Have a multi-culti Christmas


Photo: John Valenzuela

On Rancho Cucamonga’s Thoroughbred Lane, a tourist attraction at Christmastime because of the lavish decorations, a homeowner has posted a “Keep Off the Grass” sign in English, Spanish and Korean Chinese. They really, really want you to stay off their lawn.

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Restaurant of the Week: Avocado House

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Avocado House, 11618 Central Ave. (at Francis), Chino; open Tuesday to Saturday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

An old house with a country feel on the northern tip of Chino was converted into a restaurant in February 2009. A couple of readers have recommended it, and I pass by it frequently, so on a recent Saturday a couple of friends and I met there for breakfast.

The property still has a couple of outbuildings, one of them a small house, plus an enormous avocado tree, a tree swing and a parking lot that’s not large enough for the restaurant’s popularity. They have seating on the wraparound porch and several tables in the homey interior, which has wood floors, a fireplace (with Christmas decorations on the mantle in our early December visit) and cupboards.

Very charming. I was a little surprised that ordering is done at a counter that fronts the kitchen rather than at your table, but the system must work for them. They bring the food out to you. Overall, service is competent but not quite as welcoming as you might think from the grandma’s-house setting.

The food, however, was quite good. My friends had the garden omelet and the meat lovers omelet (each $8.50), canceling each other out I guess, but each ending up impressed. One bought a gift certificate on the way out. I had the country breakfast ($8) with two eggs, diced potatoes, sausage and toast. Mine was what you’d expect, although the potatoes were notable. I don’t have any complaints, I just should’ve tested the kitchen with something more exotic.

My friends also got the avocado toast ($2.75), which is two slices of bread spread with a thick layer of avocado. They pronounced it delicious. I’ve never been an avocado fan, so I took their word for it. Pictured is the avocado toast and garden omelet.

Avocado House also does lunch. Some of the sandwiches and salads sound awfully tempting. Check the full menu here.

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Towne house

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Devoted readers (with sterling memories) may recall that in July 2008, I wondered in this space what I might have meant by writing “Towne house” on my dry-erase board of ideas sometime previously. Readers posted their guesses. In the midst of that, I remembered. But I never quite got around to explaining.

What I meant was a house built circa 2004 on land left over from 210 Freeway construction in Claremont. This house popped up on Towne Avenue next to the eastbound offramp. All that separates the house from the freeway ramp is a picket fence, a walking path and a sound wall.

I found the house’s construction there ironic, as a proposal for apartments a few yards northeast at Towne and Base Line, right next to the westbound offramp, drew such ire that it was dropped.

My attempts to photograph the Towne house proved problematic. On one weekend in May 2009 I shot photos that, upon later inspection, didn’t give a good view. It was harder to get the freeway and the house in a photo than I’d imagined.

It was a year before I tried again. (Procrastinating was easier than parking and wandering around on foot near a freeway overpass on my personal time.) These photos worked out better but I set the whole project aside, unsure of the point.

Well, for anyone who still cares, here are a couple of those tardy photos, and this tardy explanation. And yes, “Towne house” is off my whiteboard.

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One giant reindeer


Photo by Priscilla Fuchita

Eight tiny reindeer? In Chino, there’s one giant reindeer.

“This could be the biggest reindeer in Chino or maybe in the IE. He stands over 15 feet tall and is over 8 feet long,” reports reader Steve Burdi, who built the reindeer with his wife, Connie, over the course of a month.

Ginormas, as they call it, was erected Dec. 11 by the Burdis with help from Steve Kreft, Patrick Sullivan and Tony Dean and decorations by Lisa Dean and Stephanie Sullivan.

“My wife and I thought this would be a great Christmas gift for the families and children of Chino, as we have been residents of this great city for over 25 years,” Steve Burdi says, “and also for neighboring cities to drive by and take pictures of our newest member to the Burdi family, Ginormas the Reindeer.”

See him at 4073 Polk Court, Chino. If he flies off to help Santa, the neighborhood may shake.

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No wonder there’s road rage

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Driving on Base Line in Rancho Cucamonga recently, I was startled to see a sign for a driving school that seemed to be named Baldy Driving. Hard not to take it personally. Hey, we drive the same as everyone else (poorly)!

A return visit to take a photo revealed the fine print invisible to motorists: the name is really Baldy View Driving.

View? Phew. All right, carry on.

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Inland Valley Photo Quiz No. 5

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It’s been six months since our last quiz. Where does the time go? Take a guess as to where the above scene is located. The answer will be revealed tomorrow morning.

Btw, if you hadn’t noticed, for the past few weeks comments have been posting here automatically, and it’s too much trouble to change it back to make me the moderator, so you can now avail yourself of others’ guesses if you choose, or avert your eyes if you prefer.

Here’s a link to the 4th quiz.

* 5 p.m.: Your guesses were correct! The photo was taken at Vineyard and Airport Drive near Ontario Airport, looking northeast. I don’t know why the empty sign has been allowed to rot there for so many years, but the vines do give it a sort of nature-reclaiming-its-own-after-a-nuclear-holocaust vibe, don’t they?

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Barber hangs up his shears

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Don Smart, seen here cutting the hair of Frank Flores, is retiring Sunday after more than 40 years of cutting hair, most of that time in Pomona’s Sportsman’s Barber Shop at 628 E. Holt Ave. Read about him in my Sunday column.

Most of the shop had been stripped of furnishings in preparation for its close when I visited Thursday, but besides the battered 1960 barber chair at left, I saw a vintage sign giving the prices.

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Restaurant of the Week: Classy Cafe

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Classy Cafe, 9135 Archibald Ave. (at 7th), Rancho Cucamonga

Ensconced in a business park, Classy Cafe doesn’t get its name from its surroundings. Taking the former Angelina’s Cafe space, the cafe offers breakfast and lunch, weekdays only, with an uncommon focus on quality ingredients. They bake their own bread daily, make their own soups and even roast their own meats for the sandwiches.

A friend and I dropped in for lunch recently. The bistro-style interior, with its bare concrete floor, is a bit underdone, but I like the script over the entrance: “Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what’s for lunch. — Orson Welles.” It was a warm day so we ate outside at one of the umbrella-shaded tables.

They have deli and panini sandwiches and salads for lunch and omelets, sandwiches and bakery items for breakfast.

The daily special ($8.99) is half a sandwich, a cup of soup or a cup of pasta salad or potato salad, a soda and a small dessert. We opted for that. I had ham on onion-cheese bread and potato salad; he had turkey on wheat and the steak onion bleu cheese soup (which is more a list of ingredients than a name, isn’t it?).

We were both impressed by the quality of the food and the freshness of the bread. Each lunch came with a small wedge from a blueberry muffin; that was the sweet treat.

The cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You can view the menu on the cafe’s website. Bread is sold by the loaf from $4.50 to $5. Despite what they seem to think, they’re selling artisan bread, not “artesian.”

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Where I’m a regular

An item in my column the other day, about being recognized as a repeat customer on only my second visit to a Chinatown-adjacent diner in L.A. (Nick’s Cafe, for the curious), prompted a discussion Tuesday with a couple of readers in Claremont.

Was I a regular at any local restaurants? One suggested that my tastes are eclectic enough that I’m probably flitting from restaurant to restaurant too often to be much of a regular.

That’s true. Even a lot of the places to which I’ve given a favorable nod to in this space I’ve never returned to. There’s always something new to try.

But I do return to a few local mom and pop places frequently enough — once a month or more — to be a regular. Currently those are La Verne’s Taste of Asia, Chino’s Phillips BBQ and Flo’s Airport Cafe, Pomona’s Mix Bowl Cafe, Rancho Cucamonga’s Nancy’s Cafe and Upland’s San Biagio’s N.Y. Pizza.

Do you go anywhere where they know your name?

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