A travel journal
to Riverside by Elli Metz
Quote: In an attempt to see my new hometown in a new light, I've been wandering around for the last few days to see it with "new eyes". This journal is the result.
Riverside has sprung up (as much as one can "spring up" over four hundred years) around the central Mission district, which was a center of the city's life. The former Franciscan mission has long since been converted for secular use, but it set the tone for the architecture and "feel" of the city itself.
While here, don't miss the Mission Inn tours, hikes in Sycamore Canyon, or some of the breathtaking walks around the mountains. Mt. Rubidoux and the San Jacinto range all surround the town to the east, and missing them would be like missing air in your lungs.
The other concern, thanks to Los Angeles, is the smog index. Because of the situation of Riverside within a valley, the smog from L.A. that blows east from the ocean winds can often settle here. Check the air quality before venturing outdoors for extended periods.
Restaurant | "Ancho's...mmmm."
Ah, wary traveller, you're in for a treat.
Actually, Ancho's is an amazing place to eat. With dishes like Angels on Horseback (large shrimp wrapped in bacon with a sliver of jalapeno in the center for around $13USD) and handmade tortillas and salsa while you wait, this could hardly be taken for "just another place to get a taco".
The entire center of the restaurant (and it's marketing point) is a giant tortilla machine that makes them while you watch. Enclosed in glass, it cranks out "handmade" tortilla after tortilla, which are then brought to your table with freshly made salsa (made daily) while you decide what you'd like as a main course. And don't let the folks at Ortega fool you -- there is -nothing- like the taste of fresh tortillas.
The prices are reasonable, but on the high high side for a night out. For one person, you're looking at around $15, more with a tip.
It is hard to get in some evenings. Calling ahead for reservations is encouraged, though you still may have to wait. There aren't many tables, to be honest -- they have to crank the guests through one at a time, and that can make for a long wait. For Mexican food in Riverside, though, Ancho's has no rival for the title of "best".
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 23, 2001
Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar
10773 Hole Avenue
Riverside, California 92505
Restaurant | "Mario's"
This is not such a place. Mario's is an elegant restaurant (which is reflected in the steep prices) with a fabulous wait staff, serving authentic northern Italian cooking. This is the Tuscan-style meal -- seafood and heartier dishes, not as much tomato sauce or pasta, and more arborio rice. Paella and crusty breads are more popular here than pizza.
Mario's is in the process of moving. The locatin they are in now -- way out near the industrial district -- is a beautiful building in the wrong location. They've purchased a place just across from the Mission Inn, which will allow them more foot traffic and incidental stop-ins, much more accessible to most of Riverside.
They recently added a lunch menu (previously only open for dinner) on Fridays and Saturdays, which may move to an all-week affair when they move. The prices, as mentioned, are steep -- it will easily cost you $40 for two persons without wine inclluded, but is also easily worth that price. Whoever they have in the kitchen is an artist as well as a chef, and deserves all the credit he's been given in recent years. (Mario's has won several dining awars in this area.)
You probably shoulldn't just "decide" to go to this restaurant. Calling ahead for reservations is recommended on weeknights, pretty much required to get a table on the weekends. If not, you'll find yourself with a very long wait.
I will warn you now: once you've eaten here, it will spoil you for other, less quality Italian restuarants. Tomato sauce will never be the same.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 26, 2001
9733 Sierra Avenue
Riverside, California 92335
They offer the usual overpriced confections: bagels and cookie bars, chocolate covered espresso beans and cheesecakes, as well as smoothies in every imaginable combination (including something green with wheat grass that I've been afraid to try). Lately, they've also gone into the sandwich business, offering lunch sandwiches on bagels and croissants. It is a vegetarian-friendly place to eat, with wonderful veggie sandwiches on warm bagels, as well as a carnivore's playground, with huge sandwiches filled with roast beef and turkey.
Prices are reasonable, a little on the high side since it -is- a coffee shop first and foremost. A typical lunch with drink will cost about $6, and includes fruit and potato salad on the side, or a bag of kettle chips.
On weekend nights, they often have live bands play outside if the weather permits (and in the desert, it is very permissable). Mostly a young crowd, the bands play renditions of Blink 382 songs and N'Sync filks that carry across the parking lot to draw in more patrons.
Overall, if you have to have lunch, this is a great place to have it if you have time. They're open from mid-morning until around 10 pm on the weekends, 9 pm weekdays.
195 E Alessandro Blvd
Riverside, California 92508
The prices were quite reasonable. Stamps that list for $12/ea are roughly 15-20% cheaper, and papers here are much less expensive than at some of the other places in town.
Where SG has a problem, though, is in selection (on the paper front). Glossy cardstock seems to be the lot of it, with a basket or two of large sheets of handmade papers in the front. As a paper addict, I was a little disappointed in this.
The classes here are fabulous though. They routinely get very large names in the stamping community to come out and teach classes that aren't traditional stamping classes. Things like making your own 3-D shrines, binding books, and creating tiles out of plastic -- off the wall stuff that would really appeal to the more out-of-genre artists.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 6, 2001
Industry Pkwy Mall
What's special about Michelle's Friends is the story behind it, as much as the merchandise.
A few years ago, a crazy man in this area killed his wife, Michelle. He stuffed her in his trunk, but was eventually caught in Arizona, brought to trial, and convicted.
Michelle owned a pet store that looked as if it was going to close, with no leadership and no family to take it over. In memory, some friends of the murdered woman pooled resources and bought the store, giving it the name "Michelle's Friends" to honor the woman who was their friend.
Prices are reasonable -- though as with any independent store, they're higher than, say, a PetCo type store. They are conveniently located, once you know where they are, and honestly, I don't mind paying the extra price for a good cause.
Canyon Crest shopping center
Rich, the owner's husband, a hulk of a man that looks a whole lot like Santa Claus in a T-shirt, is often behind the counter, and will regale you with stories of being a male stamper, and show you his artwork with very little provocation. Sandi, the other store employee, appears a little gruff at first sight, but is always willing to share techniques and point you in the right direction for the supply or stamp you're looking for.
My only complaint is that it's too far away for frequent trips. From Riverside's downtown, you're looking at around a half-hour depending on traffic, which is a deterrent to some. (Go south on the 215 until you get to the 4th street exit. Go right until the road stops in a T-junction, then left again. At Goetz Road, turn right and follow it all the way into Lake Elsinore. Turn left at Diamond Drive. ALB is sandwiched between Pizza Hut and the car wash in a little strip mall. If you can find the mall, you can't miss it.)
Still, if you have some cash to blow on your art supplies, this is the place for you. It's well-worth the hour commuting time, if you've got good reason to be there. (And yes, "I want to shop" is a good enough reason.)
ALB also holds classes nearly every weekend -- sometimes two or three -- on things like bookmaking, technique, and make-it-take-it projects. In nearly all the classes, you'll bring home a completed work. ALB charges no facilities fees, so the cost is much lower than at some other stores. (Most of them are under $20, including all materials.)
In addition, if you happen to be around for the first Friday of every month, there is a fabulous "Un-Club" that meets after store hours. You sit with other stampers/artists and just play. No rules, no dues -- bring a project of your own or buy something at the store that you want to work on. It's like an artist's guild for paper artists and stampers.
This place is a must-see if you're into this kind of thing.
A Little Bizaar
31712 Casino Drive
Riverside, California 92530
Attraction | "Video Time"
All political reasons aside, Video Time is just a great place to go for videos. Though it's smaller and more dimly-lit than one of its big blue counterparts, the selection of older movies is impressively large and varied. There are actually two stores -- one in Riverside and an even larger one off Nuevo Road in Perris, and if you have membership to one, it's easy to get membership at the other -- just show your card -- and you'll likely find any movie you'd ever want.
Membership is easy and free -- just show a valid ID and credit card (ATM debit cards with the Visa/MC symbol are fine), and fill out a little form, and you've got a lifetime membership. Late fees are stringent -- another rental price for every time it's late, which can easily add up -- but so are late fees everywhere.
New releases are one day rentals for the first week or two they're out (and Video Time often gets things up to two weeks before everyone else does), and then six days for the duration of their new release time. They cost around $3. Old movies are 5 day rentals, and cost only $1.50. Games are 2 day rentals (like everywhere else) and are around $3.50, as are DVDs.
The best reason to come here, though, is the employees. You can tell that (on most days) they love where they work and they love working with customers (except for Jessica, who is kind of bitchy, but you can avoid her). Best, they know a lot about their product, and if they don't, they can find out for you.
Much better than big Blue, if I do say so myself.
321 E Alessandro Blvd
Riverside, California 92508
Everyone comes out for these things, at least semi-regularly. Starting at 4p.m. on Wednesdays, it's like a midweek break from the grind. Stores set up tables, live music plays, and people mill about having fun and cutting loose after three full days at work.
There's an energy here -- a young, vibrant energy -- that is easily "soak-up-able". When spirits are lagging, one trip to the Wednesday Night events, and you'll be re-energized. Bring some money -- there's great food and lots of bargains.
It takes place from 4pm to 9pm every Wednesday for most of the year (over the deep winter, they don't have it -- and the dates change from year to year, but as a general rule, from April to December, there's a Wednesday Nighter). Parking is limited, but if you don't mind a short walk from a few blocks away, there's no problem finding it. Go to the Mission Inn and head around to the west side, and you'll be in the thick of it.
I just wish they had it year-round.
Downtown Wednesday Nights