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.

Farewell, Rounds Burgers

Rather than a Restaurant of the Week today, let me say goodbye to one of my regular haunts, Rounds Burgers in Claremont, which (sob!) closes Sunday (May 28). It’s previously been subject of a RofW post, in 2013.

The fledgling chain started in Claremont and West Hollywood and expanded to Sherman Oaks and Pasadena, but WeHo and, er, SherO have closed. Is Pasadena closing too? The Claremont location appeared to change hands a couple of years ago, leading to an exodus of employees, some of whom ended up next door at the ill-fated The Rim. But I kept eating there.

I never introduced myself to the staff or sought to learn about the business. I’m writing this simply as a regular. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why I ate there so often.

It was at the south end of Claremont on Auto Center Drive, not in the Village. The burgers were good, but not my favorite. The custom order sheets could be a pain to fill out. Preferred items were dropped: first pesto mayo, which went great with the Swiss and mushroom burger I assembled, then the whole wheat bun, then the pretzel bun.

Once I had a chicken sandwich that was overcooked and rubbery, which put me off ordering it for a while; not long afterward, they phased out pineapple, a favorite topping for the sandwich.

So Rounds wasn’t perfect. But they offered coupons often, and I liked the place aesthetically. It was spacious, with high ceilings, and generally was at least half-empty. For my purposes, it offered a psychic comfort level, where I could take the Sunday paper or a book, relax for 90 minutes with a buffer zone around me, and not worry about anyone needing my table. At rare times when most of the tables were taken, there were two communal tables, often unoccupied, where I could sit in peace.

The benefits of this kind of semi-public space are not to be taken lightly.

Also, despite the shrinking menu, I belatedly found a sandwich I love: the mucho mushroom (my beloved mushroom and swiss combo), but as a turkey burger. Let me say, generally I don’t order turkey burgers, but this one had a better taste than the beef. Better for me, and better tasting? That’s rare.

Last Sunday I ate lunch at Rounds for what is likely the last time, ordering the sandwich I like, and splurging on chili cheese fries as a last hurrah. Consider this post a tribute to a fallen eatery, one where I spent many an hour. Thanks for feeding me and for the use of the space, Rounds.

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No longer Eating Garey Avenue, now he’s Dining in Pomona

I devoted a column in February to reader and blogger John Clifford’s quest to eat at every Garey Avenue food establishment, just as he neared the finish line. Having now wrapped up his Eating Garey Avenue blog, Clifford now launches Dining in Pomona, a new blog of reviews.

For Eating Garey, he ate at every restaurant, or near-restaurant, on that street in sequence, south to north, with one review each week. For Dining in Pomona, he promises to eat wherever he likes on whatever schedule he likes. Ah, freedom. His first post is about Cachanilla. I’ve added a hyperlink to Dining Garey to the blogroll at right.

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Finding the subway

A reader in Upland (hi, Chris!) who has taken Metrolink to Union Station more than once told me she had no idea how to get to the subway and may not have been totally aware it exists. I described its location to her, but on a recent visit, I thought to take photos. Above is a view in the station, Starbucks to the left, Wetzel’s Pretzels to the right. The subway entrance is between them. A closer view is below.

[Update: As reader John Clifford cheekily points out, out of the frame of the photo just to the left of the Starbucks is, what else, a Subway sandwich shop. Subway to the left, subway down below. What a country.]

Despite the sign, both the Red and Purple lines are down there. You take an escalator, stairs or elevator down and there are ticket machines and turnstiles. With your Metrolink ticket, just tap it on the turnstile button; no other ticket is necessary. From there, descend to the subway platform and use the maps to figure out where you should go, paying attention to the train markings for final destinations.

Chris said she thought I’d once promised in print to write all the particulars of taking the train and subway. I don’t recall that, although I did once write a How to Ride post about Metrolink. Walking you through every step in taking a subway or a bus sounds kind of tedious, and probably I’d leave out some crucial step, as in a recipe where an ingredient is missing. But at least you know where the subway entrance is now and you have some guidance once you’re there.

Update: As several of you noted, when you get off Metrolink and descend the stairs into the middle of the low-slung tunnel, running perpendicular, you can walk either left or right. Left takes you first past the Gold Line entrance and then into Union Station and the subway entrance pictured above. Right takes you to the bus center and to the OTHER entrance to the subways. See below. This one is labeled to reflect both the Red and Purple lines, but both are accessible from either entrance.

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Column: Visiting remade Nixon Library with 2017 on his mind

I’d idly wanted an excuse to visit the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda since its overhaul in October. With all the comparisons of Trump and Nixon the past week or two, a light bulb went off and I decided now was the time. I visited Wednesday morning and write about the experience in Sunday’s unexpected column. Above, Army One, the helicopter that flew Nixon away from the White House on Aug. 9, 1974.

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Restaurant of the Week: El Patron

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.

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Coming to Montclair

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.

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Column: These properties are models of preservation

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.

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