Record swap is Sunday

The twice-annual CD and Record Expo takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Pomona College’s Smith Campus Center Ballroom, 170 E. Sixth St. in Claremont, an old-fashioned show where dealers sell vintage vinyl, compact discs, posters and DVDs from behind card tables. Admission is $2.

(This was to be an item for Sunday’s column but I cut it for space. No point letting it go to waste, right?)

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Restaurant of the Week: Oh Queso


Oh Queso, 14270 Chino Hills Parkway (at Grand), Chino Hills; open daily

Chino Hills isn’t really a burger town, so I was doubly surprised when a foodie friend advised me that an excellent burger could be had in town at a Mexican restaurant. I ventured into the far western reaches of Chino Hills to find Oh Queso, located in the Stater Bros. center, around the point where the town peters out into scrubby hills.

Oh Queso looks like a chain but isn’t. It calls itself California Mexican Cuisine and has the usual array of tacos and burritos. They also have “gourmet burgers,” described on the menu as being made with “6 ounces of fresh ground chuck and brisket beef.”

I got the cheeseburger ($5.25) but with a fried egg ($1 extra) and as a combo with fries and soda, a total of $9.14 with tax. I’d never had an egg on my burger but my friend said it helps, and another friend swears by eggs too.

The fries were of the crunchy, double-fried variety, very good. A basket of house-made tortilla chips, also good. The burger? It was served on an egg bun, sturdy enough to hold up under the burger, cheese, egg, tomato, onion and sauce. The patty was thick, fresh and loosely packed. In sum, this burger was a magnificent thing, beefy and drippy.

They also sell pastrami burgers, bacon cheeseburgers and a green chili cheeseburger, or you can add sauteed mushrooms, an extra patty or extra cheese. The egg didn’t do much for me, but maybe I’ll acquire the taste. The guy at the next table got a pastrami burger, seemed impressed and took a menu home.

The restaurant interior is nothing to get excited about, although it’s pleasant enough, with tables and actual chairs, as well as a communal table with padded benches. You order at the counter and your food is brought to you. The service was friendly.


Oh Queso’s cheeseburger is certainly a contender for best Inland Valley fast-food burger, possibly beating out the Habit, Five Guys, Fatburger and Rounds, and for the money it’s a better deal than sit-down burger champions Back Abbey and Eureka. I haven’t made a comprehensive survey, and note I said “contender,” but if there’s a better burger locally, somebody tell me where it is.

I don’t know when I’ll be driving that far out into western Chino Hills again, but if I do I now know a good place to eat there.


Update September 2016: Actually, I’ve gone back twice. The burgers are worth it. I hear the carne asada fries are another winner.


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Cleaning out the glovebox


I keep a relatively neat car, I like to think, but you can’t have a car for 12 years without a few unnecessary items accumulating. I cleaned out my car recently, prior to selling it, and was surprised by some of what I found. This photograph presents a carefully curated selection.

Clockwise from lower left: a handwritten list of Chinese restaurants on a desk calendar page from 2007; a “gold card” of unclear benefit from the Grove when I bought a computer circa 2005; one of perhaps a dozen Wet-Naps, saved but never used; a 1994-copyright Auto Club guide to emergency services; a punch card for Burger Bar in Claremont, marked once only (I didn’t really care for the meal) and now even more useless because the restaurant closed probably three years ago; an ArcLight theater card a friend pressured me to sign up for and which I never remembered to carry; a Virgin Megastore “Virgin Important Person” card for a chain that closed in 2009; a Ben and Jerry’s “Mood Magic Card,” date and purpose unknown and never used; and a keychain that came with an “Office” DVD, a miniature stapler in a miniature Jell-O mold.

What’s in your glove compartment, or what have you found in the past with embarrassment?

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Restaurant of the Week: Bua Thai


Bua Thai Cuisine, 450 W. First St. (at Indian Hill), Claremont; open daily.

Meeting a friend for dinner recently at Bua Thai, I snapped an exterior photo and, during our meal, took a photo of my dish, thinking cleverly that I would add them to an old, pre-photo blog post here to spice it up. But it turned out my memory had deceived me, and I’d only mentioned Bua here in passing rather than having made it a Restaurant of the Week.

Well, I’ve got the photos now, so why not write a post? Bua opened in 2007 as part of the Village expansion. It’s in a strip of shops fronting the parking garage, which at the time seemed like a novel use of space that would otherwise be concrete pillars and more cars.

I’ve eaten at Bua Thai four or five times, and to be honest, I’ve never been particularly excited about it, as the food is only so-so. (A friend once called it “Thai food for people who don’t like Thai food.”) So-so would describe a lot of places in the Village, though, and it ought to be said that the service at Bua is reliable and the ambiance stylishly modern and inviting.

In other words, you could get better Thai food by driving south on Indian Hill to Pomona’s Mix Bowl and Sanamluang, but if you want somewhere to eat before or after a movie at the Laemmle a block away, and you don’t want to move your car, there are certainly worse places than Bua.

This visit I had stir-fried ginger pork ($8.50) and my friend had Thai barbecued chicken ($8), a half-bird. I wish I’d taken a photo, because it looked delicious. Mine was comforting and I took half home.

Service was quiet and unobtrusive. A patio, well-screened by plants, looks inviting, and the restaurant has lots of windows. Most offer views of First, but one on the east side shows you the parking garage’s elevator. I guess you could people-watch, although you’d be better off doing so from the patio or from a window seat along First.


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It’s 100 years and counting for Besse Fogle

pat newton besse fogle 018

Besse Fogle, a retired restaurateur in Pomona and Ontario, turned 100 on Monday. The day before, her friends, including yours truly, threw her a surprise party in Rancho Cucamonga. That’s the subject of my Wednesday column. Above, Fogle talks to friend Norm Stutzke.

A 45-second video of the party can be seen here, although you’ll have to turn your computer, or head, sideways…I shot it in the landscape format and there didn’t seem to be a way to turn the video right-side-up.

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‘Go See Cal’


Photo from LA Observed

Cal Worthington died Sunday at age 92, reminding us of an era of car dealers with high profiles, broad personalities and wacky TV commercials to match. An obituary is here.

Reader Bob House reflects: “I bet lots of 909ers have memories of late-night car salespeople. In addition to Cal and his ‘dog,’ Spot, there was Ralph Williams and his dog, Storm, a guy who had ‘cars coming out of his ears’ — toy cars on a string pulled so as to appear to be coming out of his ears.”

House continued: “And, regrettably, Bob Yeakel, a dealer who in the early ’50s sponsored ‘Rocket to Stardom,’ an amateur talent competition, which featured live interviews with his car dealership’s customers. After one such interview with a black couple who were satisfied with their purchase, Mr. Yeakel turned to the camera and said, ‘There goes a couple of happy (racial epithet).'”

And of course there was Worthington and his “dog, Spot,” who might be a gorilla in one ad or a frog in the next, but was never a canine. That doesn’t have much to do with cars, but it got attention. This LA Observed post includes two videos: a vintage commercial and a compilation of his wackiest stunts.

Worthington had dealerships all over SoCal, including Claremont..He bought the Auto Center out of bankruptcy in 1995 and sold it 14 months later to Roger Hogan. In the interim, he did tape some commercials from Claremont. (I know when I think of exotic animals and homespun car dealers, I think of the City of Trees and Ph.Ds.)

Care to share any memories of Cal or his fellow hucksters?

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