Claremont rests in the San Gabriel foothills, in Mount Baldy’s shadow, and is best known as a city of higher learning. Seven Claremont Colleges draw intellectuals and liberal arts students to L.A. County’s eastern edge. Craftsman bungalows line the streets of this charming town. Claremont Village is home to most of the action, complete with restaurants, shops, live music venues and a movie theater. The city is also conveniently located en route from L.A. proper to Palm Springs and Las Vegas. Learn about 20 places to eat or drink when visiting Claremont.
Additions: Creme Bakery, Euro Cafe, Go To Go Chicken, Honeybird, Inka Trails, Iron & Kin Coffee Co., Ironbark Ciderworks, Lucky’s Coffee Roasters, The Meat Cellar, Menkoi Ya Ramen, Nosy Neighbors, Uno Tre Otto
Cuts: KiKiRyKi (Relocated to Upland)
1. Al Amir
Lebanon native Abdallah Soueidan and his family built on the success of their Anaheim bakery by opening a spinoff in a freeway-friendly Claremont strip mall. Expect marble tables and decorative Lebanese wall hangings. The oven yields crisp, supple flatbreads coated with savory toppings, which could include heavily spiced soujouk, a bubbly proprietary cheese blend, or za’atar, a blend of dried thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and olive oil. Labneh is an essential side featuring strained yogurt dressed with olive oil and mint that’s served with puffy pita. To round out the menu, they added hearty bowls like ful and msabaha. Yes, Al Amir, which means “prince” in Arabic, also provides more pedestrian toppings, but shredded chicken breast isn’t nearly so royal.
MUST ORDER: Labneh, Lahm-Ba-Jeen, Sfeeha, Zaatar & Cheese
This Claremont Village gastropub debuted in 2008, taking over a one-time citrus packing house. Jason Annigian and John Engelhardt are the current owners. Victor Moreno is their chef. The spare room features a rusted corrugated metal roof, drop down Edison bulbs, a slab walnut bar, red cushioned banquettes and side patio. Given the name, it should be clear that The Back Abbey specializes in Belgian beers, which flow from 28 taps and just as many bottles. Burgers are especially popular, crafted from dry-aged ribeye, chuck and sirloin. Options include a signature burger with aged Gouda, spicy mustard aioli, caramelized onions, Niman Ranch bacon and micro greens. Seasonal specials are also available. So are soft pretzels and a 10-ounce dry-aged bone-in ribeye served with maitre ‘d butter and pomme frites.
MUST ORDER: Back Abbey Burger, Fries, Schnitzel, Soft Pretzel
Sisters Marnie Clarke and Lydia Clarke debuted The Cheese Cave in Claremont Village in 2010. The charming space features a small wood counter facing the street and a silver cow in a top hat. Shelves of cheese tools and beer dominate, as do gourmet items like Scripps olive oil, SQIRL jam, and All Spice Cafe hot sauces. A recent Snack Pack arrived on slate and combined Gruyere 1655, Provolone piccante, and sharp, crumbly Flag Sheep, a sheep and cow’s milk cheddar cheese from Washington. Accompaniments currently include dried fruit and corn nuts. You can also add olives and salami.
MUST ORDER: Cheese, Snack Pack, Sandwiches
Seemingly no SoCal city would be complete without a craft brewery. It’s a good thing Claremont has an industrial park, which is where most craft beer resides. Emily Moultrie and Brian Feffer, Natalie Feffer and brewmaster Simon Brown set up shop in 2012. The space features roll-up garage doors, powder blue, art-lined walls, high top tables, growler chandeliers, and 24 taps, not all active. Claremont Craft Ales offers six-beer tasting flights for $11, four-ounce pours that could include Del, an IPA named for the owner’s brother’s dog, who’s named for Del the Funky Homosapien. If they have Coffee Del, brewed with beans from nearby Klatch Coffee, a local institution, order it. They also age their Red Ale in oak, which lends an interesting character to the glass.
MUST ORDER: Happy Days, Special Releases
Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., this down-home farmers market sets up across from city hall in Claremont Village. Depending on the season, you might find Ha’s Farm apples, Weiser Farms potatoes and melons, Kyoho grapes, pluots, and tomatoes. Regardless of the bounty, expect live music, artists, families, and a convivial vibe. The Farmers & Artisans Market debuted in 1996 and currently features over 100 farmers and artisans who appear throughout the year.
MUST ORDER: Whatever’s In Season
6. Crème Bakery
Proprietress Erica Hartig Dubreuil previously worked as a Regional Vice President for Whole Foods Market before opening this versatile Claremont Village bakery in 2018. Crème Bakery features a glass front with dried sunflowers on a ledge over the entrance, aqua and blue accents, and an L-shaped counter topped with tantalizing pastries and baguette sandwiches and bread on racks. Their selection includes iced cinnamon morning buns with featuring flaky coiled pastry and cascading icing; pain aux raisins with similar construction; thin and crispy chocolate chip cookie made with 58% Guittard dark chocolate; and a rosemary biscuit sprinkled with sea salt flakes.
MUST ORDER: Ham and Gruyère Croissant, Iced Cinnamon Morning Bun, Pain aux Raisins, Rosemary Biscuit