Highland perk was just the ticket

As regular readers know, I take Metrolink for day trips whenever I can, which isn’t as often as I’d like, in part because it seems like a full-day thing and full days are rare. Sunday, though, I made it a half-day thing just for lunch.

There are numerous good restaurants near a transit stop in L.A. Why not just go have lunch somewhere new and fun? I decided to try Good Girl Dinette, a Highland Park cafe that bills itself as “American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food” and which made LA Weekly’s LA 99 list of notable restaurants.

So I got on the 11:39 a.m. train from Claremont with an armful of reading material (Sunday papers, an LA Weekly, an IE Weekly, Westways magazine, two Record Collector News issues and Mark Twain’s “Roughing It”), took the Gold Line light rail trolley to the Highland Park stop, walked two blocks in an unfamiliar part of L.A. to the restaurant, had a satisfying repast (beef stew, housemade lemon pop, bread pudding) for $24, walked back to the light rail stop, took the Gold Line back to Union Station and immediately got on Metrolink for the ride back home, arriving in Claremont at 4:20 p.m. carrying only the Twain book, having shed everything else as I read it.

Yes, the ride cost $11, making this a long and slightly pricey meal, but it was worth the extra time and cost to have a mini-adventure, one with almost no unproductive time. The smooth, air-conditioned ride certainly wasn’t roughing it (ahem).

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  • Bob House

    Excellent post on an excellent Sunday! You and other readers may be interested in the current (March) issue of Saveur magazine. Devoted to food and eating in Los Angeles, it covers the history from the contested 1908 invention of the French Dip to modern times; from fine dining to taquerias; recipes for invented-in-LA dishes; and features on Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Philippe’s mustard, among other LA food icons. Good reading. I’m hoping the next issue is devoted to how to pronounce the name of the magazine.

    [A good recommendation, Bob. I have the issue at home (it was an impulse purchase in the checkout line at Sprouts Market in Claremont) but haven’t cracked it yet. — DA]

  • shirley wofford

    Hi David, more power to you for going out on those little adventures alone. As you know, I do that too, but I hadn’t been brave enough to get off the Gold Line anywhere except Chinatown, on my way to Philippe’s.

    I cannot fathom any Metrolink adventure that does not involve food. I always come home from each adventure with a little story of some kind and get the usual eye-rolling from my husband.

    This is my latest one: I attended an all-day CA Dialogue sponsored by CalPERS at the Convention Center on the Friday prior to Valentine’s Day. During our lunch break, I explored a little of LA Live and wandered into a seafood restaurant, “Rock N’Fish”. Nice place — fabulous clam chowder.

    After the conference, I planned my dinner stop at Philippe’s. I was prepared that, since it was Friday, the place would be packed, and I was going to slip right up to the miscellaneous counter that I could use if I wasn’t ordering a sandwich. Well, to my surprise, it was not crowded at all. I reasoned to myself that, since it was Valentine’s Day weekend, people must be celebrating at places a little more expensive.

    As I was enjoying my usual beef stew, cole slaw, and tapioca pudding for less than $7 (sorry David, I have to get a little rib in here), I looked up to see the Asian newsman from one of our local TV channels walk by my table. (I knew this man was either Gordon Takamatsu (sic?) or the one who does the ESPN Zone’s Laker followups on Channel 7.)

    As I was leaving the restaurant, there he was, standing at the entrance with his camera setup. I approached him and told him how I get him mixed up with the other guy. He said, “Oh, that is Rob Fukazaki (sic?) — I wish I had that job.” I asked him when he would be on, and he replied that he was going to do his segment at 5:10 p.m. I told him that I would miss him, as I would be on the train.

    So, as I was walking back to Union Station, I called my husband and told him to please watch the Channel 4, 5:00 p.m. news, because Gordon Takamatsu was going to be on at Philippe’s.

    When I got home, I verified right away that my husband had watched. He said, “Yes, didn’t he tell you why he was there?” Seeing my puzzled look, he went on to say, “Someone reported that they saw a cockroach in the restaurant, so they were closed down for 4 days to close up all holes and paint. Today was their big new opening. He said, he wasn’t eating, but he didn’t see anything.” (Ha-Ha — ignorance is bliss — proved.)

    We didn’t take a big hit with the new Metrolink schedules that went into effect Feb. 15. I hope people will take advantage of the fact that the transfers to all MTA transportation, including the Red, Gold, and Blue Lines, will still be free until the start of the next fiscal year. Then, we need to buy TAP cards. There are adventures waiting to be experienced.

    [I had no idea Philippe’s had a “miscellaneous” counter; I’ll have to look for the sign next time I go in for just pie or a bowl of chili. Oh, and I missed news of the Philippe’s closure too until after it was over. — DA]

  • Ted M

    Nice. I’m amazed at your frugality. Reminds me of the Married with Children episode when the air conditioning breaks and they live in the grocery store.

  • Charles Quinn

    IRS mileage rate is $0.50 per mile, so driving to Highland Park (70 miles roundtrip) would be $35 when you factor in insurance, gas, wear and tear. So $11.00 was cheap for a nice adventure. I use Metrolink on occasions too. Nice way to catch up on some reading and be relaxed and not have to worry about driving/parking. Metrolink is the best!

  • Don J

    Dave, I went r/t to Lancaster the week before & with no Flex-Rate Metrolink rates have gotten nuts…but you could’ve taken the out-of-Montclair Silver Streak for $3 (incl/MTA transfer), hopped the Gold Line out of Union Station, hopped off to eat, then reboarded in Highland Park w/transfer for $1.65 & taken the molasses-slow Foothill Transit #187 (you had books, right?) back to Montclair.

    [True, and that’s a cheap alternative, but I get carsick on the bus (bus-sick?) if I read. I can’t read for long on the Gold or Blue lines either. Too much side-to-side motion. Metrolink, not a problem. — DA]