Glendora Continental – Glendora, California

We’ve covered a lot of Basque restaurants here on Le Continental, being a big fan of the type of restaurant, the food, and the people. On good ol’ Route 66 east of Los Angeles I happened upon another one last summer when I spotted the sign “Glendora Continental Restaurant”, which of course caught my eye.

 

sign

 

The restaurant was opened in 1980 by Jean and Elisabeth Sabarots, who came from the Basque Country of Europe. Jean Saborots (1936-2012) came from the town of Osses. He emigrated to the U.S. at 19 years old to work as a sheepherder, later working in dairies, and eventually becoming a bartender. In 1964 he returned to the Basque Country and met Elisabeth Larralde (1937-2005) from the town of Lecumberri, who was working in a hotel. They returned to the U.S. together, got married in 1966, and managed The Little Inn Smorgasbord in Covina (later owning it) until they opened Glendora Continental.

 

Jean and Elisabeth Sabarots - image by Glendora Continental

Jean and Elisabeth Sabarots – image by Glendora Continental

 

The bar and lounge in Glendora Continental has entertainment most nights of the week – Bingo on Mondays, karaoke on Tuesdays, live piano on first Thursdays, and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

 

bar entrance - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

bar entrance – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

the bar - image by Glendora Continental

the bar – image by Glendora Continental

 

But my visit was for dinner so I entered through the Continental entrance – of course!

 

main entrance - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

main entrance – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

The dining room has booths of tufted brown vinyl, classy chandeliers, and plaques of the Lauburu, the Basque Country symbol.

 

dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

The Menu

 

menu - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

menu – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

The restaurant’s menu offers the complete Basque “set up” for $28 with your choice of the daily special entrees. This comes with pickled tongue, house made soup and salad, a stuffed puff pastry (optional), sliced ham, the main course with potato and vegetable, great homemade bread, cheese, fruit and dessert, plus wine! A feast! Of course I got the full set up and had a hard time eating it all. If you don’t want that much food you can get one of many available entrees of chicken, fish, lamb, beef or pasta, which come with soup and salad or pickled tongue, potato or rice, vegetable, and bread. Entrees range in price from $12 to $48 and they have early bird specials and daily specials at $14.

 

soup course - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

soup course (cream of broccoli) – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

pickled tongue - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

pickled tongue – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

puff pastry stuffed with mushrooms in a creamy sauce - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

puff pastry stuffed with mushrooms in a creamy sauce – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

I wasn’t sure how to eat the cured meat (which I believe was Jambon de Bayonne) served with hunks of butter. Spread the butter on the ham and eat it rolled up, perhaps?

 

ham with butter - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

ham with butter – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

main course of lamb chops - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

main course of lamb chops (which are on end in this pic) – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

cheese plate - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

cheese plate – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

 

It was a pleasant surprise finding this restaurant! The food was very good but next time I’ll bring some friends to share with because it was a lot of food for one (or I’ll just get a regular entree and not the set up)!

 

Glendora Continental
316 W Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740
(626) 914-1834
Open M-Thu 11:00am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-9:00pm, Fri 11:00am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm, Sat 11:00am–10:00pm, Sun 10:30pm-3:00pm with limited menu, bar open daily 11am-2am

 

 

Le Chalet Basque, San Rafael, California

A quick post today because I have to pack for a trip to Austin and San Antonio!

Recently a friend suggested we meet for dinner at Le Chalet Basque in San Rafael. I had no idea this restaurant existed (or it was so long ago when I visited that I forgot)! I’m a big fan of western U.S. style Basque restaurants (and Picon punch) and I work in San Rafael, so I have a new favorite local spot!

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Hidden away between the Marin Civic Center and China Camp State Park, Le Chalet Basque opened in 1962 and is now owned by Roger Minhondo from Irissary, France, who was chef at the restaurant in the 1970s and previously owned The Normandy and Guernica restaurants in Marin. The menu includes many beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, and veal dishes, and French and Spanish Basque specialties such as Rabbit Chasseur, Tripes a La Mode, Sweet Breads Financiere, Lamb Shank with Beans, and Frogs Legs. You will even find some Italian dishes if you’re in the mood for that. Dinners come with homemade soup or salad and for a little extra you can get a family style dinner that includes pâté and delicious rice pudding or ice cream.

 

Sirloin of Lamb Bordelaise - photo by Dean Curtis

Sirloin of Lamb Bordelaise – photo by Dean Curtis

 

There’s a full bar with vintage bar stools, lots of outdoor seating on a lovely patio, and the classically simple dining rooms in white and burgundy linens with mid-century stained wood, open-beamed ceilings and many windows throughout.

 

Le Chalet Basque
405 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 479-1070
Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-10:30pm, lunch served 11:30-2:00, dinner 5:00-9:00pm
Sat-Sun 4:00pm-10:30pm, dinner 4:00-9:00pm

 

J. T. Basque, Gardnerville, Nevada

I’ve passed through the town of Gardnerville many times on US Highway 395, usually during autumn ‘leaf-peeping’ road trips. Usually I would stop at the Overland Hotel‘s bar for a Picon Punch. Recently it closed because the long-term owner retired and sold the business (though it is due to re-open in 2015). When I posted about its closure I vowed to check out the other Basque restaurant and bar in town, J. T. Basque, as soon as I could return to the area. Last month I made it, and I’m so glad I did!

 

1910 photo - image by J.T. Basque via sierranevadageotourism.org

1910 photo – image by J.T. Basque via sierranevadageotourism.org

 

The lovely building that houses J. T. Basque Bar and Dining Room was relocated from Virginia City, Nevada, in 1896. Since that time it has been a Basque sheepherders boarding house with a saloon, dining room, and barber shop.  In 1955 members of the Jaunsaras and Trounday families purchased the place, naming it J. T. Basque, after the first initials of their families’ names. In 1960 brothers Jean and Pete Lekumberry, immigrants from the French Basque area of the Pyrenees Mountains, took over the restaurant, keeping the name J. T. Basque.

 

Jean Lekumberry - photo by J T Basque via sierranevadageotourism.org

Jean Lekumberry – photo by J T Basque via sierranevadageotourism.org

 

For many years Jean was the bartender, his wife Shirley ran the restaurant and hotel, and Pete was cook. By all reports, Jean Lekumberry was a great host who made all visitors feel right at home…and he could really spin the yarns. He passed away in 1993, but a large photo of him hangs behind the bar as a friendly greeting to all patrons, locals and visitors alike, and his likeness is the restaurant’s logo (with his signature beret and cigar).

 

Jean serving patrons at J. T. Basque bar - photo by J T Basque via sierranevadageotourism.org

Jean serving patrons at J. T. Basque bar – photo by J T Basque via sierranevadageotourism.org

 

Today Jean and Shirley’s children, Robert, Marie Louise, and J.B., run the restaurant, with the same welcoming hospitality that their parents were known for. The Lekumberry family clearly cares for their historic treasure, having fully restored the building not long ago.

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

The dining room and bar is decorated with many photographs and displays memorializing the restaurant’s history and the Basques in the area (as well as wonderful seasonal decorations by Marie Louise and a ceiling covered with dollar bills in the bar). The owners’ passion and dedication is also evident in the wonderful service by all the staff and the delicious food, much of it from local sources, such as the natural grass-fed beef from the Lekumberry’s own cattle ranch in Genoa, Nevada.

 

dining room - photo by The Jab, 2014

dining room – photo by The Jab, 2014

 

As at most of the Basque restaurants in California and Nevada, the menu at J. T. Basque includes a choice of several meat entrees and is served Basque family-style with several courses (though at lunch you can order from an ala carte menu, if desired). Main dishes offered during lunch and dinner are top sirloin steak, lamb shoulder steak, chicken, sweetbreads, pigs feet with tripe, and lamb chops. On Friday and Saturday dinner you can also get shrimp scampi or roasted rabbit. Before your main arrives you are served all the homemade soup you want from a tureen, bread, a green salad with homemade vinaigrette, beef stew, and ranch style beans. You also get a bottle of house red wine!

 

beef stew and beans - photo by The Jab, 2014

beef stew and beans – photo by The Jab, 2014

 

I was torn between the rabbit and the lamb chops, but when I heard at the bar (over a pre-dinner Picon Punch) that the lamb was from a nearby ranch that had excellent meats I decided to go with the chops. Roasted garlic cloves are offered as a topping, and I highly recommend getting them. You get French fries with your entrée, in crispy ‘shoestring’ size, the only way fries should be prepared in my opinion! Thick ‘steak’ fries? No, thank you!

 

French fries and lamb chops - photo by The Jab, 2014

French fries and lamb chops – photo by The Jab, 2014

 

The lamb chops were amazing! So juicy and tender, on the bone with a good dark brown sear, and cooked just how I ordered them (medium rare).

 

lamb chops - photo by The Jab, 2014

lamb chops – photo by The Jab, 2014

 

After dinner you get ice cream and coffee. And you may want to return to the bar for another Picon Punch or two. On the night I went the crowd in the bar was jolly and friendly. Co-founder Shirley Lekumberry was there greeting old friends with her daughter Marie Louise, the restaurant’s hostess. I enjoyed chatting with Marie Louise about the history of the building and J. T. Basque. I can’t wait to return to try the rabbit or sweetbreads!

 

 

bighorn sheep in bar - photo by The Jab, 2014

bighorn sheep in bar – photo by The Jab, 2014

 

J. T. Basque
1426 Highway 395, Gardnerville NV 89410
(775) 782-2074
Open for lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am – 2:00pm, dinner Mon-Fri 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Sat 4:30pm – 9:00pm

 

 

Bakersfield – Basque City

Let’s stick with the American Basque restaurant theme after last week’s post on the Overland Hotel in Gardnerville, NV.

Bakersfield, California, is without a doubt the Basque capital of the west, if measured by the number of Basque bars and restaurants. There are three historic Basque hotels with bars and eateries in the old part of east Bakersfield by the railroad tracks (that was originally the town of Sumner, then Kern City, before becoming part of Bakersfield), plus a few Basque restaurants of more recent vintage in other parts of town.

 

photo by The Jab, 2011

photo by The Jab, 2011

 

photo by The Jab, 2011

photo by The Jab, 2011

The Pyrenees Cafe opened in 1887 as a hotel, saloon, and bakery. The hotel, which reportedly once housed a brothel, is now apartments, the bakery is still open under separate ownership, while the saloon remains pretty much the same, with the original bar and stools. It is the oldest operating bar in Kern County and it’s claimed to be haunted. If you only have time for one Basque meal in Bakersfield don’t miss the Pyrenees bar for a before dinner Picon Punch.

 

photo by The Jab, 2011

photo by The Jab, 2011

 

Noriega’s was opened by Faustino Noriega and Fernando Etcheverry in 1893 as a boardinghouse. It remains a boardinghouse to this day, making it the only remaining original Basque hotel still operating in the U.S.

 

The Noriegas - photo by The Jab, 2011

The Noriegas – photo by The Jab, 2011

 

In 1931, French Basques Juan and Gracianna Elizalde purchased Noriega’s, adding a bar and restaurant in 1940, which have not changed a bit since then (except for a small TV in the bar).

 

The Elizades - photo by The Jab, 2011

The Elizaldes – photo by The Jab, 2011

 

Today Noriega’s is still owned by the same family. It’s run by the Elizaldes granddaughters, Rochelle Ladd and Linda McCoy, who received the James Beard American Classic award for Noriega’s in 2011.

 

Noreiga's bar - photo by WineGoddess6 on TripAdvisor.com

Noreiga’s bar – photo by WineGoddess6 on TripAdvisor.com

 

photo by The Jab, 2011

Noriega’s dining room – photo by The Jab, 2011

 

As in most classic American Basque restaurants the food is served family style on long tables. Noriega’s menu includes breakfast, lunch (single seating at 12pm), and dinner (at 7pm), all very hearty meals, with dinner being the largest. The dinner “set-up” (Basque term for the various non-main courses) is generous, including homemade soup, fresh local salad with vinaigrette dressing, their famous pickled tongue, cottage cheese with mayo, pasta or rice, hand cut french fries (usually served with the main course), vegetable, beans, salsa, bread from the Pyrenees bakery nearby, excellent homemade blue cheese, dessert, and ice cream. When I dined there we also received potato salad. House wine, served in unmarked bottles, is included, as well as coffee, tea, or milk. And all that comes with TWO entrees, which vary by the day. Clearly a bargain. The Noriega is famous for their tender oxtail stew, served on Saturdays.

 

Noriega's set-up - photo by The Jab, 2011

Noriega’s set-up – photo by The Jab, 2011

 

 

Wool Growers  restaurant - photo by David H. on Tripadvisor.com

Wool Growers restaurant – photo by David H. on Tripadvisor.com

 

Wool Growers Restaurant was opened in 1954 by J.B. and Mayie Maitia, French Basques, to fill a need in the community for an eatery during the hours when Noriega’s wasn’t serving. It is still owned by Mayie, along with her daughter, Jenny, and granddaughter, Christiane, and this year Mayie and her family are celebrating Wool Growers’ 60 years in business!

 

Wool Growers bar - photo by The Jab, 2011

Wool Growers bar – photo by The Jab, 2011

 

The restaurant has tables and booths for four and two, so it’s a good choice if you’re dining alone or prefer more privacy than communal dining provides. The dinner menu has several choices of hearty entrees, unlike many Basque restaurants which have a few entrees that change daily, and includes some French dishes like French Onion soup and escargots. At lunchtime they offer burgers and sandwiches in addition to a large selection of hearty meals. Saveur magazine wrote about the restaurant, praising their oxtail stew.

 

Wool Growers dining room - photo by Darryl Musick on wheelstraveler.blogspot.com

Wool Growers dining room – photo by Darryl Musick on wheelstraveler.blogspot.com

 

Although all three restaurants are worth visiting, If I had limited time I would try to eat at Noriega’s and have a Picon Punch in the bars at Pyrenees and Wool Growers. But why not make a weekend of it and eat at all three?

 

Pyrenees Cafe
601 Sumner St, Bakersfield, CA 93305
(661) 323-0053
Open Mon 10:00am-6:00pm, Tue-Th 10:00am-10:00pm, Fri-Sat 10:00am-12:00am, closed Sunday

 

Noriega’s
525 Sumner St, Bakersfield, CA 93305
(661) 322-8419
Open for breakfast Tue-Sun 9:00am-11:00am, lunch Tue-Sun 12:00pm (single seating), dinner Tue-Sun 7:00pm (single seating), closed Monday

 

Wool Growers
620 E 19th St, Bakersfield, CA 93305
(661) 327-9584
Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:00pm, 6:00pm-9:30pm, closed Sunday

 

CLOSED – Overland Hotel Bar & Restaurant, Gardnerville, Nevada

Recently I heard of the sale and closure of the Overland Hotel on U.S. 395 in Gardnerville, Nevada, one of a number of hotels that were built in the 19th century and early 20th century as boarding houses for migrant Basque sheepherders, who immigrated from the Pyranees during the California gold rush and Nevada silver mining boom. Over time most of the 300+ Basque hotels closed but a few remain as social gathering places for local Basques (and tourists) to drink a Picon Punch (aka Picon) and dine on hearty food, family-style. Le Continental previously visited Reno’s Santa Fe Hotel and Carson City’s Thurman’s Ranch House, which closed in 2013.

 

photo by The Jab, 2012

photo by The Jab, 2012

 

The only history I could find out about the Overland Hotel is that it opened in 1902. Here is a photo, probably from the 1940s.

 

photo courtesy of Picon Drinkers of the American West facebook page

photo courtesy of Picon Drinkers of the American West facebook page

 

I often drive highway 395 in the autumn to see fall colors along the spectacular route through the eastern Sierra. (Yes, I’m a leaf peeper!). The Overland Hotel was a welcome stop for a refreshing Picon, though I never passed through when I was hungry so, sadly, I have not eaten there.

 

photo by The Jab, 2012

Overland Hotel bar – photo by The Jab, 2012

 

The owner, Elvira Cenoz, retired after running the restaurant and bar for almost 50 years. I’ll proudly keep my souvenir napkin with her name on it.

 

Picon (or Picon Punch) - photo by The Jab, 2012

Picon (or Picon Punch) – photo by The Jab, 2012

 

The Overland Hotel is now closed as the Park family, the new owners, have not yet revealed their plans for the hotel (though they have stated on facebook that it will only be closed for a few months). I’m hoping the historic hotel, bar, and restaurant will be preserved as much as possible. The Park family also recently bought the Horizon Hotel in Lake Tahoe (which opened as Del Webb’s Sahara Tahoe in 1965 but was the Horizon since 1990) and will be converting it into a Hard Rock Hotel.

 

J T Basque Restaurant - photo by Jaspergo on Flickr.com

J T Basque Restaurant – photo by Jaspergo on Flickr.com

 

Meanwhile, in Gardnerville you can get your picons and meals at J T Basque Bar & Dining Room, which was opened in 1955 by the Jaunsaras and Trounday families (hence the name), and has been run by the Lekumberry family since 1960. The Victorian building it’s in was moved to Gardnerville in 1896 and it housed the restaurant and bar for the adjacent Gardnerville Hotel until 1928, when the hotel burned down (while this building survived). This fall I’m going to try to return to Gardnerville to dine at JT’s and afterwards I’ll return here with a full report.