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Need help with June college visits

My husband and I will be bringing our 17 year old daughter out to Southern California to visit colleges and will be staying near the Ontario airport. We will have a car and plenty of time on our hands so if need be could travel a bit for meals. One day will be spent near USC and the other near the Claremont colleges. Looking for breakfasts that are good and not too pricey near the hotel (or on the way to the other locations) and dinners that are mid-range priced near the hotel and the colleges. My daughter isn't too crazy about very spicy food, my husband likes spicy food and I'll eat almost anything. Would particularly love to find good Chinese food for a meal since we all like that and the pickings here are slim. Any suggestions would be welcome. I understand from a search of the boards that the choices may not be great but as long as the food is fresh and tasty, we'll probably enjoy it.

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  1. Paul's Kitchen downtown... relatively close to USC.... has amazing chinese food. Their It is a hole in the wall, and the waiters speak english, but start the conversation in Spanish. their Chinese chicken salad is to die for and their Egg foo tong is amazing. As for a cheap eat near USC.. chanos Mexican right by USC on Figaroa and 29th has amazing pastrami nauchos and great taquitos. They have amazing breakfast tacos too...

    Please note both places are hole0in -the-walls with great food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: utjackie

      Chanos is certainly an institution when it comes to hole in the wall Mexican food right by USC. Paul's Kitchen is one of L.A.'s last old style Cantonese restaurants, and is great if that's what you're looking for, though by LA standards where people drive to go two blocks, it might be considered a little far at a couple of miles to the north. For that matter, Chinatown is just one mile further to the north of the USC campus than Paul's. If you're looking for top notch Chinese food, as you drive on the 10 or 60 freeways between Ontario and Los Angeles, the area between the 710 and 57 freeways is home to the greatest Chinese food in the U.S.--literally hundreds of authentic Chinese restaurants representing various styles and regional cuisines. Kind of hard to single out specific restaurants, but close to freeway offramps are Ocean Star Seafood near the Atlantic Bl. offramp of the 10 freeway; the gigantic San Gabriel Square mall near the Del Mar Ave. offramp of the 10 freeway, and the 99 Ranch Market mall near the Nogales St. offramp of the 60 freeway.

    2. Around USC Chinese food is sparse...on your way from Ontario if you take the 60W, you'll pass by many places in Diamond Bar. There's a ton of little Chinese places on the way over so I would suggest there. There aren't great Chinese places around USC at all, if you find one please let me know. I would suggest Little Tokyo if your by USC, just drive down Fig and right on 2nd....Daikukunyua or whatever has really great ramen and Curry House is delicious as well. There are also tons of little sushi restaurants. If you want to try campus food, I would check to see if parkside is open for breakfast...great variety of good food if you try it once....not so good if you have to have it for a semester or 2..

      11 Replies
      1. re: christof


        Also in little tokyo, there is Fugestusdo for mochi - sweet filled rice cake balls and unfilled sweet rice moci confections of all sorts. Over 100 years old and all of is confections are yummy. Sushi Go 55 and Sushi Gen are mentioned often for sushi

        For Chinee, yu should probably bite the bullet and get dinner or a dim sum lunch in the San Gabriel Valley.

        Not to be rude, but why are you staying in ontario? sorta out of the way.

        i know of more foodies places closer to other colleges, like UCLA and SMCC, sorry

        1. re: Diana

          I am assuming that the daughter is considering Pomona, Pitzer, or one of the other Claremont Colleges. Or perhaps further out, University of the Redlands.

          When coming into L.A. to see USC, be sure to stop into Langer's for perhaps the best pastrami on rye in the U.S. On the S/E corner of Alvarado and Seventh, adjacent to the border of MacArthur Park, with its validated parking lot one block east on the north side of Seventh.

          1. re: Diana

            there's a convenient airport in ontario - it's 5-10 minutes from the colleges in claremont, and about 30-40 minutes from usc. lax is busy and the hotels in ontario and the area are much more reasonable.

            just a note - used to go to little tokyo occasionally when i was a grad student at usc - not as close as you think - the freeways are packed at rush hour and it was hard to get there and back in time for evening classes. koreatown in general is much closer and much easier in re usc.

            just a thought - very good creole style food about a mile or two west of usc - harold and belle's on jefferson
            can't find website but here's a menu
            just a note - harold and belle's is pricey for what you get.

            again - enjoy your stay.

            and cafe 29 on hoover is walking distance - not all that special but very close to campus. consider eating on campus as well - there's an ok restaurant next to the bookstore on the second floor. ask about it.

            1. re: Diana

              Staying in Ontario because flights were much cheaper and hotels were dirt cheap compared to downtown (and our flight out is at 7:15am). Also since one of the colleges is right near there, it made sense.

              1. re: SharonOhio

                please post what you end up doing on this thread. it's always interestng, esp for those who gave suggestions, to see what you finaly did and how you liked it.

                1. re: Jerome

                  I will. Chinese at the San Gabriel Square mall or China Islamic sounds great -- that will work best for Friday evening since our USC visit is Friday afternoon. Still not sure on what to do Wednesday or Thursday evenings since I don't think we want to haul back into town then -- maybe Walter's since its nearby.

                  The suggestion of the culinary school was great but unfortunately they're closed for the summer.

                  Any other non-Chinese suggestions for Ontario/Claremont?

                  1. re: SharonOhio

                    One warning, on friday evening trying to get from USC to San Gabriel Valley is going to be a bear due to rush hour traffic. So either go early (before 4:00 or late after 7:00).

                    In the Claremont Village area there are lots of good restaurants in addition to Walters, including Yiannis (Greek), Danson's, Press, Aruffo's (Italian) and Harvard Square.

                    Also in that area, there is Pho Ha (Vietnamese), 695 Indian Hill, Pomona.

                    1. re: PeterL

                      If in Claremont, my vote is with the Press or Harvard Square over Walters. Press has got great entrees, both light or substantial. Ambiance is comfortable, collegiate, yet not a pizza joint.

                      I used to like Walters, but have become less enamored of late- it all starts to taste the same-kinda like paint-by-numbers with the same 5 colors..i think breakfast is their best meal.

                      1. re: PeterL

                        remember though, the 10 has a carpool lane east of the 5.

                        1. re: Jerome

                          Well that will definitely help. Thanks for the tidbit.

                      2. re: SharonOhio

                        I have not been but have heard good things about Three Forks in Claremont.


              2. Don't pass up a meal at Walters in Claremont close to the colleges. Walters 308 N. Yale Ave. 909.624.2799. East side of blvd in the old town area. Many other little places in the area including a great bakery across the street.

                1. Some Crust in the Claremont Village for breakfast. It's a local fav hangout. Walters also for sunday brunch or lunch or dinner. There are plenty of really good Chinese food in Hacienda Heights. Exit Nogales off 60, go north a bit. There is a big Chinese mall on your left hand side. Explore.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PeterL

                    I looked at Some Crust's web site and it didn't seem like they really do breakfast just pastries and coffee which is OK if we know that going in.

                  2. some of the most wonderful chinese food in the country can be found along the 10 or the 60 between claremont and USC.

                    Near USC, if you're adventurous, there's
                    CHICHEN ITZA
                    3655 S GRAND AVE C-6
                    LOS ANGELES

                    I'd drive there. it's reasonably priced and great yucatecan food. lunch. Also, not far, on spring where it hits main st, near the fashion institute (near 9th) is a very pleasant place, cafe angelique
                    ANGELIQUE CAFE
                    840 S SPRING ST
                    LOS ANGELES
                    french food but very reasonable.
                    for more of an adventure - not far from usc - go up vermont from the campus to olympic then turn left and turn into the mall at the end of the first block - beverly soon tofu - can be spicy or mild - very cheap - a homemade tofu (not like the stuff in the boxes ) soup/stew, you choose the protein, beef, pork, oysters, egg or no, seaweed, etc to your taste. bibimbahp also available.
                    BEVERLY SOON TOFU
                    2717 W OLYMPIC BLVD #108
                    LOS ANGELES

                    a quick google tutorial will help. it's fun, fast, and different.

                    http://www.angeliquecafe.com/ for angelique cafe

                    http://www.chichenitzarestaurant.com/... for chichen itza either RIGHT NEAR usc or on 6th st, but if you're going up to 6th, you might as well go to langer's for lunch.
                    these are for lunch really.

                    near the hotel - something a little different, the school at Cal Poly Pomona has a culinary and hotel school. it's not far from claremont and it's fun enough. (plenty of places in claremont - there's that afghan place that someone can suggest - actually a mixed menu, part afghan, part standard college town cafe
                    )on the hospitality school
                    on the menu and hours
                    dinner is close to prix fixe but a good buy for the variety (this year, steak house concept


                    For chinese - consider 101 noodle express for shandong dumplings, reasonable and not spicy, and handpulled noodles at malan in hacienda heights - both on the way from claremont to usc

                    101 NOODLE EXPRESS
                    1408 E VALLEY BLVD

                    MALAN RESTAURANT
                    2020 S HACIENDA BLVD B
                    HACIENDA HEIGHTS

                    Ma Lan is one of the few american franchises of a Chinese chain.
                    the website is fun. there is one spicy dish - an uyghur chicken with garlic and ribbon like noodles. i think the place is fun - noodles usually pulled to order.

                    you might like china islamic, just off the 10 in rosemead also on the way to usc...
                    CHINA ISLAMIC RESTAURANT
                    7727 E GARVEY AVE
                    HEre's their website.
                    why not try some a little different now that you're out here and have a chance to go deeper than you might at home (not knowing exactly where home is, perhaps i overstep- if so I'm sorry).
                    the tabs ato the green rectangle on the chinaislamic.com page take a little while to download. if you go to china islamic, make sure to get the sesame bread with scallions.

                    enjoy your stay.
                    (you may notice that my suggestions will not jibe with other folks who've replied already. there are student hangouts nearer 'sc. la barca is a typical cal-mex place on vermont, but the places i've mentioned i honestly feel are worth a special trip).

                    1. Near USC, I would try to head out to Korea Town area and try some Korean BBQ.

                      My favorite is Park's BBQ.

                      Staying with the Korean theme, try to get your hands on some Korean fried chicken at Kyochon.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I imagine that Ohio might have a dearth of Oaxacan joints, and if you're heading out to Koreatown and want a changeup from all the Asian faire, head to Guelaguetza.

                        I also say you should visit Langer's Deli.

                      2. I've lived in Claremont and vicinity for almost 30 years. For breakfast, you can't beat B.C. Cafe (10 freeway at Indian Hill (less than 1 block north of freeway) Open for lunch and breakfast from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Outstanding.

                        In the Claremont village, two restaurants besides Walters that I highly recommend. Harvard Square and Tutto Mangia. Another restaurant I love is in Claremont-adjacent La Verne, Cafe Alegria, tiny but wonderful.

                        All have free parking and are withing minutes of Ontario.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: laliz

                          Thanks a million. Need to take all this information in but I should have plenty of choices to present. Will report back on this thread when we get back late in June.

                          1. re: SharonOhio

                            Great suggestions, I second any of the chinese eateries especially along the 60 freeway(also the 10 freeway, but there is better access from the 60), the San Gabriel Valley is right in between Ontario and downtown LA and also full of great regional chinese restaurants. Two main areas of focus would be eastern SGV area closer to Ontario, which includes, Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar, Walnut, City of Industry and a bit closer to USC in western SGV area is Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Arcadia, Rosemead, Temple City.

                            Here are some previous threads on that:


                            There are good restaurants in the Claremont Village area, however if you are sticking close to Ontario some eateries in nearby Rancho Cucamonga might be closer, particularly along Victoria Gardens, an outdoor small downtown type area, akin to the Grove, food not high brow but better than what you can find in Ontario. The grounds of the Claremont colleges(Pitzer, McKenna, Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Claremont Graduate) are beautiful as well by the way.

                            1. re: b0ardkn0t

                              Looking through some of these entries it made me realize we could possibly get good Peking Duck (haven't had that since I lived in NYC) and my husband and daughter both love duck. Any specific suggestions on where we should go for that?

                                1. re: SauceSupreme

                                  Thanks for the cross-reference. I'm always leary of doing a straight search when I'm not familiar with the area and especially with the LA area being soooo large. Definitely looks like Lu Ding Gee for one of the dinners. Husband is already drooling. Not sure about the other meals but I'll figure out from all the pickings here.

                        2. OK. Well - here are two other choices near Ontario..
                          one is the centro basco in Chino . basque/american food. call to make sure they haven't gone out of business. it's very familiar food, for the most part. hearty, tasty - the most exotic thing is probably the pickled tongue
                          Centro Basco Restaurant
                          13432 Central Ave., Chino
                          This is about 5 miles or so from the airport - closer to the colleges.

                          also - the food is nothing special - but the drive is great - go up mills ave from the college and it will turn into mount baldy rd. go up the road and you'll quickly leave the valley and hit the high peaks of the san gabriel range. In mount baldy village, there's a simple hamburger/bbq place. as you drive up the hill (following the signs to the chair lift) you'll pass a few taverns where you can stop for a (soft for your daughter) drink.

                          in the village
                          and up the road,
                          JUST FYI

                          and the snowcrest lodge up from there
                          call if you go to make sure any of these places are open. The food will NOT blow you away, but the setting is great, and a drive up to the chair lift will let you see a bit of another side of the local environment.

                          for anyone else who's interested in the area - brasserie astuce is not reopening. too bad.

                          Seriously, the drive up mt baldy to the lifts is a lot of fun, check it out.

                          1. You should also check out La Barca on Vermont while you're by the USC area...and if you care for a little bit more adventure, as someone already suggested, you should definitely try some Korean BBQ...my favorite is Manna (it's all you can eat meat for a very reasonable price and you cook your own food) it's yummy!! For Chinese food, I really like Yang Chow's in China town on Broadway.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: lovefood37

                              La Barca and Yang Chow were my go-to places while at USC. But I can't remember if that had more to do with my student's budget, or the quality of the food...

                              I second the rec for the 29th St. Cafe (or "the 2-9"). To this day, I have yet to find a better tuna melt. It's also cuter than most restaurants in that area.

                              Other options along the lines of "hole-in-the-wall ambiance but really tasty food" may be found in the food court on (I think) 30th & Hoover, right by USC. It has Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Korean, Mongolian, Indian, Thai... pretty much everything. Yes, it is a food court, but it very well may be the best food court in the world. I miss it dearly.

                              Also, if you like sandwiches and other deli fare, try Philippe's. It's another institution near USC--one that supposedly invented the French Dip.

                              1. re: recovering_vegetarian


                                Please do not visit Yang Chow. You'll go back to Ohio and sully the good name of Chinese food in Los Angeles.

                                1. re: recovering_vegetarian

                                  There are some great recommendations in this thread, but...

                                  FWIW, I would certainly *NOT* recommend any of the "hole-in-the-wall" eateries in the University Village (30th & Hoover, more like McClintock & Jefferson). They are bad (Indian, Chinese) to mediocre (Korean, Thai, Sub/Salads). Are they chow-worthy? No way.

                                  If the kid lands up being a Trojan, then there will be ample opportunities to sample these monstrosities. For now, few miles north on Vermont Ave is K-Town [Park's, Soot Bull Jeep, Soot Bull Guirim 2, Guelaguetza(Oaxacan)], and then further north is Thai-Town [Yai on Vermont, Jitla-Da (on Sunset), Ruen Pair etc., and so many more!] Please don't bother wasting your appetite in "UV".

                              2. Please, you've just gotta try Cafe Montclair on Central Ave in Montclair. It's about 1/2 mile south of the 10 freeway. Chef Victor Juarez and Dennis Sperat are the owners. Victor was executive chef of the Mission Inn in Riverside; Dennis was food and beverage director....both were there 7 years. The food here is fantastic...the first night I has the chef's special: Salmon with capers and a lemon cream sauce.....Yummm! It's not expensive, casual is fine. If you want to find a hidden gem with great food, lovely wines selected by Dennis, give Cafe Montclair a try. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Close to the Claremont colleges!

                                1. Bangkok Blue for Thai food (you can ask the chef to adjust the spiciness) -- on Foothill Blvd in La Verne, west of Claremont
                                  Gua-Sal-Mex for Central American food -- on Hold Blvd in Pomona, south of Claremont
                                  Try Kazama or Ecoterra in Claremont (Indian Hill Blvd) for Sushi
                                  Casa 425 on 1st St in Claremont serves light meals on the patio in a gorgeous setting
                                  Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley: Din Tai Fung -11085 Baldwin, Arcadia; Sea Harbour - 1015 S. Nogales, Rowland Heights; Mission 261 - 261 S. Mission, San Gabriel; 888 Seafood - 8450 E. Valley, Rosemead; Triumphal Palace - 500 W. Main, Alhambra

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Claremonter

                                    I certanly am impressed with Claremonters claremont choices.

                                    As to the SGV - note that Sea Harbour, Mision 261, 888 seafood and triumphal palace are all more or less yuecai/Cantonese(hong kong) cuisine. Din tai Fung is a popular but idiosyncratic take on Shanghai centered Xiaolong bao (soup and meat filled steamed dumplings) with a variety of other wheaten and other small dishes from that region.
                                    If you are interested in foods from other parts of china, there are many other places offering this kind of food, e.g. China Islamic - muslim foods (minority ethnicity [hui] from Henan province - in rosemead.

                                  2. I went to grad school at USC, after undergrad school in Columbus, and my LA-born-and-bred Chowpup is gearing up to head for OSU Columbus in August. There ain't much Chowhounding in Columbus...

                                    Now, to a quick food topic, and a non-food follow-up to Jerome's travel suggestion:

                                    When you're down by USC stay away from University Village; THAT kind of food you CAN get in a college town in Ohio. Instead, if the La Mercado branch of Chichen Itza is open, you should go there for Yucatan food. Steer daughter away from, and Hubby towards, the fire-orange habanero salsa, which is even hotter than it looks; otherwise their food is wonderful, not very spicy, and unlike anything you're likely to find in Ohio.
                                    Also definitely go to one of the big Chinese places in the SGV.

                                    As to the Mount Baldy sight-see, it's well worth it, particularly if they're running the chairlift during the summer (check the website). The bottom chairlift takes you to about 8000' above sea-level, IIRC, from a base point at about 6,500'; this is all WAY steeper terrain, and higher elevation, than the highest point in Ohio (1500'?) (though not quite as steep as the rise at the Palm Springs Tramway) .

                                    Chichen Itza
                                    3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                                    1. So what's the story? SharonOhio?

                                      waiting for reviews.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Jerome

                                        Gee, we only got back a week ago!

                                        Well the distances and driving along with the strange scheduling of the college visits definitely did us in. The best place we went to and I think the only one that was actually recommended here was the Press in Claremont. We really enjoyed the atmosphere the food and the prices were quite reasonable.

                                        We did Mimi's cafe for breakfast which was pretty good (I know its a chain) and a few other chains because noone wanted to get back into the car once we got back to Ontario. Oh well. Thanks for the advice on the Press.

                                        1. re: SharonOhio

                                          well - if the kid gets in and goes, at least you have some places to try.