Restaurant of the Week: California Fish Grill

California Fish Grill, 1135 E. 19th St. (at Campus), Upland; open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Located in the newest section of the Colonies Crossroads Center, California Fish Grill is next to Oggi’s, on the north side of 19th Street. I was across the street getting a new cell phone recently and thought I’d try out CFG for dinner.

The experience and menu are similar to Pacific Fish Grill, which has a location in the Shoppes at Chino Hills that I’ve visited repeatedly. There’s an array of fresh fish entrees, which you can order with various seasonings and sides, and you order at the counter.

I got a combo of salmon and swai ($11.50), with rice and zucchini as my sides. On a second visit, at lunchtime, I got the serrano lime salmon bowl ($9). I enjoyed both of these meals; they seemed light, fresh and healthy.

A few points of comparison with Pacific Fish Grill: The latter delivers to your table instead of making you pick up your food (on a giant metal tray that holds two or three plates and looks like overkill when you’re eating solo); it doesn’t charge 50 cents more for brown rice; and it offers a side of vegetables, not simply zucchini.

On the other hand, California Fish Grill has more variety in its menu; it has a salsa bar; and its soda dispenser has non-brand names, from Stubborn Soda, with no artificial sweeteners or colors and better flavors (a la The Melt); I had black cherry and vanilla cream. So between the two places, it’s kind of a draw.

The comparison may not be meaningful to you if you live closer to one or the other rather than kind of in between, but I made it anyway. Overall, I liked the Upland chain seafood restaurant slightly more than the Chino Hills chain seafood restaurant, but they’re both worth trying.

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Restaurant of the Week: Mar y Tierra

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Mar y Tierra, 826 W. Mission Blvd. (at San Antonio), Ontario; also 1754 S. Euclid, Ontario

There’s a Mar y Tierra on Euclid near Chino that I pass now and then, and which a friend recommended years ago. Or was he praising the Mar y Tierra on Mission, only a couple of miles away, which I discovered via Google when searching for the address to the one I knew?

Either way, I made plans with a friend to meet up, and at the one on Mission, as its blue paint scheme and more expansive size made it look more like the one to visit. It’s got an interesting layout: You walk in past a large covered entry to find yourself almost in the kitchen; a few tables are nearby, and then there’s an L-shaped seating area technically outdoors but almost entirely enclosed.

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According to the sign, this is Mar y Tierra No. 1. And for the record, Mar y Tierra translates as “Sea and Land” and is the equivalent of surf ‘n turf. The menu is heavy on seafood — shrimp, oysters, octopus, lobster — while also offering tacos, burritos, soups, breakfasts and combination plates, many with meat. The menu’s cover depicts a mermaid on a desert island.

I ordered the house special, pulpo, or octopus, “Mar y Tierra style” ($13); asked if I’d like shrimp as well, I said sure. My friend, who apparently has an eye for bargains, had the ceviche de tiritas de pescado ($5.50).

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Mine came with shrimp and chopped octopus in a spicy sauce, plated with rice, beans and salad, tortillas on the side. It was a little spicy for my tastes, which is more a reflection on me than the dish, but was otherwise good. The ceviche was very good, lots of lemon, and with tostadas for dipping.

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The Euclid location is smaller and entirely enclosed. “I like the vibe of this one,” my friend said approvingly of the Mission location. Me too.

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Restaurant of the Week: Lobster Grill

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Lobster Grill, 3210 Chino Ave. (at the 71), Chino Hills; closed Mondays

I’ve passed by Lobster Grill when seeing movies at the Harkins 18 but only visited recently after a positive comment on FB from reader David Saw about the lobster rolls. As a lobster roll fan, I figured I should give the place a try.

On my first visit, though, I went with something different. The menu is much like Pacific Fish Grill elsewhere in town, with seafood plates and sides, and the style is fast-casual, bringing the cost down. So I ordered grilled swordfish ($12) with garlic butter sauce, rice pilaf and steamed vegetables; it comes with a thin piece of garlic toast.

Pretty good, and on a third visit my order was very similar, only with mahi mahi ($12) instead. I didn’t like it as much and the vegetables are kind of boring.

Now, how about that lobster roll? That came on my second visit: the sandwich, New England style, with fries ($11). This is a cold roll with a kind of lobster salad, on a warm piece of folded bread that will remind you of Sizzler’s “Texas toast.” I prefer the Connecticut style of lobster roll, which is served warm, but this was a good New England roll, with a generous helping of lobster. The fries were tasty too.

The menu is slightly more seafood-intense than the local competitors, with clams, mussels and oysters on the half-shell, and with Cajun buckets ($28 to $35). That said, I’m a little wary of ordering oysters from a place that doesn’t really specialize in them, and for the same reason I’ve shied away from crab legs and such.

Overall, I prefer Pacific Fish Grill. But Lobster Grill is all right for the basics, and the parking is easier than at the Shoppes, where Pac Fish is. Candidly, I don’t remember much about Fish-O-Licious, so I’m not sure where it rates in the Chino Hills spectrum (as opposed to the Chino Spectrum Marketplace) of cheap-ish seafood joints.

The Lobster Grill interior is pleasant enough, orange plastic seats and paper-covered tables, although lately I’ve just been happy for the air conditioning.

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Restaurant of the Week: King’s Fish House

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King’s Fish House, 12427 N. Main St. (Victoria Gardens), Rancho Cucamonga

King’s is one of the original tenants from the launch of Victoria Gardens in 2004. It’s a chain with just 11 locations in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona, the nearest one being in Corona. I’ve eaten at the VG one a few times over the years, usually when someone else is buying. (I ate there once with my parents, for instance.)

An editor owed me lunch recently after losing a work bet and, wanting to pinch his wallet a little but not too much, I chose King’s.

It’s in a prominent place, on the corner where many turn for the parking garage, and there’s plenty of seating, including a bar and a covered patio. The interior looks the same as I remember it, vaguely Art Deco. They were having a lobster promotion and a salmon promotion too.

The menu has grilled seafood, a few sandwiches, salads and small plates, an oyster bar and even sushi, with lunch entrees running $14 to $24, dinner up to $30.

I got lobster bisque ($5.75) and cedar plank salmon ($21). The friend buying my lunch opted for fish and chips ($16.50). He liked his dish. The bisque was a bit sweet, as the server had warned, due to cooking sherry (ooh la la). But it was fine. Ditto with the salmon, rice and veggies. The glaze wasn’t my favorite. But then, the whole lunch was all the sweeter because I wasn’t paying.

Still, maybe I missed my chance by not getting filet mignon and lobster tail ($45) or at least dessert. I am merciful in victory.

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Restaurant of the Week: The Supreme Plate

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The Supreme Plate, 9849 Foothill Blvd. (at Ramona), Rancho Cucamonga; closed Sunday and Monday

New Orleans-style food is hard to come by in these parts, if we politely overlook Popeye’s. Then the Supreme Plate opened in a lonely stretch of Foothill Boulevard east of Archibald. It’s tucked away in a fairly dismal shopping center, Plaza de las Brisas, whose anchor tenant is a charter school. (It also has the very good vegan restaurant Bright Star and Competitive Edge Cyclery.)

Reader Bill Velto raved to me about the Supreme Plate or I might never have learned it existed. Even knowing where it was, I couldn’t find it at first; the only sign is painted on the door and window.

The interior is mostly nondescript too: stackable chairs, black vinyl tablecloths, minimal decoration other than an excellent mural in street art style. The staff, though, is gregarious, with Deep South accents.

The menu is almost entirely seafood: plates and po’ boy sandwiches featuring shrimp, oysters, crab, catfish and red snapper. My first visit, I got a catfish po’ boy (pictured below) with a side of Cajun fries and a soda for $10. Good stuff, although my preference is for a filet, not a series of nuggets.

I returned for dinner one night and brought a friend. I got the jambalaya ($11, pictured below middle), loaded with chicken, sausage, shrimp and more, and half of which I took home for a second meal. He got a shrimp and oyster po’ boy ($13). “You pay more, but you get more,” he said, taking home half his sandwich. “I was going to offer you half, but it was too good. I want it for lunch tomorrow.” Well, he was honest.

The oysters looked so good falling out of his sandwich, I went back for my own shrimp and oyster po’ boy (pictured at bottom). Those were some mighty oysters. The staff is small and my sandwich took a half-hour to arrive during lunch hour, as a few people were ahead of me; you might call ahead or visit at an off-peak time.

I’ll keep going back. They’ve got sides like cheesy grits and sausage, hush puppies, red beans and rice, and more, as well as gumbo on weekends and oxtails with rice. I hope this place succeeds — there are always customers, a good sign, and it currently has a five-star rating on Yelp — because it’s a good addition to the area. The Supreme Plate is supreme.

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Update April 2016: I come here all the time. Here are two more photos: gumbo and grilled shrimp po’boy. They do not skimp on the shrimp. The collard greens here are good too.

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Restaurant of the Week: Fish-O-Licious

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Fish-O-Licious, 4200 Chino Hills Parkway (at Pipeline), Chino Hills; open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Chino Hills has Pacific Fish Grill at the Shoppes, an informal seafood spot about which I posted in 2009. One wishes there were more such places in the Inland Valley. Well, since December there’s been a second, and it’s also in Chino Hills: Fish-O-Licious. It’s a wannabe chain with one other location, in Commerce.

Some of the menu offerings are fried, others are grilled. And before you wonder if this is a gussied-up H. Salt, the motto is “Fresh Seafood Daily.” I had lunch there with a friend recently.

I had the special No. 3 ($10, bottom), a plate of sole with a slightly sweet sauce with pineapple and peppers, as well as an above-average slaw, a roll and, in a pleasant surprise, a soda. Not a bad price, and the food was very good. My friend had the three fish taco plate ($8, below), which came with fries. She liked the tacos but thought tortilla chips would be a better side than fries.

They have sole, salmon, catfish, halibut, shrimp and scallops, as well as chicken (for those who hate fish, I guess) and chowder.

My friend’s comment was that it’s good to have another healthy option but that it’s pretty similar to Pacific Fish Grill. My comment is, I like it, but why can’t it be in a different city? Chino Hills has all the fun.

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Restaurant of the Week: Pacific Fish Grill

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Pacific Fish Grill, 13865 City Center Drive (at Peyton), Chino Hills

Pacific Fish Grill is at the Shoppes at Chino Hills and, from what I can gather, is a single-location restaurant, although it could be a chain in the making. It’s located between a Panera and a Johnny Rockets near Barnes & Noble.

Like Louie’s Chicken and Fish Grill in Upland, featured here last week, Pacific Fish is a rarity, a seafood-based fast-casual restaurant. Grilled fish plates run $8 to $15 and come with rice, salad and pita bread. They also have salads, fried fish, sandwiches, wraps and tacos. View the menu here.

I ate here in February after the library dedication when I bumped into friends and we decided to have lunch. That meal I ordered the tilapia plate ($8.95) with lemon-oregano seasoning. Not bad.

I returned recently (this time with my camera) and ordered a salmon caesar salad with Cajun seasoning ($10.95). I liked it. Not an outstanding piece of fish or anything, but it was fine, and there was enough salmon for each bite of salad.

There’s an open kitchen, high ceilings with visible piping and slowly revolving ceiling fans.

A place like this (or Louie’s) seems like a fairly inexpensive, no-fuss way to get more seafood in your diet. People on Yelp say the fish tacos are good; on Tuesdays they’re 99 cents.

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Restaurant of the Week: Pomona Fish Market

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Pomona Fish Market, 295 S. Park Ave. (at Third), Pomona; closed Sundays

With time to kill before Monday’s Pomona council meeting, I thought I’d try a south Pomona taqueria for dinner. But once I hit downtown I swung by the Pomona Fish Market, a take-out place at Third and Park streets.

I’ve always been curious about the market, which has a vintage neon sign (restored a few years back) and seems out of place in the neighborhood. But the view from my car always made me unsure if one could dine in, as the front window has big letters reading “Fish to Go.”

Not to worry, the interior has seating for eight, plus an outdoor patio. My order was taken by a woman behind the supermarket-style display case, which was about half-stocked with fish on ice.

There’s a limited menu of fried fish plates, such as sole, sand dabs, oysters and shrimp, served with fries and cole slaw and all priced under $7, as well as a couple of sandwiches. I got the catfish plate ($5.95). Well, the slaw was a bit dry, but the fries were acceptable and the fish, fried in a light coating of (I think) flour, wasn’t bad at all. I’m not a fried fish guy, but if I were, I’d probably go again. The food’s a darn sight better than Long John Silver’s.

The Fish Market has been in Pomona for decades. In researching city character Urban Ziegler on Progress-Bulletin microfilm last summer at the library, I found an April 1, 1937 ad for the market, meaning it’s at least 70 years old.

Prices included haddie, 35 cents a pound; cod, 20 cents a pound; sea bass, 29 cents a pound; and halibut, 25 cents a pound. The ad boasted: “An Exclusive Fish Market is the Best Place to Buy Fish.” Oh, that snooty Pomona.

Update, July 2016: I had dinner here before yet another council meeting. A combo  of four pieces of fish (tilapia was my choice), three oysters, three shrimp, fries and slaw, was $8.70, plus another buck for a canned soda. Again, fried fish isn’t my favorite, but this was acceptable, and more food than I needed.

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