Restaurant of the Week: Donahoo’s Golden Chicken, Rubidoux

Donahoo’s Golden Chicken, 5749 Mission Blvd. (at Riverview), Rubidoux; open daily, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; cash only

Only three Donahoo’s chicken locations remain, I believe: Ontario, Pomona and Rubidoux, which is just west of Riverside. The chain’s history isn’t well-documented, which I’ll have to rectify sometime, but there used to be more locations around the state.

I’ve been to Ontario once or twice and to Pomona dozens of times, which is more a reflection of where I am when I want takeout rather than the relative quality. I’d never been to or seen the one in Rubidoux, but it was in my mind to try it one day.

That day came last Saturday, when I drove to Riverside for the afternoon. I ended my day at Donahoo’s, taking Mission west out of town and pulling up to Donahoo’s, in a standalone little building with what must be an original 1950s-’60s sign. It was kind of adorable. There’s only a couple of parking spaces, but the lot next door is good too since you won’t be there long.

It’s takeout only, just like the other Donahoo’s. I got the chicken strips box lunch ($7.55), which came with five pieces, a small salad, a roll and fries. They cook the chicken to order and it was ready in 10 minutes, handed over in a brown cardboard box inside a plastic bag. I got on the 60 Freeway when it met Mission at Valley View, headed home and ate there.

It was a different meal than Pomona: crinkle-cut fries, which they also do in Ontario and which are the original style, rather than the Pomona steak fries; a green salad, rather than slaw or macaroni as in Pomona; and a different, lighter batter for the chicken. It tended to slip off the chicken, which was disconcerting, but the taste was good. I liked the fries and roll; the iceberg salad was meh.

I ate half the meal that night and saved the other half for lunch the next day. Not bad for $7.55.

I would return, but probably won’t, given there are closer Donahoo’s, but I’m glad I went and am glad this one is still around. And yes, like Pomona but unlike Ontario, there’s a rooster on the roof.

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  • Johnny Diner

    I believe the Ontario owners bought their restaurant when Donahoo’s was all over! They maybe a good source when you do your history of Donahoo’s!

    I wish Pomona would cook items to order and/or not cop an attitude when you ask them to cook the chicken to order! Speaking of which, I read some reviews that some people do not like the Ontario location because of the long wait time. Guess they prefer chicken that may have been sitting in warmers for who knows how long, instead of chicken right out of the fryer!

    • davidallen909

      I see the virtue in both approaches: In Pomona you can get your food fast; in Ontario it will be better, but if you don’t think to phone ahead, you’re in for a frustrating wait on a wooden bench.

      In 2004 I interviewed the Ontario owner and his son about the history and they knew quite a bit. However, I didn’t end up writing anything; I had been planning to make D in my Pomona A to Z series about Donahoo’s and knew the Pomona owners wouldn’t know anything because it had changed hands so many times.

      But after the interview I realized a Pomona A to Z entry in which most of the information came from Ontario was going to come across poorly, so I scrapped that idea. I think I still have those notes somewhere, though!