Part one of a two-part journey along a small part of Route 66 in San Bernardino County, California.
I’ve driven most of what’s left of Route 66 in California and the stretch through the ‘Inland Empire’ of San Bernardino County is one of the most boring stretches, with mile after mile of chain stores and restaurants, ugly shopping centers, and suburban tract homes. But there is a short segment on Foothill Blvd in Rancho Cucamonga that is well worth a drive for a good meal, especially after dark.
This daytime shot I took in 2008 gives you a bit of an idea how this stretch of road looks. On the right (South) side are the Magic Lamp Inn (which is just out of view), followed by historic Vince’s Spaghetti, which opened in Ontario in 1945, then later at this location in 1984 (but the building looks much older). On the left when I took the photo there was an old fruit and vegetable stand, which may be gone now, followed by a low Spanish style building, which is now a sushi restaurant, and then at the intersection with San Bernardino Rd. stands the lovely and historic Sycamore Inn, which deserves a post of its own (to follow later).
But I recommend you drive it at night.
The Magic Lamp Inn opened in 1955 but the building was a restaurant since the 1940s and retains its rustic charm, with lots of brick and stone, and a unique Spanish tile roof with tiles of different shades of red arranged in a variety of interesting patterns. It really must be seen in person to be appreciated!
Inside is a large cocktail lounge, then past that there is this wonderful fireplace seating area. Notice the massive cactus outside in front of the window.
The fireplace after dark looking through the front window.
The food is traditional steakhouse fare, featuring USDA Prime beef, and most dinners come with a fabulous relish tray, delicious cheese bread (a specialty of the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire), vegetable, and choice of potato.
Around the bend is a visit to our next stop, the Sycamore Inn.
Magic Lamp Inn
8189 Foothill Blvd Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Open for lunch Tue-Fri 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner Tue-Th 4:30pm – 10:00pm, Fri & Sat 5:00pm – 10:30pm, Sun 4:30pm – 9:00pm
Bar open Tue-Fri 11:30am – close, Sat 5:00pm – close, Sun 4:30pm – close
Live music and dancing Wed-Th 7:30pm – 11:00pm, Fri & Sat 8:00pm – 1:00am
And the dreaded karaoke Tuesday and Sunday 6:00pm – close