Photo: Thomas R. Cordova/Daily Bulletin
Magic Lamp Inn, 8189 Foothill Blvd. (at Red Hill Country Club Drive), Rancho Cucamonga
The Magic Lamp is the venerable restaurant on Route 66 in far western Rancho Cucamonga with the rococo roof, stained glass windows and neon lamp sign that burns a gas flame at night. The look is Old World European despite the Arabian Nights name and theme.
The restaurant opened in 1955, taking over from Lucy and John’s, a spaghetti parlor, and was the brainchild of the man behind Clearman’s North Woods Inn, who clearly loved high-concept eating places.
The Lamp’s interior hasn’t much changed in recent years. There’s still a round fireplace in the center of one dining room, a lot of wood in the decor and a specially made lamp-patterned carpet. The Lamp is a little fancy for a casual meal so my visits have been rare over the years, but some friends and I had lunch there not long ago.
One had the Chinese chicken salad, which did not skimp on the chicken; the other had the Cobb salad, which was tossed tableside and declared to taste “just the way I like it”; and I had the peppercorn top sirloin (pictured), which comes with rosemary potatoes and vegetables. Good steak and sides, and just the right size for a lunch. (I forgot to note the prices but the steak was about $15 and the salads about $10.)
Service was friendly and our waters and iced teas were refilled regularly, although the server’s response when asked for recommendations, that “everything is good,” didn’t provide any guidance. Then again, since we liked all three of our entrees, she might be right.
It’s quiet and sedate in the Lamp, making it a good place for conversation and an unhurried meal. As we relaxed post-lunch in our leather chairs, one of my friends said: “They don’t make restaurants like this anymore.” True dat.
Check the Route 66 Landmark sign below; the fine print reads “Recognized by Hampton Hotels Save-a-Landmark program as a site worth seeing.” Who would argue?