Tuesday was the last meeting for Chino Councilman Glenn Duncan after 25 years. His farewell was hastily arranged because he kept the news on the down-low, but the comments were fond and heartfelt, not to mention funny. I tell the story in Friday’s column.
El Patron, 9269 Utica Ave. (at Sixth), Rancho Cucamonga; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends
El Patron has spawned a second location, El Patron II, in La Verne. I tried to eat there recently but unfortunately chose a Monday, the only day it’s closed. A few days later, I went to the older one in Rancho Cucamonga. Who can judge the sequel without having seen the original?
It was in a business park and hard to find, but the key is that El Patron faces 6th, not Utica. The facade is biz park bland, but open the door and you’re hit with bright colors, as the walls are painted mustard, maroon and orange. (Your color wheel may differ.)
I took a seat, examined the menu and was delivered chips and salsa. I asked the server about the specialties and he pointed to menu items 6 (chile relleno, taco or enchilada) and 7 (chile relleno, taco AND enchilada). I went for No. 6 ($10), with a hard shell shredded beef taco.
This proved to be a great choice. While I’m not a big fan of chile rellenos, this was a good one, smothered in green sauce, and the taco was freshly fried, something you don’t see all that often. It made me think of Ramon’s Cactus Patch and the Mitla Cafe.
I could see El Patron becoming an occasional lunch stop for me as it’s not that far from our office and the food is very good, with friendly but low-key service. Now I feel prepared for El Patron II. By the way, readers say the same family runs Los Jarritos in Pomona.
Update, October 2019: El Patron has become a regular lunch stop for me. Here’s the steak picado plate ($9.65). (Note: El Patron II in La Verne, mentioned above, didn’t survive.)
In reading a memoir about 1940s newspapermen in LA, an anecdote involving Pomona begged to be shared, even though, or maybe because, it’s in such bad taste. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by two Culture Corner items and a follow-up to my Salsbury Scooters column.
Photo by Liset Marquez
The former Romano’s Macaroni Grill in the Montclair Entertainment Center adjacent to Montclair Plaza, closed since 2014, is being rebuilt as a Buffalo Wild Wings. While I can’t say I’m interested in this chain, it’s still nice to see some activity. The adjacent restaurant, Elephant Bar, closed last November and remains empty.
You were probably on pins and needles, you may have had your bets in in Las Vegas, but the wait is over: Ontario’s historic preservation awards were announced recently. I list them and describe them in Sunday’s column, followed by news about a library card catalog, some cultural notes, a plug for this blog and a vignette. Above, the home at 214 E. 4th St., one of the winners. Clearly the awards are not based on size.
Wolfe’s Market, a Claremont institution that opened in 1917, is having a closeout sale on groceries as it prepares to shrink its business to its deli and kitchen only. I tell the story in Friday’s column.
Bigg Dane and Beale’s Texas BBQ, 7373 East Ave. (at Base Line), Fontana; open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and 8 p.m. weekends; closed Tuesdays
I read about Bigg Dane’s in late 2015 but only recently sought it out, after 1) remembering and then 2) learning it’s on the near side of Fontana, off the 15 at Base Line Road, a stone’s throw from Rancho, rather than a few further miles out of the way. Actually getting to Bigg’s from the freeway is tricky due to the layout of the intersection, but a couple of counter-intuitive left turns and I was in the shopping center.
There’s a smoker out front, a good sign; inside, you order at the counter and take a seat in the adjacent dining room. The menu has plates with two sides, sandwiches with one side and a few lunch specials. My first visit, I ordered brisket with collard greens and cornbread ($15).
My food was delivered on a metal tray lined with paper: two long strips of brisket, sauce on the side, a plate of cornbread and a dish of greens. It was all good.
Wanting to try the ribs, I returned the next week for the three-rib lunch special ($10) with one side, mac and cheese. The mac was dense and cheesy.
As soon as I picked up the first rib, its heft, density and smell let me know these were serious. The meat was tender but firm and came off the bone cleanly; the taste was excellent. I am no barbecue expert, but I’ve eaten at Franklin’s in Austin, Pappy’s in St. Louis and Bludso’s in L.A., and while Biggs’ weren’t at that level, nor would I expect them to be, they were reminiscent of that level. The ribs have a dry rub and don’t need sauce, and yet the thin, slightly sweet sauce on the side was quite good too.
The dining room is clean and new, a little sterile due to minimal decor. I was surprised how unoccupied it was given the quality of the food. Maybe it’s busier on the weekend. Owned by two longtime friends, it’s a family-run operation, and on one visit a young daughter was stationed at a table, coloring. Gotta like a place like that.
In its seven decades the Pomona Concert Band has had just two conductors. An anchor point in a changing world, the band kicks off its 70th season Friday. I provide a history in Wednesday’s column. Above, the band performs in the late 1950s at Ganesha Park.
This 28-by-14-foot mural went up over the weekend in Montclair Place mall on the upper level near the east end escalators, the work of the anonymous artist Punk Me Tender. It features, according to the mall, “a fashionable woman wearing a dress inspired by an Alexander McQueen design, who is posed among dripping chandeliers while walking her pooches.” The dress was made from 10 yards of silk, taffeta and mixed media.
The mural joins the one completed last month on the parking structure exterior. A third mural is promised later this month.
Photo of ’69 Chevelle Gasser courtesy of Super Chevy
“Growing up in the Pomona Valley during the early to mid-’70s meant being around the baddest muscle cars and hot rods in So Cal,” Nick Licata writes in an article for Super Chevy, a magazine for Chevrolet fanatics.
Licata continues: “On just about every block it was common to see an open garage door on a warm summer night with a few young gearheads listening to Led Zeppelin while wrenching away on a hot rod of some sort.”
Early teens like Licata would ride their Schwinn Sting-Rays on Saturday nights to a vacant lot behind a Garey Avenue Taco Bell, where more than 50 muscle cars would be shown off by their owners. They would be treated as local celebrities by the kids.
Reader Ed Tessier, who sent me the story, says he found its take spot-on. He adds that in south Pomona in that era, “low rider culture was a bigger deal on many blocks and the radios were pumping out Mexican pop.” Not everyone was into Zeppelin.