About David Allen

A journalist for nearly 30 years, David Allen has been chronicling the Inland Valley for the Daily Bulletin since 1997 and blogging since 2007. His first book, "Pomona A to Z," was published in 2014. E-mail David here. Read recent columns here.

On vacation

To reiterate from the end of Wednesday’s column, I’m on vacation for the next week (at this point), with a column filed for July 3, to help the editors fill a paper during a three-day weekend. I’ll be back at my desk July 5 — and with a column due about three hours later. Well, I’ll deal with that then. Also, I saved some items in case I need them, which I probably will. Enjoy the tail end of June and the July Fourth weekend!

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Restaurant of the Week: Lily’s Tacos, Pomona

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Lily’s Tacos, 919 N. Garey Ave. (at Kingsley), Pomona

When last we left Lily’s Tacos, operating from a former Orange Julius stand since 1992, the shopping center it was in was being renovated and the stand, then on the edge of a construction zone, was due to be demolished.

Lily’s moved earlier this year to an indoor location below the 10 Freeway. There’s also a second location, in the La Verne Village center, at 2855 Foothill Blvd. The La Verne restaurant appears almost genteel. Even the Pomona restaurant is a big step up from the picnic-style seating of the original.

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It’s in a brown, stuccoed building next to Flower Lane Florists, with parking in back or on the street. You order at the counter from the limited menu of tacos, burritos and combination plates. I got an al pastor burrito (about $5.50).

The burrito was pretty good, and I think Lily’s place as one of the better taquerias in Pomona has survived the move, even if the ambience of the previous incarnation is missed. The plate still comes with a scattering of tortilla chips with a smear of beans and salsa, just like the old days.

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Perhaps the spirit of the old surroundings lives on in the slightly makeshift quality to this Lily’s. I asked for utensils and was directed to a cheap, three-drawer plastic dispenser on the counter, from which I withdrew an aluminum fork and a plastic knife, one of them from a drawer that wouldn’t open all the way. It was a little comical given the relatively upscale interior. And the restaurant still doesn’t appear to have an online presence.

The building occupies a corner and is angled toward the intersection. Through the expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows, the sidewalk is just steps away. Cyclists rode past. Pedestrians walked dogs or pushed shopping carts. Cars whizzed by. The windows were a screen on which the passing parade played. Needless to say, a window seat is recommended. As is the al pastor.

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Plaque installed on Pomona College’s first home (in Pomona)

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Pomona College really was once in Pomona rather than Claremont — if only for one semester in 1888. The original campus was a single house on the corner of White Avenue and Mission Boulevard, later moved to a residential neighborhood. (The original site is now a taqueria, with a plaque out front noting its place in history.)

This was all explored in my column in 2012, on the 125th anniversary of the college’s 1887 founding. College president David Oxtoby and I had lunch at Angelo’s, then located the house with the aid of the college’s unofficial historian, Don Pattison. It’s at Phillips and Hamilton boulevards in south Pomona.

Homeowner Maria Barajas welcomed we three strangers inside and was delighted to learn about her home’s history. Ever since she’s been seeking some kind of historic recognition.

Now she has it: a plaque in her front yard courtesy of the college, denoting her house as City Historical Landmark No. 289.

I see from that 2012 column that when we arrived, Oxtoby remarked lightly, “I don’t see a plaque.” That won’t be the case if he returns.

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Restaurant of the Week: Nancy’s Pizza

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Nancy’s Pizza, 2855 Foothill Blvd. (at Falcon), La Verne

As a native of Illinois, although not of Chicago, I’ve had Chicago-style deep dish pizza a few times in my life, mostly in the Midwest. Only a couple of times have I had it in California that I recall: once at a Pizzeria (or maybe Numero) Uno outlet in San Francisco, and once three years ago in Placentia. It’s pretty rare out here.

But a few months ago, a Nancy’s opened in La Verne in the mixed-use La Verne Village center on Foothill that used to be the site of Person Ford. I’d never heard of Nancy’s, but they’re based in Chicago, and they claim to have invented the stuffed pizza in 1971.

Evidently, deep dish was invented in the ’40s or ’50s, and the stuffed pizza claimants are Nancy’s and Giordano’s, in the ’70s, the difference being “deeper topping density,” according to Wikipedia.

I delayed visiting in part because I wasn’t sure Nancy’s was legit, and also because going out solo for deep dish pizza is an undertaking, like scaling Everest.

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Finally I dropped in for lunch on a recent weekend. There’s a visit to Chicago in my near future and I had to get in shape. Unless you’re ordering to go, you take a seat.

The menu has salads, sandwiches, pasta, cannoli and pizza in several varieties, including thin crust and pan pizza.

The waitress explained that the stuffed pizza — the one described as 2 1/2 inches tall — is the traditional Chicago style with the toppings inside. (More to the point, as I read later, under the top layer of sauce it’s got a thin layer of crust, besides the bottom layer, which is why it’s described as stuffed.) So I got one of those, a small Rocco’s party pizza, with sausage, mushrooms, onions and green peppers ($23).

It arrived after about 20 minutes, fairly speedy for pizza this thick.

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If you haven’t had Chicago-style pizza before, you might think, $23 for a small? But take a look at the photo, with the parmesan dispenser included for perspective. The pizza is almost as tall as the dispenser.

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I was hungry and could eat only two slices. The rest was taken home and consumed over two meals. This was pretty good pizza, perhaps not as good as Tony’s in Placentia but with the crisp, buttery crust and high edges that fans love. I would go back.

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