Lisa’s Gourmet Foods, 600 E. D St. (at Monterey), Ontario
Lisa’s is a convenience store on the corner of a residential neighborhood and must have been there for decades, although the exterior has a fresh appearance. I had no idea they had sandwiches until Jim Bowman, a city councilman, urged me to try the deli counter sometime. The former fire chief said Lisa’s is a favorite of firefighters, whose main station is just blocks away.
The market itself has staples like potato chips, baby food and toilet paper, plus booze, and I’m unclear where the “gourmet” part comes in. Maybe it’s an old-school name like Upland’s C&M Fancy Mart, which doesn’t look all that fancy. Anyway, the deli counter is in the back. They have a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, most of them $3.75 for a half and $6.25 for a whole.
I got one of the Lisa’s Specials, a half Godfather ($4). It had ham, salami and mortadella, plus lettuce, tomato, mayo and, crucially, olive oil. There are two picnic tables outside, but with a guy lounging foodless at one and a fellow with a shopping cart laden with recyclables stalled near the other, I headed to the Civic Center a few blocks west, the closest thing to a park that came to mind.
The sandwich, on crusty French bread, was outstanding. And filling. And, for the price, a six-inch sandwich was a steal. Highly recommended.
The ambience of the Civic Center, not so much so. East of the library is a broad, utopian-style, empty plaza. It’s almost completely characterless, but it does have a couple of benches, and it’s certainly quiet. I ate there in peace, undisturbed except for the effects of stupefying architectural mediocrity (although the library is nice).
For a richer aesthetic experience, take your Lisa’s sandwich somewhere else. Wonder if they’d let you eat at the fire station?