Claremont Dining Overview – 2018

By Joshua Lurie, Food GPS.com

The depth of Claremont’s dining scene is earning notice well beyond the (909). Narrowing down the best places to eat in Claremont Village and surrounding neighborhoods can now be a dizzying decision. Learn about 10 of the key panels in the city’s culinary quilt where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The Back Abbey

John Solana and Brad Owen run The Back Abbey, a Belgian-style gastropub in College Heights Lemon Packing House’s former payroll office. A tree slab bar joins a peaked corrugated metal ceiling and welcoming side patio. Burgers and sandwiches star, including a signature Back Abbey Burger with a proprietary dry-aged grind, aged Gouda, mustard aioli, caramelized onion, Niman Ranch bacon, and micro greens on a brioche bun. Popular sandwiches include grilled beef and spicy shrimp po’ boy. This is the rare restaurant where pork schnitzel fried in duck fat qualifies as a “salad,” thanks to a tangy topping of endive, arugula, fries, grapes, sauerkraut, and apple cider vinaigrette. Bonus: they pour 28 Belgian beers on tap and a similar number of bottled beers. 128 N. Oberlin Ave., 909.625.2642, www.thebackabbey.com

Bardot

Chef Alain Fournier features French California fusion in a Mid-century modern Harvard Square setting. The patio with ruffled shades is the place to be in warmer weather. You can also slide into a high-backed booth or stool at the three-sided white bar. Share-friendly plates include grilled Bosc pears with burrata and Parma ham; spicy ahi tuna tartare; and goat cheese lollipops with clover honey and roasted almonds. Lunch leans more toward salads and sandwiches, including a textbook Nicoise and standout Baltimore crab burger with cabbage slaw and spicy remoulade. Dinner brings more seasonal specialties, possibly including moules frites steamed in shallots, garlic, white wine, and butter, or spicy seafood couscous loaded with red snapper, shrimp, scallops, and mussels. 206 W. Bonita Ave., 909.621.2255, www.bardotrestaurant.com

Dr. Grubb’s

Go to the doctor when you’re sick, and visit Dr. Grubb’s when you’re hungry. This casual cafe from Greg Burkle and his mom serves “California fresh” food made using “health-yummy” methods. The Claremont Village space features banquette seating, a glossy black bar, and framed patio strung with lights. Their mix-and-match menu features choices of proteins, Grubb’n sides, and sauces. Simply grilled (or blackened) proteins include chicken, salmon, shrimp, and tofu. Flatiron steak is particularly good, especially when paired with herbaceous Moroccan cous cous salad and tangy lemon thyme vinaigrette. 373 W. Bonita Ave., 909.621.6200, www.drgrubbsfresh.com

 

Euro Café

Margarida Medeiros and son Joey hail from the Azores and opened Euro Cafe in 2004. Their fast casual Portuguese and Italian restaurant in Claremont Heights shopping plaza houses burgundy and mustard colored walls lined with paintings. Daily specials include Thursday’s feijoada, a hearty bean stew bursting with linguica, shredded pork, cabbage, carrots and onions, served with Portuguese rice. Choose from several soups of the day; tudo is an “everything” play on feijoada, and Luisa is a fantastic Portuguese chicken noodle soup with shredded chicken breast and carrots, egg drop, mint, and acini di pepe (couscous-like pasta beads). Bifana is a popular sandwich that tucks marinated pork loin in a French roll. A counter bakery sells pastel de nata, Portugal’s famed egg custard tart, and tambour, a big drum-shaped pastry with custard, shaved almonds, cinnamon and sugar. 546 E. Baseline Rd., 909.621.4666, www.eurocafeclaremont.com

Grizzby’s Biscuits & Donuts

Matt Fong and Travis Flood built upon the success of Pappas Artisanal in La Verne by opening Grizzby’s Biscuits & Donuts in Claremont Village. An open kitchen features a counter loaded with sheet trays and pedestals of donuts, bars, fritters, and cinnamon rolls, some of which are vegan. Their salted caramel donut is one of the best bets, but no match for the Bee Hive, a bee pollen honey glazed toasted almond cinnamon roll. Biscuit sandwiches come on flaky, buttery, substantial biscuits. Haley stacks a house-made maple pork sausage patty with thick sheet of melted Cheddar, egg, caramelized roasted onions, and garlic aioli. A late night dessert bar operates from Thursday through Saturday from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. 353 W. Bonita Ave., 909.399.0991, www.grizzbysdonuts.com

Hotel Casa 425 + Lounge

Hotel Casa 425 + Lounge serves small bites, small plates, and sweet plates in Claremont Village’s boutique hotel of record. A small earth-toned lounge and bar is secondary to a courtyard with twin fire pits, wraparound orange couches, sail-like shades hanging between trees, and a wall-mounted fountain triptych. Ahi ceviche combines colorful tiles of sashimi-style tuna, mango, cucumber, raspberry, red onion, and sesame citrus vinaigrette. Other popular choices include pizza Margherita; Wagyu beef sliders with caramelized onions, pancetta, and Fontina; and a California-style carnitas burrito with pork belly packed into a tortilla with French fries, guac, pico de gallo, and spicy aioli. 425 W. 1st St., 866.450.0425, www.casa425.com

The Meat Cellar

Anthony Villegas has been a Premier Meat Company rep for years, and he opened The Meat Cellar with wife Sara. White and orange walls are lined with cartoon diagrams of cow, sheep, pig, and chicken, highlighting popular cuts. Longtime butcher Joe Brunzell is and chef de cuisine Becca Anderson mine display cases for options like Prime dry-aged Manhattan or tomahawk steaks and wild King salmon. Steaks are seasoned with salt, pepper, and a signature spice blend, and served with a choice of sides. Composed plates include pan-seared miso and soy glazed Chilean sea bass and a deluxe Wagyu burger with Beecher’s Cheddar, grilled onions, baby spinach, and truffle aioli on a brioche bun. [Note: This location will shift to more of a burger and beer focus once the new location opens at nearby Wolfe’s Market with a butcher shop, wood grill, and oyster bar.] 665 E. Foothill Blvd., 909.621.2300

The Orchard Restaurant

The Orchard is a seasonal restaurant in the DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont. Enter the dining room and bar through a big courtyard with water wall, sail-shaped shades, and umbrella-shrouded tables. Since The Orchard services a hotel, food’s available from breakfast through dinner. An all-day menu revolves around sandwiches, large salads, and shared plates. Tweaked comfort foods include deviled eggs with asparagus tips, a romaine heart Caesar salad with organic King salmon, and beef short rib stroganoff pappardelle with goat cheese crumbles and truffle zest. Free-range chicken club is a popular sandwich stacked with smoked Gouda cheese, bitter wild arugula, roasted tomato, applewood smoked bacon, Orchard’s citrus aioli, and avocado on grilled sourdough. Fresh-baked cookies are DoubleTree signatures, and they help form ice cream sandwiches with local Bert & Rocky’s vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and Chantilly cream. 555 W. Foothill Blvd., 909.626.2411, www.doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/california/doubletree-by-hilton-hotel-claremont-ONTCLDT/dining/index.html

The Press Restaurant

The Press offers live music and eclectic comfort food in former Claremont Village home to College Press Printing, whose sign now hangs in the dining room. An L-shaped bar is located up front, and further back you’ll find exposed rafters and dining room with orange, red and yellow walls. Chef Oscar Alba’s eclectic menu pings across the globe, capturing dishes along the way like potato taquitos with guacamole and salsa; Vietnamese roasted chicken salad with fermented tofu; and pan-seared ahi with shiitake mushrooms, red wine sauce, sautéed spinach, and potato threads. Sunny pesto with sunflower seed, basil and garlic pesto comes on linguine, garnished with basil and Parmesan. The 129 Harvard Ave., 909.625.4808, www.thepressrestaurant.com

Walter’s Restaurant

Walter’s Restaurant dates to 1957 in Claremont Village. Nangy and Fahima Ghafarshad took over in 1973 and added more global influences, plus dishes from their native Afghanistan. A labyrinth of patios with water features, fire pits, and orange drapes complements an art-lined bar, café, and bakery. Kabuli pilaf combines saucy lamb chunks with rice pilaf dressed with carrots and raisins and grilled eggplant dressed with sliced tomato and yogurt sauce. Tandoori salmon has been the top seller for years, though they’re hardly static. A specials menu might include gandana bolawnie, flatbread stuffed with fresh leeks and potatoes, served with cilantro yogurt sauce; or filet mignon medallions with red wine sauce, mushrooms, served atop penne pasta and garnished with crispy onion rings. For dessert, baklava rectangles team crushed walnuts, pistachios, and almonds with honey, and butter-brushed phyllo. The case also houses dacquoise with layers of hazelnut meringue and white chocolate mousse, and Mandel bread with nuts and cinnamon. 310 Yale Ave., 909.624.2779, www.waltersresturant.com