By Chloe Mandel ’23
Working for Pomona’s admissions office last summer, one of the questions I received frequently from prospective students is what the city of Claremont has to offer. While Pomona’s suburban setting isn’t exactly teeming with the types of cultural attractions and nightlife one would find in a city like L.A., I’ve come to find that the Claremont Village is a lot bigger, tastier and more exciting than I originally expected. The Village, only about a five-minute walk from Pomona’s first-year dorms on South Campus, is packed with a surprisingly large number of delicious restaurants, cute boutiques and thrift stores, and cozy coffee shops. It’s the perfect destination for when I’m craving some off-campus eats or entertainment but don’t feel like making the trip to L.A., and there are enough food options that I’ll probably still have some eateries left to try when I graduate. Below, read about some of my favorite spots in the Village (apologies that they mostly involve food… can you tell where my priorities lie?)
This adorable ice cream/candy shop is one of the first places I tried when I visited The Claremont Colleges in high school, and it immediately gave me a good feeling about the area. Bert & Rocky’s has the trifecta of what I look for in an ice cream shop: quality, variety, and charm. They offer so many delicious flavors that it’s difficult to choose, but you’ll realize you can’t go wrong with any of them once you experience the creaminess of the ice cream. They also offer decadent chocolate-dipped ice cream cones rolled in crushed nuts or other toppings, which brings the experience to a whole new level. Finally, the workers are incredibly friendly–one of them had a long and very helpful conversation with me about the Claremont Colleges when I was visiting.
One of my favorite activities is going to the movies (really missing that in quarantine…) and Claremont’s Laemmle theater shows all the latest films so that I never miss out when I’m at school. It has comfortable seats, student discounts and all the popcorn/candy options I could ask for.
The Claremont Colleges’ dining halls are known to have good cookies, but I’m sorry to say that Some Crust Bakery blows them out of the water. Their big, thick and chewy cookies are some of the most flavorful and melt-in-your mouth I’ve ever had (my favorite flavors so far have been the mocha, chocolate chip butterball and lemon). They’re also surprisingly inexpensive for the supreme quality.
4. Pepo Melo
Out of all the places on the list, I’ve definitely visited Pepo Melo the most. They offer smoothie bowls with various bases (my favorite is Blue Magic, made up of coconut and mango) and pretty much every topping imaginable, fruit or otherwise. Before I left campus in March, I went to Pepo three days in a row, knowing I’d experience withdrawals in quarantine. Their bowls make for the best pre-flight breakfast (actually, the best breakfast, period).
5. All the thrift stores
While most of Claremont’s boutiques are quite expensive and probably geared toward older Claremont residents, the thrift stores in the Village have some cute and affordable items. I like to browse every so often and perhaps pick up a pair of funky earrings or a jean jacket.
I thought I’d tried pretty good sushi in New York, but the sushi I’ve eaten at Kazama was on another level. I’ve never tasted salmon or crab with such perfect flavor and texture. The menu is extensive and quite overwhelming, but it also means you have a plethora of different sushi rolls to try there–the perfect excuse to keep going back.
I visited here with my mom when she visited on Family Weekend, and we both agreed that their burgers are some of the best we’ve ever had. The burgers themselves were tender and juicy, the toppings were perfectly paired, and the bun-to-burger ratio was ideal. It’s not a place I’d visit as often as, say, Pepo Melo, but my experience there left a lasting impression.
Though maybe I should be using my spending money for more important things than smoothie bowls, I’ve found the businesses in the Village to be so friendly and pleasant that my purchase always feels worthwhile. I enjoy spending time in the Village not only for its food and charm, but for the sweet little escape it gives me from the 5C’s. Don’t get me wrong; I love Pomona’s campus and community, but it’s always nice to walk around and see people who aren’t college students simply enjoying daily life in Claremont. I’m pleasantly surprised and grateful to love my college town so much.