Restaurant of the Week: Tony’s French Dips

Tony’s Famous French Dips, 986 E. 2nd St. (at San Antonio), Pomona

It’s called Tony’s Famous French Dips, but chances are you’ve never heard of it. Located in an unassuming building in an industrial zone, Tony’s is 10 long blocks east of Garey, and thus on the far edge of anything that could be considered downtown Pomona (although the skyline is visible in the distance, like Oz).

That said, Tony’s has been dipping roast beef into au jus since 1958 (55 years in 2013!), and somehow hangs in there, the Inland Valley’s counterpart to Philippe’s or Cole’s (both in L.A. since 1908). I’ve eaten at Tony’s maybe a half-dozen times over the years and returned recently, a few years since my last visit, for a fresh look.

Comfortingly, nothing seems to have changed, including the staff, the cane chairs and vintage Pomona photos on the walls, although presumably the sawdust on the floor has been swept out a few times. OK, one change, which is that due to the Health Department, you now have to ask for a small refrigerated container of horseradish sauce instead of using a shared dispenser on the counter. Hey, even Philippe’s had to put its mustard in squirt bottles after inspectors frowned on the open mustard and tiny spoons.

Tony’s has beef, pastrami, turkey, ham and corned beef dipped sandwiches ($5.75), grinders ($5.75), and liverwurst, egg salad, tuna salad and salami cold sandwiches ($5.50).

I went for lunch with a Tony’s veteran, who hadn’t been there in a long while, and two newcomers. We all got beef dips. “That was really good!” one of the first-timers exclaimed, pronouncing himself stuffed. More critically, the weak spot is the soft rolls, no match for Philippe’s crunchy, fresh-baked rolls. On the other hand, Tony’s is a lot closer, and you won’t have to wait in line.

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  • DebB

    So glad you mentioned the liverwurst! My mom loves it, and not too many places sell liverwurst sandwiches. We’ll have to try it soon!

    • davidallen909

      You need to visit, it’s a Pomona tradition!

  • Klynn

    My family and I used to go there so often they knew us by name! We moved to Arkansas 13yrs ago and I miss the hometown favorites. I would give anything for a Hot Ham dip and a pickle right about now!!! Thank you for this spotlight, seeing the pictures brings back great memories!

  • Ramona

    DebB -

    I, too, love liverwurst! My kids call it “the worst”.

    Had it many a time there when I lived in Pomona.
    A nice finish for a shopping trip downtown with Mom – Kress and Woolworth and maybe JC Penny if II needed gym clothes.

  • Bob Marquardt

    Used to go every payday when i worked at GD in the 80′s. Pastrami and beer!

  • Andy Sze

    5.75?!! that’s at least 3 bucks cheaper than Phillipes!

    passed by it a few times, but was always wary about going to a little joint in the middle of the industrial area on the east side of ptown. interesting.. gotta try it.

  • Tom S

    I used to go there almost every day in the 70′s. There were always long lines at lunch time. I started going back there again a couple of years ago, only a few times. They do not have the lines at lunch time that they had back then. I walk right up to order the food, and the room is sparsely filled. I think the portions are small, especially the salads. They used to have fresh baked pies, I do not see them offered any more. The interior has not changed at all, I think that a smart thoughtful refreshing is needed, as it seems rather “tired”. I think that it can do well with some TLC, and marketing. It is no Philipes, and Capri Deli in Covina is far better.