On our drive back to Pasadena after a quick jaunt to San Diego, The Astronomer and I stopped at the Islands in the city of Corona for dinner. Islands was founded in 1982 by Tony DeGrazier, who wanted to recreate the dining experiences he had in the 1960s while in the Navy stationed on Oahu. Nearly thirty years later, there are over 50 Islands outlets in California and Arizona. Apparently west coasters are hungry for unique burgers served under faux palm fronds.
I’ve been eating at Islands since my high school days and was curious to see if I still found their burgers as appealing as I did when I was a lowercase “g.” The decor was as festive as I remembered, but the space at this location was much more expansive than the one I frequented in San Diego. The Astronomer and I were seated in a booth near a couple of families—it’s been a while since we’ve dined at a “family restaurant.”
In all my years eating at Islands, I’ve ordered the same burger time and time again—The Hawaiian, which comes with pineapple rings, Teriyaki sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, Swiss cheese and mayonnaise. I always request mine on a buttered whole wheat bun without mayonnaise. At Islands, the meat patty takes a backseat to the fixins, which I’m surprisingly still very comfortable with. Tastes and taste buds change over time, but there’s still a very special place in my palate for the sweet, sour and appealingly cheesy Hawaiian. Woot to that!
The Astronomer’s Bleunami was not nearly as successful. The burger came with bleu cheese dressing, lettuce, tomato, red onion and crumbled bleu cheese. The Bleunami wasn’t terrible, just a bit too creamy for our tastes. When it comes to decked-out burgers, it’s okay to have the meat play second fiddle, but with so much sauciness, the patty could barely be heard.
All of Islands’ burgers usually come with a pile of fries, but we substituted ours for three measly but well-executed onion rings.
I’m always a bit nervous about retrying old favorites out of fear that I may no longer find them delicious (I like to keep my memories tasty). Thank goodness Islands still appeals to me after all these years; it would’ve been a travesty.
Island’s Fine Burgers & Drinks
1295 Magnolia Ave
Corona, CA 92879