Restaurant of the Week: Hamburger Mary’s


Hamburger Mary’s, 3550 Porsche Way (at Inland Empire), Ontario; open daily

The existence of a Hamburger Mary’s in Ontario may say something interesting about the Inland Empire market. The gay-friendly chain has locations in West Hollywood, San Francisco, where it started, and Long Beach — and, since August 2015, Ontario. (As well as a few other metro areas around the country.)

Ours is near the 10 Freeway off Inland Empire Boulevard, a little east of Haven and within hailing distance of Benihana. It’s a restaurant with a full bar and, most nights, drag shows or other entertainment. Like I said, it’s something relatively unusual in these parts.

Uninterested in drag shows or bars, I met a friend there for a sedate weekday lunch after a local restaurateur told me the burgers were amazing. The restaurant interior resembles a Marie Callender’s and was quiet for lunch, evidently not the case in the evenings.

It’s worth noting that upon our entrance, two employees by the greeter station continued their conversation without acknowledging us — we must have arrived at an inopportune time for them — but a server hustled over to seat us.

The menu has appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and, naturally, burgers, which can be ordered as ground chuck, chicken, turkey, ahi tuna, salmon or black bean vegan. I got the Meaty Mushroom Burger ($13), my friend had the chipotle chicken wrap ($10).


The wrap (grilled chicken, mixed greens, cheddar jack cheese, black beans, avocado and dressing), with a side of cole slaw, was deemed acceptable. “It’s hard to get excited about a chicken wrap,” my friend admitted.

My burger (half-pound ground chuck, grilled mushrooms, cheddar and jack, lettuce and tomato) was very good, and a little messy. The bun didn’t seem firm enough; after cutting the sandwich in half, I had to eat each half fairly quickly to hold it together. The seasoned fries as my side were above average.


Mary’s has a bar island in the middle, a few sofas besides all the booths and tables, and kitschy decor that includes photos of Marilyn and Audrey Hepburn, posters from “Casablanca” and “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman,” stuff like that. The bill arrived in a high-heeled shoe. Heh.

Hamburger Mary’s was all right, and it’s got arguably the best burger in Ontario (but not the Inland Valley). It’s not really my kind of place, I don’t think, but it might be yours.


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On vacation

I’m away from work this week, burning up my birthday and anniversary holidays from work and three vacation days. Efficient, eh? More bang for the buck.

That said, a Wednesday column will appear, written last Friday, and a Restaurant of the Week will pop up on Thursday as usual. I’ve been a little backlogged on those, to the extent that last week’s restaurant turned out to have closed between my visit (mid-February), preparation of the post (late February) and publication (late March). So I’ll go ahead and run the one that’s ready to go and hit the ground eating when I get back.

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Restaurant of the Week: Souvlla Greek Grill



Souvlla Greek Grill, 1945 N. Campus Ave. (at 19th), Upland; open daily

In mid-February, finding myself near the Colonies Crossroads Center and very hungry, I went looking for food. I pulled into the western half of the center with the intention of going to zPizza, and that’s when I saw Souvlla. I’d heard about it back when it opened, in 2014, and then, as sometimes happens, forgot the whole thing. Rather than go to the familiar pizza place, this was definitely worth a try.

It was past 8:30 p.m., which is about the time the Inland Valley goes to sleep, but Souvlla would be open until 9, so I went in.

The menu has gyro sandwiches, salads, plates and a list of sides, rice bowls and burritos (!). It’s not traditional Greek, clearly. I got a gyros plate ($11) with lamb, rice and a salad. As a fan of Greek food, I thought this was decent, comparable to Cafe Moderno in Montclair or Saca’s in Claremont. That said, I was nonplussed to see the option of a pork gyro instead of lamb and am not sure what to make of it.

A few minutes before 9 p.m., the music was shut off, a sign that we shouldn’t get too comfortable. It was me at one table and three people, who’d arrived after me, at another. We left at the same time about 10 minutes later. But I understood: The Inland Valley needs its beauty sleep.

Update: Before this post could be published, the restaurant closed.


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Millard Sheets’ (and a copyist’s) ‘Angels Flight’


Leaving the Pomona City Clerk’s office a few weeks back, I was surprised to see a copy of local boy Millard Sheets’ famous 1931 painting “Angels Flight” on a wall. It’s a crude version of the original, below, which is in the collection of LACMA. Here’s an appreciation from the LAObserved blog. There were student paintings hanging elsewhere on City Hall’s second floor and this might be part of that effort; an even cruder “Angels Flight” was among them.


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Farewell, New China


New China, a longtime Chinese restaurant in Upland (2008 W. Foothill Blvd. at Benson Central) closed earlier in 2016, several readers informed me sadly. I went by the other day to take photos. There’s no note of explanation, unless the for-sale sign counts.

I don’t know much about the place; I ate there once, pre-blog, and recall the interior being dim, with lots of dark wood paneling. My guess is that it’s been New China since the ’90s. But over the years people have told me the location was previously the Sagehen Cafe, and that the neon bird art outside (see below) is a holdover from those days.

I’ll have to rely on you folks to tell me more in the comments section.



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