High Desert Provides High Times Just Outside Of Los Angeles
A big and delicious dinner followed by smooth margaritas and a fun band at a club, glasses of fine cabernet at a rocking wine bar, a country-style breakfast big enough to cure any hangover, home-made beers at brewpub accompanying a feast for lunch and a classic car show down a boulevard straight out of American Graffiti.
All within a short drive from Los Angeles.
Palm Springs? San Diego? Las Vegas?
Nope, none of the above. It all happened in Lancaster, the surprisingly lively little city along the 14 freeway that most Angelenos zoom past on their way to the Mammoth ski resort.
Well I’m here to tell you that Lancaster is a pretty desirable destination itself, and at just an hour to an 1 1/2-hour drive it makes for a very good weekend escape from L.A.
This precisely what PubClub.com did on a June Gloom Friday – escaped from L.A., to a weekend of fun and sunshine in Lancaster. In fact, while standing in that sunshine on Saturday morning, my associate and I chuckled when we learned that it was not just foggy in our home base of Hermosa Beach, but actually raining.
So while others were socked in on Friday and Saturday we ate until we could no longer talk at the Rio Brazilian Grill; the meats are so flavorful and juicy it was hard to put up that “stop” sign!
Then we stepped into a rolling movie set of sorts, classic cars cruising down “The BLVD” in a scene that brought American Graffiti to mind. Naturally, I kept an eye out for a blonde in a T-Bird. This was part of theThunder On The Lot, one of the city’s biggest events of the year.
There were thousands of people and a band and at the middle of things a bar called BeX Bar & Grill. This, folks, is the centerpiece of nightlife in Lancaster; it’s a big, modern, clean and lively bar and club that has a large restaurant, a cool lounge with a kickin’ good live band and a downstairs bowling alley. Yes, a bowling alley!
It also has a list of house cocktails – one is a gin-based drink called the Stealth Bomber – which may seem counter to a place that on the surface seems more suited to beer drinking. I got a real kick out of the margaritas, which was as smooth as some of my best bar pick-up lines.
Finally, for a quick nightcap – or quick so I thought – we went across the street to Pour D’Vino. It was billed to us as a wine lounge but folks, this place was rocking! A band was playing at the entrance, it was packed and we had to wiggle our way to the bar where owner Jody Cherbonneaux poured three very generous glasses of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.
Had another associate been with us, we would have had to pour her out of this place!
We missed out on another jumping joint, Kinetic Brewing Company, tho we certainly made up for it the next day at lunch when we had their craft beers, burgers, lobster mac ‘n cheese, garlic chips topped with parmesan cheese and, well, let’s just say it was tough to leave this comfortable, air-conditioned place.
That was on Saturday, which started off with a huge breakfast at a 50s diner called Katz ‘N Jammers Cafe (we apparently just missed Elvis; he was in the day before our visit). This place is way cool; and, like the classic car cruise, put us back in time for a second time this trip.
My turkey and spinach plate was outstanding – the turkey was seasoned with a wonderful spice – but apparently I missed out on the house speciality, the country fried steak. And I ALMOST got that, but all that beef from Rio the previous night had me thinking a little more healthy choice. Next time for sure!
We walked this off at the interesting Prime Desert Woodland, a kind of preserved desert within the desert.
Our guide, a park ranger named Breeanna Cason, made it clear that if you got bit by a poisonous snake, had a spider crawl up your leg or were attacked by a coyote, it wasn’t because you had not been warned.
Actually, those dangerous things only come out in the mornings and early evenings, and Breeanna was only being a responsible park ranger by pointing out the potential dangers, of course. Still, I stayed on the trail.
Then we headed back to Hermosa Beach where it was – get this – sunny by the time we arrived in the South Bay.
So I am giving credit to credit Lancaster for bringing sunshine not just into our weekend, but also into L.A.