Keepin’ it Old School
By Allan Borgen
Connal’s Burgers, Salads & Subs has been a Pasadena Landmark since 1958. Lucky for us, we can enjoy the same food right here in Upland. This free-standing fast-food restaurant is decked out with lots of 1950s retro pictures and memorabilia of iconic images like Elvis, Coke ads etc. while red, white and black tiles and accent the dining room, adding an additional layer of fun and nostalgia to the dining experience.
The menu is large and varied with a ton of burgers, sandwiches, Mexican specialties, salads and just about anything else a good fast food restaurant offers. One thing that impressed me was the fact that many of the items on the menu are made fresh, such as their salad dressings, onion rings and their fried zucchini (which is the best that I have ever encountered). The breading of the deep fried zucchini was extremely crispy, very tasty and is the perfect side to enjoy with an entrée or by themselves.
Speaking of entrees, my first round of dishes included their Bacon Avocado Cheese Burger ($4.69), a Turkey BLT Club Sandwich ($5.19) and the massive Pastrami Sandwich ($6.99).
The classic burger featured a toasted sesame seed bun with homemade Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, a slice of tomato, onions, pickles, a 1/4 lb. all-beef hamburger patty and a slice of American cheese along with crisp bacon and avocado slices. The marriage of all of the ingredients was both a textural and tasty treat. The Turkey BLT was also very good, and filling. Three slices of toast with creamy mayo, sliced turkey, lettuce, tomatoes and crisp bacon cut in the customary quarters was delicious, especially with the crisp onion rings I just had to order. The last item on this round of dishes was the popular Pastrami Sandwich. This sandwich featured a heaping pile of tasty pastrami that had the perfect ratio of meat-to-fat, along with mustard and pickles on a French roll.
The second round of dishes included the marvelous Combination Italian Turkey, Ham & Salami Grinder ($5.39), the impressive Southwest Chicken Salad ($6.29) and the Carne Asada Plate ($6.99). The Combination Grinder consisted of a nice size roll with Provolone cheese, shredded lettuce, pickles, sliced turkey, ham and salami topped with sliced tomatoes with a sprinkling of zesty pepper and herbs, vinegar and their “secret recipe flavored oil”. The sandwich was outstanding and one item I order often when I dine there.
The eye popping Southwest Chicken Salad was yet another hit! This gigantic salad consisted of a huge bed of iceberg lettuce with corn, black olives, black beans, green onions, carrots, cheddar & jack cheese and some delicious slices of grilled chicken topped with colorful red and green fried corn tortilla strips. A creamy homemade southwest ranch dressing was served with the salad which made for one great tasting salad. The last dish, the Carne Asada Plate was also a good choice. Rather than using flap meat, Connal’s marinates and charbroils a rib eye steak. The steak was very tender, juicy and perfectly seasoned and was served with tasty Mexican rice, beans, guacamole, sour cream and corn tortillas.
Other items I have ordered before and enjoyed included the Quesadilla Special, Tuna Salad Sandwich and their marvelous old-fashion flavored sodas and thick malts. Dining at Connal’s is like going back in time and considering the quality of the food, the large portions and reasonable prices, I know I will see you there often. Happy Eating!
Connal’s Burgers, Salads and Subs, 1227 W. 7th St., Upland, (909) 982-2531; www.connals.com.
Follow food critic Allan Borgen on the Let’s Dine Out Television show on every Friday night at 6:30pm at KVCR Ch. 24-P.B.S. and on the Let’s Dine Out radio show every Saturday afternoon from 3pm-5pm on AM 590. You can contact Allan at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (909) 910-3463. Visit his web site feedme411.com and letsdineoutshow.com.