Restaurant of the Week: Don Marcos

don marcos stevie dees 005

Don Marcos Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, 10276 Foothill Blvd. (at Center), Rancho Cucamonga

Don Marcos opened last week in the former Whole Enchilada/Socorro’s space a bit west of Haven Avenue, an ambitious startup in a down economy. But the restaurant is said to have been hopping from day one, and on Wednesday evening, cars continually pulled in or out of the parking lot and dozens of diners nearly filled the sprawling restaurant. Depression? What depression?

A hostess kept an eye on the parking lot and came out to open the door for anyone entering, a nice touch. There was no wait when we arrived, but the waiting area is inviting and next to a station where the staff makes tortillas. Much as before, the seating area is divided into small rooms of a half-dozen booths. Our room had an aquarium.

Our table got arroz con pollo ($12), chile verde ($11) and chicken mole enchiladas ($10). The first dish, chicken and rice, had both relleno and ranchero sauce and was topped with jack cheese. The second dish was chunks of pork with green sauce. The third was two enchiladas topped with mole, a sauce of chocolate with cinnamon.

We liked all three dishes, and the corn tortillas were especially good. A margarita was half ice but, at $5.50, deemed reasonably priced. The only real complaint anyone had was about the indie rock music in the background, which brought us the Dave Matthews Band, Gwen Stefani and Fallout Boy. “I’m not here for white guy music,” the Latina in our group groused.

There is better Mexican food to be had, at sitdown places like Chalio’s Birrieria in Pomona or Taco Hut a few blocks west of Don Marcos (and far worse Mexican to be had a few blocks east at On the Border). But Don Marcos seems to bridge the gap between homestyle Mexican food and Chevy’s, being comfortable for diners skittish about an authentic ethnic experience while offering what is actually pretty good food.

Verdict: A pleasant surprise. But ditch the lame music.

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  • Jeff Gaul

    White guy music? That sounds worse than an Upland City Council meeting.

    [That's white guys musing. -- DA]

  • http://blogs.dailybulletin.com/rcnow Wendy Leung

    You mentioned the restaurant is divided into several rooms … perhaps one room can have white guy music where customers can order “Mexican pizza.” In the other room, you can have ranchera music and customers can order menudo with tortillas hecha a mano. It’s segregation by taste, not race.

    [Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the menu item "Mexican pizza." It was a little, um, fusion-y for us. -- DA]

  • JOSEPH BARRY

    FOOD IS BELOW AVERAGE TOO MANY EMPLOYEES BAR IS TINY!!

    [No need to shout, Joe. -- DA]

  • Jack

    “I’m not here for white guy music,” the Latina in our group groused.

    Really? Common sense would tell you, that you’re not there for any music, but there for the food!!! Most people I know don’t go to a restaurant for the “music,” they go there to eat FOOD!….. And nice racist comment. If it had been a white dude saying he wasn’t there for “Mexican music,” you better believe Mexicans would be complaining…

    [Uh...it's a Mexican restaurant, Jack. And it was a joking comment among friends. We felt like the music, which is after all part of the atmosphere/ambience, tipped the restaurant in the wrong direction. But if you want to be aggrieved, don't let us stop you. -- DA]

  • RNJ

    MUSIC? THERE WAS MUSIC? THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE WHAT KIND OF MUSIC WAS PLAYING…AND THE SERVERS WERE VERY FRIENDLY AND NICE ON THE EYES :o) THE BAR MAY BE TINY…BUT NO ONE IN TOWN HAS COLDER BEER! BESIDES, I THINK IT’S A RESTAURANT 1ST, BAR 2ND…RIGHT? THE FREE CHIPS AND SALSA/BEANS WERE VERY TASTY. GET THERE EARLY FOR GOOD PARKING.

    [I can't hear the music over all the capital letters. -- DA]

  • gio

    Sunday Brunch…can’t beat it for $9.99 and they have restaurant appropriate music…get it? all you white guys and mexicans?

    We went for the cheap all you can eat lunch buffet! It’s only Mon. thru Fri. but it’s good and you can be in and out of there on your lunch break!

    Rumor has it they are tweaking their menu…is it adios to the mexican pizza? That’s okay…I’ll be back Jack!