Monday I ate at two new-to-me restaurants, Richie’s Diner for lunch, Harry’s Pacific Grill for dinner, both at Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga.
I’m familiar with the Richie’s in Victorville, an occasional lunch stop when I lived and worked there in the mid-1990s. That one, if memory serves, had a virtually all-white interior and was fairly utilitarian. The food was OK but nothing exciting. The VG one is more a modern take on a diner, outfitted in browns and gray, with comfortable booths and classier touches. It’s a little disconcerting to see a wall niche with bottles of wine not far from a lineup of classic bottled sodas and emblems of old-school gas station pumps, but it mostly works.
I ordered the California tuna melt ($8.95) on sourdough with slaw as my side and a Pepsi with vanilla flavoring ($2.19), which came in a metal cup. A tuna melt is my baseline sandwich. This one really was a melt — sometimes the cheese isn’t melted at all — and was one of the better examples I’ve had. It came with avocado, probably a treat for most people, but to be honest, I’ve never really liked avocado. The slaw was good too.
All in all, Richie’s beat expectations.
Dinner that night was at Harry’s. I’ve been to Honolulu Harry’s, owned by the same chain, but this is virtually nothing like that. It’s a more upscale experience, without the tropical gimmickry (which is fun, by the way).
I had the Paniolo skirt steak ($17), which was said to have been marinated 24 hours, with fries; my friend had the Asian Pacific Pescado ($16), which came with baby broccoli, kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes and white wine reduction.
What was Asian or Mexican about the fish’s preparation wasn’t clear, but it was flavorful and served on a bed of scalloped potatoes. My steak was tender and juicy. Even my fries were good. Harry’s atmosphere hit that sweet spot where you feel you’re in a nice place but it’s not so stiff that you’re intimidated.
So, two meals, two winners. If only all days were like this.