montclair whose sign put an accent on the final e of Creole. Creo-lay?)

However, I had a very good gyro sandwich ($7.99), and the menu seems to have plenty of Greek specialties, so my recommendation is to ignore the apostrophe issue and dive in. The menu, oddly, also has spaghetti, lasagna and pizza, with gyro meat as one of the options.

If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to see the poster in the window. It features a slightly blurred photo of the owner smiling for the camera while slicing gyro off the spit. The copy reads: “Chef Michael Slicing Gyro Meat Thinly.” It’s a kitsch classic.

Thursday: Pho Century. Upland has a Vietnamese restaurant? Who knew? It was busy at lunch Thursday with Vietnamese, Chinese and us white folks alike. A friend had the seafood pho ($6.25), I had charbroiled pork ($5.95) and we shared shrimp and pork spring rolls ($2.99). The pho was judged to be good but not as good as Pho Ha in Rancho Cucamonga; I liked my entree quite a bit.

Pho Century’s menu has 209 numbered dishes, plus 20 appetizers and 22 beverages. You could become a regular there and never get bored, that’s for sure.

So, that polishes off that corner of the Inland Valley. Next!

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  • meg

    I’m fond of Pho Century. They put allspice in their broth, which gives it a very different flavor than the Pho Ha and Pho Pasteur in Pomona. Not better, not worse, just different. And they’re friendlier at Pho Century.

    But whatever you do, don’t order the pennygrass drink.

    [Understood. — DA]

  • Calzada

    If you were in Upland, you should have stopped in at El Perico on Foothill… Excellent service and food. Fresh guacamole made tableside to pair with yummy Margaritas! A must in Upland!

    [Wow. Never even heard of El Perico! Where is it? — DA]

  • JMac

    David, I believe El Perico relocated up the street on Foothill, west of Grove. Its directly across the street from Esther’s tacos, from your “best of” column of a year ago.

    I’ll agree with Calzada on its merits, but haven’t dined there since it moved from being the Sycamore’s neighbor.

    [Oh, it used to be where California Garden Sushi is. Gotcha. And I know where you mean for the current location, over by Thai Satay BBQ in front of the old Edwards theater. I’ll check it out. — DA]

  • ann

    Have you been to Las Cazuelitas in downtown Upland? That’s our favorite Mexican food place, family run and everything is very fresh.

    [I’ve been there, and it was OK. — DA]