Vegan cuisine, rave gear and a pawn shop in West Covina: Four Hours
Fans of the critically acclaimed romantic musical sitcom “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” may recognize West Covina as the cozy piece of suburbia where Rebecca Bunch resided across four seasons. Tucked away in the San Gabriel Valley, West Covina offers a bit of an escape from the traffic and concrete of Los Angeles, with the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. While the big source of commercial business is the Plaza West Covina, there are several shops off the beaten path worth exploring. Note that some driving will be required on this neighborhood tour, but with all these locations so close to one another, you won’t spend most of your time in the car.
9 a.m. The clanging of baseball bats and roar of families cheering can be heard on top of the towering hill off Azusa Avenue at Big League Dreams at 2100 S. Azusa Ave. Worth a look, even if you’re not planning to play: For $6, this recreational park offers activities for young athletes and families, including three baseball diamonds, one of which looks like a mini Angel Stadium. The park also features an indoor soccer field, jungle gyms and batting cages.
10 a.m. As you head north on Azusa Avenue, you’ll spot a Japanese supermarket on your right: Tokyo Central at 1420 S. Azusa Ave. stocks its shelves with authentic Japanese imports. (For those who want to slurp on some steaming hot ramen, the restaurant Hanzo Ramen is stationed as you enter the market. But don’t ruin your appetite just yet.) You can also find skin care products from across the Pacific. Fans of anime will appreciate that the store showcases custom-made action figures from popular series such as “One Piece” and “Dragon Ball.”
10:45 a.m. Continue driving north on Azusa Avenue, with the monolithic San Gabriel Mountains edging closer. Once you hit Vine Avenue, make a left and drive through the neighborhood until you see Valinda Avenue, then turn right. Head north on Valinda until you reach Glendora Avenue, where you will spot an unassuming strip mall on your right.
11 a.m. Look for the rock fountain outside One Veg World at 178 S. Glendora Ave. Ornaments with Buddhist inscriptions and bamboo decor create a serene mood inside. Pictures of famed vegans like Joaquin Phoenix, Carrie Underwood and Natalie Portman are displayed proudly on the wall. Dishes like the Thai “chick-un” salad and jackfruit Korean tacos make this hole-in-the-wall restaurant perfect for someone trying vegan cuisine for the first time. Save room for dessert.
11:30 a.m. Next door at 220 S. Glendora Ave. is the rave apparel boutique EmazingLights. You might remember it from ABC’s “Shark Tank”: This store provides festival-goers with a slew of psychedelic neon outfits and the latest LED gadgets. At the front of the store is an LED glove bar, where shoppers can customize their rave gear in an assortment of colors. My personal favorite item is the Orbit, a four-pronged fidget spinner that has an array of lighting modes. If you spin it fast enough, it looks like a vibrant, colorful atom.
11:45 a.m. After dusting off the glitter from your clothes, walk past the Ace Tobacco Shop 2. Ready for dessert? There’s Boba Land, at 244 S. Glendora Ave. (I suggest the passion fruit green tea boba) or keep strolling to Cookieteria by Lovely, at 316 S. Glendora Ave:
This pastry shop offers creative cookie designs, with inspirations from Spider-Man and Frida Kahlo.
12:10 p.m. Keep driving until you hit Goodfellas Pawn Shop at 1203 S. Glendora Ave. All right, so a pawnshop is probably the last place you would expect to see on a neighborhood guide. And normally you’d be right, but Goodfellas is a cut above the typical pawn shop. Business owner Armen Galstian has spent 23 years building his clientele, who come from all over Los Angeles and even Palm Springs for his specialty collection.
One item you cannot ignore is a framed 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers championship jersey signed by the king himself, LeBron James. The shop carries other pieces of sports memorabilia autographed by legends such as the NBA’s Allen Iverson and former Dodger Fernando Valenzuela. Just to the right, a shelf is full of luxurious handbags from Prada and Louis Vuitton. Goodfellas is probably one of the few places that sells a shimmering Breitling wristwatch for half the retail price. Need a diamond ring to propose? There are plenty to choose from. (No need to tell your S.O. you got it at a pawn shop.)
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