| It was peak season, and as long as the branches stretch over the sidewalk all the lemons, limes, grapefruit, navels, and kumquats you want are free and ripe for the picking (but just be cool, and ask first). I bought a new suitcase at Marshalls just to haul away as many as I could.
The problem with Riverside is that it’s a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles, and it is, shall we say, a bit dull—especially when it comes to eating anything but citrus.
It’s not even a quick or easy spin west to the San Gabriel Valley and all its restaurant riches, though Riverside does boast a few of the great Cambodian-owned doughnut shops, omnipresent in southern California.
Riverside has a few other cool things, like the weird Mission Inn and its healing waters, the largest Mission Revival-style building in the U.S. It also has the Cheech, the museum housing the marvelous Chicano modern art collection of Cheech Marin, which at the time was featuring an eye-popping retrospective of the work of Einar and Jamex de la Torre, and their blown-glass and lenticular dioramas, full of gory, edible nightmares.
We were also introduced to a fantastic, gray-market, backyard birria joint, En la Birria, in nearby Jurupa Valley which, amid a Saturday morning downpour, was packed full of people hunched over steaming bowls of rich goat stew and handmade tortillas.
Riverside can’t match the birria paradise that is Los Angeles—or even Chicago—but that was a pretty stellar bowl.
I guess that’s a long way of coming around to an obligatory mention of Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at Ludlow Liquors. We’re taking this Monday, February 13, off, so everybody can recover from the Super Bowl, or prep for St. Valentine’s Day (but really to let the crew at Ludlow complete refinishing the floor). Let’s just say Riverside birria offers a hint at what’s on the menu on February 20.
I’ll give you three words: birria banh mi.
Meantime, check out the full Foodball schedule below.