Restaurant of the Week: Wapango

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This week’s restaurant: Wapango, 7881 Monet Ave., Rancho Cucamonga.

Wapango, an upscale, pan-Latin restaurant in Victoria Gardens, had a low-key opening July 7 before a grand opening this month as they work out the kinks.

A friend and I had dinner there Monday. Wapango is a Texas-based chain and this is its second California location, next door to Gyu-Kaku and near Fleming’s. The ceiling is industrial-looking, the floor is bare concrete and the hanging fixtures, booths and walls are colorful and stylish. Very modern interior.

We were seated in a crescent-shaped booth with a screen behind it, orange plastic and brown wood in vertical slats. Kinda cool. Service was good because our waiter confided we were his only table.

The menu features various Mexican, Cuban and South American dishes in new combinations. I’d compare it to Border Grill in Santa Monica; it’s not to that level but the comparison may be helpful.

My friend had spinach and black bean enchiladas with rice and slaw ($14) and I had the Wapango tropical salad ($16). There’s a full bar as well. She had a Cazadores margarita ($11), which was too sweet; the waiter volunteered to exchange it for a Patron ($12), which was much better. Me, I had an iced tea.

My salad arrived on a plate roughly 12 by 12 inches and looked lovely: Romaine lettuce (not very much, frankly) topped with orange and mango slices, raspberries, strawberries and large grilled shrimp. I really liked it — it was very fresh and flavorful — and our waiter said he thinks it will become a favorite.

The enchiladas came on a large oblong platter and my friend thought they were all right, although the cream sauce was on the heavy side. (It was the only vegetarian dish on the menu, which seems awfully limited for 2008.)

Personally I thought the entrees were too large; I could eat only half my salad, taking the rest home. But that’s how it is at a lot of restaurants anymore, and my friend thought my objection was silly. So take that for whatever it’s worth.

No room for dessert, especially with the free rolls, served with tapenade and pico de gallo. I recommend Wapango, which I’d judge one of the VG’s half-dozen best restaurants.

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  • Mark Stine

    David, I am not sure what scares me more (1) You get paid to do this or (2) You appear to have a following. Either way it is nice to read your works 27 years later.

    [Mark and I attended high school in Olney, Ill., together and just reconnected the other day via e-mail. Imagine how impressed he'd be if he knew I were grand marshal of last year's Pomona Christmas Parade. -- DA]