Last Saturday I was in the Pomona Christmas Parade, and not for the first time (probably the sixth), but it was still a lot of fun. Also: museum exhibits in Claremont and Pomona are described, and a longtime Village shop is closing. All this is in Friday’s column.
Elvira’s Mexican Grill, 415 W. Foothill Blvd. (at Indian Hill), Claremont
Elvira’s, which has become a popular spot in Upland, opened a second location this year in Claremont in the Old School House complex. A friend and I checked it out recently for lunch. (It’s pronounced “El-veer-uh,” btw.)
I’m a fan of the one in Upland and had been to Claremont’s for a take-out order of flan for an office farewell party. That gave me a couple of minutes to admire the decor. It may be the most upscale Mexican restaurant in the area, with Gloria’s in downtown Ontario in the running. Except the food at Elvira’s is superior.
The main dining room has a soaring ceiling, exposed wood beams, two chandeliers, original paintings and niches to display pottery. Even the hallway to the restrooms has art. There’s a bar area and an expansive patio.
The Old School House is the former Claremont High School. The restaurant is the former library, sans enormous drapes, according to my friend, an alumni. He says the first restaurant was Casa Ramon, then Casa de Salsa, which vacated in 2014. As the space was renovated, some great exterior features such as statuary over the entrance and education-themed panels on the outside wall were revealed and incorporated.
Since I’ve talked up the food at the Upland location, I’m saying less about that here. It’s a nice sit-down spot. My friend got the enchiladas suizas and I had the chile verde burrito (each $13.50). “They were really excellent,” my friend said when done, also praising the guacamole. If you get an order of guacamole, they make it tableside.
I enjoyed my burrito. Now, I could have had a burrito of comparable quality for under half the price at a beat-up, quick-serve place and been perfectly happy, but you’re paying for service and ambience. Service was friendly and attentive, and the ambience couldn’t be beat. Also, the salsa was really good.
A community meeting Monday night on a proposal by Metro to close the city’s Metrolink station drew some 300 people, all of whom were opposed. A decision may come in January. In the meantime, my Wednesday column covers the meeting.
I’ll add that frequent blog commenter SAWZ (Shirley Wofford) was among the speakers. The Montclair resident couldn’t support the idea of diverting Claremont riders to the Montclair transit center. “I use the Claremont station for a reason,” she said. “It’s a more comfortable, more fun station to come to.”
For 30 years the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin had its offices at 2041 E. 4th St. in Ontario, the first home the newspaper had after consolidating the Ontario Daily Report and Pomona Progress-Bulletin into one modern headquarters in 1985.
But as has become the way of things for newspapers, we no longer needed all that space due to staff cuts, consolidation elsewhere and an end to printing the paper in Ontario. (The back half of this 2013 column talks about our printing presses.) So we moved a few blocks east to leased quarters at 9616 Archibald Ave. in late 2015, our printing is now done in Riverside and our old property was put on the market, where it languished — until recently.
KB Homes bought it up, bulldozed the building and ground up the concrete to make way for a housing development to be named The Cottages on 4th. They will replace what we might have called The Bunker on 4th, as it had no windows.
I wonder if KB Homes will give preference to former Bulletin employees? On second thought, nah. We spent more than enough of our lives on that piece of ground. Time to let someone else occupy it.
Photo above and below by Wayne Iverson; bottom two photos by me.
Wrapping up my Inland Valley City Council Tour of 2017, I sat in on a Pomona council meeting Monday night. Not a lot happened, but those sometimes make for the best columns. Hear how it went in Sunday’s column.
The Nativity displays are back again in downtown Ontario, of course, but with some improvements this year. Another tradition is being revived: a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at a downtown church, Bethel Congregational. I tell you more in Friday’s column, along with some Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette.
Stonefire Grill, 10680 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Spruce), Rancho Cucamonga
Stonefire Grill opened in June in the long-closed On the Border restaurant building at Terra Vista Town Center in Rancho Cucamonga. It’s one of nine current locations around Southern California, with the next-nearest one in Pasadena.
A friend and I went in for lunch recently. It was bustling, that’s for sure. You order at what you might have expected to be a greeter station, at one of two registers. So you get a kind of McDonald’s or Panera vibe, except for the higher price points.
They sell sandwiches, salads, barbecue, pizza, pasta and more. (See menu.) I’m a little suspicious of places with such a broad menu.
Despite the lunchtime line, the staffer who took our orders was friendly. On the counter to tempt us were the largest brownies I’ve ever seen, square slabs about the size of a grilled cheese sandwich, but thicker. We demurred.
After ordering, you fetch your drink, as well as plates and silverware, and find a seat in the sprawling dining room. Why take a plate? It turns out your food is delivered on a metal platter, like a pizza pan.
I got a “meal,” which comes with a salad or side, ordering mesquite BBQ tri-tip and baby back ribs, plus a salad ($16.60). My friend got the All American Burger ($7.50) and a bowl of chicken tortilla soup ($3.50), which he asked to be brought out at the same time as my salad.
My salad arrived, and then when my platter arrived, he got his soup and burger at the same time (sigh).
He said the soup had jack cheese, avocado and plenty of chicken, that his burger was better than fast food if not to a gourmet burger level and that the salt and pepper potato chips reminded him of the ones at the Buffalo Inn, “back when there was a Buffalo Inn” (another reason to sigh).
Oh, and at least with the meal, you get a free basket of breadsticks, which made me think I was at a higher-class Olive Garden.
I’m a little mixed on the experience and probably would like the place better if there was table service instead of the DIY, cafeteria feel. But the food was a little above average. So, overall, not bad.
Angie Campos, who’s been working at Tony’s Famous French Dips in Pomona since 1971, is still on the job at 80. I profile her in Wednesday’s column.
Books acquired: “The Perfect Horse,” Elizabeth Letts; “Addicted to Americana,” Charles Phoenix
Books read: “Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance; “It Can’t Happen Here,” Sinclair Lewis
I only managed to finish two books in November, one of them on the 30th. Both were birthday gifts from March.
First up was “Hillbilly Elegy,” a 2016 memoir by a Yalie about his Appalachian upbringing and troubled childhood in particular and the challenges of underclass white America in general. So there’s some welcome sociology mixed in. Vance’s book was published before the election and never mentions it, but it was published at a good time to become part of the post-election conversation on disaffected whites.
Consider it a window into the problems of poor, white America, written by a man who grew up poor and still hasn’t entirely shaken its legacy. I didn’t find the mix of his personal story and the bits of research entirely satisfying. But “Elegy” does give a welcome insight into the hopelessness felt by many in this country.
“It Can’t Happen Here” is about an election, the one in 1936. The novel was written in 1935 and posits a phony man of the people who is actually a strongman with his own private militia. After his election, he starts tossing people into labor camps and his enemies, including the press, into concentration camps. The novel gained currency since its 2005 republication and especially the past couple of years, for reasons that should be obvious, even if the comparisons are overblown.
Not a masterpiece of story construction or dialogue, but maybe a masterpiece of ideas. Lewis seems to have been taking aim primarily at Huey Long, but the fear that a seemingly unpolished cornpone fascist would appeal to enough rubes to become president is probably eternal.
I’m a little sheepish that I only got through two books all month, totaling about 550 pages, but then again, that’s about 20 pages a day (I think I started the first one a few days into the month), so by normal-person standards that’s okay, I guess.
I’ve got three books going on my nightstand, all of which I should be finishing in December, and likely one further book to round out my month and year. My annual list of my year’s reading, with an accompanying column, will appear in late December or early January.
How was your November, readers? We’re anxious to know.
Next month: The Boss.
A rarely seen home in Ontario designed by Paul R. Williams is on the market. A photographer and I got a tour. The 1947 has scarcely been updated and the decor matches. Read about it in Sunday’s column, and be sure to check out the photos.