Remembering Taco Kitchen

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The former Taco Kitchen is now Simpsons Floor Covering, 2911 Bonita Ave., La Verne.

Reader Bill Lukens, now residing in Marin County, writes:

“Reading about Henry’s reminded me of the great Taco Kitchen located in the middle of an orange grove in an old pump house at the end of Bonita Avenue in La Verne. In those days Bonita did not go through to Claremont, it stopped on the edge of the orange grove just out of the east side of town. You took a small one-lane road into the middle of the grove to find the restaurant.

“On hindsight the food was not just good, it was outstanding. The owners, Elsie and Marshall Moss, presided over every meal. One of them was always there.

“Local people waited the tables and each plate had to pass under the eyes of Elsie or Marshall before it hit your table. The enchiladas were to die for coming piping hot, right from the oven, with the cheese still bubbling. And the tacos and beef tostadas were the best I have tasted even to today.

“The restaurant was always full. Right up to the last time I went there in 1970, it was good to the last plate. I often have thought of starting a Taco Kitchen in Tiburon where I now live and replicating the great recipes accumulated by Elsie and Marshall from their trips to Mexico.

“The funny thing was that it was located in La Verne, whose population was American mainstream. But oh how they loved the Taco Kitchen — La Verne’s little surprise.”

What a nice reminiscence. Thanks, Bill. Here’s some additional information: Taco Kitchen’s address was Fourth Street at Fulton Road (phone number LYcoming 4-2453). The building dates to 1944 and today, heavily remodeled, it’s home to Simpsons Floor Covering and an insurance office. No enchiladas or orange groves in sight.

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  • Craig E. Hellman

    I worked at the downtown market Alpha Beta in La Verne 1963/1966, the guys would go there for lunch!!

    Good people/great food!

  • Joanne

    He forgot the great melted cheese bread! We used to go to the Taco Kitchen all during the 1960s when I was in high school. . .they had a great gift shop too from which I bought a straw book bag for Chaffey College.

  • debi porada

    The fried sopaipallas (sp?) with honey were to die for. Even my dad was talking about them the other day.

  • jan

    Trying to find a copy of their Taco Kitchen cookbook. Remember their dessert.

  • Bill Lukens

    Well Fourth Street and Bonita were the same. Probably dating myself here but it was called Bonita until it reached the town of La Verne and then it became Fourth Street. But, when the freeways were extended and the names of the streets were revised, Fourth Street became Bonita for continuity’s sake.

    Saw Rick Bayless speak at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco yesterday, and thought again about those great meals, especially the Sunday evenings, at the Taco Kitchen. Rick would have liked Taco Kitchen. It was really a precursor to his cooking, although he may not have ever connected to it. I might ask him though, because his Frontera Grill in Chicago is the best, next thing to the Taco Kitchen –well maybe a little better. But Taco Kitchen is still great in my memory. I prepare meals modeled after its menu even today. Btw, does anybody know where one can get the Taco Kitchen cookbook? Let me know. Thanks.


  • Sally MacAllister

    I just had a reunion with 12 of my first cousins — we all grew up in the 50’s & 60’s in Claremont. Our dear grandmother would take us — in small groups — to Taco Kitchen, and we felt so special. Always a treat from the gift shop after our meal. Only one of us ever got burned by the very hot plates. And we all remember best the enchiladas with the chopped green onions on top. As I recall, they also had a really good dinner salad.

    We have all grown into “sophisticated” Mexican food aficionados, but our memories of Taco Kicthen remain delicious.

    Is there a cookbook for Taco Kicthen — PLEASE let me know.

  • Terry (Finley) Wong

    Was anyone able to locate the cookbook?

    [If they were, they haven’t said so. — DA]

  • Dave K

    Am also looking for their cookbook. Especially one of their desserts…kind of like a custard or flan!

  • Don Stevens

    Really liked their Nectarine sherbet…that was made for them by another favorite, Betsy Ross.

  • Juicy Harvey

    Omg the sopapilla with honey was the best thing ever!!!

  • Diana Phelps

    I was thinking of Taco Kitchen just the other day and thought I would ‘google’ it. Wonderful to see comments by others who also felt that it was one of the BEST restaurants around. In my experience, it had the best Mexican food and tacos, especially, that I have EVER tasted.

    Did anyone ever find a cookbook for Taco Kitchen?

    Diana Phelps

    • Edward Armbrust

      There must have been some kind of cook book because my grandmother had copied the pudding reciep on to a 3×5 card from a xerox type handwritten copy, page 103 and 104. The handprinted copy was printed (not written) and ended with the name Elsie.

  • Laurie Cook

    My grandmother used to work in the gift shop and my uncle bussed tables at the Taco Kitchen. My sister and I loved going there. The tacos were the best! Was there an actual cookbook? I’ve tried for years to find any recipes from the Taco Kitchen. If the family members of Elsie and Marshall Moss have the recipes, I’m sure we’d all buy them!!!!

    Thanks for the great blog!

  • debra sims


    My aunt (Marjorie) and uncle (Marshall) owned the Taco Kitchen. Elsie was uncle’s first wife. I inherited many books from them. I will check to see if the cookbook is in there any where. I have old stationery and other items from the taco kitchen. Both Auntie and Uncle have passed but they were a huge influence on my life. Thank you all, I so enjoyed reading the comments!


    [Debbie, how nice to hear from you. Let us know if you find the famous cookbook. — DA]

  • Jeff Jenson

    My grandmother worked there for many years until she became a famous artist. My mom and dad worked and met there, and my aunt married the owners son.

  • jerry gensel

    Taco Kitchen was my family’s favorite. A far 2nd was Ernie’s in West Covina.

  • Mark Jones

    Amazing what I bump into exploring the web. I grew up in Pomona in the 50’s and 60’s and this was by far my favorite place to eat, anywhere. My parents owned the little gift shop for a year or so and then got tired of it I think. They become good friends with Elsie and Marshall and we used to go down to their house in Laguna Beach for dinner. I remember them being really nice people, and man I loved those tacos at the kitchen!

  • My first job was at the Taco Kitchen; interesting note that Marshall and Elsie were divorced; They traded weeks working there; the arrangement worked out very well. That was a long time and many miles ago, but I have fond memories!

  • Richard

    As of this writing, I am a 66 year old man. My family lived in Arcadia on a Chicken Ranch. We used to go to the Taco Kitchen from time to time. The last time I was there I was 9 or 10, so it would have been the late ’50’s, I used to get the cheese Enchilada. I can still taste it in my memory. I’ve tried to duplicate it, but can’t. Someone mentioned the chopped Green Onion on top of he Enchilada…… that was my favorite part!
    What a wonderful place to eat. I’ve not found any other place that compares!
    Thanks for posting these memories! .

  • Edward Armbrust

    I am a 76-year-old native Californian but now live live in Champaign, Illinois. I grew up in Alhambra near Huntingto Drive and Atlantic Blvd. but my grand parents owned a 40-acre orange grove in Pomona at Holt and Erie when I was a youngster. My grandmother often took my brother and I to Taco Kitchen when we visited the orange grove which was often. Besides the cheese enchiladas there was a desert called Cielito Pudding which was my all time favorite.

    Our other favorite place to go was the Graber Olive House in Ontario. I still order their olives.

    • davidallen909

      I went to college in Champaign. Give my best to the Illini.

      • Edward Armbrust

        I was a professor in entomology there for 40 years. A big change from growing up in California but I adjusted and still live in the area.

  • Edward Armbrust

    In my grandmother Recipe Box I found the recipe for the Taco Kitchen Cielito Pudding which she must have obtained from Elsie.

    Taco Kitchen

    1 1/4 cup brown sugar
    2 cups boiling water
    1/3 cup cornstarch
    1/4 cup cold water
    3 egg whites
    2 cups scalded milk
    1/4 cup of sugar
    1 Tab. cornstarch
    3 egg yolks
    1 tea. vanilla
    Add boiling water to sugar and cold water to the corn
    starch. Put together and cook until thick. Then cook slowly for 15 min. Pour slowly over egg whites which have been
    beaten stiff. Add one tea vanilla or a
    few drops of almond extract. Dates or nuts
    may be added or the plain pudding may be topped with fruit.
    Serve with custard sauce.
    For custard sauce: mix together the egg yolks, sugar, and corn starch. Add to milk and cook until thick. Add vanilla and serve over pudding.