For Friday’s column, I go back through my Restaurant of the Week blog posts of 2013 to single out the best spots. Hope that proves useful, especially for those who don’t read my blog — and if some of them get intrigued and visit here, well, that would be cool. Also, I present Culture Corner items about events taking place in the next few days.
Fish-O-Licious, 4200 Chino Hills Parkway (at Pipeline), Chino Hills; open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Chino Hills has Pacific Fish Grill at the Shoppes, an informal seafood spot about which I posted in 2009. One wishes there were more such places in the Inland Valley. Well, since December there’s been a second, and it’s also in Chino Hills: Fish-O-Licious. It’s a wannabe chain with one other location, in Commerce.
Some of the menu offerings are fried, others are grilled. And before you wonder if this is a gussied-up H. Salt, the motto is “Fresh Seafood Daily.” I had lunch there with a friend recently.
I had the special No. 3 ($10, bottom), a plate of sole with a slightly sweet sauce with pineapple and peppers, as well as an above-average slaw, a roll and, in a pleasant surprise, a soda. Not a bad price, and the food was very good. My friend had the three fish taco plate ($8, below), which came with fries. She liked the tacos but thought tortilla chips would be a better side than fries.
They have sole, salmon, catfish, halibut, shrimp and scallops, as well as chicken (for those who hate fish, I guess) and chowder.
My friend’s comment was that it’s good to have another healthy option but that it’s pretty similar to Pacific Fish Grill. My comment is, I like it, but why can’t it be in a different city? Chino Hills has all the fun.
Why “rue”? The word came up at the council meeting. So did a zillion other words: there were 22 speakers. Look for my report in Wednesday’s column.
Trader Joe’s came to Upland in 1994 and is leaving 20 years later, on Jan. 31, reports my colleague Liset Marquez. Scuttlebutt is that the landlords of the Mountain Green Shopping Center wanted to raise the rent more than the specialty grocer felt it should pay, although nobody’s saying that officially. Party City is moving to the center across the street, as Honey Baked Ham did a couple of years back, both lending credence to the rent theory.
Joe’s is an anchor of the center at 7th Street and Mountain Avenue, which also has a Kohl’s (which replaced Mervyns), CVS, Michaels (which replaced an Edwards four-plex), China Gate, Handel’s Ice Cream, Dennys and San Biagio’s Pizza, among other tenants. (A reasonably up to date list is here.)
Back in the 1990s, and even beyond, Joe’s was one of the few hip businesses out here. (*Readers remind me there was a Joe’s in the ’80s outside Montclair Plaza.)
The Upland store, a little undersized, was always jam-packed, and it paid to visit during off-hours when there might be room to maneuver the tight aisles and time to examine unfamiliar items at leisure. Visiting became less essential after Joe’s locations opened in Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga (*and Chino Hills), but Upland’s was still useful for people on the West End. (I once saw Greg Devereaux, then Ontario’s city manager, picking up a few things one evening.) Those other stores no doubt diluted traffic at the Upland location.
Leave your own thoughts on the store’s impact and departure below, or on your memories of the shopping center, which I believe dates to the 1980s, or perhaps earlier.
Joe’s isn’t slipping away in the night. A sign outside the store says they’ll have a farewell barbecue from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, serving hot dogs and drinks. The store closes that day at 9 p.m. A second farewell sign thanks its customers and notes: “All crew members from this store will be transferred to other Trader Joe’s.”
Three random media products I enjoyed in a one-week span — a music DVD, a CD and a movie DVD — all turned out to have low-key links to the Inland Valley. I also present three culture corner items and cop to two mistaken word choices in previous columns — oops. All this is in Sunday’s column.
Many of these items, you might be curious to know, were written for last Sunday’s column but were crowded out due to news about the Big Boy train and the media’s confusion about precisely where Glendora is located. But they kept.
Mrs. Unruh, as she’s billed, owns Mount Baldy’s Buckhorn Lodge, where she performs with a band on weekends, doing torch songs, country songs and showtunes. She’s the widow of Jesse Unruh, who before his 1987 death was one of California’s most prominent legislators. The lodge will be closing soon. I sit in on a performance for Friday’s special-length column.
Twisted Sage Cafe, 433 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Dixie), San Dimas; open daily 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
You may have to twist your car a couple of times to find Twisted Sage, which is in a white Spanish-tile office complex a few blocks west of San Dimas Canyon Road. But my friends and I did a U-turn one recent Sunday and circled back.
Twisted Sage is a popular spot, and for good reason, one of those rare places out here that does what so many hip spots in LA do: local produce, sustainable, green practices, reclaimed wood, made from scratch, etc., etc. People were lined up out the door to order at the counter; there proved to be exactly the right number of tables.
We had a French toast plate ($8, below), which uses French bread and comes with homemade jam; bacon waffle ($5.75), slices of bacon surrounded by waffle; and veggie wrap ($8), wrapped in a spinach tortilla, with a side of mac and cheese ($1.50). We weren’t wowed, but we liked our meals. The ambience is lively: forest green walls, stainless steel tables and chairs, salvaged decor, interesting accent pieces.
I returned for lunch a couple of weeks later. The menu has salads, sandwiches, panini and wraps, as well as a few specials, recently including a couple of burgers. I got the seared ahi tuna salad ($15, middle). Besides four thick slices of tuna, the salad has mixed greens, slaw, cucumber, radish, avocado and a cucumber wasabi dressing. I would have preferred a vinaigrette to a cream dressing, but the salad was good.
After hearing good things about the biscuits and gravy, I came back for breakfast and got that as a plate ($11, bottom). I don’t typically like biscuits and gravy, as the sauce is like a white mass of goop to me, but the Twisted Sage version was delicious: a cornbread-like biscuit topped with housemade-sausage gravy. They’re not on the regular menu, but they’ve been offered as a special in recent weeks. They came with eggs, crisped potatoes and bacon. Delicious.
I felt like I’d finally ordered the right thing. I ate on the rear patio, which I didn’t know existed on previous visits, picnic and bistro tables arrayed in a relatively secluded spot.
Ultimately, then, a thumb’s-up for Twisted Sage. The concept may outpace the results at times, but I like the concept, and you might too.
‘….Mister Maaaaayor!” Pomona Mayor Elliott Rothman models a contestant-style sash made by the Sash Company of Upland.
Wednesday’s column revisits Upland’s Fiscal Response Task Force, whose action-movie name I improved, you may recall, to Fiscal Imbalance Strike Team, or FIST. They met for the final time Saturday. I was there, because I care, and because I had more jokes.
Red and white tile, slanted roof, arched sign…looks kind of familiar. Opened in September 1954, this stand at 1057 E. Mission Blvd. in Pomona was one of the earliest McDonald’s, back when they were still franchised by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald of San Bernardino.
The architect of the early franchises was Stanley Meston of Fontana. Pomona’s operated as a McDonald’s until 1968, when the tops of the arches were removed. In recent years it’s been AMA Donuts. As Alan Hess characterizes the building in his book “Googie Redux”: “remodeled but still a recognizable example of the classic design.”
The first McDonald’s opened in 1948 in San Bernardino, after their 1940 carhop stand was converted into a drive-up. After that, McDonald’s No. 1, subsequent restaurants were opened in this order in 1953 and 1954, according to Hess’ book: 2) Phoenix, Ariz., 3) Downey, 4) North Hollywood, 5) Alhambra, 6) Sacramento, 7) Azusa and 8) Pomona.
Some sources reverse Azusa and Pomona; both opened in September 1954. My information from a decade ago, which I believe came from pop culture scholar Chris Nichols, is that Pomona’s opened Sept. 1. Unless Azusa’s opened the same day, it’s likely Pomona’s is No. 7, not 8. Whichever, it’s still old, and unlike Azusa’s, it’s still standing.
Downey’s is the oldest surviving example and operates as a McDonald’s. Pomona’s is the second-oldest. Third-oldest is at 1900 S. Central Ave. in L.A. and can be seen from the Blue Line just south of downtown; it’s a Mexican restaurant and looks less like a McDonald’s now after alterations a year or two ago.
Thus, Pomona’s building may be the best-preserved original McDonald’s other than Downey’s. Perhaps someday, Pomona’s will get the Downey treatment.