Restaurant of the Week: Foster’s Freeze, Glendora


Foster’s Freeze, 418 W. Foothill Blvd. (at Grand), Glendora

In Glendora a few months ago I spotted this old-fashioned Foster’s Freeze and my Americana-lovin’ heart skipped a beat. There are said to be 88 freestanding Foster’s left in California, many of which are in classic buildings. One that I liked in downtown San Luis Obispo, I just learned, closed in 2014. The chain started in 1946 in Inglewood, and that one, at 999 S. La Brea Blvd., is said to still be in business; based on Google Street View, it looks original.

Typically, you have to go to an El Pollo Loco for Foster’s Freeze, and then all they have is ice cream. The Glendora location turns out to be the closest freestanding Foster’s to the Inland Valley.

On a recent hot Sunday afternoon, Foster’s came to mind and I made the drive. The low-slung building with the covered patio and walk-up window seems very 1960s. (Employees had no idea when it opened.) And is that a phone booth out front? Next door is an Alta Dena Dairy with an awesome sign.


As Foster’s has a small dining room, and air conditioning was desirable, I ordered and ate inside: a small hamburger and a pineapple shake ($7.56 total with tax). It was a decent burger with a crunchy sheaf of lettuce, and the shake hit the spot. In an unusual touch, a wall-sized chalkboard allows customers to scrawl a friendly message. I’d have taken a photo but someone was sitting in front of it in the otherwise-empty room.

If you like this sort of thing, by all means check out Foster’s. I’m sure I’ll go back.



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Restaurant of the Week: Burgerim


Burgerim, 9359 Central Ave. (at Costco), Montclair

“Always more than one” is the motto of this burger chain, a sort of modified Lay’s slogan, and that’s because they specialize in “mini-burgers,” sold in twos or threes rather than individually. They’re a little bigger than sliders but smaller than a regular burger.

Burgerim opened last month in Montclair in that new center by the 10 Freeway with another burger joint, Original Tommy’s, plus a Dickey’s, Creamistry and more. The name, Burgerim, is Hebrew for “many burgers” and is traditionally pronounced “burger-eem,” although they’re saying it “rim.”

It’s a worldwide chain with 200 locations in 16 countries, based in Israel, but there’s only one other one in Southern California. (It’s in Hollywood, with Montclair being the obvious next step *cough*.) More are said to be coming. I wonder what their supply chain is like; maybe everything is airlifted in and dropped by parachute.


I was invited to a media preview event before the grand opening and thus got my meal free, for the record. (Regulars will recall that I pay for my meals out of my own pocket and never identify myself.)

There are 10 types of burgers including beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, chorizo and salmon. A duo is $10, a trio $13, and come with fries (regular, sweet potato or home) or salad plus soft drink; a la carte is $1 less, onion rings are $1.50 more. Burgers come with lettuce, tomato, onion and house sauce, and for 50 cents each you can customize it with nine toppings: egg, cheese, bacon, etc. The menu also has three non-burger sandwiches, four salads and three desserts, plus beer and wine and a Coke Freestyle machine.

The interior is different than a typical fast-casual place: Edison lights, a three-sided counter/bar and then tables and booths along the walls.


I got a Wagyu with mushrooms and a merguez (a spicy beef) with cheddar, plus onion rings. (So, typically $13.50: $1 extra for Wagyu, $1 extra for two toppings and $1.50 extra for rings.) The sandwiches arrive in a cute box and on seeded buns. The sandwiches are tidy, the patties tightly packed, and at 2.8 ounces, two made for a satisfying meal. The kitchen forgot the cheddar, by the way, but as I hadn’t paid 50 cents for it, I didn’t send it back.

I suspect that few, including me, would be able to discern the difference between beef, Wagyu beef and dry-aged beef, to name three of the choices, but you’re welcome to try. The veggie patty is said to be better than usual with green onions, carrots, tofu and lentils.

There’s not much that’s Israeli about the menu, although the panzanella salad ($9), with arugula, tomatoes, radishes, red and green onions, kalamata olives, basil and croutons was described to me as their take on an Israeli chopped salad, and merguez was described as a Mediterranean chorizo.

It’s an interesting concept and a little different than other local burger spots.


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Restaurant of the Week: John’s Hamburgers


John’s Hamburgers, 13511 Central Ave. (at Schaefer), Chino; open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily

“Since 1976,” the monument sign outside reads, enticing this history lover whenever I drive past this spot near Chino City Hall. The fact that the 3 p.m. close doesn’t work for an evening council meeting made a visit more of a challenge — one I accepted.

There’s a spacious dining room that must seat more than 100. John’s reminds me of a few other burger spots around the valley, like Terry’s in Rancho Cucamonga, where there’s a wide-ranging menu and a seasoned staff of actual grownups. Even though you order at the counter, the place fulfills a Denny’s-like function, with the veteran staff reminding you of diner waitresses.


At John’s, you can get cinnamon roll french toast, omelets and scrambles, for instance, at breakfast, and eight salads, ribeye and New York steaks “from the broiler,” cheesecake and “homemade bread pudding.”

As it’s John’s Hamburgers, I got a cheeseburger with fries and soda ($7.28 with tax). It was your standard fast food meal, alas, not one to encourage a second visit from the distant land of Rancho Cucamonga.


A closer look at the menu, though, showed more ambitious burgers, such as a hand-pressed 10-ounce Super Burger ($6), a meatloaf sandwich and more. Feeling a little foolish, but wanting to give John’s a fair shake, I once again ventured deep into the heart of Chino for a second lunch, this time ordering an albacore tuna melt ($6), which careful readers will recall as my baseline sandwich. Served on grilled sourdough, this was a pretty good sandwich and redeemed the place.

On the other hand, I substituted “fresh fruit” for fries and was confronted with (sigh) an entire bowl of nothing but cantaloupe, which was dispiriting. If they’re going to go to that little effort, why not just hand customers a banana?



I’d like to go back for the meatloaf, but I decided to cut off my research here rather than make a project out of the place. John’s is okay, if unexciting. But maybe soon to become peppier: A sign on my last visit read “Beer and wine coming soon” — how about that? Congratulations to them on 40 years in an ever-changing world.


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Restaurant of the Week: Hamburger Mary’s


Hamburger Mary’s, 3550 Porsche Way (at Inland Empire), Ontario; open daily

The existence of a Hamburger Mary’s in Ontario may say something interesting about the Inland Empire market. The gay-friendly chain has locations in West Hollywood, San Francisco, where it started, and Long Beach — and, since August 2015, Ontario. (As well as a few other metro areas around the country.)

Ours is near the 10 Freeway off Inland Empire Boulevard, a little east of Haven and within hailing distance of Benihana. It’s a restaurant with a full bar and, most nights, drag shows or other entertainment. Like I said, it’s something relatively unusual in these parts.

Uninterested in drag shows or bars, I met a friend there for a sedate weekday lunch after a local restaurateur told me the burgers were amazing. The restaurant interior resembles a Marie Callender’s and was quiet for lunch, evidently not the case in the evenings.

It’s worth noting that upon our entrance, two employees by the greeter station continued their conversation without acknowledging us — we must have arrived at an inopportune time for them — but a server hustled over to seat us.

The menu has appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and, naturally, burgers, which can be ordered as ground chuck, chicken, turkey, ahi tuna, salmon or black bean vegan. I got the Meaty Mushroom Burger ($13), my friend had the chipotle chicken wrap ($10).


The wrap (grilled chicken, mixed greens, cheddar jack cheese, black beans, avocado and dressing), with a side of cole slaw, was deemed acceptable. “It’s hard to get excited about a chicken wrap,” my friend admitted.

My burger (half-pound ground chuck, grilled mushrooms, cheddar and jack, lettuce and tomato) was very good, and a little messy. The bun didn’t seem firm enough; after cutting the sandwich in half, I had to eat each half fairly quickly to hold it together. The seasoned fries as my side were above average.


Mary’s has a bar island in the middle, a few sofas besides all the booths and tables, and kitschy decor that includes photos of Marilyn and Audrey Hepburn, posters from “Casablanca” and “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman,” stuff like that. The bill arrived in a high-heeled shoe. Heh.

Hamburger Mary’s was all right, and it’s got arguably the best burger in Ontario (but not the Inland Valley). It’s not really my kind of place, I don’t think, but it might be yours.


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Restaurant of the week: Bravo Burgers, Pomona


Bravo Burgers, 1215 N. White Ave. (at Orange Grove), Pomona; also 4968 Pipeline Ave. (at Chino Hills Parkway), Chino Hills

Before Monday’s Pomona council meeting, I dropped into Bravo Burgers for a bite. It’s apparently a small chain operation, with an outlet in La Verne, among other cities. [But not anymore. — DA, 2016] The one I visited is in Pomona, at Orange Grove and White avenues, next to DiCarlo Liquor and its neon champagne bubbles sign.

Nicer inside than you’d expect — Bravo, not DiCarlo — and my $2.85 burger was hot and satisfying, with a thick tomato slice, lettuce, pickles and onion. I like how it came not only wrapped in paper, but served on a paper plate. Made me think of a more genteel era when this newfangled item might have been called a hamburger sandwich.

Overall, I’d rank the Bravo experience up there with Golden Ox, Classic 66, K ‘n F and Samo’s, Pomona’s other contributions to burger excellence. I say bravo.

Update April 2016: I returned to get photos to add to this 2007 post, among my first on this blog. Bravo was as I remembered, well-maintained and clean, and the employee who took my order gave me a friendly greeting, unusual for this type of restaurant.

The menu has salads, burgers, pastrami and other sandwiches, tacos, dinners and full breakfasts. I got a chili cheese burger as a combo ($8.45). The burger was standard, with crisp lettuce, tomato and thousand island, and with the chili akin to another condiment. The fries were standard too. But they came with a glass bottle of ketchup and on a plate, two more welcome touches.

So, nothing fancy here, but a wide-ranging menu and a clean environment. Also, there’s a small, semi-shaded patio, although it’s right next to the drive-through.


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