Restaurant of the Week: Casa Moreno

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Casa Moreno, 101 N. Indian Hill Blvd. (at 1st), Claremont

Casa Moreno, which opened in July, fills a prime slot in Claremont’s Village Expansion, facing the public square and cater-corner to the movie theater. It’s a family owned place with one other location, in Covina. The Claremont location has a large dining room with high ceilings, a pleasant color scheme and a neat nook as a waiting area, plus outdoor seating with fire pits for cool evenings.

The restaurant is moderately busy on weeknights and busy on weekends. I had dinner there with a friend on Tuesday before seeing “Inception,” which turned out to be great. The restaurant, however, inspired mixed feelings. The service was friendly but the food didn’t live up to our expectations.

The salsa with the chips was very good. Her margarita ($8) was made from a mix. The chicken mole ($15, pictured), a specialty, was, dare I say it, complex (albeit not as complex as “Inception”), but the chicken was dry. The ceviche ($10) didn’t taste especially fresh. The chiles relleno ($15) were okay. They put cheddar cheese on the refried beans and the tortillas were storebought.

Even small taquerias like Juanita’s or Patty’s make their own tortillas, and a meal there will set you back five bucks. It wouldn’t take much effort to make a margarita from scratch, according to my friend. Seemed to us if you’re going to charge three times more than a taqueria, the food should be better than a taqueria, not the same or worse.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be too tough on Casa Moreno. The place just opened, and it’s still in the shakeout period. They’re operating with only a limited menu before rolling out the whole thing. Reviews on Yelp are also mostly underwhelmed. Perhaps management will get the message and can inspire the kitchen and bar staff to kick it up a notch. It’s such a great location, especially for diners wanting a meal or drink before or after a movie, that I would go back regardless — although at this point it wouldn’t be my first choice.

(A lot of Daily Bulletin readers were there Tuesday. I ran into several people I know, and reader Barry Miller, at the next table, introduced himself to us. He was so excited to meet real live newspaper people, he bought our dinner. Thanks, Barry.)

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  • Claremont Resident

    I have never been to a restaurant with worse service. Our waitress was rude and outright argumentative with us from the very start of our meal. The location is great and the restaurant decor is very nice, but the service was terrible, the food was just “ok” nothing great, the drinks were made with mixes, and the prices were outrageous for the poor quality of the food. I will likely never return to this terrible rude restaurant. The owner was almost as rude as her staff. It was quite the experience I will NEVER forget!

  • Aimee

    I disagree with the review. My dining experience exceeded my expectations. Our food was delicious and the margaritas were so good they couldn’t be from a mix. The owner personally greeted us and checked on us throughout our meal. We went there on a Sunday and enjoyed the mariachi music. The place has a cool vibe. Perfect for Claremont. We can’t wait to go back.

    [Glad you enjoyed it. As to the margaritas, my friend was at the bar and saw hers being made. -- DA]

  • claremont resident #2

    I was really disappointed after waiting so long for Casa Moreno to open. We got poor service and poor food. The margaritas (they do come from a mix) were equal to the 99 cent ones you get at El Ranchero. At least ER serves them in margarita glasses not wine glasses. There were chicken bones in the flautas and enchiladas of my companions. The steak fajitas were tough.

    The final straw was being asked to pay for a few extra chips. Oh well, the beans weren’t that good anyway.

    Good thing the Back Abbey is only a short walk across the square.