About half way between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on the 10 freeway you will find the City of Redlands. By Southern California standards, it’s pretty small with only 50,000 people in it, and might be best known for its University (Go Bulldogs!) and research institutions in town.
Where it stands out from many of the cities is its focus on local businesses over chains. When I lived there six years ago this was true, but since then they have taken it to a new level. Young professionals are starting businesses and working hard to not only succeed but support each other. Last year, there was a great article in The Atlantic highlighting some of these businesses and how they are working together.
So if you’re looking for a day trip around Southern California, are stuck on the 10 freeway in need of a bite, or just want to learn a little more about this unique Southern California town. Take the time to get to know Redlands like a local.
Where to Eat Like A Local
Start off you morning at Martha Green’s where you can get fresh pastries and coffee, skillets, burritos, benedicts and so much more. Whether you’re there for breakfast or lunch you’ll enjoy a homey feel, rich food and walk away just wanting to go back.
Have you ever had pasta on a pizza, how about orange chicken or even chorizo con huevos? While you can get the standards too, Gourmet Pizza Shoppe is known for unique combinations you’d never expect to see put on a pizza. Somehow these things you couldn’t image turn out amazing. My personal favorite is the Annie Oakley, which has an angle hair pasta that has been tossed in ranch and bacon.
You’re in Southern California, which means you can’t skip Mexican food. A local favorite in Redlands is Cuca’s Mexican Food. With a handful of locations now in the Inland Empire, they started in 1989 as a burrito stand, what the college kids now call “stand up” Cuca’s. You can either grab a bean and cheese burrito or head to their “sit down” location and enjoy their mouthwatering enchiladas or taco plates.
You might see Eureka Burgers throughout California now, and even out of state, but the first one started right here in Redlands. Focusing on high-quality ingredients, they make some of the best burgers you can find, the topping range from standards to creative and they carry everything from beef to buffalo for patty options.
Where To Drink Like A Local
In Redlands, you’ll find one of the fastest growing breweries, Hanger 24. A micro-brewery that is now distributing across the state and you can even find it at Disneyland and Angels Stadium. Their flagship beer Orange Wheat is made with oranges from local groves, and you’ll see a similar pattern to many of their beers with local ingredients creating the flavors. Whether you like a like Belgium or a hoppy IPA they have a beer for just about any pallet. Their tasting room is in a hanger right across from the Redlands Airport and is a perfect place to spend an afternoon relaxing and tasting beer.
Local coffee roasters have been slowly showing up around Southern California. When I lived in Redlands you had only Starbucks and Coffee Bean to choose from. Over the past five years, Augie’s Coffee House has made a place for local roasters in Redlands and throughout the Inland Empire. They import their beans directly from farmers around the world and small batch roast in a light-medium style.
Where to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
To be honest, I am glad these shops didn’t exist when I lived in Redlands. If they did I’m sure I would have left a couple pounds heavier. A local came back and filled a void in Redlands by creating two handcrafted sweet shops. First came á la minute, a nitrogen ice cream shop where they create your ice cream to order right in front of you. You’ll find unique flavors from Strawberry Balsamic to a Chocolate Orange. And you guessed it, made from local oranges and chocolate. Don’t be surprised when you find Augie’s coffee in the Espresso Chip either.
That local chocolate is the second shop Parliament Chocolate. You’ll find handcrafted small batch chocolates that are about as delectable as they get. Stop in for some Mayan drinking chocolate, grab a bar to go or enjoy one of their fresh confections. I do recommend popping in earlier in the day rather than later, as they will run out of things.
Dig In and Support Local Businesses
There are certain cities where it is almost hard not to support local businesses. Redlands, California is one of them. The quality of the local restaurants, breweries, coffee and sweet shops in unparalleled in the area. So even if you’re just popping in on your drive out to Palm Springs make sure to take a second and get off on Redlands Boulevard to give some of these local producers a try.
Whether it is Redlands or elsewhere you are visiting take the time to dig in and get to know where the locals go, which shops are supporting the community, and head into those. You’ll get to better understand the place and help support the local economy.
Where do you find some of the best local businesses and producers? Does your hometown have some great places to choose from?