Food GPS: Claremont’s International Dining Scene

By Joshua Lurie, FoodGPS.com

Claremont has the area’s most diverse dining scene, no doubt fueled in part by an international student body at The Claremont Colleges. Asia, Italy, Mexico, the Middle East, Peru, and Spain, all play key roles in the city’s restaurant landscape. Learn about some of Claremont’s most inspired global food destinations.

Al Amir

A crown signals your arrival at Al Amir, a Lebanese flatbread bakery in an Auto Center Drive strip mall that spun off from Abdallah Soueidan’s Little Arabia original. Soujouk is a particular standout, a crisp-edged disc sporting ground beef seasoned with crushed pepper and a seven-spice blend from Lebanon. Add egg and savory cow’s milk Akkawi cheese, which six-year Al Amir vet Charif rightly called “the bomb” Other interesting options include za’atar with dried thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, olive & vegetable oil; lahm-bajeen with ground beef, tomatoes, and onions; and tangy keshek with dried yogurt, onion, tomato, olive oil, spices, and chilies. 426 Auto Center Dr., 909.625.0500, www.alamirbakery.com


Elvira’s Grill

Oscar Torres has been in the restaurant business for 36 years and now runs Elvira’s Grill with wife Sandra in Claremont’s Old School House complex after expanding from Upland. They follow in the footsteps of his mom Elvira and father Fermin, who ran restaurants for years in the San Fernando Valley. Elvira’s Grill in Claremont features a peaked roof with exposed wood rafters, elaborate chandeliers, and patio with strings of lights and a water fountain. The menu cover promises the “finest foods of Mexico,” and you’ll find pan-regional crowd pleasers like chicken mole enchiladas, grilled red snapper a la Veracruzana, and silky house-made flan. Camarones a la diabla are a great introduction to their cuisine, with six large shrimp slathered in spicy salsa and served with seasoned rice, pinto beans topped with molten Monterey Jack, and flour or corn tortillas. 415 W. Foothill Blvd., 909.399.3300


Hi Family

Four students joined forces on their dream restaurant, a Sichuan-style Chinese restaurant called Hi Family in a northwest Claremont strip mall. The tiny space features grey blue walls lined with small planters, framed photo collages, and paintings of the owners: Liang, Lin, Jinghao, and Yang Wang. Los Chicken is their most popular hot pot, with other bubbling bowls starring beef brisket or duck stewed in beer. Some of their more adventurous dishes include beef lungs in chile sauce and griddled cooked ox tripe. Hot-N-Spicy Pot is a great way to sample a number of different ingredients of your choosing in a single bowl. We opted for shell-on shrimp and sliced pork chops with caramelized cauliflower, king oyster mushrooms, and lotus root slices. Specify mild, medium, or hot. If you choose a dish listed on the menu with a chile pepper, keep steamed white rice and ice water handy. 944 W. Foothill Blvd., 909.625.7494, www.hifamilyclaremont.com


Pollos Kikiryki

Enrique Roman Kina originally hails from Lima and opened his Peruvian restaurant in Peppertree Square in 1999. The name refers to the sound a chicken makes, and they do roast some stupendous birds in a wood-burning rotisserie. Kikiryki’s focused menu also includes comfort foods like lomo saltado, beef stir-fried with French fries, onions, and tomatoes; and chaufa, fluffy Chinese-Peruvian fried rice that’s especially good with shrimp. Anticuchos, perhaps Peru’s signature dish, are for more adventurous eaters. Grilled beef hearts are marinated in chilies, cumin, sugar, salt, and pepper and served with starchy choclo, potato, and the spicy green hot sauce, aji. Treats reside by the register, including cookie sandwiches alfajores filled with dulce de leche and dusted with powdered sugar, and vanilla custard cups called goloso. 344 S. Indian Hill Blvd., 909.624.1114


Sanamluang Thai Cuisine

A Thai Town classic called Sanamluang, one of L.A.’s longest running Thai restaurants, spawned this Claremont spinoff. They’re no longer connected, but this modern, standalone restaurant is still vital, and not just because of the sharp black and white murals of Thailand or elaborate wheel-in-wheel designs. Sanamluang serves several noodle dishes with lofty names, including heaven noodles, emperor’s noodles, and general’s noodles. Emperor’s Noodles are flat rice noodles scrambled with egg, squid, chicken, and shrimp, all blanketed with gravy. General’s noodles – egg noodles served dry or with soup – come piled with shrimp, BBQ pork, ground pork, and roast duck. Humble noodles like pad Thai and pad see iew are also well prepared. No matter what, ratchet up the pungency by spoon on chile flakes, chile sauce, or jalapeño infused vinegar. 710 S. Indian Hill Blvd., 909.621.0904, www.sanamluangclaremont.com


Tutti Mangia Italian Grill

Tutti Mangia is a high-end Italian restaurant on a Claremont Village corner with split-level dining room, floral carpet, and convex chandeliers. The family also owns Spaghetti Eddie’s and Eddie’s Eatery in town and has run this place since 1996. Pasta is a mix of imports and house-made pastas, with ravioli and sheet pastas like linguini and tagliatelle made in-house. Specialties from the grill include bistecca alla grigliata, marinated Prime skirt steak drizzled with Castelvetrano olive and pine nut chimichurri and plated with seasonal vegetable farro, which during our visit meant Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips, and onions. No matter what, each check comes with almond chocolate biscotti. 102 Harvard Ave., 909.625.4669, 909.625.4669, www.tuttimangia.com


Uno Tre Otto

John Solana and Brad Owen, who also own The Back Abbey, replaced longtime Italian standby La Piccoletta with Uno Tre Otto. They raised the stakes by sourcing produce from Amy’s Farm in Ontario, buying sustainable meat and eggs, and using fresh-milled grain from Grist & Toll in Pasadena. “The little place in the alley” is patterned after a rustic Italian country abode, with a fresco on one side, ivy-lined wall on the other side, small covered patio, and homey stone and wood interior. The seasonal menu may include lentils de Puy strewn with crumbled house-made Italian sausage, tangy brightness, and spicy mizuna. During our visit, bucatini with good bite came dressed with a single diver scallop, sweet shrimp, brown butter, finely shredded butternut squash, and chive oil. Secondi include pollo al mattone, chicken cooked under a brick, and bistecca with seasonal veggies. Dessert is another moving target, but could involve chunks of brown butter roasted persimmon sweetened with honey, tart buttermilk ice cream, and shortbread crumble. 114 N. Indian Hill Blvd., 909.624.1373, www.onotreotto.com


The Upper House

The Upper House is a Chinese café in Peppertree Square strip mall. Students and locals alike fill 12 light wood tables beneath a word cloud on the white wall that shouts out key dishes, plus beverages like “Coffee” and “Affogato.” The menu combines Sichuan, Taiwanese and Singaporean dishes, but doesn’t practice fusion. Noteworthy cumin lamb comes tossed with scallions, green and red bell peppers. House-made wontons contain with shrimp and pork fillings and come garnished with spicy slurry, cilantro, and scallions and submerged in chile oil. Curry-stained Singapore-style rice vermicelli hosts an array of vegetables and proteins. For dessert, The Upper House sells boba milk tea and milk snow ice topped with red beans, green beans, custard, taro, and fruit. 352 S. Indian Hill Blvd., 909.621.1855


Viva Madrid!

Viva Madrid! is a Claremont Village classic that dates to 1998 and serves “Spanish small plates with big flavors.” Find the entrance down the hallway past a jewelry store and three wooden bull statues. The Madrid-inspired design includes a decorative tile bar, wood tables, high ceiling painted with a sky, and large chandelier. Popular dishes are marked with a sunburst, and staff favorites marked with a cross. Choose from more than 50 different tapas, plus paella and larger plates (entradas). Highlights include flaky halibut chunks simmered in herbed carrot sauce with white wine, garlic, and onion. They submerge a whole artichoke in a tangy sherry reduction with olive oil, garlic, and onion that’s thickened with breadcrumbs and sprinkled with crushed chili. They also serve slices of tortilla Española, a layered Spanish frittata baked with eggs, potatoes, onions, and parsley. To drink, Spanish wines from regions like Rioja and Tempranillo are popular. So is house-made sangria. 225 Yale Ave., 909.624.5500, www.vivamadrid.com

Food GPS: Nine Fine Spots to Dine in Claremont

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 some of the key panels in the city’s culinary quilt where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The Back Abbey

The Back Abbey is 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


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

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

Food GPS: Claremont’s Specialty Food Shops

By Joshua Lurie, FoodGPS.com

Hallmarks of a thriving food community include a diverse set of culinary influences and unique perspectives. Claremont’s breadth and depth has now advanced to the point that shops and cafés are opening with a singular focus. Discover some of Claremont’s top places for specific foods and drink experiences.

à la minute

Ryan Berk and wife Cassi, the couple behind Parliament Chocolate, prove they aren’t a one-sweet wonder with à la minute, the ice cream concept where scoops are made to order in a dramatic liquid nitrogen flourish. Creamy, refreshing flavors include fresh mint chip with Parliament Chocolate shavings and lemon custard made with local candied peels. Savory butternut squash black garlic is more experimental, topped with burnt sugar syrup. Fruit-forward sorbets include strawberry topped with strawberry compote and orange spooned with clover honey water. Parliament snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies help form ice cream sandwiches, and they team with adjacent Augie’s Coffee House by serving a toddy float with cold brew coffee and vanilla bean ice cream. 532 W. 1st St., www.alaminuteicecream.com


Augie’s Coffee House

Augie’s is a specialty coffeehouse that joined fellow Redlands import à la minute in the Packing House, a former citrus packing facility. Their shared space involves a sloped corrugated metal roof with skylight, twin counters with yellow metal stools, and a central communal wood table. Business names are branded in black tile on a white backdrop. Baristas utilize Redlands-roasted beans in a snazzy red and blue two-group La Marzocco espresso machine, drip coffee, pourover coffee, and cold brew. Parliament Chocolate, à la minute’s sister company, makes chocolate and caramel for Augie’s espresso drinks. 532 W. 1st St., 909.798.2255, www.augies.coffee


Bert & Rocky’s Cream Company

Bert & Rocky’s is a Claremont Village ice cream parlor and sweets shop that feels much older than the 1998 born on date. Dozens of different ice creams, sorbets, and sherbets fill bins. House-made drumsticks involve sugar cones full of ice cream that are frozen, dipped in chocolate and crushed almonds and wrapped in “Joy” paper. We chose raspberry cheesecake ice cream, though you can also order orange blossom or the Elvis special with banana folded with peanut butter. A hand-written chalkboard touts plenty of other tempting treats, including shakes, malts, ice cream sodas and floats, chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, and ice cream sandwiches They also sell marshmallow treats, caramel apples, and candy. 242 Yale Ave., 909.625.1852, www.bertandrockys.com


Cheese Cave

A silver cow wearing a fashionable hat signals your arrival at this cheese store and gourmet market from sisters Lydia Clarke and Marnie Clarke. Cheese plates are of course readily available, along with packaged ingredients and specialty chocolate. They make three different grab-and-go sandwiches daily and generally sell out quickly. Sandwiches come on light buttered French baguettes from a Pomona bakery, served with a choice of corn nuts or cornichons. We opted for Fra’mani mortadella with cornichons and Red Dragon mustard seed and brown ale cheddar from Wales. Other options involved mozzarella with marinated tomatoes and balsamic vinegar; and San Simeon Colby with Mama Lil’s pickled peppers. 325 Yale Ave., 909.625.7560, www.claremontcheese.com


Claremont Craft Ales

Simon Brown and wife Emily Moultrie teamed on Claremont Craft Ales in the Claremont Industrial Complex in 2012 with cousins Brian and Natalie Seffer. Since opening, they’ve dialed in the experience, adding communal wood tables and bar with colorful steel seats and stools and upping their house beer selection to 24 taps. A recent visit yielded creative, flavorful beers like Farm to Foam, summer ale with basil and lemon peel; Raspberry Gose, a tart and salty wheat ale; and Pepper & Peaches, a punchy IPA with peaches and pink peppercorns. 1420 N. Claremont Blvd., 909.625.5350, www.claremontcraftales.com


I Like Pie Bakeshop

Annika Corbin founded I Like Pie Bakeshop in 2012, specializing in individual servings on Claremont Village Square. The selection changes constantly, but includes a wealth of sweet and savory pies. If you’re lucky, they’ll serve apple custard pie with sweet-tart fruit seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar and a top crust with a swirl of icing. Seasonal selections could include eggnog custard or chicken pot pie. They also sell flaky hand pies loaded with fillings like mixed berry: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, plus cherries. Pair your pie with Intelligentsia coffee or Dr. Bob’s ice cream. 175 N. Indian Hill Blvd., 909.621.5152, www.ilikepiebakeshop.com


Ironbark Ciderworks

Australia native Cat Fleming and husband Jim Coffman run this cider bar across the Claremont Industrial Complex parking lot from Claremont Craft Ales. Their welcoming space features a round pink bar with red stools, copper rounds with pink chairs, white art-lined walls, and small patio. Ironbark is named for an Australian hardwood, but the 10 ciders are easy to drink. The naturally sweet, crisp, and probiotic-rich ciders hover around 7% ABV and may include Earl Grey tea infused Duchess, Citra-hopped Hoppelganger, and beautifully tart black currant Sassy Simpson. Ciders are available in 16-ounce pints, 12-ounce middies, 5-ounce tasters, flights of five 5-ounce pours, and growler fills. 1420 N. Claremont Blvd., 909.292.5384, www.ironbarkcider.com


Packing House Wine Merchants

This wine shop and bar from Sal Medina and wife Ev Sauceda resides at the former College Heights Lemon Packing House. The glass-fronted space contains high-top tables, a worn bar, exposed rafters, and aisles devoted to wines in categories like New Zealand, Rhône Blends, and Spain. Packing House sells 27 wines by the glass and hosts Mid Week Tastings of 1.5-ounce pours organized by themes like Aromatic Whites and Reds, Reds & More Reds. By night, chef Noah Lutz’s food program is fairly ambitious, starting with plates of cheese and cured meats and rising to the level of bigger plates like bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with purple sweet potato puree, charred savoy cabbage, roasted apples, and raisin bourbon sauce. Yes, that’s half of a roasted cauliflower plated with cauliflower puree, tahini, garlic lemon oil, paprika, and chives. Suggested wine pairings are of course readily available. 540 W. 1st St., 909.445.9463, www.packinghousewines.com


Some Crust Bakery

This classic Claremont Village bakery dates to 1916. Sandie Feemster and husband Larry have owned Some Crust since 1997. Their space features pennants for all of the Claremont Colleges on the wall. A fully loaded pastry case and back counter hosts an array of cookies, croissants, muffins, and breads. Chocolate raspberry croissant is particularly good, overflowing with crumbled chocolate and tart raspberry jam. Boysenberry pinwheel fills four quadrants with sweet-tart fruit and comes topped with a drizzle of icing. A second side holds red tables and counter, a full brew bar featuring Monkey & Coffee Company beans, and sandwiches on house-baked bread. 119 Yale Ave., 909.621.9772, www.somecrust.com



Tocaja is a “simply happy” tea parlor in Claremont Village, the collective effort of Tony, wife Caroline, and sister in law Jasmine, who all hail from Taiwan, a country with strong tea culture. Pipe and wood shelves line canary yellow walls, and a back patio touts a fountain and mural of the great outdoors. Specialty tea drinks include a Devil’s Kiss: black tea with hibiscus, lime, orange, and mint; and Angel’s Kiss: caffeine-free ginger pear tea with hibiscus, lime, orange, and mint. Accentuate basic teas like black, jasmine, and oolong with dollops of sea salt cream, a rich blend of whole milk, hand-whipped cream, and sea salt dusted with matcha powder. Get any iced tea drink with boba (tapioca balls). They also sell croissant sandwiches, purple yam and red velvet waffles, Cake Monkey pastries, and Klatch Coffee. 303 Yale Ave., 909.626.8883



Claremont Village business owners Kim Peeples and Denise Solis franchised VOM FASS, a spirit, balsamic vinegar, oil, and wine store that started in Germany. The name translates to English as “from the barrel,” and you’re encouraged to sample from any container or cask before you buy. Color-coded clay urns contain over a dozen different olive oils, plus more esoteric oils like black cumin, olive oil, and avocado. Suggested pairings include lemon extra virgin olive oil with date balsamic, or argan oil with pomegranate balsamic vinegar. Casks hold spirits like Mortlach Speyside single malt Scotch, Armagnac X.O. 25, and rye whiskey. Distilled spirits include Absinthe Libertine 72, violette liqueur, and chai vodka. Bottles range from 100 ml to 1 liter for oils and vinegars, and 100 ml to 750 ml for spirits and liquors. 101 N. Indian Hill Blvd., 909.399.0256, www.claremont.vomfassusa.com


Savor The Surprise: Claremont’s Culinary Scene

Claremont’s reputation as a regional dining destination has been on the rise in recent years, thanks in part to the efforts of local restaurateurs John Solana, Ed Inglese, Sal Medina and others, and the work of chefs like Stephen Rudicel and Jose Ruiz. With a growing number of regionally acclaimed restaurants and dozens of locally owned eateries keeping the food scene fresh, it’s no wonder that LA Weekly and NBC Los Angeles has declared Claremont a “food neighborhood” that’s “worth the drive” for foodies and tourists.

The city will host its third annual Claremont Restaurant Week, July 10-19, 2015, to showcase its many pubs, grills, sandwich shops, bakeries, and fine dining restaurants. Visitors will discover a wide variety of cuisines as many of the city’s locally owned eateries and hotel restaurants will participate by offering prix fixe dinner menus.

“A famous college town with international visitors demands a high level of fine dining experiences,” said Andrew Behnke of Discover Claremont, the Claremont tourism board. “We know tourists come to Claremont for the shows, museums, trips into the mountains, festivals, regional events or when visiting the colleges. Now is a great time to come Discover Claremont for its dining as the city is emerging as a culinary center for eastern Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire.”

With half of Claremont’s more than 80 restaurants located within the walkable downtown area, visitors can choose to enjoy the city’s free parking and literally stroll to wherever their appetites lead them.

In the famous Claremont Village, epicureans encounter wood-paneled restaurants, bustling outdoor cafés and gourmet bakeries. Popular Italian choices include Inglese’s Italian chophouse Tutti Mangia with chef Jose Ruiz, La Piccoletta in the alley off of Indian Hill Blvd., and the longtime local favorite Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine. Diners will find tapas at Viva Madrid, Afghan dishes at Walter’s, and locally sourced dishes at Rudicel’s The Press Restaurant (Rudicel also owns Mariposa Creamery). Solana’s Claremont restaurants include new American cuisine at Union on Yale, tacos and small plates at Petiscos, and one of Southern California’s “best burgers” at The Back Abbey.

In both the nearby Village Square and Packing House, diners will find rare wines, microbrews and fine American whiskeys at restaurants that include Eureka Burger and Medina’s Packing House Wine Merchants, while the Beer Belly Deli serves up American fare and brews. The Hotel Casa 425 lounge and outdoor living room is known for its signature margarita and offers a small plates menu served by its outdoor fire pits. Other Village Square favorites here include La Parolaccia and Casa Moreno.

Popular favorites outside of the village include Portuguese at Euro Cafe, Thai at Sanamluang Café, Lebanese pizza at Al Amir Bakery, and local brews at Claremont Craft Ales. At DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Claremont its Orchard Restaurant features locally sourced ingredients, while its lively PianoPiano dueling piano show – featuring some of the West’s top performers – serves up classic American pub fare. Another local choice that combine entertainment with fine fare is belly dancing at Casablanca Bar and Grill; while fine dining meets Broadway at Ben D. Bollinger’s Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre just a few blocks north of the village. Along Historic Route 66 (Foothill Blvd.) tourists will also find stylish restaurants like Darvish and Inka Trails, sushi choices including Hayato, hand-made flour tortillas at Patty’s Mexican Food, and freshly made sandwiches and picnic meals at Wolfe’s Market.

A weekend stay in Claremont means visitors can enjoy a leisurely morning stroll through the region’s largest farmers and artisans market in downtown Claremont (every Sunday), and enjoy coffee and freshly baked pastries at places like Some Crust Bakery, Last Drop Café and 42nd Street Bagels.

A complete listing of restaurants, hotels, boutiques, events and more can be found at www.discoverclaremont.com.

Discover Claremont – The Story

Due east from Hollywood, at the edge of Los Angeles County, lies a town that a studio executive might have ordered up as a real-life Main Street USA movie set.

It might look like an Eastern seaboard village with blocks of bustling, locally owned shops. Or maybe a small Midwestern, railway town with a train depot within walking distance of trendy restaurants and hearty pubs. Or even a Southern community with its tree-lined streets of well-kept craftsman homes providing the ideal setting for a leisurely bicycle ride.

Beyond the beaches, but not quite to the mountains or desert. Beyond the master-planned suburbs, but not quite to sprawling bedroom communities. Beyond the Kellogg Hill interchange, but not quite the Inland Empire. It’s the kind of town that you fell in love with on a vacation to Maine – or was it Indiana? – but never thought you’d find again in Southern California.

It’s Claremont.

“The City of Trees”

The eastern-most city in Los Angeles County and the gateway to the Inland Empire, Claremont is 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles along Interstate 10. It’s a destination quite unlike any other in Southern California: A hidden gem within the sprawling, urbanscape of the L.A. basin.

Claremont is known locally as The City of Trees, a legacy born more than 100 years ago with the founding of Pomona College amidst acres of foothills adorned with citrus ranches. In fact, it was only in 1889 that the town’s “shade tree committee” reported a gift of 250 trees, which were planted throughout the community shortly thereafter.

But the city is so much more than its seven nationally renowned colleges and 23,000 city-owned trees: It’s a true getaway from the everyday bustle of commuter Los Angeles, and a gateway to the mountains and deserts.

Claremont Village

It begins with a walkable, tree-lined downtown. Claremont Village is adorned with more than 150 locally owned boutiques and galleries, restaurants, eateries and pubs with entertainment and music. The Claremont Depot, a California historical landmark, greets visitors at the south end of downtown, servicing the Amtrak and Metrolink trains that stop there daily.

Leaving the depot, pleasant strolls along Yale and Harvard Avenues and Claremont Village’s numbered streets await visitors, calling to mind a classic New England cape town or a mid-American downtown. The architectural features of Claremont’s downtown buildings reflect a city that came to rise in the early 1900s, with its classic bank and shop facades, and then grew with the rise of the automobile as seen in some of its more modern storefronts.

Across Indian Hill Blvd. are two unique shopping and arts centers – the modern Village Square Public Plaza, built in 2007, and the sharply retrofitted College Heights Lemon Packing House, a tribute to the city’s citrus roots that reopened in 2007.

The Public Plaza is surrounded by shops, restaurants and the boutique hotel Hotel Casa 425, and is home to the Laemmle’s 5 Claremont Theatre. A modern public art fountain meanders through the square, providing both soothing water sounds as well as space for outdoor picnicking and music.

The Packing House is one of four working packing houses that lined the railroad tracks during the city’s citrus heydays. In fact, Claremont citrus growers were among the first to organize a cooperative method for marketing their fruit, a coop which later became known as “Sunkist.” Art galleries, two night clubs, a wine bar and other dining choices now call the Packing House home.

Historic Route 66

While much of Claremont was built close to the train depot, Historic Route 66 runs along Foothill Blvd., 12 blocks to the north. The businesses and restaurants along this district include the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Claremont and the popular Candlelight Pavilion dinner theater that is housed within the gymnasium of the Old School House, Claremont’s original 1911 school building that now is home to additional, unique retail shops and eateries.

Just up College Ave. from Route 66 is the famous Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the largest botanic garden dedicated exclusively to California’s native plants. Encompassing 86 acres, the Garden displays about 2,000 taxa of California plants and includes those native to the California Floristic Province as a whole – from southern Oregon to Baja California. In addition to featuring a world-class botanical library and graduate-level education program, the Garden offers horticulture and community education programs to the public to encourage the use of California native plants in home landscapes.

The Colleges

The Claremont Colleges is a consortium of five undergraduate liberal arts colleges and two graduate institutions reminiscent of the Oxford-Cambridge model. The undergraduate colleges include Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Pomona College and Scripps College. The two graduate institutions include the Claremont Graduate University and the Keck Graduate Institute. Each has its own campus its own students and faculty, and its own distinctive mission. The seven independent institutions on adjoining campuses offer rigorous curricula, small classes, distinguished professors, and personalized instruction in a vibrant residential college community that provides intensive interaction between students and faculty. With 6,900 students and 3,600 faculty and staff, located on more than 560 acres of land, the consortium generates an endless variety of intellectual, cultural, and social activities.

Arts & Culture

Theater, orchestral and dance performances at The Claremont Colleges’ famed Garrison Theater provide a local window to the arts. Claremont museums include the Pomona College Museum of Art; The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, on the campus of the Webb Schools; the Folk Music Center, owned by musician Ben Harper’s family; and other galleries on the campuses and around town. Walks about the Village and college campuses will reveal dozens of pieces of world-class public art.

A Way of Life

To visit Claremont is to be welcomed into a town that embodies the phrase “community spirit.” Its annual Village Venture Arts & Crafts Faire each October welcomes more than 20,000 visitors to Claremont Village. Community-oriented events such as Friday Nights Live! (summer), the Claremont Farmers and Artisans Market (Sundays), and First Friday Art Walks reflect a true slice of Americana in Southern California.

At just 14 square miles Claremont is easily navigated on bicycle, and the city takes great pride in being a leader in providing bicycle-friendly initiatives for visitors. The League of American Bicyclists has acclaimed Claremont as a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Community, noting Claremont’s funding of bike lanes, road diets (reducing the number of vehicle lanes), and intersection improvement. The Claremont Wilderness Park has an additional 10 miles of mountain bike trails and five miles of shared use pathways. It’s no wonder Claremont was selected as a host city for the 2011 AMGEN Tour of California.

And indeed, Claremont is still a city of trees: It has been a winner of the National Arbor Day Association’s Tree City USA award for more than 20 years running.

A Surprising Retreat

With its lush, European village-like setting, Claremont is an ideal destination for intimate, relaxing getaways. Couples will discover an idyllic, romantic setting as they stroll tree-lined streets adorned with charming shops, outdoor cafés and historic neighborhoods. And Claremont’s thriving community of spas, salons, yoga and pilates centers are ready to provide visitors with an array of personalized services and treatments to make their getaways complete.

Now you get the idea why many chose Claremont to live, to learn, to enjoy nature…and to relax.

Claremont Offers Cyclists Ideal Conditions

Families who love bicycling and avid road cyclists alike should plan a weekend in Claremont to enjoy dozens of bicycle-friendly and scenic routes with varying degree of challenges, the city’s unique village atmosphere, and a wide range of hotels, restaurants, spas and nightlife.

For families and casual riders, Claremont is easily navigated on bicycle at just 14 square miles, and the city takes great pride in being a leader in providing bicycle-friendly initiatives for visitors. The League of American Bicyclists has acclaimed Claremont as a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Community, noting Claremont’s funding of bike lanes, road diets (reducing the number of vehicle lanes), and intersection improvement. The Claremont Wilderness Park has an additional 10 miles of mountain bike trails and five miles of shared use pathways.

For riders seeking longer, more challenging rides, Claremont is well-known as a starting and finishing spot for a strenuous road circuit along the Glendora Ridge Road through the San Gabriel Mountains. Gaining in popularity is the ride up to Mount Baldy: Claremont hosted Stage 7 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, a nearly 100-mile ride from city’s historic train depot that climbed close to 10,000 vertical feet in elevation and finished at the base of the Mount Baldy ski resort. Amateur cyclists seeking to experience the same road course as the professionals will find Claremont to be an ideal wake-up-and-ride starting point or an evening dine-and-stay experience. Local cyclists often complete the circuit by riding down Mt. Baldy Road directly into Claremont.

Claremont’s ever-growing bicyclist population has created many clubs willing to offer tips. Ranging from college groups to baby boomers, these groups regularly announce events, trips and other useful information. Local bicycle shops include Jax Bicycle Center near the Claremont Depot.

Getting to Claremont is easy. Metrolink’s bicycle-friendly San Bernardino line stops in Claremont, a short train ride from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles or other neighboring cities. Claremont’s historic train depot is located in the heart of the Claremont Village, a quick ride away from the Claremont Colleges and shopping along Historic Route 66 California.

Claremont’s five hotel choices range from economy to upscale. Options include the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Claremont on Historic Route 66, and the Hotel Claremont & Tennis Club near Interstate 10. The budget-minded cyclist will appreciate the Claremont Lodge or Howard Johnson Express Inn Claremont south of downtown, while the boutique Hotel Casa 425 offers upscale accommodations in the heart of the Claremont Village. Casa 425 also offers bicycle rentals to its guests. More than a dozen day spas and salons can also help sooth sore muscles and freshen wind-worn skin after a day of riding.

Located just 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, the City of Claremont prides itself on being a Southern California showcase community. Its tree-lined streets, Village shopping district, five distinctive hotels, and stately college campuses have made it a destination for tourists and locals alike. More information about dining and staying in Claremont can be found at http://www.discoverclaremont.com.

Claremont Hotels Welcome Parents and College Visitors Back to Town

As students return to the Claremont Colleges each school year, the City of Claremont’s five hotel properties welcome parents and other campus visitors to stick around and enjoy a relaxing getaway in the “City of Trees.”

From economy to boutique, Claremont’s 449 hotel rooms provide guests with inviting rooms and peaceful nights. Staying in Claremont puts you in walking or bicycling distance to the city’s day spas and salons, locally owned boutiques, galleries and public works of art, and more than 80 pubs, grills, sandwich shops, bakeries, and fine dining restaurants.

Claremont’s attractions include the 86-acre Rancho Santa Fe Botanic Garden, the largest botanic garden dedicated exclusively to California’s native plants; and the world-renowned Folk Music Center museum and store, which is owned by musician Ben Harper’s family. The city’s nighttime entertainment boasts classical, jazz, comedy, dueling pianos, a vibrant college music scene, and performing arts at the colleges and Candlelight Pavilion.

At the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Claremont ($149-$350), elegant, contemporary guest rooms and suites offer comfort and convenience with luxurious Sweet Dreams® beds, 32-inch flat screen LCD televisions, in-room safes, refrigerators, and high-speed Internet access. Relax with friends, alumni or business associates in its lush courtyard, enjoy a cocktail or meal by the waterfall, and dine in casual elegance at The Orchard Restaurant, serving a wide selection of California Mediterranean Fusion influenced dishes. Piano Piano’s high-energy, all-request show keeps guests singing laughing into the night!

Hotel Casa 425 ($195-$400) is a stylish boutique hotel and lounge opening onto a tranquil courtyard in the heart of historic Claremont Village. The only sophisticated boutique hotel in Southern California’s Inland Empire, Casa 425 merges California mission architecture with contemporary styling and features 28 sophisticated guest rooms, an onsite lounge and full bar, a beautiful outdoor living room featuring water fountains and fire pits, meeting and event space, and more.

Claremont Lodge ($49-$80) offers unbeatable accommodations with comfortable stylish rooms, including available jacuzzi suites. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi.

Motel 6 Claremont ($69-$129) features one of Southern California’s finest tennis facilities available year-round with eight championship tennis courts. Guest amenities include free local shuttle and free use of its championship tennis courts; group and private tennis lessons are available for an additional fee.

Knights Inn Claremont ($55-$85) provides free Rise & Dine continental breakfast and an outdoor pool. Features include free Wi-Fi, available laundry services, and parking for vehicles of any size.

Visitor information and a complete listing of restaurants, hotels, boutiques, day spas, events and more can be found at www.discoverclaremont.com.

Claremont Hotel Specials

“Share the Secret” About Claremont

Claremont_SQ-LogoClaremont hotels invite visitors to come “Share the Secret” about Claremont with a special getaway package. The “Share the Secret” hotel package includes a guest room and $100 in Discover Claremont gift cards, redeemable for hotel dining or at more than 140 Claremont restaurants, boutiques, day spas and entertainment venues.

Package includes:

-Comfortable Guest Room
-$100 in Claremont Chamber of Commerce gift cards

Book directly at participating Claremont hotels, based on hotel availability, from October 1, 2015, through January 31, 2016.

The hotel package, underwritten by the Claremont tourism board, is subject to availability at each hotel. The promotion is tied to a new tourism video, inspired by the style of film director Wes Anderson, which highlights several of the city’s hotels and attractions.


Mt. Baldy Adventure Outing Package

mt_baldy_logoDiscover Claremont is partnering with Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts to provide ski lift passes and lunch vouchers as part of a Claremont hotel room package. With lift passes, guests have access to enjoying a number of activities up on the mountain, including hiking, mountain biking and disc golfing.

Package includes:

-Guest Room

-Two Sugar Pine Lift (ski lift) passes to the top of the mountain – good for any open date, including for special events

-Two $10 Lookout Lunch vouchers, good towards food at the Top of the Notch Restaurant

Book directly at participating Claremont hotels, based on hotel availability. 

Hotel Casa 425 Lounge Announces Spring & Summer Live Music Schedule

Warm evenings are back, and Hotel Casa 425 is ready with a new schedule of live music to accompany the innovative cocktails and small plates menu in the 425 Lounge.

Featured performers on the agenda include jazz guitarist Lorenzo Grassi, Flamenco-jazz guitarist Vahagn Vahagni, and modern jazz guitarist Brandon Bernstein. Admission to all performances is complimentary.

Hotel Casa 425 is located at 425 W. First Street, in historic Claremont Village. The 425 Lounge offers a casually sophisticated venue for mingling with friends, along with signature drinks, an extensive wine and beer list and gourmet small plates. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. daily, with select small plates and drinks ranging from $5 to $10.

Indoor seating is available, but many prefer to relax in the hotel’s central courtyard, with its canopy of trees, lounge furniture, fountains, and fire pits. The small plates menu represents a blend of American and Latin flavors, tempting patrons with offerings ranging from Cajun Calamari with ginger lime aioli and Pulled Pork Sliders to Champagne Chevre Salad.

The Casa 425 Lounge live music schedule includes:

Wed, May 1, 6-9 pm: Lorenzo Grassi (solo)

Sat, May 25, 7-10pm: Vahagni (trio)

Wed, June 5, 6-9 pm: Brandon Bernstein (solo)

Sat, June 22, 7-10pm: Lorenzo Grassi (trio)

Wed, July 3, 6-9 pm: Lorenzo Grassi (solo)

Sat, July 27, 7-10pm: Vahagni (trio)

Wed, Aug 7, 6-9 pm: Vahagni (solo)

Sat, Aug 24, 7-10pm: Brandon Bernstein (trio)

Wed, Sept 4, 6-9 pm: Brandon Bernstein (solo)

Sat, Sept 28, 7-10pm: Lorenzo Grassi (trio)

Wed, Oct 2, 6-9 pm: Vahagni (solo)

Sat, Oct 26, 7-10pm: Brandon Bernstein (trio)

For more information, visit www.casa425.com.

Hotel Casa 425 is part of the Four Sisters Inns collection, with 13 properties in California: Blue Lantern Inn (Dana Point), Newport Beach Hotel (Newport Beach), Hotel Casa 425 (Claremont), Channel Road Inn (Santa Monica), Gosby House Inn and Green Gables Inn (Pacific Grove), West Cliff Inn (Santa Cruz), Blackbird Inn (Napa), Maison Fleurie and Lavender (Yountville), Inn at Sonoma (Sonoma), Gaige House (Glen Ellen) and Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza (Healdsburg).

Open Jam with Geno’s Standard …

Open Jam with Geno’s Standard Band at the Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue tonight at 8pm. http://t.co/cANhqysw

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