Eats & Treats

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Posted October 8, 2009 in Feature Story

BEST BAKERY

Sierra Bakery 

This is an old-school bakery that specializes in delicious cakes and the like.  Something of an institution in Rialto for all the right reasons, Sierra Bakery continues to churn out wonderful pastries and breads using only the freshest ingredients.  

Sierra Bakery, 456 W. Foothill Blvd., Rialto, (909) 874-4150.

 

BEST THAI RESTAURANT

Mu

Mu is beautiful. Mu is chic. Mu is delicious. Try the Bangkok Duck—it’s great. Try the Pad Thai—it’s great too. So is everything frankly, all in a restaurant that is a true pleasure to spend time in. Even their website makes you hungry.  

Mu, 309 W. State St., Redlands, (909) 798-7747; www.mumartini.com.

 

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

Ravi’s Indian Cuisine

Some people complain about the service at Ravi’s, but they keep coming back again and again. It’s no secret why: It’s the best Indian cuisine in the area. The naan bread, the lentils and the great desserts merit a mention. The lamb and chicken dishes are even better. And it’s all wallet-friendly.  

Ravi’s Indian Cuisine, 1091 S. Mount Vernon Ave., Colton, (909) 824-1100; www.raviindiacuisine.com.

BEST GREASY SPOON

Mr. T’s

T’s is greasy, but in a yummy, soothing and almost Southern way. It’s the kind of joint where you can get breakfast or lunch all day, where the coffee’s a bit weak, but the gravy is strong.  And it’s one of the few places where you can still order up some genuine offal, in the form of liver and onions. T’s may not be the greasiest, but it’s surely the best.

Mr. T’s Family Restaurant, 4307 Main St., Riverside, (951) 781-8707.

 

BEST STEAK

Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse

Old school, back-in-the-day, these are some of the phrases that spring to mind when I think of Pinnacle. Well, that and having my tie cut off when I was a kid. But Pinnacle Peak is still around, and still a great place to take the whole family for a steak.

Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, 2533 S. La Cadena Dr., Colton, (909) 783-2543; www.pinnaclepeaksteakhouse.com.

 

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

Ooka Japanese Restaurant

Ooka is living proof that not all “chains” serve up overly salted homogenized pap. Ooka is simply great Japanese cuisine; their grill produces fun, quality dishes, and their sushi is amongst the best in the IE. Their martinis kick ass too.

Ooka Japanese Restaurant, 3525 Riverside Plaza Dr. Ste. 200, Riverside, (951) 779-0099; www.ookasushi.com.

 

BEST LATE-NIGHT EATS

Brandon’s Diner

Late night greasy grub gets a bad rap. While a late night feast should have taste, a generous heaping of lard to soak up any stray booze never hurts either. Brandon’s in Rancho delivers both in spades, along with a squadron of options from their mixed kitchen.

Brandon’s Diner, 8609 Baseline Rd., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 989-2256.

 

BEST COFFEHOUSE

Back to the Grind

Back to the Grind is quite unlike most of the generic coffee dens that dot the IE. The Grind has charm, it’s got eccentrics, it’s got a buzz and a vibe to it, and it reminds you of that coffee shop you went to the last time you were in Portland, or Seattle, or wherever. Oh, and the coffee’s pretty damn tasty too.

Back to the Grind, 3575 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 784-0800;  www.back2thegrind.com.

 

BEST RESTAURANT

Citrus City Grille 

Citrus might win this on cuisine alone, but when you factor in a thriving bar scene, along with amazing all-night happy hour specials on their tasty appetizers, cheap import drafts and deals on cocktails, you suddenly have the top pick for best restaurant in 2009—and there are two of them!

Citrus City Grille, 3555 Riverside Plaza Dr., Riverside, (951) 274-9099; at Corona Dos Lagos, 2765 Lakeshore Dr., Corona, (951) 277-2888; 

www.citruscitygrille.com.

 

BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

Bua Thai Cuisine

Bua Thai offers up a heaping array of delicious veggie options, all at very reasonable prices; the flavors are explosive at Bua but they won’t blow a hole in your monthly budget. There’s also plenty on the menu for the truly carnivorous.  

Bua Thai Cuisine, 450 W 1st St., Claremont, (909) 626-6666.

 

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

Caffe Allegro

Allegro serves the lip-smackinest seafood in the Inland Empire; it’s also known for great pasta and yummy desserts, as well as reasonable prices.  

Caffe Allegro, 186 N 2nd Ave., Upland, (909) 949-0805.

 

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

Olivia’s Mexican Food

The tired cliché that you can judge a restaurant by how many customers are dining there actually rings true at Olivia’s, which has been jammed full of Mexican food lovers since it opened in 1978. They come for the friendly service, the prices and, above all, the plethora of menu options. Olivia’s is an institution.

Olivia’s Mexican Restaurant, 9447 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, (951) 689-2131; www.oliviasmexicanrestaurant.com.

 

BEST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT

The Castaway Restaurant

One doesn’t normally associate romance with San Bernardino; that is until they’ve spent an evening at the Castaway. Beautiful landscapes, gushing waterfalls and amazing views of the surrounding mountains, all combine to bring out the amor in Berdoo.

The Castaway Restaurant, 670 Kendall Dr., San Bernardino, (909) 881-1502; www.castawayrestaurant.com.

 

BEST SUSHI

Asahi Sushi

Boutique-quality sushi in an all-you-can-eat setting is rare—it continues to live on at Asahi. The sushi chefs here serve eclectic rolls along with fresh sashimi on a daily basis that’s so delectable people actually drive to Riverside to sample it. Imagine.

Asahi Sushi, 2955 Van Buren Blvd. #D2, Riverside, (951) 637-1313. 

 

BEST TAPAS

Viva Madrid

Viva Madrid is an “impress” restaurant, the type of eatery you take people you want to impress to. The décor is fabulous and the tapas rival the best I’ve had in Spain; it’s an easy place to spend two hours eating your way across the menu along with a few glasses of vino.  

Viva Madrid, 225 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 624-5500; www.vivamadrid.com.

 

BEST ICE CREAM

Bert and Rocky’s

What is it about Claremont? The jewel in the Inland Empire dining crown even snags the best ice cream nod. Of course, that, in no small measure, is due to the creamy delicious taste treats served up at Bert and Rocky’s. Yummy.

Bert and Rocky’s Cream Company, 242 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-1852; www.bertandrockys.com.

 

BEST BURRITO

El Merendero

Lots of Mexican joints serve up a huge burrito—El Merendero serves huge delicious burritos and therein lays all the difference. This Pomona establishment serves up grub burritos of all descriptions, carne aside, carnitas, and a fantastic veggie edition. Merendero is the real deal.

El Merendero, 242 S. Garey Ave., Pomona, (909) 620-4503.

 

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Graziano’s

This is family-style Italian for the people; hearty, tasty pasta and meat dishes that both foodies and kiddies can appreciate. There are cheap tasty options at the buffet or more slightly upscale fare off the menu. And the bar goes off some nights too. 

Graziano’s Italian Bar and Restaurant, 1615 N. Mountain Ave., Upland, (909) 981-2924.

 

BEST SANDWICHES

Claro’s Italian Market 

Claro’s has six SoCal locations, and we’re lucky enough to have one of them in the Inland Empire. They’ve got well . . . everything—from meats and Italian sausages (real Italian sausages) to candies, and even Italian healing tonics. Want to remember that trip you took to Florence? Take a spin over to Claro’s.  

Claro’s, 1655 N. Mountain Ave #D, Upland, (909) 946-2689; www.claros.com.

 

BEST BURGER

The Back Abbey 

These are artisan burgers at their very best. The Seasonal Burger makes a great choice, made with—you guessed it—only ingredients that are in season. There is also the Back Abbey Burger, all fancied up with aged Gouda and an aioli sauce to swoon over. And by all means mash up a signature burger with their fries and horseradish sauce.  

The Back Abbey, 128 N. Oberlin Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-2642; www.thebackabbey.com.

 

BEST FARMER’S MARKET

Claremont Farmer’s and Artisan Market

This is the uber-farmer’s market in the area. Every Sunday from 8AM-1PM, the downtown area of Claremont becomes the best farmer’s market this side of Los Angeles. If you hear someone bitch that they don’t have everything, it’s only because they’ve got almost everything one needs for fresh delicious food.  

Claremont Farmer’s and Artisan Market, located on Indian Hill Boulevard and Second Street on Sunday from 8AM-1PM.

 

BEST DESSERTS

The Press Restaurant 

It starts here with the coffees, amazing espresso, along with an Irish coffee with Bushmills. Then it’s on to a limited but sublime dessert menu. For your difficult vegan friend, there’s the vegan chocolate cake; for you there’s the far more decadent Aunt Louise’s version. And on a side note, the lunch menu also rocks.

The Press Restaurant, 129 Harvard Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-4808; www.thepressrestaurant.com.

 

BEST MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

Saca’s Mediterranean Cuisine

This is the place for Greek-inspired Mediterranean food. A great choice for vegetarians, Saca’s can do some amazing tricks with lamb and chicken too.  It’s another brilliant dining choice in the city of Claremont.

Saca’s Mediterranean Cuisine, 248 W. Second St., Claremont, (909) 624-3340; www.gotosacas.com.

 

BEST PHO

Pho Ha 

It’s a few years now into the pho craze, the one where middle-aged food editors finally figured out what the Vietnamese caught on to so many moons ago, namely that a simple beef stock soup could be anything but simple. Of course, when pho is done well it achieves a sublime elegance. Pho Ha in Berdoo does it well. Check it out.

Pho Ha Vietnamese Restaurant, 385 E. Mill St. #65, San Bernardino, (909) 383-3138.

 

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BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

Happy Wok

This is cheap fast Chinese at its best. Sample the chicken jalapeno sauté in all its fiery goodness or enjoy Happy Wok’s spin on orange chicken. This is down, but not dirty; Chinese grub-fest perfectly tailored for our budget-restricted times.

Happy Wok Chinese Restaurant, 12198 Central Ave., Chino, (909) 590-3618; and 3233 Grand Ave., Chino Hills, (909) 628-6116.

 

BEST PIZZA

Capone’s Pizza

The original Capone’s and still the best, this pie shop is the perfect amalgamation of tasty pizza in a friendly, fun environment. Try the Capone sandwich—it’s, wait for it, criminally tasty, maybe due to the fact that they make their own dough daily.  

Capone’s Pizza, 7201 Arlington Ave. #E, Riverside, (951) 689-3520.

 

BEST FROZEN YOGURT

Ohana Yogurt Shop

Ohana is a polymorphously perverse celebration of yogurt tastes and textures. Ohana features fantastic yogurts and low-cal and lactose-free ice creams; along with oodles of toppings—just several of the reasons why this place is a self-serve yogurt paradise. Yogurt shops may be the latest fad; Ohana shows us why.

Ohana Yogurt Shop, 532 Orange St., Redlands, (909) 798-5259; www.ohanayogurtshop.com.

 

BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

Centro Basco Restaurant 

French, but Basque French, this is simple cuisine; hearty, plentiful and sublime. Chino still has a huge Basque population and it’s reflected in this fantastic restaurant that is as gigantic as the portions and is an excellent place to eat traditional Basque cooking.  

Centro Basco Restaurant, 13432 Central Ave., Chino, (909) 628-9014; www.centrobasco.net.

 

BEST BRUNCH

Pomona Valley Mining Company

Brunch is often the worst of both worlds, soggy warmed-over food that has not been helped by its times under the heat lamp; tasteless scrambled eggs, rock-hard bacon and the like—Pomona Valley is nothing like this. A host of stations like the seafood where you can get delicately scrumptious shrimp and crab legs sow why this is the “it” brunch in the IE. It’s so popular it pays to make your reservation at least a week in advance.  

Pomona Valley Mining Company, 1777 Gillette Rd., Pomona, (909) 623-3515; www.pomonavalleyminingco.com.

 

BEST BARBEQUE

Joey’s Bar-B-Q 

Another Inland Empire institution, Joey’s is the place for mouth-watering barbeque, as the meat almost falls off the bone, slathered in their life-altering BBQ sauce. The place has a sort of cheeseball feel to it when it comes to décor and service, but that only adds to the fun. They’re deadly serious when it comes to ribs though.

Joey’s Bar-B-Q, 1964 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland, (909) 982-2128; www.joeysbbq.com.


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