Claremont, “The City of Trees and PhDs”…
It is well-known in the academic world for being a town of topnotch colleges. Which ones, you ask? Well, Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer. They are basically the West Coast’s version of an Ivy League. As of 2013, four of them rank in the top 25 liberal arts colleges in the entire nation.
On top of that, in 2007, it was voted the number five best place to live by CNN/Money. Being that I grew up in the town next door I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment.
Claremont has been something like an adopted hometown to me, since my own town is seriously lacking in the cool restaurants and boutiques department. We frequent C-Mont often, particularly the downtown area known as “The Village”. This aesthetically pleasing and charming part of Southern California is a can’t-miss for anyone looking for a day trip or new area to explore. I’ve collected some of my own favorite things about The Village and laid them out for your convenience below.
P.S. You’re in for a treat, literally. The first handful are more than enough to indulge any irresistible sugar craving you may have.
If you’re on a diet, enter at your own risk.
So, without further ado, welcome to my ‘hood (kind of)…
1) 21 Choices
Imagine mixing Baskin Robbins, Yogurtland, and Cold Stone all into one; you would get something similar to 21 Choices.
This frozen yogurt shop is one of the originals, having been in business for decades (although switching and adding locations a couple times). They now have two locations in Claremont, one in downtown Pasadena, and another on the USC campus.
Their unique concept begins with offering six flavors/choices each day — two usually being the classics, Dutch Chocolate and French Vanilla, and the other four changing daily. Examples of their vast variety of flavors include Kahlua Mudslide (my personal favorite), Root Beer Float, Circus Animal Cookie, Orange Creamsicle, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry, Snicker-doodle, Reese’s Extreme, Banana Cream Pie, Nutella Chip, Brownie Magic, Oatmeal Cookie, and so on. There are literally thousands.
The second unique aspect to 21 Choices is that they offer to mix toppings into your frozen yogurt. Using two hand-held blades, your taste-bud-bliss-inducing associate carefully chops up and thoroughly combines whichever toppings you select into your chosen flavor(s). Toppings range from fresh fruit to M&Ms to gummy bears to baked goods to breakfast cereals to well, a lot more. Because why not?
Depending on the size you choose (pretty much any size but a tres small — their smallest size), you can potentially have up to all six flavors jamming together in your cup.
21 Choices is THE place in the Inland Empire/San Gabriel Valley/whatever this area is called… to grab a sweet treat. It’s a social gathering place for high school and college students, families, dates, friends, and so on. It’s not uncommon to see a line out the door during the evenings. It has a fantastic energy with friendly, upbeat staff and delicious, customized fro yo!
Fun Fact: nearly eight years ago I walked into 21 Choices and filled out an employment application. It became my very first (non-entertainment industry) job. And I loved it. And so did my sweet tooth. And so will yours.
2) Some Crust Bakery
The Some Crust Bakery, which opened in 1916, prides itself on it’s European-style baking methods.
It’s not just a popular spot for baked goods. They serve up yummy breakfast & lunch also – including design-your-own sandwiches and sliders!
Some Crust bakes up fresh cakes, cookies, pastries, danishes, croissants, scones, muffins, pies, bars, cupcakes and so on.
My favorite is the Mocha cookie! Nom. Nom. Nom.
3) Bert & Rocky’s Cream Company
Bert & Rocky’s Cream Company is a sugary heaven. With 50 flavors of ice cream, cases full of candy and chocolate, and massive caramel apples, it guarantees something good for everyone.
Their ice cream counters hold all the classics as well as unique flavors like “Guava and Goat Cheese”. Say what?!
But… if ice cream isn’t your thing
(then you’re weird) you can check out these beauties below.
4) I Like Pie
As a somewhat new member to the Village, I Like Pie is quickly establishing itself as a big player.
Next month, this charming pie shop is partnering with the Claremont Chamber of Commerce to host the 2nd Annual Claremont Pie Festival. It’s being held out front I Like Pie on March 15th, 2014 from 11:00am-4:00 pm. It’ll be a great opportunity to come check out all the local pies!
I Like Pie also features a gluten-free option daily and vegan options Friday through Sunday.
All of the sweet and savory pies I’ve tasted have been delicious. I even ordered a full-size Apple Cranberry one for Thanksgiving last year! It was decorated with leaves made from pie-crust. So cute!
5) Laemmle Movie Theatre
The 5-cinema Laemmle Movie Theater offers up a wide range of movies, from the biggest box office hits to obscure independent and foreign films.
In other words, a simple recipe for a romantic evening (or just a friend-date) in the Village :
Sit down for dinner on the patio at The Back Abbey (a cool gastropub behind the theater)
Catch a movie at Laemmle
And finally, enjoy a dessert at any of the fun options above!
6) Nectar Boutique
Because… a review of any downtown is not complete without a shopping recommendation!
Nectar Boutique. It’s full of cute clothes and accessories for, well, women. Sorry dudes.
After being referred here by many friends I finally came in to take a look around.
I literally can’t come in without buying something. Every time.
Oh and they have an employee named Alexa. Automatic awesome. And as it turns out she’s really helpful and cute. I mean, her name IS Alexa… ha. Terrible joke. Just terrible. Moving on.
7) Rhino Records
If you’re a music fan, be sure to check out the impressive selection over at Rhino Records.
It’s like walking back into the good ‘ole days when there were things like records… and… CDS. Gasp.
Tap into your inner hipster. You know you want to.
8) Walters Restaurant
Lastly, if you’re in the mood for something a little different (but not too different) then check out Walters Restaurant. Their menu is made up of American/Afghan fusion and it’s… it’s just… really good.
Two of my favorites items on the menu are:
1) – Afghan Fries (left) – Fresh potatoes dipped in a special ethnic batter and deep fried.
Those Afghan Fries though. Served up with some ketchup. Yee haw!
2) – Spicy Corn Cakes (right) – Topped with homemade black beans, salsa and sour cream. (Vegan)
My mouth is watering.
My sister-in-law recommends…
3) Bolawnies – An afghan dish made up of ground beef, potatoes and onions stuffed in a thin dough and deep-fried. Served with fresh yogurt sauce.
I’ve actually never tried them but they’re on my to-try-very-soon list.
The Village’s HONORABLE MENTIONS!!!
Two of my other favorite places in the Village are chains and I tried to keep this post all about what is UNIQUE to Claremont.
But because I love them so I will list them here.
1) Le Pain Quotidien – I go here for breakfast and lunch with my mom quiiiiite frequently. Their steamed apple juice, coconut macaroons, cheese almond danish, and curried chicken salad tartine with harissa-cranberry chutney can turn any frown upside down. Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point.
2) Eureka Burger – Fresno Fig burger with sweet potato fries and extra ranch. And a Belgian wheat beer. Please and thank you.
What are YOUR favorite things about Claremont?
Or if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of exploring my neck-of-the-woods, which business above looks most appealing? What would you do if you had a day to spend in C-Mont?