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Moving to Claremont

Hey LA-area 'hounds, I'm moving from Northampton, MA to Claremont this summer. I'm hoping for some help regarding what Claremont has to offer for the resident, not just in terms of restaurants (plenty of threads on that) but more for grocery stores and cafes.

1. I see that there is a Trader Joes -- where do you go for your organic produce? (TJ's is great for many thing but in my mind produce isn't one of them).
2. Who has the best espresso?
3. What cafe is best for taking a book and studying? (Hopefully same as #2)
4. Where are the nearest Mexican and Asian markets?
5. Any good specialty shops I should be aware of? From other threads, I'm aware there is a great cheesemonger.
6. Best bar for beer?
7. Lastly, as a Californian who has lived out of state for 6 years and dearly misses good and cheap Mexican food, what's the best taco in Claremont?

Big thanks in advance!

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  1. Number 6 if you like Belgian beers there is the Back Abbey gastropub.
    http://www.thebackabbey.com/

    I can't help with much else. Claremont is way East of my jurisdiction.

    4 Replies
    1. re: burntwater

      I love Belgians and the Moinette photo on their front page is a good omen. Thanks!

      1. re: fame da lupo

        Second Back Abbey for beer, though we haven't had much luck with the food. Stick with one of their yummy soft pretzels and head elsewhere for dinner (IMO).

        1. re: running pig

          First report: Back Abbey is legit. The burger I had was phenomenal. The fries had great texture and the beignet dessert was just the right savory-sweet balance. I was impressed.

          1. re: fame da lupo

            Good to hear that you enjoyed it, welcome to Claremont!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Hi there! From one college town to another ey? We were just in Northhamption and Claremont is a mini version... this will be a very soft landing for you! Good luck with the move! Here's some answers to your questions...

        1) Organic is good... Local is even better! Claremont has great farmers market on Sunday. Also in nearby Pomona, there is Cal Poly Farm store where you can get local meat and lots of specialty produce.

        2) The BEST BEST, go to Upland's Klatch Coffee. Seriously one of the best coffee shops in So Cal period. It's also a nice comfy enviroment to study.

        3) Claremont is a friendly city with lots of out door spaces. So there are TONS of places to go sit down with a book, a ball of yarn or just to daydream. For a little snack, the Le Pain Quotidien in the village square is nice to eat out during the cooler months, eat in for those times it gets pretty steamy in Claremont.

        4) For all of your ethnic needs, you got Super King. My parents live in Diamond Bar and ADORE Super King. For bulk items, there is also Winco in Pomona.

        5) Along with the awesome Cheesecave, they also have a couple of great wine merchants and a tea shop I love, Bamboo Teas

        6) I like Back Abbey. Eureka Burger always has interesting rotating selections. I've also heard great things about Union on Yale.

        7) Claremont is not really a Mexican hole in the wall town... but nearby Pomona is. They even have an Albertos... & honestly, you can be a So Cal College student without experiencing Carne Asada Fries...

        Best!

        --Dommy!

        7 Replies
        1. re: Dommy

          I can't really improve much on Dommy's suggestions, but I'll try to chip in a few extra thoughts:

          2&3) Three or four days a week, the best coffeehouse in Claremont proper is The Motley, at Scripps College. The other three or four days, it's not. It's vastly more friendly and charming than your local StarBean, has tasty munchies and Klatch roasts(!) at good prices, but the skills of the student baristas range from excellent to ...well ... enthusiastic. Given all that, it's still a good place to read and sip and unwind. Non-students are very welcome, though I'd gently suggest that if you're a male over, say, 25, you might not want to come alone if you don't want to look like a desperado. Just saying.

          6) Back Abbey is best for Belgian ales, Eureka is tops for West Coast microbrews. I like both, with the choice depending on mood, food, and weather ... somehow Belgians are better on wet winter nights (i.e. Belgian weather ... a Rochefort 10 or a St. Bernardus Abt are like a dinner in a bottle) but the Californians are better in the sun. Also, the folks at the original Eureka in Redlands are pretty close with the craft brewers at Hangar 24 out there, so whenever those guys release a new limited edition brew, Eureka is a good place to find it. (I've had the Vinaceous and Hammerhead there recently).

          7) Agree that Pomona is the place to go; if you find yourself near Holt & White, try Tijuana's Tacos for first-rate tacos, huaraches, mulitas, alambres, etc. at student-friendly prices. With the free bean stew and grilled veggies with every order, you can thoroughly food-coma yourself for well under $10/person.

          1. re: Dommy

            I went to Super King but they didn't appear to sell fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil etc. Any rec's on a decent Asian market?

            1. re: fame da lupo

              Just in case you wish to venture into wine, fdl, you'll find Pacific Wine Merchants and Liquorama (both Upland) and Packing House Wine Merchants (Claremont) solid choices. The selection at PWM, in particular, is broad in inventory and price, and the sales team is informative and low pressure. I'm not much into brew, but I spotted a nice ancillary selection there.

              1. re: Dornfelder

                Honestly we're mostly Vinho Verde and Lambrusco people, but on the occasion that I whip out the pasta machine I'll be looking out for a good Italian red. Thanks!

                1. re: fame da lupo

                  That's when you'll want some +1s for quality, well-priced Chiantis and Nero d'Avolas at Pacific Wine Merchants. Sorry I'm drifting off into the wine world, but I'm happy to pass along some recommendations your way. Just ask, fdl. (By the way, I too really enjoy Vinho Verde.)

                  As you've no doubt read here on the CH LA boards, the San Gabriel Valley has a wealth of Asian markets and dining spots.

                  Just noticed that the OP doesn't yet have a car, but I'll suggest that he/she carpools with a friend and heads into northern Orange County -- specifically, the Fullerton/northern Buena Park area. Fellow Hounder TonyC gives a +1 to visiting the Han Nam Market in BP as a fine way to get to be better acquainted with Korean fare.

                  Finally, I'll +2 regarding attran's recommendation of Claro's, specifically the deli sandwiches. A three-salami sub with provolone -- custom made, of course -- is hard to beat.

              2. re: fame da lupo

                Interesting... I would think any market you could get fish sauce now...

                Anyway, for a pure Asian market, there is Hoa Binh in Pomona.... a tad sketcy... but it works in a pinch. There is also a VERY nice 99 Ranch in Chino Hills.

                --Dommy!

            2. Check out Los Jarritos II in nearby Pomona just south on Gary from Foothill for inexpensive Mexican.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JAB

                If Los Jarritos II is that little stand on the corner of the parking lot where M&I Surplus store is, YES!

              2. 1. I'm not a big organic guy, but the people I know who are buy through co-op deals. There's also Sprouts.

                2. Dommy is right, while not in Claremont, if you don't mind driving a bit Klatch definitely has the best espresso in the area. But in the village, I probably like Pain Quotidien the best.

                4. In Claremont, again with Dommy, Super King. But if you head out a bit you can do better. Like Marukai in West Covina. And there are nearby markets in Pomona where you can get fresh tortillas.

                5. The Cheese Cave is IMO the best cheese shop in LA county. Marnie and Lyddie are great. You mention beer in other questions. The best beer store nearby is Liquorama in Upland, lots of Belgian ales, domestic microbrews, etc.

                6. Back Abbey and Eureka (again like Dommy says).

                7. I really like the fish tacos at Senor Baja, althought it's slightly west of Claremont on Foothill.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Thornton

                  I would just like to second what Robert says about the Cheese Cave. I try to eat vegan but I make exceptions for some of the delicious things in that singularly wonderful shop. Be sure to try the balsamic vinegar they sell there. Divine!

                  The Back Abbey is a lovely place, but do also try the Union on Yale. It's run by the same people and menu is outstanding. They have one of only six pizza ovens in the country that make real honest-to-goodness Italian pizza like I had when I was in Naples.