Restaurant of the Week: McConnell Hall, Pitzer College

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Photo above by Stephanie Guerra

McConnell Hall, Pitzer College, East 9th St. (at Mills), Claremont

The best dining bargain in the Inland Valley may be the Claremont Colleges dining halls. Sure, they’re for students and faculty, but the general public is allowed in. They have breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays, brunch and dinner on weekends. It’s buffet style, all you can eat, and the cost is a mere $7, beverage and tax included. (You might be able to bluff your way in for the $6 student-faculty fee.)

Regulars can tell you the idiosyncracies of each college dining hall. I’ve had lunch at most of them and have yet to be disappointed. The offerings change daily. Here’s a link to the Pitzer site; note the limited hours.

At Pitzer one recent day, they had a couple of soups, salad and dessert bars, stations for hot or cold sandwiches, chicken teriyaki breast, a gourmet pizza (with pear as the topping) and a pasta. There was fresh fruit, breakfast cereal dispensers, frozen yogurt and undoubtedly more that I’ve forgotten.

The made-to-order chicken sandwich, pictured above, had Swiss, mushrooms, grilled onions, lettuce and tomato. Good stuff, as was the pizza and the soup. As you can see in the second photo, there was no shortage of cookies, brownies, pastries and other sweets for an indecisive blogger to choose from.

The only downside is finding legal parking. Especially with construction going on, spaces are hard to come by and most of them are marked for students and faculty only. To be safe, park on Claremont Boulevard or College Avenue and hoof it a few blocks. Here’s a link to a Pitzer map; McConnell Hall is No. 9, on 9th Street.

* The New Diner blog has posted a detailed review of McConnell with a clutch of photos.

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  • Eric

    Hi David:

    Upon your posting today, some of my buddies and I ventured out to McConnell Hall to give it a try.

    It was a fantastic deal, and wonderful food (today’s special was a pasta station, that proved to be very popular).

    Could you just do me a favor? Remove this post before too many find out about it and the lines make it impossible to enjoy on a 1-hour lunch break.


    [Sometimes I’m tempted to keep the better places a secret for just that reason. If it’s any consolation, remember that old adage: “The public has a short memory.” A month from now, it will be as if this piece had never appeared. (I may be flattering myself; it might be forgotten already.) Glad you and your buddies enjoyed your lunch. — DA]

  • David

    I think the $7 price is for lunch. Dinner is about $10.

  • David

    The chef at McConnell used to be the sous chef at a few 4-5 star restaurants in New York City.

  • Kevin

    What a great find. I would have never thought of “dorm” food as being gourmet.

  • Chris Moran

    Back in Ye Olden Tymes, in the 1970s, McConnell cuisine was slopped out by a food service named “Saga.”

    In those days, we smoked (tobacco) after finishing our dinner and extinguished our cigarettes in the leftover mashed potatoes.

    Ah, the memories …