For such a small place, Redlands had so much individualism and culture. Where there is a lot of culture, there tends to be some pretty great food and beverage outlets. For a foodie like me, Redlands definitely became my happy place in college. One of the things that I love most about Redlands is how all of the businesses are supportive of each other; each one will promote the other and use their products in collaborations. They all look out for one another and strive to help the other continue to be successful. This article has my favorite hangouts in Redlands.
I’ve lived in Las Vegas for almost 20 years now. I moved here from Long Island, New York when I was seven years old, and went through elementary, middle, and high school in Vegas. For the most part, I went to school with the same people. When I was about to graduate from high school, I was presented with a dilemma: go to the local university (which is a fine school) or venture outside of Nevada. I, like only 10 people from my graduating class of 500 people, chose the latter option. For me, staying in state for school wasn’t really an option. Though Vegas was a big place, I felt that I had been here too long and needed to gain new experiences.
Redlands is not in Northern California near the redwood trees, as most people assume it iswhen I tell them where I went to school. Redlands is a city in the San Bernardino County, which is part of the Greater Los Angeles area. In 2013, the year I graduated from college, the city of Redlands only had 70,000 residents (Las Vegas was 10x that at the time). The University of Redlands accounted for 6% of the population in 2013, so for the most part, the city was driven by the University. It was really nice to escape the big city for four years and enjoy the little wonders of a small college town.
I’ve enjoyed watching the small businesses there blossom to what they have become today. Many of the businesses became so popular, they were able to expand to other neighboring cities within what the Inland Empire. The Inland Empire encompasses all of the San Bernadino and Riverside counties. If you mention the Inland Empire (or also the IE) or the “909,” most people from Southern California will know exactly where you are talking about.
I hope to shed some more light on the magic that Redlands has to offer. That when given the chance to go there, you try some of these places and fall in love with them as much as every alumni and resident does. I already had a taste for great food growing up in Las Vegas, but Redlands refined a lot of my tastes. I learned my appreciation for craft beer from Hangar 24 Brewery, how to drink black coffee and to enjoy the different personalities of single origin coffee from Augies coffee, and that the traditional flavors of ice cream just don’t cut it anymore from à la minute ice cream. College did a lot more than just educate me in business administration. It molded who I am today as a person and Redlands helped to develop my palate and tastes.
So here we go down this epicurean journey through the small town with big flavor- Redlands, California. First stop is the brewery that has been putting Redlands on the craft beer map ever since it opened, Hangar 24 Brewery.
1710 Sessums Dr. Redlands, CA 92374
Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Sat+Sun 11am-12am
Most would consider this brewery the pride of Redlands, and just right there, you know it’s a perfect place for college students. An old airplane hangar in the Redlands Municipal Airport was refurbished to hold the production, canning, and bottling, as well as a tasting room and patio communal table with a stage for local artists to perform.
Hangar 24, like many of the small businesses in Redlands, look to use the best of what is available around them. In this video, the creator and master brewer at Hangar 24 talks about how they produce their iconic Orange Wheat beer with the help of the local orange farmers in Redlands. Redlands has an abundance of oranges- there were even orange trees right on campus.
What I’ve always loved about Hangar 24 is their ties to the community, and using ingredients from the community to produces one-of-a-kind beers. Here is a little snippet from their website on how they produced their Local Fields Gourdgeous
The pumpkins used in this brew were grown at Larry Jacinto Farms right down the street from the brewery. We were very excited when Larry told us that he had a great crop of pumpkins growing literally ½ mile from the brewery. We had a fantastic team of volunteers who came to the brewery to help us seed and cut over 1,000 pounds of pumpkins and then we teamed up with Q-Works BBQ Catering who brought in big ovens so we could roast the pumpkins right here on site. This Local Fields beer was a true community effort!
The first time I had ever had a Barleywine beer was at Hangar 24, it was an amazing experience. Their Barrel Roll series is sought after and prized by locals and visitors. When the beer is released, there are lines wrapped around the brewery and a limit set on how many each individual can purchase (and each person makes damn sure to reach that amount). They have refined their Barrel Roll series to 3 types now:
- Pugachev’s Cobra: Russian Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels. A bold black beer with heavy notes of roast and dar-chocolate covered fruits.
- Wing Over: American-style Barleywine aged in rye whiskey and bourbon barrels. Layers of spicy and sweet flavors with a slightly bitter finish.
- Chandelle: a sour ale with apricots that is aged in Oak Barrels.
Thankfully, since I graduated, Hangar 24 has expanded their production and distribution. I still remember the day I first found their beer at Whole Foods and then at Total Wine.
Now, I can find it at most grocers and small businesses. It’s a pretty great feeling to watch a business that you love grow from its small local roots to what it has now become today. If you want to find some of Hangar 24’s beers, visit their site to find a location near you
à la minute
19 E. Citrus Ave. #105 Redlands, CA 92373
Monday – Thursday 12pm – 10pm
Friday & Saturday 12pm – 11pm
Sunday 12pm – 9:30pm
There are also locations now in Orange, Claremont, and Temecula. For those locations visit https://www.alaminuteicecream.com/our-shops
à la minute is not your normal ice cream. The name itself means “in the moment,” and this unique place takes you to a special moment. They make small batches of ice cream right in front of you using liquid nitrogen, to create unique flavors with the best ingredients from local providers. Like Hangar 24, à la minute does an amazing job at utilizing the local seasonal ingredients to make their specials, such as avocados, pumpkins and apples in the fall. My favorite special (still to this day) is a warm cinnamon roll with cream cheese ice cream on top.
Uncommon flavor features such as…
- Olive Oil Vanilla Bean
- Strawberry with a Balsamic Glaze
- Rich Dark Chocolate Lavender with Crunchy Coco Nibs and Clover Honey with chocolate from Parlament Chocolate
- Orange Honey made with oranges from Farquhar Farms and a reduction made with Orange Wheat beer from Hangar 24
- Espresso Chip made with coffee from Augies Coffee.
Besides their creative flavor combinations and toppings, à la minute is set apart in the way they make their ice cream. They don’t make ice cream in big batches and leave it in a freezer until the customer orders it. Rather, they make small batches to order right in front of you using liquid nitrogen. It is such a thrill to watch a cloud of smoke come out of the mixing bowl while the ice cream is rapidly freezing. You couldn’t ask for a fresher and creamier ice cream! Liquid nitrogen is -321 degrees and the rapid freezing reduces the amount of ice crystals would normally form in traditional ice cream.
Their ice cream tends to be on the pricier side, but it is worth every penny. I haven’t been to many ice cream shops that can come close to the flavors and textures that à la minute produces.
113 N 5th St, Redlands, CA 92373
The tiny looking red house off of the main shopping street. This intimate little coffee shop could be considered hipster to most, but I just say it has a lot of personality. The walls are covered with art from local artists that are on sale and change often. The staff is extremely kind and knowledgeable about everything coffee and tea. Free WiFi and caffeine make this a common place to find college students on their laptops doing work. If you go there, be prepared to stand, but first, try the secret looking hallway that goes behind the building to a larger attached seating area. It might be cramped in there, but they put out such a quality product, it’s worth it.
Augies was the first coffee shop that ignited my passion for single origin coffee and pour-over style of preparation. The different flavor notes come through more vividly using this preparation. It definitely made me think twice of the crap coffee I was drinking before from Starbucks and the k cups from Keurig. Coffee, like beer and wine, is meant to be had in its purest form, and Augies does a great job of letting the coffee shine.
Heska’s Sugar Shack
1741 Mentone Blvd Mentone, CA 92359
Although it’s not technically located in Redlands, but it might as well have been. This quaint, restored 1920’s house turned restaurant is one of the most homey establishments you will ever visit, both figuratively and literally. The owners, Heska and Joe, are incredibly friendly hosts at this bistro style coffee shop, which serves comfort style soup, salad and sandwiches that pack a lot of flavor. Some of my favorites are the Philly Cheese Steak and the Mongolian Chicken or Beef. They make sure to literally leave their mark on every sandwich that they produce by branding each one with Heska’s on the exterior of the baguette. Between the homey setting, the kind and warm customer service, and the simple, great tasting food, Heska’s will always hold a place in my heart and a must stop every time I’m in Redlands.
Special Shout Outs:
Gourmet Pizza Shoppe
120 E. State Street, Redlands, CA 92373
Open daily 11am-9pm
This little brick building in the historic downtown Redlands area looks like it should be an Irish pub. Once you open the door, you are led into a large dining area with a open kitchen on the left and the appearance of an outdoor seating area as the theme of the restaurant. It was voted as the best pizza in the Inland Empire for 9 years in a row..
Just imagine when you were a kid, and all of the weird combinations of things you would try to put on a pizza. Well, this pizza shop takes all of your dream combinations come true and puts them on your pizza. Just a few of the wacky combo headliners are the Mini Pearl (mashed potatoes, country gravy, fried chicken, mozzarella cheese and season salt), Annie Oakley (ranch dressing, chicken, bacon, angel hair pasta, mozzarella cheese), Wild Mayan (peanut butter, bacon, red onions, mozzarella cheese and Cholula hot sauce), and Wild Willy’s West Coast Express (Chili Bill’s BBQ sauce, meat balls, potato wedges, red onions, cashews, jack, gouda and cheddar cheese).
They also have more traditional pizzas like cheese, meat lovers, etc. But where is the fun in that? Sometimes, you just need to let your imagination run wild. Back in New York, one of my favorite pizzas was a baked ziti topping or a pizza with salad on it.
Cuca’s Mexican Food
527 E State St, Redlands, CA 92373 (OG location)
Cuca’s Mexican Food has been a long time staple of Redlands ever since Cuca and her daughter Lupe opened their first location in April of 1989. The family prides themselves on only serving the best Mexican food from Cuca’s family recipes, prepared daily. Cuca’s love and passion for her family and traditional style Mexican food shows in their delicious creations. No matter what time of day, we frequented this spot a lot. They turned one little take-out window shop to a mini empire, with the original location in Redlands and more in Highland, Mentone, Rialto, Yucaipa, and Loma Linda.
I highly recommend going to the OG spot in Redlands on E Street and order the California Burrito (aka the stoner burrito). It is still the best interpretation I have ever had. The California Burrito is a Carne Asada Burrito with onions, cilantro, green cabbage, red salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and French fries all rolled into a large flour tortilla. The word “delicious” doesn’t do this burrito justice.
1913 Mentone Blvd Mentone, CA 92359
A family owned, country style eatery with down home American breakfast and lunch fare. There is nothing flashy about Arthur’s. The dining room is a little quirky with the collectables all over the walls, but they know how to cook a great meal. The service is always friendly and inviting, making you feel like you are eating in their home. The food is comfort food in its purest form. Country style breakfast at it’s best, I promise you will never leave Arthur’s hungry. It was a frequent spot for most of us college kids on the weekend after a long night of “studying.”
The Eating Room
107 E Citrus Ave, Redlands, CA 92373
Sat + Sun 8am-3pm
Martha Green is somewhat of a Redlands celebrity when it comes to cooking. She’s said to be called the Inland Empire’s Martha Stewart. An author of two cookbooks, she infuses her Southern roots into the classical French cooking style that she acquired from Le Cordon Bleu. The Eating Room is the restaurant portion of their establishment; there is also the bakery Dough’Lectibles and Martha’s Tea. The bakery provides all of the baked goods for the tea shop and the restaurant. They source the rest of their produce, proteins, and dairy from local farms near the Redlands area. As another great stop for breakfast, lunch or brunch or just a spot of tea and a delectable pastry, one of Martha Green’s establishments is a great way to go.
Thank you to my fraternity brothers Sebastian and Sammy for helping me with the photography for this article!