Where to Eat In The Inland Empire And The High Desert

2020 brought a lot of  awareness around going out to eat for sure. While reflecting on favorite places in the Inland Empire and the High Desert, to share with you, what came up for me was the ‘why’ of going out to eat.

It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once as day. That’s what human life is all about- enjoying things. ~Julia Childs

Clearly it centers around four main categories:

Traditions: maybe a birthday, anniversary, graduation, engagement, special holiday, special day of the week, new haircut, promotion at work, promotion at school, family or friends in town.
Ambience – the lighting, the decorating, the coziness, the openness, the fireplace, the fountain, the separate eating areas that seem private, the clean and decorated restrooms, the manner in which the food is served.
No fuss and no mess at home … very huge when life has our activity calendars pretty full most of the time or we’ve been at home more than we would like and that going out to have someone else serve and then clean up is a total oxygenation for the human spirit.
The people that work there. A favorite waiter or waitress that just knows exactly how you like your food, where you like to sit and how attentive you’d like them to be. The cook that cooks your food perfectly every time and you so look forward to that top notch taste and flavor. The host or hostess that knows where you like to be seated and makes sure they get you there even if you have to wait a couple of minutes. Or maybe it’s the  whole staff that just is cheerful and acts like they’ve been waiting for you to show up all day which is such a great boost to a tired spirit.
Yes going out to eat is more than just the food it’s an experience. And from my research here are the top ten restaurants that gave a remarkable experience in the Inland Empire and the High Desert and then a couple others a little west that were such top favorites I had to include them.
Enjoy each and everyone for the characteristics that are mentioned as they are not in an order of categorization.
  • Vince’s in Rancho Cucamonga on route 66 has become a real tradition for many. It is a place for sharing family experiences around birthdays, and other celebrations. The food is consistently amazing. The atmosphere is very homey and the food is off the chart delicious from a simple menu.


  • The Hat has locations in Upland or Rancho Cucamonga. This is a long time favorite for many. The Hat has been around it seems forever! Several people in their fifties and sixties said they have been going there since they were kids.They have very big portions of food especially their pastrami and fries. Their service is perfect when you are in a hurry or hangry because it’s always quick. The consistency of their food is a huge piece you can count on because it is always, the same and always great when you order.


  • Clearman’s North Woods Inn in Covina, is another tradition destination. Some folks have this as an annual birthday stop, or day after Christmas or day after Thanksgiving stop. A big hit is their famous cabbage salad and soup. Another favorite is their gigantuous baked potatoes and amazing steaks. It has a cozy atmosphere inside like a log cabin in the mountains. The snowcap on the log cabin exterior truly sets you up for that cozy inside. The servers wear a traditional Norwegian outfit and the ambiance gives a flare for being in the Scandinavian region.
  • Texas Road House in Oak Hills right off the 15 freeway has amazing food that never disappoints. The staff has on their hustle to make sure everyone is served in a timely fashion but as a patron you are never rushed. It is always a good idea to call ahead to cut your wait time down or go just before five to beat the dinner crowd.



  • Lucille’s in Rancho Cucamonga is another amazing food destination. Oh my goodness there is nothing not to like about the quality and deliciousness of their food. The servers are very attentive to your needs to ensure your stopping in was all that you hoped in ambiance. Their specialty is BBQ but all of their food is especially good.


  • Pancho Villas in Victorville right off the 15 freeway has not only great Mexican food but live Mariachis while you eat. The atmosphere is very welcoming and the entertainment adds much cheer especially for a celebration night.

  • Mollie’s Country Cafe in Hesperia and Victorville has by far the best breakfast!! Their portions are very large so often it can serve as another meal too. everything is home cooked and the atmosphere is like walking into a country diner on old route 66 before all the freeways went in.
  • Rosa Maria’s in San Bernardino by far has the best chili relleno ever had from those surveyed. In fact for people who have been there years ago and come to visit anywhere in the Inland Empire, that’s a first stop they want to be sure they have before their final destination.


  • Savarinos in Redlands has amazing pastrami grinders. They pop up in the dictionary when you look for authentic!


  • Surfer Joes in San Bernardino has a bread that they serve the sandwiches on is different from anywhere ever! A truly yum, yum.


  • Olive Pitt which is another choice west of the Inland Empire, is a love if  Mediterranean food is on your list. The grilled artichokes are amazing and haven’t been found at any other restaurant.
So make a date to re experience dining out if you’ve put it on the shelf for a minute. If your like me, just reading through the list prompts me to grab my appetite and go!!