Before I praise all concepts and concerns Peppi’s-related, let me say just one thing: Peppi’s should be torn down. It’s an anachronism, and an eyesore to boot. The sooner they throw up a Jack-in-the-Crack or a goddamn Arby’s, the better everyone on Foothill Boulevard will feel about the neighborhood’s future.
And speaking of the neighborhood, if you ever find yourself caught up in some sort of drug-addled scavenger hunt—the kind where you need to find heroin, an Auto Trader translated into German, and a one-armed male prostitute at four in the morning, then Foothill might be the call in the IE. I’m not saying you’ll go three-for-three, but your odds are probably better around this section of Fontana than, say, Redlands.
But of course, that’s the charm of both Peppi’s and Foothill itself. Opened in 1948, Peppi’s is literally old school, from its décor of classic painted cinderblock to its collection of video games—Mortal Kombat, anyone?—to its gunked-up, broken-down-looking Love Meter. Even the gum out of the machine is almost unbreakable, just the way it should be.
This classic touch extends to the food. Peppi’s is the fast-food equivalent of a comfy dive bar. It may look a bit dated, but everything is tasty in the classic greasy-spoon sort of way. The burgers here are excellent (as the Weekly noted in our recent burger-themed Food Issue). The modest cheeseburger here is a classic, with a quality quarter-pound burger resting on shredded lettuce, sweet onions, a few dill pickle slices, and smothered in both Thousand Island-like dressing and a semi-melted slice of American cheese.
The sandwiches are outstanding as well, particularly the Philly Cheesesteak, so generously peppered that it adds a fiery component to every mouthful. (If Peppi’s served beer, the place would be a foodie’s nirvana—alas, you’ll have to make do with soda or iced tea.)
While the fare is a bit limited, you could eat here a few times before you ever tire of the menu. Other sandwich choices include the pastrami (fantastic!), the meatball and the roast beef, while the burger options include the requisite chiliburger as well as the Onasis Burger, a pastrami-laden behemoth.
The sides run from the merely average fries and onion rings, to the sublime scoops of chili, which goes good with everything. Then there’s the intriguing chili corn dog, which I haven’t tried yet, but will once my heart can stand it.
Everyone needs to try Peppi’s while it’s still here—you never know when a great grease palace will turn into a T.G.I. Friday’s.
Peppi’s Drive In, 17670 Foothill Blvd., Fontana, (909) 822-4888.