Big Bear is most well-known for its skiing, snowboarding, and resort life, but there is much more hidden in the snow. If you’re planning a getaway to Big Bear Lake, you might find value in leaving the old stove in your cabin to venture out to one of the town’s many restaurants. There are tons of independently owned cafés and bars throughout the nearly seven-square-mile city, and we’ve narrowed it down to help you choose the best ones.
New Orleans–style cooking exists in the San Bernardino Mountains at the Knickerbocker Mansion, a three-story, 12-room bed-and-breakfast built in 1920. Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., brunch-goers can tuck into a hearty bowl of shrimp and grits, brioche French toast, or jambalaya in the cozy, 40-person dining room. A white-tablecloth type of place, the bistro is one of Big Bear’s finer and costlier dining establishments, and is managed by husband-and-wife innkeepers Ed and Vickie Harris.
A night of decadent dinner and drinks can be had at Black Diamond Tavern, a rustic-modern gastropub with one of the town’s only craft cocktail menus. After a long day of vigorous snowboarding, Black Diamond Tavern is a great option for treating yourself to braised beef short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes and a Moonshine Mule (or three). While many Big Bear businesses can take a more laid-back approach to service, Black Diamond Tavern’s staff is fast and attentive without compromising that mountain charm you don’t find in the big cities.
Big Bear Lake Brewing Company is one of the more recent additions to Big Bear Village, not to be confused with the 20-year-old Big Bear Mountain Brewery a few miles up the main road. Since 2014, Big Bear Lake Brewing Company has been fermenting a selection of 14 house brews, including the popular 9.2% Sidewinder Red Ale, the 6.5% Whispering Pine IPA and the easy-drinking 4.8% High Altitude Hefeweizen.
Check the chalkboard for current selections. Guests can build a base for the strong ales with a selection of menu offerings, including Wagyu beef burgers, beer-battered fish and chips, and the most popular dish, the Avocado Bomb: a honey ale tempura avocado stuffed with spicy ahi, a crab and shrimp cake and ponzu, then topped with chipotle aioli and crispy wontons. The two-story restaurant has a balcony that overlooks the lake and a downstairs patio where dogs are welcome. Big Bear Mountain Brewery is worth a visit as well, with six beers on tap, a basic food menu and an undoubtedly authentic local experience.
These are just a few of the amazing local eats. Make sure you check out our favorites and see if there are others to add to this list. If you want some help on planning your next vacation to Big Bear, check out Big Bear Cabins for all your vacation needs.