Column: RC treat: Donut shop named California’s best

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A couple in Rancho Cucamonga are almost constantly at the bakery they opened just over a year ago. They unexpectedly got a reward when BuzzFeed named their little-known Cake Among Us Bakery & Donuts as the best donut shop in California. Their story is in my Friday column. Above, co-owner Scott McCaslin has just made some vegan pistachio doughnuts.

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Restaurant of the Week: Cake Among Us Bakery & Donuts

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Cake Among Us, 7890 Haven Ave., (at Town Center), Rancho Cucamonga; open 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays

Cake Among Us vaulted into prominence late in 2016 when a state-by-state ranking of doughnut shops on BuzzFeed chose it to represent California. The list is titled “The Best Doughnut Shop in Every State,”┬áthe rankings determined via Yelp star ratings and number of reviews. Skip to No. 5 to find Cake Among Us.

Here the alleged best doughnut shop in California was in Rancho Cucamonga — and I’d never heard of it. How could I live this down?┬áBut I quickly tracked it down and had breakfast there, not once but three times, as well as a sort of lunch with friends.

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First off, it’s not precisely a doughnut shop, but rather a bakery with doughnuts, scones, danishes, cupcakes, wedding cakes and more. That said, they do have a fair number of doughnuts, many of them creative, and all the ones I’ve tried are quite good. They even have vegan doughnuts.

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They’ve included lemon-filled with vanilla frosting and raspberry icing, apple-filled, honey wheat blueberry (dense, chewy, with real blueberry flavor) and an apple fritter (light, not burnt-looking as many are, with bits of apple).

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With friends, we got a half-dozen that included cream cheese, one person’s favorite, and pineapple, another’s. One had Nutella and peanut butter.

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“All the doughnuts were really good,” the wife said. “They were all good,” her husband allowed, “but it wasn’t like ‘this is the best.'” That’s the problem with being ranked No. 1: It’s hard to live up to. Their daughter seemed to like them all and went off in a glaze haze.

Another customer was picking up a cake. The message in icing: “We’re Here for the Sex!” Next to that were pink and blue footprints. Ha ha. Must be for a baby shower. I got cupcakes later that day for a friend’s birthday party. Among the flavors they have: creamsicle, raspberry, Oreo and peanut butter.

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It took me a while, by the way, but eventually the pun in the store name became clear and I liked the place all the more.

Is Cake Among Us better than, say, Donut Man in Glendora? Perhaps not, especially with Donut Man being 24 hours. But Cake Among Us is really good.

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McDonald’s in Pomona

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This ad from the Sept. 3, 1954 Pomona Progress-Bulletin would seem to settle a trivia question. Because McDonald’s, which was established Dec. 12, 1948 by the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, opened restaurants in Pomona and Azusa that month, it’s been unclear which was the seventh and which was the eighth.

Give Pomona the bragging rights. The ad proclaims: “Our New Pomona Unit is the 7th in the McDonald system that will soon be coast to coast.”

The ad also pins down the date the Pomona location was to open: that very day, Sept. 3. Ideally, someday someone will look through microfilm of whatever newspaper served Azusa to find an ad for the opening of its McDonald’s. * Update: Someday is now: Hank Fung pinned down Azusa’s opening to Sept. 17, 1954, based on a newspaper story in the Azusa Herald. The story says Azusa’s would be the eighth. See below.

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Thanks to the Pomona Public Library’s Allan Lagumbay for finding the Prog ad. Click on it for a larger version. Some of the text is amusing by modern standards. Its french fries would be “heat protected by infra-red lights” — gosh!

McDonald’s history has been featured previously on this blog here and here.

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Gravity Hill

We’ve written about “the dips” on Base Line/16th Street (and 19th Street too) and other bits of local lore or urban legends beloved by people who were teenagers here at the right time, like the Green Mist in Chino Hills and rumors of a town for little people somewhere in the foothills. Here’s another one: Gravity Hill.

The handiest description I have came from a 2015 letter to me from reader Jerry Terrill of Claremont in which he commented on various historical subjects. Here’s what he had to say:

“This was a narrow isolated street in the north end of Upland, now gone but probably in the area of the dam. In the daytime or at night, the street definitely had an uphill appearance, but if you stopped your car, or got out and put a round object (most often an orange) on the pavement, it (the car or the object) would seemingly roll uphill, countering the gravity. Thus, Gravity Hill. It was some sort of optical illusion caused by the surrounding terrain, but it sure was convincing.”

Shades of the Mystery Spot! Do any of you remember Gravity Hill or have your own stories about it?

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Restaurant of the Week: Caffe Allegro, Upland

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Caffe Allegro, 186 N. 2nd Ave. (at Ninth), Upland; open daily

It can be easy to take a restaurant for granted. Downtown Upland’s fortunes ebb and flow, but Caffe Allegro has hung in there for nearly two decades. It opened in 1998, five years after the original location debuted in La Verne, and both are still operating today.

I’ve been to the Upland version perhaps a half-dozen times, both in the early days and then again the past two Decembers, visits that reminded me that it’s an unsung local restaurant.

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There’s patio seating along Second Avenue; inside, a substantial dining room adjoins a dimly lighted, popular wine bar. Near year-end, an upside-down Christmas tree near the front door is an annual sight. The dining room has high ceilings with rooms-spanning arches, inscriptions in Italian and faux sculptures.

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Entrees range from $14 to $32 and include pasta, salads, a few pizzas and more. With friends in 2014, I got tortellini a la pesto ($16); last year, it was linguini tuttomare ($25), with shrimp, scallops, tuna, squid, mussels and clams in broth. An Italian American at the table said, “That’s as Italian a dish as you can get. My parents would be proud of you.”

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Service was low-key and professional. The only problem was the wine three of my friends ordered hadn’t been chilled, and the waiter’s attempt to quick-chill it wasn’t really successful. But they didn’t mind. We also shared a tiramisu ($8).

I’m only an occasional Italian diner, but the Italian American at the table had the same conclusion as me: Allegro is among the better Italian restaurants around these parts. Give them a try if you haven’t, or try them again if it’s been a few years. It’s right where it was last time you saw it.

In the hallway leading to the restrooms: Fellini movie posters. Nice touch.

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