Where To Eat & Drink When You Want To Get Out Of Town And Remember What Fall Feels Like
Produced by The Infatuation with
Polo Ralph Lauren
Unless you count going to the pumpkin patch in 95-degree weather and sipping hot apple cider while beads of sweat roll down your back, fall in Los Angeles is left largely to whatever nostalgic memories of you have of someplace else. That’s not to say we’re left out of the season altogether - you just have to drive a bit to find it.
The tiny mountain towns of Big Bear and Idyllwild are only a few hours from LA, but they might as well be in a different hemisphere. From evergreen forests to (mostly real) ski slopes to world-class hiking trails, there aren’t two better places for getting out of town and remembering what fall is supposed to feel like. Here are 14 places to eat and drink while you’re there.
No one comes to Idyllwild for a fancy night out, but if you’re going to have one dinner outside of your questionably-decorated cabin rental, make it at Ferro. The family-run Italian restaurant has a big menu full of Italian staples, and everything is good. The charcuterie, the Caesar, and the bolognese all need to hit your table, but it’s the salami and mushroom pizza that you’ll be thinking about the morning after. Also, in a town with a strong back patio game, Ferro’s is the best.
We really respect places with good name puns and good coffee. Higher Grounds has both. Smack in the center of downtown, this little coffee shop is the place to be from 7-9am, when seemingly the entire town hangs out on the porch to chat about the big news of the day (a.k.a. the weather). They have a decent pastry selection, but we recommend grabbing your coffee and heading somewhere else for breakfast.
Idyllwild revolves around hiking and that means breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The little town has tons of options, but Tommy’s needs to be your first stop. Located just a few minutes walk up from downtown, this tiny Swiss restaurant serves a fantastic breakfast with omelettes, homemade rosti (Swiss hash browns), and a great front patio where you can flaunt your dog.
Idyllwild is a town that likes to turn in early, but there is one place where things go until 2am and it’s Idyllwild Brewpub. The massive brewery is one of few options when it’s Saturday night and you can’t handle another game of Yahtzee and bad wine with your friends at the house. The place is always packed with people looking to get a little rowdy, drink house-made IPA, and dance to the live honky-tonk band in the corner.
You just hiked eight miles in the beating sun, low-key rolled your ankle, and now you need a sandwich. Idyllwild Bake Shop has our favorite lunch in town and the quiet side patio is the ideal place to unwind after a never-ending hike up the side of a mountain. All of their sandwiches come on house-made sourdough bread and you can either build your own or choose from one of their specialty sandwiches (we recommend the latter). Also, this is a bake shop, so getting a giant cookie is a requirement.
If you aren’t really in the mood to drink IPAs all night at the Brewpub, there is another option downtown: Idyll Awhile Wine Shop. The little wine bar seems pretty quiet on the outside, but don’t be fooled. It turns into a party quickly. You can order any wine you want by the glass, but you’re going to want the wine tasting flight, which gets you four very full glasses of wine for $12 total. They have live music five nights a week, and if you get hungry, their charcuterie board is big enough to feed three adults.
Weekend lines at The Town Baker can get a bit unruly, so the trick is to get there early (before 10am), and focus on the grab-and-go pastries. Their cinnamon rolls and sticky buns are massive and the ideal snack for the car ride back down the mountain to reality. If you go on a Sunday, the farmer’s market happens right next door, where you can stock up on produce for the week.
If you only have one meal out in Big Bear, make it at Grizzly Manor Cafe. This tiny roadside breakfast shack is the best-known restaurant in town and it has the lines waiting outside to prove it. And we’re here to tell you it’s worth it. The food is greasy excellence and the portions are enormous. Split those pancakes with a friend or you’re never making it up the trail.
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 inside) and the coffee is just OK, Amangela’s is home to one of the best breakfasts in Big Bear - the Bigger Better Breakfast Bagel. This three-egg behemoth topped with whatever your cold heart desires is mandatory before going out on the lake.
Most places in Big Bear with lake views crank up the prices and keep the food at garbage level. Don’t fall into the trap. The Pines has arguably the best views of the water in Big Bear and the food is actually pretty solid. If you’re looking for a slightly romantic outdoor dinner during the summer, The Pines is your power move.
With a modern white interior, exposed wooden beams, and an outdoor bar with a custom fire pit, 572 Social wouldn’t feel out of place in most areas of Los Angeles. The food is good - this is the only place on the mountain we’d confidently recommend ingesting poke. But the overall atmosphere inside is what gets us most excited to eat here. The place is packed on the weekends with everyone listening to live music on the patio and getting a little rowdy in the process.
Big Bear nightlife starts and ends at Murray’s Saloon and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This place is straight-up legendary and can get downright wild even on a Monday. Just about everyone is here for the karaoke, so don’t be surprised if you see someone in cut-off jean shorts singing Rhiannon on top of someone else’s shoulders - because we did. Cheap beer and solid bar food doesn’t hurt either. Things will definitely get weird at Murray’s and that means you’re doing it right.
It seems every corner of the great USA has thrown its hat into the microbrew scene at this point and Big Bear is no different. There are a few breweries around town but our favorite is Big Bear Lake Brewing Company. Right in the heart of the Village, BBLBC has an awesome tap room and an approachable selection of local beer. Also, they have something called The Avocado Bomb on the menu, and we’ll go on record saying it’s one of the best bar apps we’ve ever had.