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Big Bear Update (Summer '07)

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My wife and I just came back from an extended weekend in Big Bear so I thought I'd share some of my restaurant opinions, since there's not a lot of info on Big Bear area restaurants on Chowhound yet. I'd read that there aren't any good choices, just tolerable ones, and I'm happy to say that's not really true. Although I don't anticipate craving any of the food from Big Bear, I'll probably revisit some of the better meals.

- Big Bear Mountain Brewery (40260 Big Bear Boulevard, 92315, 909-866-BEER)
This is really a cool little bar. We just popped in for a couple of beers and an appetizer. It seems to be a family-owned and operated bar with 4 or 5 really good proprietary beers as well as some of the better domestic micros (it's rare to find Moose Drool this far from Montana). Though we liked all the beers we sampled, our favorite was the Red Ale, which can be found in a lot of the places around the lake. You can also buy a growler for pretty cheap ($13?). For an appetizer we tried their spinach-artichoke dip, which was just okay. My wife liked that it wasn't too cheesy; I think she said it tasted "healthy"; but I found the bread bowl too salty and stale.

- Outlaw BBQ (41618 Big Bear Blvd., 92315, 909-866-8320)
This place had some pretty good mentions by other 'hounds, but I couldn't find anything here to recommend. If you really like BBQ, this might work for you, but I found it all real m'eh. Sure their cheesy potatoes are pretty good, but that wasn't enough for this cowboy.

- North Shore Cafe (39226 N Shore Dr, Fawnskin, CA 92333, 909-866-5879)
We only hit this place up for breakfast, when we were looking for a place that allowed dogs on the patio, and we were frankly surprised. The waitstaff was very attentive, the omelette was mixed together in the pan (I don't like omelettes with ingredients wedged inside like in a taco), the bread pudding french toast was really rather good and topped with real maple syrup, and the wheat toast seemed home-made. It was so good on Sunday, that when we couldn't find another place that allowed dogs on Monday, we returned. However, the staff, understandably, was a lot smaller on Monday, and none of the items, other than the toast, were really as good.

- Paoli's Italian Restaurant (40821 Village Dr, 909-866-2020)
We ordered pizza for pick-up one night from Paoli's since it was recommended by another 'hound. What a great recommendation! The hand-tossed crust had plenty of cheese melted along the outside to keep me coming back for more. And the ingredients were fresh. When I picked up the pizza, I looked around at other meals and saw the largest antipasto salad I'd ever seen. It was just this side of the ridiculous, just south of Buca de Beppo. I think I'll return to this place the next time we go back.

-Get the Burger (1117 W. Big Bear Blvd, 92314, 909-584-1300)
This is a little burger stand just west of the lake in Big Bear City featuring surprisingly good, almost In-N-Out-esque burgers and shakes. Also features Big Bear Mountain Brewery's red ale.

Any other suggestions for my next trip would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Let me suggest these two for your next time. Food is good here: The Mandoline -esp. for lunch! Nottingham's - fine dining for a good dinner. And, I think my sister in law took me to Boo Bear's. Slow service but, great sammys. In a small courtyard shopping area. Glad you liked Paoli's. I thought it was terrible. The same owner had a place in Santa Barbara across from the Greyhound station. That restaurant is good but, not in Big Bear.

    1. I love the brewery. We went after they first opened, and the beer was not good, but since then, it has improved TREMENDOUSLY. I'm hoping the food will catch up!

      1. i really dig the burgers at Get-the-Burger, they quite effortlessly surpass in-n-out's by at least several lightyears. i get serious cravings for them suckers, and unfortunately it's a rather long trip from the bay area to big bear. definitely ordered "raccoon style" and whatever their special lingo is for "spicy"; it's one the nicer burgers i've met. on an absolute scale i might kinda edge toward a burger from slow club in sf. but then again they're two rather different animals; Get-the-Burger is more in the in-n-out, murder/redrum burger kinda vein. too bad it's not closer to norcal.

        1. I just came back from Big Bear over the weekend, and I have to just tell everyone to stay away from the Peppercorn Grill. It was overpriced and tasteless. The service was slow and we waited over an hour for a table. I ordered the tilapia, and it was cafeteria quality at best -- definitely not worth the $18 I paid for it. On the other hand, we had a great experience at Madlons -- the cute little gingerbread cottage in Big Bear City. They served us even though the kitchen was closed. Everything we ordered was delicious and fresh. Service was amazing!

          3 Replies
          1. re: mawf1977

            I swear by the mexican food at Sonora Cantina. Awesome place; great nachos and margaritas. A casual little outdoor patio that draws in a small group of Harley riders on Sundays.

            1. re: mawf1977

              August 10, 2007 - Approximately 9 pm –

              Well, let me get it right out in the open. The hostess, “Terry” was about as rude as anyone could be. My group of six, waited for over 50 minutes after being told “less than 30”. OK, so, no big deal... Then we then waited, and waited, and waited, for someone to take our order, and then waited, and waited, and waited for our food. By this time the restaurant was trying to close, there were a few customers left, but they were not seating. When I finely got up from my table to ask “Terry” what the hold up was (now waiting for food), I was told that if WE hadn’t left (the front door), we wouldn’t have waited nearly as long, and that because we “left”, we lost our place. Well, I told her that ALL SIX OF US were nearly blocking the door for the 50 minute wait, and that there would be no way to miss us. In front of the entire restaurant she said, “well, you weren’t there”. I told her, yes in fact we were, all of us. At this point, she just said, “No, no you weren’t”. I asked if she thought ALL SIX OF US WERE LYING? She, out loud in front of the entire place said, “yes, yes you are lying, you WERN’T THERE”. I asked to please have the owner call me. Well, 4 weeks later nothing. So, today I called, me the customer, called back to the restaurant. Now I have the owners number (and so do you – 909-866-1134) and have left a message. I hope the owner (Julie) is more of a business woman than “Terry” was. My guess is that “Terry”, and our waitress “Amy” somehow forgot to forward the message.

              I would NEVER set foot in that place again. Be smart, do the same.

              We’ll see.

              1. re: BoboPinky

                A year ago we had absolutely fabulous meals at the Mambo Cafe (think that was the name...I know Mambo was in it) right on BBBlvd. Chef / part owner was from LA area I think and landed in BB. Sweet potato sdie dish that knocked our socks off. But go for dinner when he's there. Better than lunch when he's not.