Established in 1962, this quaint, '50's-style diner still doesn't take checks or credit cards, but a time-tested menu of buttermilk pancakes, gooey tuna melts, and piping-hot coffee draws a steady stream of devoted patrons. "It's very homey, very comfortable," says one regular. "It's like the Cheers of diners," says another. The long-lasting success story of Roberta's Village Inn—where chefs whip up from-scratch desserts daily—almost went unwritten. As Inland Valley Daily Bulletin writer David Allen notes, Roberta Virgin, the restaurant's namesake, was on the verge of throwing in the towel after her first day of waitressing in 1977. But her mother, a fellow waitress there, convinced her to stay, launching Roberta's 32-year career and ascension to the ranks of manager, owner, and finally Omelet Queen. Though Roberta transferred the reins to her longtime chef Francisco "Pancho" Ramirez, with whom she shares a "mother-son bond," her name remains on the forest-green awning. Francisco preserved the restaurant's moniker in tribute to his old boss, also leaving untouched the recipe for the famous pot roast she used to serve every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening.
Sabor A Mi isn't for everyone. If you aren't a fan of tender meat bundled in homemade tortillas and seasoned with smoked chilies, it's probably best to avoid this cornerstone of La Verne's culinary scene. Then again, that probably doesn't apply to a whole lot of people. So much is apparent from the steady stream of regulars that filters into the restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an extensive selection of Mexican fare. Sabor A Mi has taken care to replicate the experience of an authentic Mexican restaurant, right down to the bottles of Jarritos soda and creamy horchata to the vast array of Mexican and domestic beer.
The morning meal at Kickback Jack's will leave you doing jumping Jills. Sample a plate of original flapjacks ($5.99) or remix a classic fix with a pile of mocha silk flapjacks creamily caulked with chocolate mousse and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and whipped cream ($6.99). Hearty, geometrically undefined skillets boast a bounty of fresh ingredients with combos such as the Bahama Mama, fully loaded with smoked chicken-apple sausage fried to perfection with onions, fire-grilled corn, red peppers, mushrooms, avocados, and cheese served atop baja chipotle sauce ($11.99).
Named 2009 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine, Klatch Coffee's casual coffeterias celebrate some of the world's highest quality coffee, carefully sourced to international farmers under direct trade ethics. Roasted in small batches for maximum freshness and minimum inter-bean squabbling, Klatch's java pleases patrons with a drip coffee of the day ($1.95–$2.20), as well as designer drinks such as the Mexican mocha ($3.40–$4.30), infused with spicy Ibarra chocolate. Discerning slurpers can also sate barking bellies with a hammy, cheesy eggel sandwich ($3.99) from the breakfast menu, or train teeth on heartier lunch fare such as a cranberry walnut salad ($3.75) or turkey pesto panini ($5.95).
At La Piccoletta, chef Roger Llanes choreographs seasonal, local ingredients into an ever-changing menu of authentic Italian cuisine presented in a cozy dining room convincingly disguised as a village trattoria. Tuesday–Saturday, dinner guests can begin Mediterranean excursions with an opening salvo of Piccoletta meatballs made from beef, veal, pork, and italian herbs or caprese salad, in which vine-ripened tomato harmonizes with fresh mozzarella as a balsamic reduction plays rhythm guitar. Hearty pasta dishes, such as the egg-ribbon pasta with meat ragù or the sweet italian sausage and broccoli rabe over noodles, sate carb cravers.
Garden Square Restaurant & Pies' professional palate-pleasers dish out a menu of traditional American fare fused with the culinary customs of south-of-the-border spatulas. Jump-start the morning gold rush with the California omelet ($8.29), a zesty egg cocoon teeming with ortega chilies, avocado, and jack cheese alongside a dollop of homemade salsa, or fuel up for a long day at the butter churn with the ultimate breakfast, a protein-rich force of eggs, ham, bacon, and sausage patrolling a platter of hash browns and toast ($10.59). Erstwhile East Coasters can enjoy the tasty triumvirate of roast beef, grilled onions, and peppers in the philly cheese ($8.79), and herbivores can opt for the vegetarian focaccia ($6.69), a harvest of avocado, tomato, onions, crop-duster debris, and cucumbers.