Restaurant of the Week is BACK

You’ll find a fresh Restaurant of the Week, my first of 2020, here on Thursday morning!

I caught a break Monday. Usually I’d have spent the day starting in on Wednesday’s column (due Tuesday at 1 p.m.). But because I was going to Monday night’s Pomona council meeting, and would be writing that on deadline Tuesday morning, that gave me Monday’s daylight hours free.

So I wrote a somewhat complex ROW on the Rancho Cucamonga food hall, which I scheduled to appear Thursday. With that done by early afternoon, I decided to keep going, starting blog posts for the other four restaurants for which I had notes, by which I mean choosing the category, looking up and writing the info that you see in bold with the address and hours and scheduling them for upcoming Thursdays, bam, bam, bam.

From there, I managed to write two of them, for spots in Upland and Chino, and edited/placed photos for a third, in Ontario. Wednesday afternoon, as I write this, I edited/placed photos for the fourth, in Montclair.

This means three ROWs are in the can and two more are in progress. How long I can stay ahead, I don’t know — I’ve had backlogs before and then caught up — but at least I’m off to a good start for 2020. Now if I can only find time to drive east of the 15…

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Favorite restaurants of 2019

Looking back at 2019, I wrote 36, an even three dozen, Restaurant of the Week posts. It may not quite have lived up to the weekly billing, but two of every three weeks were covered, with the usual complications — vacations, holidays, illness and the press of column deadlines — accounting for the other weeks.

I ate at restaurants in all the Daily Bulletin cities: Chino, Chino Hills, Claremont, La Verne, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland, with at least two restaurants per city, plus a stray venture to Moreno Valley (for Portillo’s Hot Dogs).

Most of the 36 were pretty good, and if you want to look back with me, search for “Restaurant of the Week” in the search bar and they should all come up in reverse chronological order.

Memorable places (in a good way) include Vita Italian, Slummin’ Gourmet and Luchador Urban Taqueria in Pomona; Old World Deli and Daddy O’s in Upland; Fourth Street Mill in La Verne; Creme Bakery and Pepo Melo in Claremont; House of Fortune in Chino; Take Ur Seat in Chino Hills; Pola’s Mariscos in Montclair; and Mr. Dumpling and Fat Burrito in Rancho Cucamonga.

For what it’s worth, the places I’ve returned to at least once, and sometimes regularly, are Slummin’, Luchador, Old World, Daddy O’s, Creme, Pepo Melo and Fat Burrito. Although in some cases that’s a function of geography as much as interest. If I lived in Chino Hills I’d be at Take Ur Seat all the time.

As always on these visits, I did not announce myself, was virtually never recognized, to my knowledge anyway, and paid my own way. Also, I’m not a professional reviewer. Doing this is more of a hobby than anything else, not even really part of my official duties or workday, although I try to write them on a Wednesday at work if able. (The columns occupy more of my time and mind, including anxious thoughts, sometimes in the middle of the night, than might be obvious.)

In some ways my interest in the ol’ Restaurant of the Week has slackened. But I keep going. I’ve gotta eat anyway, and it’s useful for me personally to get out of my comfort zone by trying new places. And I know readers rely on me for these, or at least enjoy them or identify me with them. So it’s useful for me professionally to do these, even if it’s a pain some weeks and I often feel like I’m letting people down for one reason or another.

That sense only increased in 2019. Some years I’ve produced this best-of list (which I’m writing at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Day, by the way) as a long item for my column. This year I don’t feel quite right about that.

That’s because in mid-year my columns began appearing in the Sun as well as the Bulletin, and I didn’t manage to venture even to Fontana for a meal, much less Rialto or San Bernardino. I’m a little sheepish about that. (Sun territory is, essentially, east of the 15 Freeway.) In fact, a year ago this list appeared in the Bulletin, and perhaps also in the Sun; either way, a Rialto reader emailed in disappointment that I hadn’t been to her city, and I understood.

In my defense, many of my Restaurant of the Week meals are consumed on a lunch break from our office in Rancho Cucamonga, or on a weekend venture from my home in Claremont. Rialto, Fontana or San Bernardino are a little far for a lunch hour and haven’t figured into my evening or weekend plans. It’s not meant as a slight to anyone there or any restaurants there.

Still, no point in parading the lack of restaurants in Sun territory in front of my Sun readers via my column. I’ll just keep things low-key in this space and vow to do better in 2020.

In the meantime, bon appetit, and where did you enjoy dining in 2019?

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No Restaurant of the Week

With notes in hand for three restaurants, I was going to write my weekly restaurant post on Wednesday to appear this morning. But I came down with a cold and took yesterday off. I’m back at my desk today with hopes of scraping together a column by deadline. Look for a Restaurant of the Week next Thursday, and sorry for missing a week.

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A year of dining ahead

As has become standard practice, I expect to continue these Restaurant of the Week posts in the coming year. I like doing them, they get me out to new places and you folks seem to like them too. I’ve been writing them since September 2007.

Let me use this first of the year post to explain how I pick the 45 to 50 restaurants a year that are featured here.

Some come recommended, but many are simply places I drive past or hear about. I may eat there on my lunch break if it’s near our office, which is in Rancho Cucamonga. If on I’m assignment in a farther city, I often make a point of going for lunch or dinner while I’m in the neighborhood. If I’m meeting a friend for lunch during the week or on a weekend, we often pick a restaurant that would be good for the blog.

The restaurant might be new or it might be old. Wherever I go, I’m eating there anonymously and buying my meal without introducing myself. To my mind, I’m just a guy eating lunch or dinner — but taking notes and photos. I have no training to write reviews and don’t consider these blog posts to be reviews. They’re just my take.

If restaurant reviewing were actually my job, I would work harder at staying atop what’s new or popular, or seek out certain restaurants, such as a couple of Mexican restaurants in Rialto recommended by a taco expert. But it’s not. This is just a hobby.

Another note: I try to hit all 10 of our cities at least once in a calendar year. That means at best I may get to only a half-dozen restaurants in any city in a year. So my list of potential restaurants has a big backlog. (A few of them have no doubt gone out of business.)

All that said, I’m always open to your ideas. If there’s any restaurant you’re surprised I haven’t written about, tell me in the comments. If you have any questions about my approach, ask away. Next Thursday I’ll be back with a fresh Restaurant of the Week.

As always, past posts can be found by scrolling through the category listings on the right-hand side of this home page, where they’re organized by city. Or you can search for names in the search feature.

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