By Hugo Guzman
Hub Staff Writer
Fighting traffic in Los Angeles is no walk in the park, especially at rush hour. With commutes often taking two hours (or more!) in the early evening, when most are getting out of work, it’s little wonder that public transportation is more popular than ever. According to the Los Angeles Metro’s ridership statistics, nearly 9 million people rode on the extensive light rail system that crisscrosses LA County from the South Bay to San Fernando Valley.
But after a long day at work, most people have one thing on their mind, and it’s not train station transfers. Most people want food. And luckily for Metro commuters, there’s no shortage of places to eat along the Metro’s most traveled routes.
Here’s five places to eat along the Metro Gold Line, one of the most popular light rail lines in LA.
Congregation Ale House
Metro’s Foothill Gold Line Extension project was a big gamble when first announced, but since its first phase was completed in 2016, it’s proved one of the most-used routes in the Metro system, serving more than 32,000 riders per week according to Curbed LA. But for passengers looking for some gastronomic service to pair with public transport, the best pick is Congregation Ale House in Azusa, located three blocks from the Downtown Azusa station.
Since Downtown Azusa is just one stop away from the end of the line at APU/Citrus College, that means that it’s often at the very start of some commutes, or at the very end. That means that having a quick beer before heading home is no big deal, but Congregation has more to offer than just craft brews. It’s a full-service gastropub, with burgers, sandwiches and sausages. Those sausages, tucked inside a brioche bun, are nothing but heaven-sent. They come loaded with grilled peppers, onion and a dash of Dijon mustard.
Claro’s Italian Market
Claro’s Italian Markets, a Los Angeles-area institution since 1948, don’t boast dozens of locations across the Southland. They go for quality over quantity – quality that’s “just like mamma used to make,” and quantity that sees them operating only six locations, in far-flung locales like Tustin, Covina and San Gabriel. That’s why it’s a boon for Italian food aficionados that Arcadia’s location on East Huntington Drive is located two short blocks from the Gold Line’s Arcadia stop, opening Claro’s legendary sandwiches to communities stretching from Azusa to East LA.
And make no mistake: The sandwiches are Claro’s top call. Claro’s fine Italian meats never shine brighter than when paired with their fine Italian dressing, an olive oil and vinegar-based condiment that was crafted specifically for sandwiches.
Indiana Colony isn’t just one restaurant. It’s several, with the Grand Central Market-style location housing drink stops like Intelligentsia Coffee and Pressed Juicery, along with eateries like Coolhaus ice cream and the Pie Hole, LA’s hippest pastry place.
In fact, the Pie Hole is the reason Indiana Colony made this list. Leaving just 20 minutes early buys you enough time to visit Indiana Colony in the morning, since it’s only a five-minute walk from Pasadena’s Memorial Park station. Swing by here for breakfast and skip the dessert pies. What you need is a breakfast hand pie. They look like an empanada, but taste like a full-service morning feast.
Purgatory offers the finest New York-style pizza on the edge of Boyle Heights. Located literally across the street from the Pico/Aliso Gold Line Station, Purgatory Pizza offers low-cost pie slices for anyone heading to East LA or Downtown, with less than 10 minutes wait-time if you know what you’re doing. Ordering a slice to go is a cinch, and nothing lifts the spirit like a pepperoni pizza before getting home.
If you’ve got a bit of time to spare, or you’re planning to feed a family after your commute, Purgatory also offers full-sized pizzas, salads and calzones. They also have an always-welcome “Build Your Own Pizza” special, under $20. They’ve also got vegan and gluten-free options, in case the roommates get picky about their toppings. There’s plenty of room to sit while you wait (or while you feast), but a word of warning: Until recently, Purgatory accepted only cash. Make sure to take a $20 if you’re planning to swing by.
Birrieria De Don Boni
The Mariachi Plaza station offers no shortage of delicious, traditional Mexican food since this is Boyle Heights, that means you’ve got to try the birria, a spicy stewed goat treat. Birrieria De Don Boni has been bringing its stews to the masses since 1972, when Don Bonifacio Gonzalez opened the restaurant using his family recipe from Jalisco, Mexico.
Don Boni’s keeps it simple, offering its succulent, melt-in-your mouth meats in just three sizes (half order, full order and foreshank). The plates come dripping in broth, though you can get that on the side. After a long day at work, and a long commute by train, what could be better than a simple, hearty meal of stewed goat shank?