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Viewpoint: An insider review of Claremont Village hot spots

by Cooper P. Morrison, Pitzer College ’23

As a third-year student at the Claremont Colleges, I have made my fair share of trips to the nearby Village. These evening escapes have only grown more frequent as campus nightlife steadily becomes less attractive. I am not sure if this is a result of a changing palette for fun or a jaded appetite for thumping speakers and screaming students. Either way, I now make a habit of visiting a different restaurant every weekend with close friends. Below are my experiences and opinions on a few of the most popular eateries in the Village.

Since my first semester on campus in 2019, I have been a diehard Bardot fan. Judging by its occupancy on the weekend, I am not the only person who feels this way. I find Bardot to have the best environment of any restaurant in the vicinity. The outdoor seating and abundant fireplaces are a large contributor to this attraction. However, in the interest of fairness, I must note that the indoor seating is far less pleasant, with a very noisy environment (as a result of many hard surfaces) accompanied by odd blue lighting. However, beyond the seating, the food provides plenty of delight with a wonderful mix of fine dining (e.g., tuna tartare) as well as classics with an upmarket twist (white truffle fries). For those seeking to beat the dinner rush, Bardot offers plenty of time to dine with a menu that also includes brunch and lunch. However, be sure to arrive on the early side to beat the post-farmers market brunch crowd on Sundays.

While I spent much of my first year dining at Bardot, I have begun to expand my horizons. First on my shortlist is Bua Thai, which offers large portions at very attractive prices. Their small drink menu also provides a much-needed respite from the $15 cocktails of upscale establishments, but be prepared for bottled Singha instead of a French 75. I must warn you that you should only opt for sit-down dining if you have an abundance of time; Bua Thai is known to be short-staffed which can make the seemingly benign task of getting the check quite difficult.

Another favorite spot of mine is Union on Yale, which also hosts a wonderful outdoor environment (along the same vein as Bardot). The menu is strong across the board, ranging from Brussels sprouts with burrata to wood-fired pizza. They also offer a brunch menu on the weekend which is a good alternative to waiting in the long line at Bardot. To cap off my list, I must also include a shoutout to Gus’s and Eureka’s located in the southwest corner of the Village. Gus’s offers a wonderful array of barbecue and other southern staples, while Eureka (a west coast chain) offers gourmet pub food. Both spots serve a mean fried chicken sandwich, which I feel qualified to evaluate given my obsession with fried chicken.

Overall, the Claremont Village has a lot to offer to both students and locals. There are plenty of budget-friendly restaurants like Bua Thai, in addition to more upscale joints like Bardot and Union on Yale. The Village also offers a wide spread of food, from sushi at Kazama and pub food at the Back Abbey, to hefty portions of spaghetti at Aruffo’s. No matter your preferences, there is something to enjoy for all backgrounds and appetites.

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