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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Adventures Close to Home: The Rotation

Tim goes to a local gym a couple of times a week for therapeutic exercise where a personal trainer puts him through his paces to keep his strength and flexibility up.

Since we generally have to be there, too, Letty and I also have a regular gym membership so we work out while Tim gets his therapy.

The gym is located in the downtown area of Monrovia, California where there are several good restaurants withing walking distance. After our Friday night workout, we go out to eat before returning home.

Friday is also the night Monrovia hosts its long-running Friday night Family Festival where the street is closed and the community comes out to mingle.

Over the years, we've worked out a regular schedule of restaurants we go to for our after workout dinner. Right now, we're going to four restaurants that we've found to be generally reliable.  It's a different restaurant each Friday night, we call this our Friday Rotation.

Three of the restaurants are on the corner of Myrtle and Colorado Boulevard. The fourth is up the street near the movie theater.

Going clockwise...

T. Phillips Ale House sits on the southwest corner of Myrtle and Colorado. The main draw here? 72 taps of ice cold beer.  The food is not bad, some entrees better than others.  

When they first opened here (this was the third location after La Verne - now closed - and Glendora), prices were a bit precious. A few items, such as their excellent chicken pot pie and prime rib sandwich, were not too bad but other dinner entrees were pretty expensive.

T. Phillips got the message and has introduced a plethora of lower priced items such as deli sandwiches, black and bleu tacos, and some great happy hour apps like wings and nachos.

Happy hour is 3-6, Monday through Friday, where it's two dollars off beers and several apps are five dollars. My favorite happy hour app is li'l dogs...three mini Hebrew National hot dogs with curly fries while Tim likes the sliders (three, also served with curly fries) and Letty likes the half order of nachos.

If we stick to the happy hour menu, we get out for less than $40. If not, it's more like $60.

Up the block, next to the Krikorian Theatre (one of Tim's regular places to take in a matinee), is Bellasera. This Italian eatery used to be overpriced and bland. Our friend, Scott, from Sycamore Gallery in Monrovia suggested we give it a try under new ownership.

Scott was right.  New owners came in, spiffed up the place a bit (really redoing the back patio into a shady getaway), brought in an outstanding menu, of all...lowered the prices.

Letty liked the seafood risotto (but complained when they changed the risotto recipe...the owner said they'd change it back but she hasn't tried it again yet), Tim the lasagna, and me the carbonara with the 63 degree coddled egg on top.

Dinner for the three of us around $50.

Next up is a Monrovia landmark. It's even named after the city.  Here for 36 years is the Monrovian, owned by the beautiful and Greek Sia Soris.  Yes, it's basically a Greek diner in its bones but Sia has made the atmosphere welcoming and comfortable. She's constantly trying to upgrade the menu...which also raises the prices occasionally...and, while they do everything competently, some items are truly outstanding. If you know what to order.

I have yet to find a better chicken fried steak anywhere. Available in either the breakfast version or dinner version, this tasty, gravy covered, tenderized steak is heavenly.

Tim just loves their beefeater sandwich and Letty goes back and forth between the salmon and the dinner salads.

Friday night prime rib special is pretty special and also comes with dessert thrown in.

Our last dinner bill was $41, including tip.

Rudy Castrellon is a true legend here in Monrovia.  Coming here as an immigrant as a teenager, he started as a dishwasher at a local Acapulco restaurant. Saving up, he eventually opened up a small lunch counter on the corner.

With good food came more success and, as his neighbor businesses folded, Rudy expanded into their former spaces into the 200 seat restaurant and cantina that has made him a millionaire several times over.

Oh yeah, Rudy also became a citizen and is very active in city commissions and setting business policy in this city.

There was even a documentary made about him called 'Rutilio,' but I like to say I gave him his big break when I got him to star in our video, 'Southern California's Top Three Margaritas.'

Rudy is a good friend now. Come in here a few times and you will also be able to say that. Rudy makes it a point to visit with every customer in his place before they leave.

Of course, we  have to start off with one of the top three margaritas around. Beyond that, I'm a big fan of their tripas tacos (cow intestines, only served Friday nights), one of the best cheap rib eye steak dinners you'll find in the area, chile rellenos, and enchiladas.

Letty likes the lengua (tongue) and cocido (soup). Tim thrives on their cheese enchiladas and bean 'n cheese burritos.

Total bill will be around $40, $50 or so with margaritas.

Just like any other team, we've had vacancies and promotions on our rotation...the late and greatly lamented Frank and Joe's, the local Thai restaurant that went downhill, the Pho place where the service got too bad...but this group of four are our current dependables.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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