The Best Restaurants & Bars In Big Bear

The 18 places to eat and drink in Big Bear.
The Best Restaurants & Bars In Big Bear image

photo credit: Sylvio Martins

Just two hours outside of Los Angeles, up in the San Bernardino Mountains, lies Big Bear. Come in the summer for sunny skies, camping, and drinking by the lake, and in wintertime for snow, skiing, and drinking by the lake. Big Bear truly has it all—except it’s not really known for amazing food (sorry).

That said, local gems do exist, you just need to know where to look. Here’s our breakdown of all the best food in Big Bear.



Big Bear

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastCasual Weeknight DinnerGetting Out Of Town
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This tiny mountain diner is the best-known breakfast spot in town, and has the lines outside to prove it. But we're here to tell you the food is excellent and worth the wait, even if it's heavy enough to put you right back to sleep. The portions are enormous, whether it's the plate-sized pancakes, a three-fried egg blanket on top of hashbrowns, or something poetically named "the blob" (it's biscuits and gravy). Share your breakfast with a friend, or you'll never make it up the trail.

photo credit: Sylvio Martins

Cafe Crepe is a great quick breakfast option if you show up before noon on the weekends. It won't be more than a 15-minute wait, though it might feel longer standing in the cold. This is also the best spot in Big Bear for a quality espresso drink, whether it's a standard cortado or busier stuff like a honey latte with lavender whipped cream. Still, the excellent crepes are the main thing here. We like the sweet and simple Jammin' with raspberry jam or the Complète if we're hungry: it comes rolled like a burrito filled with soft scrambled eggs, cheese, and plenty of ham.

You could probably walk past Amangela's a dozen times in The Village without noticing it, and that would be a shame. Because while it doesn't look like much from the outside (or the inside), and the coffee is just OK, Amangela's is home to one of the best breakfasts in Big Bear: the Breakfast Bagel sandwich. This three-egg behemoth topped with whatever your cold heart desires is mandatory before going out on the lake.

Dank Donuts is a hip little donut shop that does a little bit of everything. It fries its dough rings daily and serves a small selection of hot deli sandwiches if you want to fuel up with pastrami and rye before a day on the slopes. The donuts are on the cakier side but also still light enough not to bog you down. Our favorite is their bear claw or the huge apple fritter, but really, go for whatever they say is hot.

photo credit: Garrett Snyder

Pickles Pie Shop image

Pickles Pie Shop


If leaving a voicemail to reserve a pie sounds like too much work, Pickles Pie Shop—a small bakery in a Hansel-and-Gretel-looking cottage in Big Bear City— might not be for you. But we promise a wedge of their blueberry thyme crumble or dutch apple pie is worth the effort: The owners bake pies from scratch daily using local fruit and lots of butter. Whole pies must be ordered a day in advance for pickup, but you can also pop in the same day for a slice of what's in season—just know they often sell out by late morning.


After a few days in the mountains, you'll get a little tired of musty carpets and places serving mediocre chicken-fried steak. That's why Tropicali is a refreshing switch-up. This tiki-themed poke spot is decorated with palm leaf wallpaper, tiny hula dancers, and bubbling fountains—the kind of stuff that boosts winter serotonin levels. Snowboarders pile in to order solid poke bowls, fruit smoothies that taste like virgin tropical cocktails, and spicy jerk chicken that gets your blood pumping. Also, it's owned by two incredibly friendly brothers from Kauai, whom you'll hear yelling over the intercom, "Aloha Kelsey, your order just hit DA BEEEACH."

This charming German grocery store has a bunch of things on its chalkboard menu, like brats, smoked chops, split pea soup, etc. If it's your first time here, though, there's one thing you need: The Schinkenwurst. It's a salami, bologna, and swiss cheese sandwich that weighs approximately three pounds, and it's the one thing we eat every time we're in Big Bear. It comes with a pickle and their mustardy German potato salad on the side—which you will make room for because it's also fantastic. If you're looking for more warming, they also have a whole roster of sausages that come on a soft pretzel roll with warm sauerkraut.

Options for East Asian food in Big Bear are about as common as waterfalls in the Sahara, which makes it all the more convenient that Bear Noodle Bar serves solid noodle soups right off the Village's main drag. The ramen here is decent, but our favorite is the Taiwanese beef noodle soup, stocked with big chunks of five-spice braised beef. Beyond soup, the popcorn chicken and not-that-spicy Sichuan wontons are worth it, too. The cafeteria-style dining room is great for quick meals: all ordering is done via a giant touchscreen and there's a long window counter perfect for slurping down a bowl in peace.

Gaby's Latin Flavors serves a split Bolivian-Mexican menu, but we suggest ordering the Bolivian food. (The owner-chef is Bolivian, so her native cooking is what she does best.) This casual restaurant is our go-to spot on the mountain for spicy, hearty food that warms you up from the inside out. We love the asado en olla, or spicy short beef ribs seasoned with ají and served with rice and penne pasta coated in a traditional Bolivian peanut sauce. Make sure to get their simple avocado salad on the side, too. If you're looking to share, split the fricase–a spicy pork and hominy soup with a zippy, tomato-y broth that will revive you after a day of not feeling your left buttcheek because snow got in your ski pants.

photo credit: Garrett Snyder



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There are plenty of restaurants in Big Bear built to look like log cabins, and Oakside is the fanciest of them all. This string-lit two-story restaurant on the edge of the Village wouldn't be out of place in Aspen, and it's your best bet in town for a slightly upscale meal. The menu features crowd-pleasing stuff like burgers, truffle fries, salads, and pasta, but we like coming here for a steak and a cocktail. The wait for a table can be very long at dinnertime, but here's the secret: just head upstairs, where there's lots of open seating and they serve the full menu until close.

Spots serving burgers and beers are everywhere in Big Bear, but we head to Fire Rock when we want a truly over-the-top burger. This casual rock-themed spot is packed with families and college-age snowboarders listening to the Stones and drinking beer on the heated front patio, and the kinds of burgers you see on tables here are full-on monstrosities (in the best way possible). Think toppings like peanut butter, fried jalapeños, and mac & cheese on top of thick patties. Our favorite is the Whiskey In The Jar (whiskey not included) with crumbly blue cheese, bacon, and a layer of spicy buffalo sauce.

This 90-year-old restaurant is definitely haunted. Sorry if that freaks you out, we think it's cool. The ghost's name is George, and no one knows how he died, but his spooky antics are one reason to check out this historic restaurant. Dark and moody, Captain's Anchorage let go of its British pub shtick over the years and now operates as a classic steakhouse. You can sip wine, split a decent shrimp cocktail, and eat juicy prime rib for less than $100. This thick hunk of beef comes with a light horseradish cream and is so tender a butter knife could cut through it.

Himalayan is not just home to the best Nepalese food in Big Bear, it's home to some of the best food in Big Bear, period. Smack in the middle of all the kitschy Village nonsense, Himalayan is an affordable, family-run restaurant that serves Indian and Nepalese dishes in a cute and colorful sit-down space. Be sure to start your meal with an order of their Nepali momo dumplings, but otherwise, Indian staples like the mixed tandoori grill, stuffed naan and the lamb curry thali are the way to go here.

BJ's smells like a grease pan, and we mean that in an endearing way. This wooden roadside shack looks like it hasn't been remodeled since Woodrow Wilson was president. It's plastered with vintage beer ads and funny Western-themed memorabilia, and you'll find an older crowd trash-talking politicians over frosty beer mugs. The menu is simple: you either get a sandwich or a burger. The burgers are solid with a juicy, thick patty and excessive raw onions. We're also fans of the pastrami sandwich on (generously) buttered rye: the meat is griddled until crispy, and there's so much mustard it oozes out the side. Cash only.

Get The Burger is not necessarily the best burger in Big Bear, but it is the best place to eat a burger in Big Bear. Note the difference. This Hollywood-themed diner is full of charm, with vintage checkered floors, turquoise booths, and murals of fluffy bears eating burgers in heaven. The Director is their classic burger, with two patties, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato—all the usuals. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's tasty enough to get the job done. Also, this place has some damn good pickle fries. 


Big Bear nightlife starts and ends at Murray's Saloon. This place is a local legend and can get wild even on a Monday. Just about everyone is here for karaoke, so don't be surprised if you see someone in cut-off jean shorts singing "Rhiannon" (because we did). If you're having too much fun to leave for dinner, the bar food here is great, including a huge spicy fried chicken sandwich and a perfectly seared ahi tuna steak dusted with Cajun seasoning. Just keep in mind the kitchen closes around 8pm.

Right in the heart of The Village, BBLBC is a great gathering spot in town to watch the game or get some hops in your belly before transitioning to whiskey at Murray's. There's a short but enticing menu of locally brewed beers with flavor notes in the description so you can make an educated selection. Also, they have a tempura-fried dish called "The Original Avocado Bomb" on the menu, and we'll go on record saying it's one of the best bar appetizers we've ever had.

photo credit: Sylvio Martins

Barrel 33 image

Barrel 33


Barrel 33 is a wine and beer bar in the Village that looks like you're drinking cab sauv inside a literal barrel. It's also the place to go when you don't want to drink at a loud dive bar or need to kill some time before dinner perusing a carefully curated wine flight. The wine selection is long (the bartenders are real wine people and help you pick the right bottle), and the craft beer selection frequently rotates. There are also snacky things to eat, like flatbreads topped with prosciutto and giant Bavarian pretzels if you want to ditch dinner and keep drinking until 8pm. Yes, they close early for a bar.

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