Babylon, 205 E. 2nd St. (at Locust), Pomona
Pomona is where you go for Mexican food, obviously, but the city also has a minor specialty of Mediterranean food. North Garey has two competing Lebanese restaurants in the same shopping center, while downtown has two such restaurants three blocks apart, thanks to the mid-January opening of Babylon, which joins Aladdin 2, its Second Street competition.
Babylon is on a corner in Pomona’s Antique Row in a space that’s seen a number of short-lived uses in recent years; it was most recently the Hardy Cafe.
Babylon, however, is an ambitious venture. The owner, who used to run Aladdin in Glendora (the inspiration for Pomona’s Aladdin Jr.), sunk a boatload of money into making the restaurant a showpiece. The interior is elegant, with white tablecloths and custom oak carving in the ceiling and columns. Outside, there’s wraparound sidewalk dining.
They do a $10 lunch buffet on weekdays with a long table of items, laid out on open platters and in steam containers, like a hotel banquet or Kiwanis luncheon. In other words, no sneeze guard. But I won’t complain, because the items were uniformly good on a recent visit. A seat outside on a warm afternoon made for a relaxing meal.
There’s a fountain a few steps away and a second fountain across the street. Do those count as the rivers of Babylon?
Babylon is open late, until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and midnight the other days. On weekends they’ve been offering entertainment — bellydancers or singers — with a meal for an all-inclusive fee of $35 or more.
Too rich for my blood, but you ought to try a weeknight dinner (pictured is the chicken kebab, $13 and very good) or the lunch buffet. It beats the one at the more casual Aladdin 2 down the street.