I have good news and bad news. Bad news first:
this is my last column of the year. This is bad news because I am assuming all
of you rely completely and utterly on my recommendations for places to add to
your restaurants-I-want-to-eat-at-but-never-find-the-time-to list, so I am also
assuming you are sobbing with the realization that I will not be able to recommend
spots for you after you reach the end of this article (unless you want to talk
to me or e-mail me, which is entirely acceptable).
But here is the good news: I have a (temporary)
solution to all your worries about your list. Here is a list of my own. I only get a
few columns a semester, so I have not been able to review as many places as I would
hoped. I have, though, eaten at a lot places, so I will just mention them all at
once. I am calling this review the places-to-add-to-your-list list. I will even
rank restaurants, since ranking things fosters disagreement and disagreement
is interesting. My criteria are a rough blend of food quality, price and
The Claremont area:
1. Pho Ha
Pho Ha is Claremont’s little gem of a
Vietnamese spot. It has everything you want in an eatery: authentic food,
family owned, good coffee, an awesome sandwich and cheap prices. They recently
raised their pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) price from around $4.50 to $5,
which was apparently a radical change, but I think we can all withstand it.
Recommended: The beef stew, jicama tofu rolls, banh mi, Vietnamese coffee and smoothies.
2. Royal Panda
In my review last week, I
revealed Royal Panda’s “secret” Chinese menu. I actually know a girl who
has eaten there three times a week for the past month. Plus, the owners are
adorable. Be sure to use the secret menu. Recommended: Ma po tofu, spicy beef
broth, Sichuan eggplant.
4. The Back Abbey
Hey, it is still perfectly
good for a burger spot. If you Google “best burger in LA,” Eureka shows up on a
few lists. Like Eureka, it features Claremont prices. Let’s put it this way:
you would need to work two hours at McDonald’s to be able to afford a burger at
Back Abbey. But if your parents are in town…. Recommended: Burgers, fries and
5. Patty’s Mexican Food
I’m not a big fan of
Chipotle, so here is my alternative. Patty’s is perfect for the college student:
cheap prices and homemade tortillas. Recommended: the $5 burritos.
Honorable mentions: Thai Family (better
than Bua Thai), Some Crust (egg sliders), The Last Drop (for coffee), Fruizen
(for boba), Pho Century (for the banh mi sandwich).
And finally, here is a comprehensive list of
places I have eaten at in the L.A. area and may have not managed to squeeze into