Lunch spot for Route 66 tour group between San Bernadino and Pasadena?
I'm hoping my fellow Hounds can help me out! Here's my challenge: I need to find a lunch spot that can handle a group of about 60 people on a Sunday afternoon. This is a group that will have spent the last 3 weeks on a Route 66 tour from Chicago to Santa Monica, and this will be our last meal together before we hit the Santa Monica Pier.
It would be great if there was a Route 66 connection, although that's not a deal breaker, and I don't want to have to detour too far off of Historic 66/Foothills Blvd to get there. Mainly I'm looking for a place that is not part of a national chain, has some Southern California "feel" to it and has enough menu options to keep carnivores as well as herbivores happy. It would need to be able to accomodate a large group and serve us all reasonably efficiently. Bonus points for quirky history, kitchy decor, and anything really interesting or unique. We will ahve dome Mexican the night before, so perhaps something else?
I've looked at the websites of both the Magic Lantern Inn and The Sycamore Inn, which have great "66 cred", but I have to say I was not terribly impressed. They struck me as having not very interesting menu options (I don't think we want prime rib for lunch, and I didn't like that one of their options for vegetarians was "a choice of two of our side dishes". But if I'm wrong, I am totally willing to be convinced otherwise.
We're not looking to break the bank, but since it's our last group meal, we'd be willing to go up to $15/$20 pp, excluding booze. But food amd ambience are the main priorities.
Thanks so much in advance -- I'm looking forward to hearing from you!!
I think Clifton's or Philippe would be well worth it for their historical ambiance. Both will accomodate a large group and both are cheap. Clifton's would be more vegetarian-friendly but the sandwiches at Clifton's are probably better than anything at Clifton's. Clifton's is in the process of being remodeled, but if you call ahead, they will let you know if that would pose a problem.
As an old-school KROQ favorite* once sang "I checked all the registered historical facts / And I was shocked into shame to discover" ... that Route 66 was changed in 1933 when Huntington Drive through Monrovia was completed. Previously, it made a right turn up Shamrock to Foothill, then back south on Santa Anita.
So, if you wanna kick it *really* old school style, this rules out Domenico's, but rules in Zelo and Market Grill. (It also rules in the Aztec Hotel, which has oodles of 66-cred, but I can't imagine wanting to put anything there into my mouth). Zelo would be a delicious choice but you'd have to take it somewhere else to eat it as they can't fit anywhere near 60 people.
The same problem applies at Market Grill - also, they're usually closed Sunday - but perhaps if you give them enough lead time (and payment) they can arrange a group lunch for you across the street at the Monrovia Historical Museum, which has lots of space for group events, plus old Route 66 memorabilia. No guarantees on this one, as I'm sorta talking out of my proverbial you-know-where, but the Market Grill folks are affable and endearingly eccentric and just might be able to pull off something like this.
[* Bonus points for artist, title, and next line. Honor code violation for Googling.]
I'll add that Pinnacle Peak may not be bad, seconding an above option in San Dimas.
And I cannot believe that I forgot to mention Clifton's Cafeteria, depending on how far in advance you are planning. They are located right at 7th and Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, immediately at the original western terminus of the Mother Road. But they are also undergoing a renovation right now and will be closed for a couple more months I believe.
It really depends on how close to the original terminus or the Pier you want to be. From east to west, here are my recommendations:
Upland - Buffalo Inn. Great mom-and-pop with a whole outdoor patio / seating area. Plenty of space and live music on weekend afternoons.
Glendora - The Hat. Basically a sandwich place, but A plus rating on the Route 66 ambiance, complete with great neon and an old hotel next door.
Arcadia - you could try Matt Denny's.
East Pasadena - La Trappiste may be of interest if you want an English-pub type place. Great beer selection and locally owned. The same people also own Lucky Baldwin's in Old Town Pasadena.
In Old Town, try Lucky Baldwin's although the room may be tough for 60, or Barney's Beanery. The original Barney's Beanery is on 66 in West Hollywood, and there's also another in Santa Monica on Third Street Promenade, not far from the Pier.
Near Downtown Los Angeles, try Philippe's. http://www.philippes.com/ It is only just off of 66 between Chinatown and Downtown and is about as authentic of a Route 66 feel as you can get anywhere.
Feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com if you need more info on 66 in LA. I literally wrote the book on that topic and just got home from another walking tour of the Mother Road in Los Angeles a little bit ago.
Thanks so much! These are some great suggestions to follow up on. Being technically on Route 66 is not a deal breaker -- I just don't want us straying so far from the route that it delays our arrival in Santa Monica later in the day. I love the ractrack idea, but we'll be there in September.....
How important is it to stay on Route 66? I ask because there are plenty of good lunch ideas in Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Claremont, etc. but few Chow-favorites that are technically on 66 itself. (OK, so Donut Man is on 66, but with 60 people it might be a bit tricky...)
The best combination of local history, ambiance, and "66 cred" might be The Derby, but I don't think you can fit it in your price range unless everyone goes for a salad. (For even better ambiance/history, if not the greatest food, consider lunch at the Santa Anita racetrack, if the Sunday in question is in January or February - check their website for group details)
For decent Cal/Italian/Asian/etc, the ability to squeeze in a group, and an address technically on 66, I'd suggest Chelsea in Glendora or Houston's in Pasadena. For red-sauce Italian on 66 there's Domenico's in Monrovia (though nobody here can agree if it's the best or the worst of the Domenico's - there's a big ugly Domenico family soap opera that's best saved for another day)
Mediterranean Garden Grill on Foothill in Monrovia. http://www.mediterraneangardengrill.c... Should satisfy the meat eaters as well as the pescatorians and vegetarians. It is outside but enclosed. I should have finished reading your post before I started. I wouldn't say the ambiance is great and it is not kitchy but the food is very good. I'm partial to their lentil soup and stuffed grape leaves-both are vegetarian.