This week’s restaurant: Aladdin Jr. 2, 296 W. 2nd St. (at Main), Pomona.
Aladdin Jr., a popular Middle Eastern restaurant on Pomona’s Garey Avenue just south of Foothill, recently opened a second location in downtown Pomona, taking over a vacant space last occupied by Lela’s, of “Kitchen Nightmares” infamy. (The Aladdin owner also has Casablanca in Claremont, a slightly more upscale restaurant.)
Aladdin Jr. 2, as it’s dubbed, is still ramping up, but it’s been drawing a decent lunch and dinner trade since opening in March. The corner location is striking, with a patio, rollup doors that expose the 2nd Street side, brick walls inside and paintings by local artists. Contrast with the slightly kitsch Garey location, in which servers wear vests and fezzes and an imitation-Disney Aladdin mural decorates the walls.
I had dinner at Aladdin 2 with friends before the Smogdance Film Festival at the Fox a couple of blocks away. We all had chicken shawarma and all were impressed.
As a sandwich, you get a generously-sized portion that comes in pita bread wrapped in paper to hold in the juices. I had it a la carte ($5.99), one friend got it with some tasty round fries (price unknown), and the other had the shawarma as an entree with salad and hummos ($9.99).
On Monday i returned to try the lunch buffet ($9.99). The two steam tables were piping hot. I tried at least a smidge of the following: shrimp stew, chicken and kafta kabobs, lamb shanks with rice, kebbey, Mediterranean salad, tabbouleh and hummos. Items change daily. A complimentary baklava was dessert.
Not gourmet, but all in all, pretty good food for a pretty good price.
The location is perfect for Second Saturday art walk nights, Fox shows and jury duty. The menu is evolving; unsure of their market, management put four pastas plus pastrami and turkey sandwiches on the menu, but to Pomona’s credit, few people are so timid as to order them. Unlike big brother Aladdin Jr., the sequel has beer and wine.