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Tops Jr Alhambra

I did a search and I don't see much mention of Tops Jr in Alhambra here at Chowhound. Actually I did make a post in some thread somewhere but I think Tops Jr deserves it's own thread. Tops Jr should not be confused with Tops in Pasadena. Tops and Tops Jr were owned by the same people at one time but it's my understanding that they are now under different ownership. The food is not the same so that should verify that. Only the name is similar. For those of you Westsiders, Alhambra is on the east side. Don't worry no low riders here or wannabe gangstas. It's just a suburban community next to the low riders and wannabess.

Well on Main between Fremont and Target store you'll find Tops Jr on the north side of Main Street. My fave is the chili there. I love it. The chili dogs and the chili fries are awesome. Didn't have the chili burger but has to be great seeing the chili is great on the other two. It's a dive, well almost. It borders on that in a similar vein as Oki Dog but not as bad as Oki Dog. Oki is homeless and vagrant heaven but Tops Jr is not. So do not be afraid. Go there when you have a chance to, the food is great and the prices are reasonable.

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Oki Dog
5056 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Main Street Cafe
12939 Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840

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  1. Big fan of Tops in Pasadena. Over 20 years the owner has made significant physical improvements and maintained a quality place. The largest order of fries you'll ever see.

    Pass by Tops Jr. every once and a while and rarely see more than a couple people. Is there room to sit down an eat or is it a grab and go joint?

    5 Replies
    1. re: monku

      monku,

      There are places to eat there. They have a round table with seating and a long table with seating. I forgot if they have two long tables or short.

      Tops in Pasadena is great, I agree with you. Tops Junior, well not as nice but I find the chili excellent. Better than Tops in Pasadena.

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      Tops Junior
      2407 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

      1. re: HoundDogz

        Alright I'll give the chili dog at Jr. a try sometime.
        That's one of my go to items at Tops in Pasadena.

      2. re: monku

        monku, which are you a fan of? Original Tops or the one at Colorado and Allen?

        1. re: Peripatetic

          Tops on Colorado.
          Other Tops is on Walnut/Allen.

          1. re: monku

            Oops, that right. I agree about Original Tops. I'm not too fond of the Walnut/Allen one, which is too bad, as it's a lot closer.

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            The Original Tops
            3838 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

      3. What's so great about peace, love, and (Colo. Blvd.) Tops burgers? I had one a couple of weeks ago for the first time since the Last Supper and thought it was hockey-puck dense.

        1. I grew up in South Pasadena, not too far from Tops Jr., and I used to eat there all the time. The hamburgers were great but what I used to live for were the onion rings. That said, I haven't been there in a while and I can't vouch whether the quality is still there.

          26 Replies
          1. re: writerinla

            I never have had the onion rings but I wonder if they are the same now. I ask because back about 1984 when I was a Junior in high school I started going to Tops Jr and I went until high school was over in 1985 and stopped and didn't go again until 1996 and it changed in some ways. Back in HS the french fries were super long and greasy. They must have used really long potatoes back then. Then in 1996 I started again and they were a lot shorter and less greasy. So I wonder if the onion rings changed since you went there when you grew up in South Pasadena. I'm not sure why I stopped going there and what prompted me to start going again (other than driving by and deciding to stop there again) 11 years later. The reason I know I started again in 1996 because my niece was turning 6 years old and I needed to get her some toy from the toy store in the Santa Anita mall, I think Kaybee Toys and afterwards I was driving home and past by Tops Jr in Alhambra and thought I'd stop by. Got the chili fries and since have been hooked. I miss the really long greasy fries though but the new ones are good especially with chili on them. In HS I just ate the fries not chili so not sure if the chili was different or the same as back in HS but since 1996 until now it's the same.

            When did you grow up and what years did you go to Tops Jr?

            1. re: HoundDogz

              Original Tops and Tops Jr are run by different owners. Original Tops has only one location. Others are cheap copies. Never a fan of Tops Jr. I always thought most fast food burger places were better than Tops Jr.

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              The Original Tops
              3838 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

              1. re: reality check

                I agree. I think the Rick's Drive-In and Out further down east on Main St. was much much better than Tops Jr.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Hi ipse, do they have chili at Rick's and if so, is it any good? What do you usually get there? Thanks!

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    I usu. stick to the burgers (1/2 pounder for me).

                    I tasted one of my friends chili fries once, and I'd have to say that I probably prefer the ones at The Hat ... dunno if that's a good thing or bad thing for you.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Thanks, ipse! Actually, I am currently having a love affair with the chili cheese dog from The Hat, so... Altho I am a HUGE chili cheese-whatever fan, so I will be trying Rick's and Tops Jr at some point just to have tried it. Always on the lookout for more delicious chili options.
                      BTW, I had a pretty damn good Chili/Egg/Hashbrowns (extra well done)/Cheese burrito from Wonder Burger on Walnut yesterday. I usually go for their regular breakfast burritos - eggs, bacon or sausage, etc., but opted for the Chili one. They also have very good fried zucchini and their salsa is delish!!

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                      Wonder Burgers
                      2584 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Is that the place that reportedly makes their chili-cheese fries with ... feta??

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          OMG! I don't know! Would not be surprised, tho. You know what's weird, and I did not think about it until just now, I have never had their chili fries!! I seem to always be there for their great breakfast burritos!! ;-) I will have to try.

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            Well, I know that they put feta in their breakfast burros ... so why not chili cheese fries, right?

                            Do report back Swede!

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Right! I will check it out! I have one of their menus in my car - will check that, first.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                im not a feta fan, (yes, i know), can't imagine one to top chili fries. it's always shredded cheddar to top a chili cheese fries for me.

                                speaking of which where is a great, chili cheese fries, in those parts with cheddar cheese?

                                1. re: kevin

                                  Wolfe Burgers. www.wolfeburgers.com

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                                  Wolfe Burgers
                                  46 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    MMMM, Wolfe! Their chili cheese dog is great, too. Also, The Hat has great and HUGE CCF; Hi-Life Burger in So Pas, Lucky Boy in Pas. Tops has a good version, too. That is all I can think of at the moment, but will probably come up with more. Tom's #41 (or something like that) on Foothill in Monrovia has pretty good CCFs. Tommy's! I have noticed that getting fries cooked well done always makes them mo' betta!
                                    Also, I really love the CC dog at Larry's in Burbank, but the amount you get when you order CCFs there vs what you pay is not worth it for me. So when I am there, I stick with the dogs.

                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      larry's dogs are great for chili cheese dogs, best down to earth style chili dogs, the vein pink's only wishes in it's dreams it could mimic.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Larry's reminds me of the place that made me first fall in love with CCDs - Papa John's which was on Victory and Hazeltine back in the 70s. I can still see Papa John in my mind's eye to this day. Larry's chili is the closest I have found to that nirvana.

                                      2. re: WildSwede

                                        Speaking of Hi-Life ... they will top your chili-cheese fries with ranch dressing! My arteries harden a little bit everytime I type that sentence ...

                                        I stock up on carotid stents just for the opportunity to indulge in a single fry drenched in chili, topped with some melted cheese, and slicked over with gooey ranch dressing.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          ;-) I usually get it on the side. They do have a great ranch!!

                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                            Could you imagine what a cholesterol bomb you would be looking at if The Hat put ranch dressing on their chili-cheese fries???

                                            And speaking of The Hat, I once saw somebody eat their chili-cheese fries with tomatoes, pickles, onions, pastrami and (get this!) gravy!

                                            I almost felt sorry for that cardboard holder used to carry those fries ...

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              an even bigger cholesterol bomb: from a visit a few months back. a whole pastrami sub, chili cheese fries fully loaded (no pastrami, i already had that in my sandwich) and a turkey avo sandwich for refreshment.

                                              1. re: kevin

                                                OMG - to both of you! When I break down and get the CCF at The Hat (a small, of course) and I have eaten til ready to burst, I look and it seems I barely made a dent in it. They should offer a mini size so all that food does not go to waste.

                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                            I never had ranch on my chili cheese fries there or anywhere but I can say I like Hi-Life a lot. It's very popular and the food is great.

                                      3. re: kevin

                                        Chili cheese fries at The Hat can't be beat. They use a 1/4' cut fry, not those fru fru shoestring fries.
                                        The order is as large as your head and will take 4 people to polish it off. Plenty of chili and cheese. There's only one size for $4.69.

                      2. re: HoundDogz

                        HoundDogz, I graduated from South Pas High in 85, but still had friends in town and continued to go there from time to time until the mid-90s. I probably haven't been there in about 13-15 years.

                        1. re: writerinla

                          writerinla, man we are both the same graduate year just different high schools a few miles away. You are almost like a distant cousin whom I had never met until I was an adult years later! Hey cuz!!! Do you remember when Old Town Pasadena was not so nice back in the early to mid '80s. It was like a ghost down, no worse it was like Pasadena's version of skid row. Many buildings all boarded up and vagrants all over the place. Pasadena did a great job restoring the area and making it friendly.

                          1. re: HoundDogz

                            Oh, yeah! I remember what old town was like when I was in high school - it was just a Salvation Army, an adult bookstore and Ernie Jr's Taco House. I used to love Ernie Jr's for cheap Mexican. I have to say, though, Old Town improved in the 90s with lots of new small restaurants and businesses, but now it has become stale and corporate. Lots of restaurant chains now, because they're the only ones that can afford the high rents. That said, I haven't been there for a while.

                            Alhambra still has some great places I remember from back in the day, like Fosselman's and Genovese's Pizza.

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                            Genovese's Pizza
                            2900 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                            1. re: writerinla

                              Exactly, if you asked me by the looks of the way O'Town Pas used to look I would have said man this place looks haunted but now it's hustling and bustling and very nice.

                              Where was Genovese's Pizza? Was it on Garfield next to KFC near the Pierce Bro Mortuary? I ask because in HS I went to have pizza at a place where I describe and they had it by the slice and all the seniors would go there to get pizza. Now it's gone. Was that Genovese's Pizza? Fosselman's is still there and still popular.

                              Where did you move since you left Pasadena? Curious if your area where you live if you have some fave places.

                              -----
                              Genovese's Pizza
                              2900 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                    2. Drove by today and painted across the building "Worlds Best Pastrami".

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: monku

                        The problem with Top's Junior is the teeny and tight parking lot (car got dinged) and the fact that the seating is outdoors. Now that it's 95 plus degrees outside, I'd rather go somewhere else like High Life Burgers on S. Fair Oaks. On the other hand, it's very near Fosselmans!

                        1. re: granadafan

                          granadafan, agreed about the parking. It is small, isn't it? I have not gotten dinged there fortunately but half the time I do the street parking thing. I know what you mean when it's hot it's hard to sit outside but most the time we get reasonable weather and that is when I go there. I just love the chili there but that's opinion, some will like and some won't.

                          1. re: HoundDogz

                            Have not tried the chili at Tops Jr yet, but thanks to this thread I will. The burgers at Rick's and High Life are better, IMO.

                      2. Has anyone tried Big City Hot Dogs in Old Town Pasadena? I think it's next to King Taco.

                        35 Replies
                        1. re: Kevitivity

                          haven't been let me know if you check it.

                          1. re: Kevitivity

                            Kev, I go to Old Town Pasadena (just mentioned Old Town in a previous post before I saw you mention it) and never heard of Big City Hot Dogs or seen it. I'll try to find it next time. Heck I didn't even know they have a King Taco there. Wonder if they just opened KT because for the life of me I have never seen King Taco there.

                            1. re: HoundDogz

                              Na, King Taco has been at that location for at least 10 years now.

                              1. re: Kevitivity

                                It is right next to King Taco. KT has been there for as long as I can remember and is on the corner and Big City is the store right next door to the south.

                              2. re: HoundDogz

                                HoundDogz, looking at Y*lp (it happens) Big City Hot Dogs appears to have opened last month.

                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                    Well I gotta try this place out. Next time I'm in Pasadena in that area I'll give it a go. I'm sure I'll like it. I'm actually now on my way out to Tops Junior after I do some errands to get the chili cheese fries.

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                                    Tops Junior
                                    2407 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                    1. re: HoundDogz

                                      YUM! Let us know what you think! Thanks!

                                      1. re: WildSwede

                                        I was not in the Pasadena area but was in Alhambra and went to Tops Jr again! I must be obsessing with Tops Jr because this is the second time in one week or less that I went. Man love 'em. Next stop the Pasadena place you all recommend.

                                        1. re: HoundDogz

                                          So what have you eaten at Tops besides the CCF (which it seems you are very fond of!)? I have not been to Big City HDs yet but anxiously await your thoughts!! ;-)

                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                            I have had the chili dogs but I guess that's not a stretch from the CCF because you replace the fries with a dog. So as you guessed it, it was very good. I have had the Pastrami there too. As much as I like the Pastrami I'd say that The Hat won that battle. Also, Galcos in Highland Park pastrami is better than Tops Junior. TJ pastrami is good just saying Galcos and The Hat win over TJ. I have had a hamburger at TJ but it's been awhile so I can't recall how good it is. You might think because I have not had a hamburger in awhile there that it's not good but it's not that. Often times I'll make my own burger at home because I do a good job. But if I recall I think the burger at TJ was good. Maybe if I get the burger as a chili burger it would be different. I look forward to going to Big City HDs soon too and I'll issue my report on it. This place is getting me curious.

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                                            Tops Junior
                                            2407 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                            1. re: HoundDogz

                                              Thanks for being so specific!! I cannot wait to try it. I hope Big City is good. ;-) I did walk in there once after eating at King Taco and they gave me a sample of their turkey chili. It was okay, I didn't think it was too special, but then again I prefer chili a la Tommy's, Cupids, Carneys, etc. so that could be the problem. Thanks again!

                                              1. re: WildSwede

                                                Ooops I kinda double posted. This is getting edited as to not be a double post. Thanks.

                                                1. re: WildSwede

                                                  No problem. Man I still wish I had gone to Hot Diggity Dog when it was still open in Burbank. I want to try Cupids because I never have and you recommend it. Once I was at Carney's on Sunset and I saw entertainment reporter Leeza Gibbons and actor Robert Culp at the same time. He saw her outside while looking out the window. He looked in awe of her like she was some kinda actress or star. I think Robert Culp was with one of his sons. I loved him in Greatest American Hero but I did not approach him for an autograph. I see stars around town now and then but never care enough to ask for an autograph. This was about 12 years ago that I saw him. He and Leeza Gibbons did not pass by each other or were in the train at the same time but I wonder if they were in the train car at the same time if they would have talked. I can imagine that Leeza Gibbons must have interviewed him over the years at least a couple of times, therefore known each other as acquaintances. So I wonder what they would have said to each other if anything. Maybe just a passing hello, how are you kind of thing. I think Leeza Gibbons was with her parents because she was with a man and woman much older than her. They were in some convertible. Maybe a Crysler or something. I walked right by Gibbons and her parents as they were leaving the train car and I ordered when I went in. I sat down and Robert Culp came in and ordered and sat down to wait for his order. He looked out the window and saw them and he was in awe of her for some reason. He kept on looking at her. I think Leeza and her family took forever to leave because by the time they got to their car, Robert Culp came in and ordered and sat down and then he saw her and her parents and she finally left the parking lot. I think Robert Culp entered the Carney's train one end (the west side) and Gibbons and family exited the west side of the train that's how they did not pass each other but I did pass her.

                                                  1. re: HoundDogz

                                                    there was a hot diggity dog in burbank? i though there was only one in palms on sepulveda in west la???

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      Well, about half a mile down the street from Warner Brothers Studio on Hollywood Way, there was a Hot Diggity Dog. Now it is a place called Taste of Chicago, which is owned by the wife of actor Joe Mantegna. It was Hot Diggity Dog years ago. I wanted to go there but by the time I got around to it, it was closed and abandoned then some months later it became Taste of Chicago which is very good by the way. I was eating with my wife there about 2 years ago and Jay Leno and his people where there eating and talking about some development of a new show. I think they were talking about his Jay Leno show which went on the air a year or so later.

                                                      Funny thing is I am not big on dogs with lots of mustard and/or ketchup and onions and such. I'm a simpleton who is happy with a hot dog with chili only so I don't need to go to a place with some fancy Chicago dog with tons of stuff on it. I just want good chili on a good dog.

                                                      1. re: HoundDogz

                                                        I did not know that Taste of Chicago, used to be Hot Diggity Dog. I've had the Chicago hot dog at Taste of Chicago and I was not impressed at all.

                                                        1. re: reality check

                                                          At Taste of Chicago I never have had the Chicago Dog probably because I'm pretty simple when it comes to dogs. I just want chili cheese and that's it. But my wife likes the works so maybe she'll try it next time. They used to have a good rotisserie type of chicken there. I mean I liked it a lot but the thing is they discontinued it and that was sad. I really don't like Chicago pizza so I don't get pizza there. The Italian Beef sandwiches are the best though. I go there just for that. You should try it if you have not. Not sure if you'll like it but if you try it you might like it.

                                                          1. re: HoundDogz

                                                            Never got into Italian beef sandwiches. THey are ok but nothing I would drive out to Burbank for. I much prefer a french dip at Cole's.

                                                            1. re: reality check

                                                              I live 10 minutes from Taste of Chicago...I drive regularly to Portillo's 30 minutes away for their Italian beef sandwich.
                                                              Portillo's makes their own rolls fresh and their Italian beef sandwich is cheaper and better than a Cole's French dip.

                                                              1. re: monku

                                                                monku, I never heard of Portillo's but I'd like to go there. I did a Google but I found one in Chicago but not one local to So Cal. Could you tell me what city it's in and maybe the address, much appreciated. My wife and I would love to try it. Thanks.

                                                                1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                  Wait, I found it. It's in Orange County. I found the address. I heard there was a place out there with great Chicago food but never knew the name and place. Thanks for the name because it prompted me to find it. I'll go there sometime soon.

                                                                  1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                    Portillo's has been out here for about five years in Buena Park; there's also one in Moreno Valley.

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                                                                    Portillo's Hot Dogs
                                                                    8390 La Palma Ave, Buena Park, CA 90620

                                                                    Portillo's Hot Dogs
                                                                    12840 Day St, Moreno Valley, CA 92553

                                                                    1. re: hnsbmg

                                                                      Thanks for the info. I'll definitely try the Buena Park location. Philly's Best in Pasadena is good. It's a Philly sandwich as you guessed not a Chicago sandwich though.

                                                                  2. re: HoundDogz

                                                                    Problem with Portillo's is they do a great Italian beef sandwich, an authentic Chicago dog (Vienna dog, neon relish, sport peppers, poppy seed bun(may still be imported from Chicago)), a good charbroiled hamburger, grilled tuna sandwich and good chopped salad. So it's hard to decide what to get.

                                                                    1. re: monku

                                                                      That sounds like a good dilemma to have!

                                                                  3. re: monku

                                                                    The Italian beef maybe cheaper, because they use a cheaper cut of beef. And no way that any Italian beef is better than a Cole's French Dip. Italian beef sandwiches are a distant third, French Dips, cheesesteaks, and then Italian beefs, when it comes to beef sandwiches.

                                                                    1. re: reality check

                                                                      By the way, it's purported that Mr. Beef in Venice is serving up both -- Italian Beef and Chicago style dogs.

                                                                      Anyone try it so far?

                                                                      http://mrbeefla.com/

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        Thanks for the info ipsed, I want to go and try the one in Venice as well as Buena Park.

                                                                      2. re: reality check

                                                                        RC, whose versions of Italian beef and Philly cheese steak are you comparing with Cole's French dip?

                                                                        1. re: reality check

                                                                          Went with a couple of out of towners yesterday. They'd never had a Philippes French dip or Portillo's Italian beef. They had the Philippes French dip for breakfast and a Portillo's Italian beef 3 hours later and said Portillo's was much better.

                                                                          1. re: monku

                                                                            sure sounds like they are hitting up a lot of good taste tasting, i only tried the portillo's in buena park for an italian beef a few years back, and it didn't seem to be anything special, though i'll prolly give it another try based on all the recks and while i'm out there hit up the vienna beef dog too, and maybe make a pit stop at Tony's Little Italy in Placentia to make it an all chi-town food type day.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Little Italy
                                                                            627 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                                                                      3. re: reality check

                                                                        Cole's, you mentioned the magic word! I love Cole's. I have not worked in downtown in a number of years and when I stopped working there the restaurant was in the process of being renovated so it was closed therefore it has been so long since I last gone there. I have seen photos of Cole's on their website and it's just kinda different now. It's too clean now. It seems to lost it's charm. Then again you can not blame the owners for wanting to make it cleaner and more appealing to people. I used to like the old school charm it had but now it looks a bit too sterile. But yes they have great french dip at Cole's.