The sprawl of good food in Los Angeles has become much more accessible thanks to the addition earlier this month of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension. Covering the San Gabriel Valley, the new stops stretch from Arcadia to Azusa. If you've never ventured this far, now is the time to load up that TAP card and check out some fantastic places to eat and drink along the extension's route.
Canyon City Barbeque (0.7 miles from Azusa Downtown Station)
Carnivores, rejoice! The owners of this unassuming neighborhood gem once were regulars on the grill and barbecue competition circuit, where they perfected their slow-smoked and saucing games. Platters of fall-off-the-bone St. Louis–style ribs and tender beef brisket are hefty enough to be shared. You also can't go wrong with the pulled pork sandwich, loaded spuds, cornbread with honey butter or anything on the menu that's smothered in the signature brisket gravy, a luscious and savory affair that borders on excessive. Plenty of beer on tap helps wash it all down. 347 N. San Gabriel Ave., Azusa; (626) 815-4227, canyoncitybbq.com.
Luscious Dumplings (1 mile from Monrovia Station)
This is Chinese comfort food at its finest. The steamed soup dumplings (guan tang jiao) have a delicate wrapper that readily bursts to release a tasty, porky broth, but it's the pan-fried pork dumplings that will steal the show when they arrive at your table with their delectable brown crispiness. Equally gratifying are the pan-fried chive pockets and the savory stewed beef noodle soup. It's cash only, and it's best to arrive early, before the popular items sell out. 919 W. Duarte Road, Monrovia; (626) 821-0518, lusciousdumplings.com.
Tacos Ensenada (1.1 miles from Duarte/City of Hope Station)
The 99-cent Fish Taco Tuesday deal draws a long but quick-moving line out the door each week, and for good reason. Each piece of fish is perfectly battered and fried golden and crisp, topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and tangy fresh crema. Order at least three and load up at the crowded condiment bar with radishes, limes and the roasted chile gueritos. The variety of ceviches and seafood cocktails is generously portioned and piquant, and meat eaters might want to hit up the taco special on Thursdays. 2171 E. Huntington Drive, Duarte; (626) 359-4959.
Capital Seafood (0.4 miles from Arcadia Station)
No need to head to Chinatown or Monterey Park — you can get your dim sum fix daily, and made to order, at Capital Seafood until 3 p.m. Classics such as plump har gow, shiu mai, baked barbecue pork buns, leaf-wrapped sticky rice, fried turnip cake and egg tarts are satisfying. Be sure to try the salt-and-pepper tofu or smelt fish for an extra dose of spice and crunch. If you're there for dinner, don't miss the Peking duck special and flavorful house-style lobster. 333 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; (626) 574-8889, arcadiacapitalseafood.com.
Mantra Coffee Company (0.4 miles from Azuza Downtown Station)
Converted from an old house, this coffee shop feels like home for the neighborhood locals and students from nearby Azusa Pacific University. Mantra roasts San Jose's Chromatic Coffee Co. beans, and if you plan on availing yourself of the free Wi-Fi for a while, choose the bottomless cup option. Here you can get buzzed and feel good about it, because Mantra donates 51 percent of all profits to charities that benefit the local community. 615 N. San Gabriel Ave., Azusa; (626) 812-5321, mantracoffeeco.com.
Hot N Sweet Chicken (0.2 miles from Arcadia Station)
Break out the napkins for the sweet-garlic Korean fried chicken, which you can order at your desired spice level. The soy garlic and buffalo flavors will also leave your fingers sticky, though the dry-seasoned and crispy Cajun and lemon pepper options are less messy. Another big draw are the thin-crust pizzas. Bulgogi is the most popular topping, but the sweet potato pizza has a fun variety of toppings — corn, ham and pineapple — as well as a crust filled with more sweet potato. Also try the surprisingly tasty shrimp dumpling soup for a more straightforward Korean meal. 48 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; (626) 445-6300, hotnsweetchicken.com.
Café Mundial (1 mile from Monrovia Station)
Ideal for an intimate meal and drinks, Café Mundial is in the heart of Old Town Monrovia. As soon as you're seated, order your drinks and the gooey chocolate soufflé, which takes 40 minutes to make and is well worth the advance commitment. While there's an assortment of pizzas and salads, the pastas are the stars here, ranging from the spicy black linguine with seafood to a creamy penne with pancetta. 516 S Myrtle Ave., Monrovia; (626) 303-2233, cafemundial.org.
First Cabin Bar (0.2 miles away from Arcadia Station)
Windowless and dark, this dive bar is the perfect spot for your laid-back uncle who enjoys a pint or four and has a story for everything. Drinks are stiff and cheap, and four days a week the bar hosts two local bands that play blues and rock covers. Although there's no food service, the owner will occasionally offer free pizza, or you can bring in a sandwich from the Italian deli across the street. Best yet? The bar opens bright and early at 6 a.m. for those hair-of-the-dog mornings. 46 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; (626) 446-2575.