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Los Angeles Area Fun Party Cities: Claremont

Reviewing The Best Bars In This Upscale LA College Town

Claremont bars nightlife Hip Kitty
It's hip to go out and party in Claremont, one of LA's coolest towns. 

By KevinWilkerson, PubClub.com

Sometimes, finding great nightlife in L.A., means turning over a few rocks. Not everything happens in Hollywood or at the beach. 

Spread throughout this vast land are places like Claremont, a European-style village about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Just about every Angeleno has passed by it on the 10 or 210 on their way to Vegas and has probably given it little more than a passing thought.

Pouring on the fun in the upscale college village of Claremont.

However, this is an area worth exploring. It has a rockin' jazz club, a dueling piano bar, beer joints, cantinas and a cozy lounge in an upscale hotel. Most of the bars are within easy walking distance of one another in downtown – known as Claremont Village – and the area is filled with college professors and students from the seven high-end liberal arts colleges in the area, plus other friendly locals.

So don't think of Claremont as being a dusty Inland Empire city. Think of it as a one-day or weekend vacation escape an hour from home. Some people in Los Angeles can even reach it by Metro, which means leaving the car in the garage. That's a true European experience, a rarity in Southern California.

The fireplace at Casa 425 is a nice place to relax and socialize. 

The classy lounge at Hotel Casa 425 can start, end or be the evening.

A good place to start the Claremont bar crawl is at Hotel Casa 425, the city's high-end hotel in the Village. It's cozy here, both inside the small bar area and outside on the vast patio. The former has couches with a fireplace separating it from the lobby. The latter has couches surrounding fire pits. 

There's great specialty beer on draught and it pours very cold Stellas, Drifter Pale Ale and others. It has small plates of food and a Happy Hour from 4-7 Sundays-Thursdays with drinks for $5-9. Casa 425 is a cool hangout anytime, whether or start the night, be the night, or end the night. For those staying at the boutique hotel, it's an ideal Village location.

The bands at the Hip Kitty in Claremont rock the hip joint.

There's jazz with full-sized bands in Claremont at the Hip Kitty.

The most happening place in town is called the Hip Kitty Jazz & Fondue. Located in the Packing House of the Village, it's like an old-time supper club. There's a big stage crowded with musicians and a dance floor surrounded by big leather booths. 

The real partiers hang at and around the bar, and this is a sophisticated and lively social scene. To be sure, this is not a young hip-hop dance club. But even if that's your type of place, it's practically impossible not to have a great time at the Kitty. In addition to weekends, one of its best nights is Tuesday, which features not a band but a cool DJ. And yes, it has fondue.

The Kitty is not the "soul" live music venue in Claremont. There's also a little hole-in-the-wall looking joint by the Metro Depot called The Press. It features live music six nights a week (dark Mondays, piano music on Sundays) and it also prides itself on serving high-quality food. It's housed in the original building of the Claremont Courier, hence the name.

Look at that huge plate – plates actually – of food at Espiau's. 

A really fun cantina – and a great place to eat, too; it's mostly Mexican cuisine but the menu is about as big as neighboring Mt. Baldy is high – is Espiau's. Be it inside the bar or out on the patio with the live music, this is a good place to pull up for food, beers or margaritas and mingle with a good-looking and smiling staff.

Casa Moreno is another cantina, a bit more polished than Espiau's. Located next to Casa 425, it has a large patio overlooking a small courtyard known as Public Plaza Village Square. One can just feel the pull of margaritas here in the late afternoon.

There are several fun bars in the fashionable downtown of Claremont, CA.

Heroes & Legends Bar & Grill brings out peanuts and lets customers throw the shells on the floor. It's that kind of relaxed joint. It's mainly a restaurant serving steaks and huge burgers, but it's also a perfect place to order up a tall Budweiser and soak in the atmosphere that is Claremont. It's also the spot to pull up a bar stool or a chair at a table – with peanuts – and watch sports.

The Back Abbey, behind Casa 425, has a large selection of Belgian beers (though not Stella, Leffe or Hoegaarden, for some reason).

Just away from the Village – right next to the Doubletree on Route 66, which is a great place to stay while in Claremont, by the way – is Piano Piano. This is just what it sounds like it would be, a dueling piano bar. The place rocks on weekends, so much so that it's best to get there by 9 or 9:30.

Also here (well, in the shopping center behind Piano Piano) is Casa de Salsa. It can get packed for Margarita Mondays ($2.50 margaritas and karaoke). It also has a Sunday champagne brunch with strolling mariachi music.

For the next morning, Village Grille has good breakfasts.



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