Big Bear Lake Stories and Tips

Dining in Big Bear ** UPDATED! **

My impression is that Big Bear is not really known for fine dining, so we didn't have great expectations. Expect mostly decent family dining and you won't be disappointed. Here's a rundown of the places we went to. Two other places that seemed popular that we didn't go to were The Blue Whale and The Captain's Anchorage. We also noticed that they roll up the sidewalks pretty early in Big Bear, especially mid-week, so be aware if you're looking for a late meal.

Fast food -- They have it all: McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Jack In The Box, and KFC. The McDonald's has a big play place if the kids need some exercise.

Cowboy Express -- Now I normally stay away from any restaurant with the word "Cowboy" in it, but this place was just down the road from Lagonita and seemed pretty popular. In fact, it was one of the few places still hopping after 8 pm. We even had a 20 minute wait for a table on a weeknight at 8 pm. There's also a lively bar. (A little too lively actually. We were told we could wait in there with our son. Mom hustled him out before he could see the naked ladies on the video poker game - I dawdled a bit.) The steaks were very good but our son was disappointed with his kid's shrimp plate. Although good sized and tasty, there were only 3 shrimp. We ended the meal with the "World's Tiniest Sundae" - vanilla ice cream in a tall shot glass, topped with chocolate or caramel sauce for 99 cents. Reasonably priced and good service.

Sizzler -- When you want to really strap on the feedbag, there's Sizzler. Now, there are good Sizzlers and there are bad Sizzlers, but this was a good one. The steak was excellent, the salad bar fresh, the kid's fried shrimp was plentiful, and the service friendly. This Sizzler looked fairly new and was nicely decorated with historic Big Bear photos. But they close the doors at 8 pm! We got there at 7:45 and were warned that we only had about a half hour before they started dismantling the salad bar. We did indeed close the place down but no one rushed us out.

Sonora Cantina -- We were going to stop at the Taco Bell next door for a quick lunch, but when we saw the 99 cent taco sign at the Sonora, we decided to go here instead. Excellent, cheap Mexican food. I had the lunch special of chicken burrito, rice and beans for $4.69. It was excellent and huge -- I needed a take-home box. Although cheaper at lunch, it was pretty warm inside, so you might be more comfortable at night for dinner on their outdoor patio.

Village Pizza -- Average pizza in a comfortable building in the village. Salads and pasta, too. Nothing special but will satisfy a pizza craving.

** UPDATE!! ** We finally made it to Captain's Anchorage and it was excellent. From the outside it looks like a large building, but inside it only has eight tables in the dining area on one side of the building. There's a bar of equal size on the other side. The restaurant was originally started in 1947 as Andy Devine's (the hoarse-voiced actor of many a western and Disney program) Roadhouse. We went on Monday night which was Prime Rib night (a good sized serving for $15.95). My wife had the prime rib, I had fresh swordfish grilled simply, and our son had teriyaki chicken which he pronounced as the best he ever had. Portions were good sized and came with a variety of excellent homemade bread and rolls and a salad/soup bar. Good desserts too (we had an excellent cheesecake), a varied wine selection, moderate prices, and good service. Due to small size of the dining room, reservations are essential.

We also went back to the Sizzler. It's pretty popular and one reason is that it still looks new. We've been in some Sizzlers that look pretty beat but this one is well cared for, has good service, and the food is plentiful and fresh. We watched in fascination as a rather large woman at a nearby table sent her steak and shrimp combo back (after she had eaten all the shrimp and half the steak) saying that the steak was improperly cooked. They brought her a second complete steak and shrimp combo. She ate all of the shrimp and most of the steak and then sent that one back, too. They then brought her a THIRD complete steak and shrimp combo which she promptly ate in its entirety! Unbelievable!

Although we didn't go back, we noted that the Cowboy Express Steakhouse was packed every night.

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