Mica’s Peruvian Sandwiches, 8880 Archibald Ave. (at 8th), Rancho Cucamonga
Located in the Aamco Plaza, an automotive center just below the Metrolink tracks, Mica’s is one of a handful of restaurants that seem designed to feed you while you wait for your car to be serviced. The narrow Mica’s storefront has been home to a revolving door of eateries, seemingly having a new occupant each time you drive past. Mica’s opened in March 2013, an eternity by that space’s standards, and the only reason it should leave is if it finds a better space.
Which wouldn’t be difficult. When you walk in, you’re practically in the kitchen. You order at the display case from a woman, presumably the owner, who takes your order on a tablet. Behind her, you can catch a glimpse of a small kitchen crew working away in a sort of corridor before the kitchen bends behind a wall. Seating is at an L-shaped bar around the walls or at a couple of high-top tables. (About half the dining room is visible in the photo at bottom. I’m tempted to say it’s shown actual size.)
In other words, you might want to take your food to go. I braved dining in both times. Reader Andy introduced me to Mica’s. We had lunch: He got lomo saltado in sandwich form (below), I got a chicharron sandwich ($5.79 each). Mine was pork, onions and sweet potato on focaccia bread. Wow!
The display case, by the way, has Peruvian cookies, empanadas, canned Inca sodas and mousse. The menu board is on one wall, below. Click on the photo for a larger view.
I returned another time for a late lunch. From 3 to 7 p.m. they were offering dinner plates, usually $9, with a soda for $7.07 with tax. I had the lomo saltado (below): beef, onions and tomatoes over fries. Very good, and great for the price.
During my mid-afternoon meal, when I was the only person in the restaurant, a family of five entered and filled the place. A small girl said quietly, “This is little.”
It is, but the taste is mighty. You can’t sit comfortably for long, but you gain the satisfaction at having found excellent food in exceedingly humble surroundings.
* Update July 2014: I returned for the first time in a couple of months to find a much-improved interior (below): tables and stools that now seat 18. The wraparound bar seating was removed. A much better use of the space, I think, and I hope the investment means the restaurant is catching on. I ate a lomo saltado sandwich with fries and drink ($7.62 with tax) and thought it was great.