We asked Alfred Tse for a restaurant recommendation and he suggested ‘Mission 261’ on South Mission Drive. It’s right across the street from the wonderful San Gabriel Mission.
Along with the Mission, the historic building housing the restaurant is worth a trip to San Gabriel. Besides, it’s a charming little ‘arty’ community. Walking in, past the arcade of amazing Bouganville, probably as old as the Mission, we entered to find a wedding party in full swing. For those of you who were on our amazing trip to China, you’ll appreciate hearing about the huge framed photograph of the bride and groom (on an easel) that greeted us along side the very same happy couple.
We were wisked away to an inner courtyard where we quickly discoved that amongst the 800 or so people (three wedding parties) we were THE ONLY NON CHINESE. Everyone looked at us as if we had taken the wrong turn on the road somewhere.
It’s worth a trip to ‘261’ to see the grapevine in the center of the open air patio where we were seated all by our lonely selves. Planted over a hundred years ago, it’s probably 30 feet high and had clusters of beautiful purple grapes. Heavenly!!!
Ordering was again just like being in China and the menu was certainly not Panda Inn variety. I was salivating for Peking Duck and Charles being the kind hearted gentleman that he is went along. Soup is always a big winner with me and here we encountered our first problem as Charles understood it to come in two small bowls which would have been perfect. The Olympic sized bowl that arrived had us shall I say, overwhelmed? Ordering vegetables is not an easy matter. Again, no mixed veggies as at the Panda, no, you get one pick and again Charles wanted brocolli. The waiter seeing a Chinese ‘Gringo’ informed us that it was ‘Chinese’ brocolli. “Fine” says C.P. When it arrived we thought it was all the C. Broccoli in San Gabriel!
Now I have to tell you that I LOVED the Peking Duck. Poor C.P. was not so inclined even with all my encouraging to “here, you must try the skin…it’s wonderful”. Well, let’s remember that duck’s are fatty little creatures and that was just too much for Charles as he declared the whole meal to be “perfectly awful!” (Up all night to prove it.) Remember, he subsisted on rice only throughout China!
Well, we (I) did our best. Considering that there was enough food for eight people (the duck even had four legs…so that’s some duck!) there was quite a bit remaining. We were given the check and NO FORTUNE COOKIES. Don’t be surprised. Did you ever see one in China?
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