Off this week

It’s a furlough this week for yours truly, but, making lemonade from lemons, it’s also a vacation. If “furloughcation” isn’t a word, it ought to be.

The usual vacation rules apply: Continue to leave comments, but recognize that since I’m the moderator, and I’ll be out of town, I’ll approve your comments when I can find a computer.

No posts are planned here until my return to duty Sept. 9. Hey, that’s still better than the Goddess of Pomona blog and the Foothill Cities Blog, which as of Thursday hadn’t had new posts since July 29 and July 30, respectively. Even the usually reliable Claremont Insider seems to be on an August hiatus, without a new post since Aug. 6.

Blog readers, use your free moments each morning wisely.

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Opera? At the Fox?

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Didn’t care for Marilyn Manson? Pomona’s Fox Theater swings to the other extreme Sunday with opera.

Donizetti’s “Elixir of Love” will be featured in one performance only at 2 p.m. Sunday. The production is by the Repertory Opera Company, which is based in Pomona and performed “Don Pasquale” at a Pomona church last year.

“There is a possibility that we will do a full season at the Pomona Fox Theater, but it is contingent upon how well this show does,” artistic director LizBeth Lucca says.

Put on your fur coat, screw your monocle into place and journey to downtown Pomona. If nothing else, the parking is cheaper than at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

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Restaurant of the Week: Chile Red

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Chile Red, 9608 Base Line Road (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga

Chile Red has been a reliable fixture in the shopping plaza at the northwest corner of Base Line and Archibald since at least the mid-1990s. It’s a comfortable sit-down Mexican restaurant that does a lot of takeout. It was a newsroom hangout in ’97 when I started at the Bulletin but I hadn’t eaten there for a few years.

Well, I had dinner there last week. The dining room has been redone with yellow walls and dark brown tables and chairs; the last I remembered, the tables had red-checked tablecloths. It looks good. Chile Red still specializes in burritos, touting their foot-long “killer burritos,” but they have normal-sized burritos, tacos, enchiladas and dinner platters ($8 to $13) too.

I got the Chile Green burrito ($6), stuffed with chile verde pork and a smattering of rice and beans. It was a knife and fork burrito, good stuff, probably 7 inches long and 4 inches wide, and a mild lip tingler. I took home half and got a second meal out of it.

My take is that while Chile Red isn’t the best Mexican food in town — contenders would be Taco Hut, El Ranchero and Los Jalapeno’s — it’s pretty good, and the atmosphere is sedate and pleasant. And by Alta Loma standards it’s practically historic.

Online chatter says Chile Red has changed hands, apparently for the second time, and now is closer to the original style. Anyone else been there recently, or have memories of the place?

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In Claremont, the mystery breakfast of champions

Some Crust Bakery in the Claremont Village has its own style, not only with the muffins and coffee but with the counter help and the customers.

I was there Tuesday morning and asked what muffins they had.

The matter-of-fact reply: “We have cranberry harvest, a mystery muffin no one can identify, and pumpkin.”

I went with cranberry harvest.

Seated at the counter, with a view onto Yale Avenue, I overheard a conversation a couple of stools away between two strangers. A man with a pile of paperwork in front of him asked the man next to him with the laptop what he does.

The laptop man, wearing a friendly expression and a broad-brimmed hat, explained that he’s a retired English professor who writes short stories.

“What are you in?” the writer asked.

“I’m in plastics,” the man said.

“Plastics?” the writer said, smiling. “That was the big joke in the ’60s after ‘The Graduate.’”

Nodding, the plastics man said sagely: “I know a lot of people who got into plastics because of it.”

At Some Crust, it’s always one only-in-Claremont moment after another.

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A flea-free Pomona

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Allan Lagumbay of the Pomona Public Library’s Special Collections department found the above image of East Second Street, undated but from the turn of the century, depicting what seems to be a parade. Check the closeup version at left for a particularly relevant piece of boosterism.

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(500) Days of Downtown tour

As a followup to my recent post about Grand Central Market and the movie “(500) Days of Summer,” here’s information about a one-shot walking tour (via LA Observed):

“Author Harry Medved will lead a free walking tour of Downtown locations from the movie as a benefit (via donations and book sales) for the Los Angeles Conservancy on Sunday, August 30. Included is a screening of the film’s music video, shot at the Farmers & Merchants Bank building, and location manager Marty Cummins will come along. Meet at Old Bank DVD at 400 S. Main Street at 3 p.m.”

You can get there via Metrolink and the Pershing Square stop of the Red Line subway, plus a walk of about five blocks to 4th and Main.

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Restaurant of the Week: Esther Tacos

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This week’s restaurant: Esther Tacos, 1466 Foothill Blvd. (at Grove), Upland.

A lot of taquerias are lovable dumps, while many attractive Mexican restaurants serve crummy food. Here’s a storefront operation — in the Foothill and Grove center, across Grove from Rancho Cucamonga’s Red Hill BBQ — that hits the sweet spot. The service is cheerful, the interior clean, the walls decorated in bright murals and the food inexpensive and tasty.

I’ve eaten there a half-dozen times. (I once mentioned them favorably in a restaurant roundup column and they posted two copies, which are still displayed, even though they only got a paragraph or two. Awwww.)

They sell breakfast plates, tacos, burritos, sopes, tortas, soups, and beer and wine. You order at the counter. The al pastor (marinated pork) is dense and smoky, in tacos (99 cents each) or in a torta ($5.99), although the torta bun was crumbly. The fish tacos ($2.49 each) are Ensenada-style, grilled rather than battered.

Seating is in oak chairs at oak tables. Brass railings top the dividers. Two walls have murals. It’s a pleasant place.

And for better or worse, you’re in the same center as various automotive service shops; I once killed time with lunch at Esther while getting new tires. I told the tire guy I’d be at Esther and he actually walked over to give me a report. Even at the very edge of Upland, it remains the city of gracious living.

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New record store coming to Ontario

A new record store? In 2009? Second Spin is taking over the former Vans Skate Park slot at Ontario Mills, where the store will sell used — not new — CDs, DVDs and video games. I’ll report more when I know more. Grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 27.

In the meantime, here are links to the store’s website and to the Second Spin site. There are Second Spin stores in Costa Mesa, Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica and Denver. The owner is NY-based Transworld Entertainment, which owns Sam Goody, Suncoast, Wherehouse, Musicland and other chains.

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