When we are young, we all dream of how wonderful it will be when we grow up and we can do grown up things. When Yours Truly was young, my dreams were visions of go-go dancing in clubs, going to hip parties filled with stimulating intellectuals and dolling up to dine at swanky restaurants. Tragically, by the time I was old enough to do these things, this world was gone. Go-go cages were now thrown in backroom junk heaps, parties were packed with puking drop outs, and restaurants were remodeled with plastic tables, fluorescent lights and paper napkins. Time truly can be a cruel mistress.
If you are like Tawny, you have sought out the last vestiges of this fabulous past. A few hot spots still remain, but they are few and far between, and sometimes one must take a little journey to find them. One such place is the Magic Lamp Inn, an old Route 66 restaurant on the border of Upland and Rancho Cucamonga. Dim lighting, lush red leather booths, stained glass windows and cherry wood beams envelope you as you dine on steaks, chops, seafood and chicken and lose all consciousness of trendy concepts such as “vegan”.
The Magic Lamp’s history goes back to the 1940s, when it originally was Lucy and John’s Italian Restaurant. When it was sold in the mid-50s, the Clearman family became part owners, and the restaurant was dramatically remodeled and became a steakhouse. It again changed hands in the 70s, but has retained its “vintagey goodness” to this day.
Dinner here can get expensive. A 16 oz rib eye steak is $41.99 and the rack of New Zealand lamb is $39.99. However, you can still enjoy the experience and spend less on the beef stroganoff ($14.95) or pan roasted chicken ($18.49). There is also happy hour from 4-7 pm Tues-Friday, which features half-price drinks and a complimentary mini-buffet.
Fortunately for me, I was squired by a well-to-do friend from out of town who sprang for the bill and encouraged me to try whatever I liked in the spirit of investigative journalism. Therefore, in order to get the full Magic Lamp experience, we kicked off the evening early in the bar for happy hour. The drinks were good, and they weren’t skimpy. My lemon drop martini came with a little glass bottle chilling in ice so that I could top off my drink whenever I was ready.
The mini-buffet was on the verge of being wheeled away, but I did have a chance to sample the meatballs, chips and salsa (surprisingly spicy and good), and the usual crunchy veggies. All good!
The bar menu includes a nice variety of offerings… soup, salads, burgers, shrimp cocktail, etc. You can go for the basics: potato skins, chicken wings, burger sliders… or go upscale with escargot bourguignon or sizzling shrimp scampi. We simply couldn’t leave without trying the intriguingly-named Lamb Popsicles. My mind raced with all the possibilities of what they would be. I was pleasantly surprised to find they were tender grilled lamb chops on fluffy mashed potatoes. They were quite delicious.
Moving to the dinner table, we were presented with the Magic Lamp’s signature relish tray and cheese bread. If this doesn’t take you to yesteryear, nothing will.
We ordered steak and salmon for dinner. The steak charmingly came topped with an onion ring. Dieters, abandon your calorie-counting ways at the door! Everything was wonderful, and we found ourselves too stuffed for dessert.
As we ate dinner, people began to pack the lounge and boogie to the beat of the house band, The Philharmonics. I tried to squeeze in, but with my full figure, I could barely make my way into the fray. Looks like the quite the scene for those of you who are looking for a place to get up, get out and get down!
I don’t know if this is really the ideal place to take kids, but the Magic Lamp does offer a children’s menu with amusingly-named items for the little ones: The Burger Meister, Mr. Chicken, The Big Cheese and Pasta Man.
The Magic Lamp Inn… still kickin’ on Route 66.
The Magic Lamp Inn
8189 Foothill Blvd.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Hours: Tues-Fri 11:30 am – 10 pm
Sat-Sun 5 pm – 10 pm
Lucy and John’s photo from http://route66.atwebpages.com/rppc/cawest.html