Restaurant of the Week: Borreguitas

Borreguitas, 977 S. Garey Ave. (at 10th St.), Pomona; open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday; closed Sundays

This is a rarity, a vegan restaurant, and in a smaller subset, vegan Mexican. A vegan friend who lives nearby had eaten at Borreguitas several times since its July opening and invited me and two other friends to lunch.

Seating about a dozen, it’s a small place, sandwiched (possibly with sprouts) between a barbershop and La Fuente, a 24-hour Mexican restaurant. The story is that there’s an ownership connection with La Fuente, where vegan items were introduced and ignored because nobody really knew about it. Borreguitas, however, seems to be a hit. In the two hours we were there, people kept cycling through or picking up to-go orders.

The menu has tacos, burritos, quesadillas, mulitas, enchiladas, tortas, pozole and ceviche, all Mexican staples, only with soy meat, vegan nut cheese and the like.

Of our group of four, three got the “asada” burrito with either red or green salsa ($10). I photographed the green. You can imagine the red, I trust.

“This is magnificent,” one carnivore declared. “This sauce is fantastic.” (He had the red. Maybe I should have photographed it instead.) “This was the best vegan burrito I’ve ever had. Also the first,” he clarified. “But it won’t be the last. I’ll be back.”

The second carnivore also liked his burrito and said, “I will gladly take my meat-loving friends here.” He had earlier joked: “My comment is, ‘Add a little meat and: delish.’ You don’t need to put that.” I didn’t need to, but I try to go above and beyond.

Of course the vegan liked it. She’d had it before.

I had the street tacos, four of ’em ($1.25 each): two “asada,” two “al pastor.” They looked much like the real thing, dusted with cilantro and chopped onion, the asada looking steak-ish, the al pastor ruddy, with (a nice touch of authenticity) thin-sliced pineapple on top. Even though they were all from soy meat, there was no question which was which.

They did taste fairly convincingly of the meats they replicated, although the mouth feel wasn’t the same. Neither was the fat content, of course. I also had one of the aguas frescas, pineapple-spinach ($3), an unusual combination but one that worked. Someone else got a horchata ($3) and liked it.

I’d be open to returning, even if I prefer the real thing. Borreguitas is definitely a welcome addition to Pomona and the rest of the valley. As I write this, Borreguitas has 61 reviews on Yelp and a five-star ranking.

As you might expect, customers were mostly young, including a hipster with a lumberjack beard. But they also included families with young children. It was a nice scene, akin to something you might see in Silver Lake.

By the way, Borreguitas means little lamb. “Which is adorable,” one friend remarked, “but which they don’t actually serve.” Maybe over at La Fuente.

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Paseos and Palmer

You may have seen the large, white, under-construction apartments visible from the 10 Freeway in Ontario, off Inland Empire Boulevard and just west of Archibald Avenue. Those are the Paseos at Ontario, which will boast 800 apartments in one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans.

The developer is Geoff Palmer, a controversial figure around L.A. (It was one of his developments next to the 110 Freeway that an arsonist burned a few years back, for example.) LA Business Journal says he’s a polo-playin’ billionaire who collects, among other things, Marie Antoinette furniture.

Palmer was in attendance at Friday’s ribbon-cutting. I wasn’t, because as usual nobody thought to invite us. (City Hall is quick to tell us there’s not enough positive Ontario news in the paper, but as far as getting that news, apparently we’re on our own.) Still, a press release and photos were emailed after the fact. Anyway, the press-shy Palmer apparently didn’t speak during the event, so I didn’t miss out on a scoop.

Although the bulk of his business is in L.A. County, where he’s built some 10,000 units, Palmer also owns the Paseos in Montclair at Monte Vista and Moreno avenues.

Ontario’s Paseos will have, according to the flackage, “a host of amenities including lifestyle swimming pools with cabanas, two‑story fitness centers, dog parks, a children’s play zone, a business center, high-speed internet, library, mail center, game room, steam shower, sauna, residential lounge area and central park.”

I believe parking is on the first level with three levels of housing above, making the Paseos among the tallest apartment complexes in the valley.

Rent is $1,728 to $2,499 per month, too rich for my blood but surely within the budget of many. Best wishes to the Paseos. The Daily Bulletin is just down the street at 4th and Archibald, meaning we’re practically neighbors. I drive past every morning and evening.

In the photo below, from left, are Palmer senior v-p of development Darrel Malamut, Mayor Paul Leon, Geoff Palmer, Councilwoman Debra Dorst-Porada, Mayor pro Tem Alan Wapner and Palmer chief investment officer Steven Fink.

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Column: Sunny Route 66’s darker side seen in exhibit

The Millard Sheets Art Center at the LA County Fair this year is devoted to “Alt 66,” a counterpoint to the happy and charming Route 66 stuff throughout the Fair. This is a darker, edgier exploration of the highway, including racism, trash and gaudy motels. I write about it for Sunday’s column, as well as gathering up some Culture Corner and other items. And remember, the Fair ends today!

Above, a portion of Doug Pearsall’s “In the Pursuit of Dreams.”

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So long, Rabi’s Cafe

Driving north on Central Avenue in Upland one morning last week, I pulled into the business plaza that had Rabi’s Cafe on a whim, just because I hadn’t in so long, and saw the parking lot was nearly empty. Then I saw the sign down and, through the window, everything cleared out inside.

Rabi’s opened in 2010 and, based on Yelp activity, probably closed in July or August. The breakfast and lunch spot had been a favorite of mine for three or four years, but when its co-owner and namesake left in mid-2016, in a divorce from her manager husband, I decided out of loyalty to her that my time there was done.

The breakfasts were good, and the couple was always nice to me. I enjoyed taking the Sunday papers in early and occupying a table until the place began filling up. Some readers would greet me, and occasionally pester me, while meaning well. Rabi almost always waited on me, and sometimes provided column fodder with her attitude and jokes. If she wasn’t involved anymore, there was less reason to go.

I felt a little bad about that, because her husband Ahmed was nice too. (I once joked that I only went there for the excellent management, which made him laugh.) My best to him and to the staff. Perhaps a new place will go in with fine food and good jokes, but less personal drama.

The location was previously Jouni’s Cafe and previously to that was, I believe, the Egg and I, both like Rabi’s known for their breakfasts.

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