Mexican Food, Anyone?

Beautiful Inland Empire—home to strip malls and strip clubs; tractors and trailer parks; orange groves and hazy orange skies.  More important than any of this, however, are the dozens of Mexican restaurants spattered through the neighborhoods of our lovely Pomona Valley. A year and a half ago, several of my cohorts and I decided to embark on a mission to discover the greatest burrito and taco within a fifteen minute drive of the Claremont Colleges.  Very quickly, we realized that this endeavor would be no small task.  Although we have visited upwards of 40 different eateries thus far—dining at at least one new restaurant a week—there does not appear to be an end in sight.  In fact, it seems that each time we cross a burrito joint off our list, a new one opens for business.  Nonetheless, we will not stop until we find a clear, definitive answer to our essential question.

We have developed an elaborate rating system to objectively measure the gustatory experiences of our hunt. This involves three categories—the tortilla, the inside (whatever happens to be inside the tortilla), and other (be it price, atmosphere, salsa bar, a TV playing a soccer game, etc).  In addition, our research team is divided into beef burrito evaluator (Taylor Berliant), vegetarian burrito evaluator (Kris Brown), and the Taco Man (Julian Martinez). Each category is given a score from each researcher, 1-10, and the results are complied on a spreadsheet.  Our findings have proven fascinating and invaluable to anyone who wishes to be exceptionally full yet phenomenally content in life.  Here are the standouts thus far:

1) Candelario’s Market, 580 East La Verne Avenue, Pomona:

Candelario’s has its own meat market, which may explain its scrumptious selection of chicken, carne asada, and carnitas.  They also have an outdoor grilling area, providing the entire neighborhood with a better aroma than any flower, perfume, or candle could ever provide.  Overall, heavenly.

2) Lily’s Tacos--2128 N Garey Ave, Pomona:

The little screen ordering window, the non-English-speaking cashiers, the outdoor-only seating, the military surplus store next door, and the authentic menu items all give this little burrito stand more character than any other restaurant in our search.  Plus the food is absolutely delicious.  It is hard to walk away from Lily’s after a meal and not be in a fantastic mood.

3) Rocco’s Taccos--669 Indian Hill Boulevard, Pomona:

We were fortunate enough to visit Rocco’s during its grand opening.  And it did not disappoint.  They scored especially high in the “inside” category, with some of the best meat and sauces we’ve had.  We recommend the Monster Burrito.

Last Place) Pupuseria Cuscatleca--900 East Holt Avenue, Pomona:

This is arguably the worst restaurant in the world.  A few lowlights of the meal: forty-five minute wait for our food; water and all other beverages had a very odd chemical taste; there was a 98% likelihood that the taco meat was originally packaged beef jerky and a 100% likelihood that the rice was from the Chinese restaurant next door (we witnessed the delivery woman bring our waitress a take-out bag, and minutes later we had fried rice on our plates and in our burritos); beans nicely in the shape of a can; and lastly an ensuing three hour stomach ache.  We have suspicions that this establishment has a covert purpose, as many people came in during our meal to inquire about “signing up,” yet did not order any "delicious" food.  Further investigation required.

There will certainly be more riveting discoveries to come.  But in the meantime, I encourage all to sample our findings.  Feel free to scrutinize our research, or provide any suggestions that you may find yourself.