Restaurant of the Week: Taco Man, Upland

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CLOSED

Taco Man, 915 N. Euclid Ave. (at Foothill), Upland

Taco Man opened in August in the Stater Bros. CVS center on the southwest corner of Euclid and Foothill, fronting Euclid just south of Coco’s. (I’m being precise on the location because I had trouble finding it.)

It’s a simple storefront operation with ample natural light through the floor-to-ceiling window. The decor involved some work: There’s a tile floor, a panoramic mural of a Mexican street scene (below) and a second mural featuring a man who resembles Diego Rivera but probably isn’t. The interior practically sparkled. (I also cracked up at the sign at right.)

A group of us went recently for a mid-afternoon meal. I had two soft tacos ($1.39 each, pictured above), one each of asada and pastor, which arrived in double tortillas and were very good.

A friend who also got tacos liked them equally well. Not outstanding, but a bit above average. (For the record, this was “Ask a Mexican” columnist and food writer Gustavo Arellano, a man who knows his tacos.) The others in our group got sopes and cheese enchiladas and were unimpressed.

Hey, it’s not named Enchilada Man. You go to a place called Taco Man, you get the tacos. Oh, and I got a Mexican soft drink I’d never seen before, Sidral Mundet (apple soda), in a bottle for $1.69. I liked it.

Service was bilingual and helpful. The kitchen seemed unprepared for a group of six at that hour, our food arriving a plate at a time courtesy of the lone cook. So, a mixed review, but if you’re looking for decent Mexican food in Upland, you could do lots worse.

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Column: Quincey gets zero, but Upland still sinking

Wednesday’s column (read it here) is about Monday’s Upland council meeting, sort of, although it’s more a roundup of Upland developments.

For starters, the ex-city manager’s attempt to get more money out of Upland relating to his termination was unsuccessful. While that’s probably good news for everyone but him, there are strong hints that city finances are in worse shape than expected.

On the one hand this, on the other hand that — in journalism, that’s how we roll.

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Fashion-forward newspaper reading

Reading the story “The Rocket Man” in the Ray Bradbury collection “The Illustrated Man,” I was struck by the following passage. You’ll quickly see why:

“That night we sat on the mechanical porch swing which swung us and blew a wind upon us and sang to us. It was summer and moonlight and we had lemonade to drink, and we held the cold glasses in our hands, and Dad read the stereo-newspapers inserted into the special hat you put on your head and which turned the microscopic page in front of the magnifying lens if you blinked three times in succession. Dad smoked cigarettes and told me about how it was when he was a boy in the year 1997.”

Ha ha! Bradbury came up with earbuds and wall-filling flat screen TVs in “Fahrenheit 451,” but envisioning the future is tougher than it seems. Be grateful you don’t need to don a “special hat” to read this blog!

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Restaurant of the Week: Crepes de Paris, Claremont

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Crepes de Paris, 540 W. 1st St. (at Oberlin), Claremont

A touch of Paris now graces Claremont in this crepes restaurant in the Packing House. It’s part of a small chain — based in Orange County, there’s a location in Victoria Gardens — but this version, which opened in August, has a lot of charm, some inherent to the Packing House and its wooden floors, floor to ceiling windows and plank-like walkway, some attributable to the restaurant layout and decor.

Outside are cafe tables and a take-a-book-leave-a-book cart; inside are wicker chairs and tables with tablecloths and fresh flowers. At the counter I ordered a spinach crepe ($9) and a blood orange soda bottled in France ($3.25).

A good, light meal, made more enjoyable by the French movie projected on the far wall on a flatscreen TV bordered by a “Cinema” frame. It was “The Red Balloon,” followed by “Chocolat.” For more free entertainment, you can watch them make your crepe through a window into the kitchen. A sign by the window encourages customers to mail postcards from Paris for display.

A reader of this blog was at another table with her family. She thought her St. Louis crepe could have used a sauce, but her crepes suzette for dessert was pronounced excellent. You can view the menu here; it has no descriptions, so it’s not very useful.

One of my fond memories from my trip to Paris earlier this year was buying a crepe with Nutella and banana from a sidewalk stand. It was served in a paper cone for walking. The prices at Crepes de Paris aren’t as good — $6 to $12 for a savory crepe seems high to me — but then, you won’t get jet lag visiting Claremont.

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