Best known as the site of the annual LA County Fair, Pomona also boasts a stellar dining scene serving foodies everything from traditional pub grub and authentic Mexican to classic American cuisine. Read on for a round-up of the Southern California city’s best local eats and where to find them.
Discover the culinary stars of tomorrow with a meal at The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch. Run by hospitality management students at Cal Poly Pomona, this chic restaurant offers seasonal New American cuisine and one of the most romantic settings in the city. Produce grown on the restaurant’s on-site culinary garden combine to make dishes like Pacific sea bass with orzo pasta, fall vegetables and sun-dried tomato cream and beef short ribs with red wine risotto, crimini mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and cipollini onions, while its wine list features offerings from Cal Poly Pomona’s very own winery, Horsehill Vineyards.
One of the city’s favorite Mexican restaurants, Tropical Mexico has been cooking up its authentic, affordable eats for over 30 years. Its menu runs the whole gamut from popular Mexican staples like tacos, enchiladas and burritos to machaca (shredded beef with eggs, onions, tomatoes and bell peppers) and cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped shrimp and, of course, a number of margaritas and other refreshing cocktails to complement the restaurant’s cuisine. Tropical Mexico even has the celebrity seal of approval, musician Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame is known to regularly stop by the restaurant for his fix of Mexican food.
Nestled on the edges of the beautiful Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, Coco Palm is one of the area’s premier destinations for deliciously authentic Cuban and Latin cuisine served up in elegant surrounds. Dine on hearty Latin sandwiches like Cubano and Milanesa at lunchtime and elegant entrées like langosta (whole lobster stuffed with a shrimp and mushroom filling) or lechon asado (slow-roasted, hand-pulled marinated pork served with mojo sauce) at dinner. Enjoy live Latin music with cocktails each Wednesday, salsa lessons and live salsa music every Friday and an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet each Sunday.
Bar, Pub, Restaurant, Irish, Pub Grub, American, $$$
Located in the heart of downtown Pomona, O’Donovan’s Restaurant & Pub is a lively, laid-back restuarant and bar modeled on a traditional American-Irish pub. Sandwiches, pizzas and burgers, including the signature pub burger topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and horseradish aioli on a brioche bun, feature on O’Donovan’s dinner menu alongside traditional pub grub staples like shepherd’s pie and beer-battered fish and chips, while its bar menu offers casual bites like nachos, sliders and crispy calamari. Naturally, there are plenty of craft beers to wash down that hearty pub grub, including some local varieties from the likes of Dale Bros Brewery in neighboring Upland.
Since first opening its doors in early 2014, The Brick Market and Deli has quickly become one of Pomona’s best-loved restaurants, gaining quite a reputation for its range of all-natural and fresh fare. Choose from delicious sandwiches stuffed with fillings like corned beef and Swiss cheese, BBQ pork and chicken shawarma, or opt for a healthy salad. For diners with a sweet tooth, The Brick Market’s tempting desserts, baklava, pistachio cookies and apricot tarts included, will do the trick. The deli is also the perfect place to stock up on refrigerator essentials with its range of high-quality deli meats and premium cheeses.
Innovation Brew Works is an award-winning, learn-by-doing brewery and brewpub combining craft beer with tasty, casual cuisine. All of Innovation Brew Works’ beers are crafted from barley grown at the Cal Poly-owned Spadra Ranch and cleverly named after local, well-known figures. Current offerings on tap include the dark, malty Bronco Brown and the light-bodied, citrus-tinged Green and Gold, and guests wanting to learn more about the student’s beer-making process can take a brewery tour. Team its beers with a range of signature or personalized, craft-your-own pizzas, fresh sandwiches and gourmet salads.
Donahoo’s six piece chicken strip meal | Courtesy Donahoo’s Golden Chicken
A cozy and authentic Mexican restaurant and panaderia, El Merendero is a longtime local favorite that has been delighting diners since first setting up shop in downtown Pomona over 30 years ago. Start with some of El Merendero’s must-try nachos then opt for dishes like its popular chilaquiles served with rice and beans, tamales or a hearty bowl of traditional Mexican menudo, and what better way to wash it down with than a refreshing michelada. Head next door to El Merendero’s adjoining panaderia to stock up on delicious baked goods likes rosca de reyes and pan dulce.
Donahoo’s Golden Chicken is one of Pomona’s favorite hole-in-the-wall take-out joints and boasts a long history to boot, dating back over 60 years. Easily recognizable by the giant rooster sign perched on its rooftop, Donahoo’s Golden Chicken offers guests a choice between its legendary fried chicken, chicken tenders, liver or gizzards, best enjoyed with a homemade roll and Donahoo’s signature sides of coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad, mashed potatoes with gravy and green salad.
Boasting one of the most beautiful views in the city and taking inspiration from mid-19th century saloons, Pomona Valley Mining Company lies nestled on a hilltop overlooking P-Town close to one of the old mining sites that saw many flock to valley during the California gold rush. Beer and signature cocktails are served up in Pomona Valley Mining Company’s saloon bar alongside a comprehensive wine list, while American comfort food classics, Angus top sirloin steak, baby back ribs and Alaskan king crab legs with drawn butter, dominate its dinner menu. Go on Sundays for buffet brunch and dishes like waffles and made-to-order omelets.
Popular gastropub The Rookery boasts not only a great location in the heart of downtown Pomona but also some of the best beers and burgers in the city. Pub grub gets the upscale treatment with tempting starters like beer-battered asparagus and mac ‘n’ cheese served alongside salads, hearty sandwiches, steak and hot wings, but if you try just one thing, make sure it’s The Rookery’s gourmet burgers. Each featuring an 8-ounce fresh ground patty served with baby spinach on a buttermilk bun, there are varieties like The Blue Collar (with bacon, tomato, blue cheese and garlic aioli) and The Stout (with house-made onion bacon stout ale marmalade, tomato and Swiss cheese), perfectly washed down with The Rookery’s on tap craft brews.