Corona is a city located in the Inland Empire area of California. It is home to residents who love the 91 freeway and sitting in traffic for over an hour to commute to work every day. In all seriousness, Corona is the best place to live when you are trying to own a big home but can’t afford to pay Orange County prices (as it is just east of Orange County).
Located in Riverside County, Corona is transforming its agricultural community into a suburb. The last of the cow farms are getting driven out to make way for new residential areas. While newly built homes are being developed sporadically, the city is still continually trying to catch up with the development of restaurants and entertainment to appease its residents.
Finding great places in Corona can be tough due to the lack of options but I have found some great places that I am willing to share with you! I will also share my experiences with places that fell a bit short for me. But don’t let that deter you away from giving these places a chance and trying them for yourself.
Tried and True
One of my favorite places in Corona!
Restoration Roasters is a coffee shop located next to a church. It has blessed Corona with their crafted specialty coffee and teas. This is the best option to get your caffeine fix and has a variety to satisfy patrons running on low energy.
Some of my favorite items are the blueberry matcha, Mexican coffee, and the cold brew flight. The cold brew flight comes with 3 different types of cold brew with a sparkling water to cleanse your palette for only $5! What a steal!
Mojo’s Express Coffee
Not your average coffee shop, Mojo’s Express Coffee is a small shack in the middle of a parking lot. There is no inside area where you can sit and sip your coffee as it is simply a drive-thru. Think Starbucks Coffee drive thru without the Starbucks lobby and the mediocre coffee.
Mojo’s has everything from your typical coffee and tea to specialty drinks, such as their delicious Banana Foster Ice Blended drink. There is a small selection of pastries and food, which makes Mojo’s a great stop for your breakfast needs.
Southern Maid Donuts
When I am in Corona craving for a donut, Southern Maid Donuts is the only place I will go. Arguably better than Krispy Kreme, but given that there isn’t any Krispy Kremes nearby, Southern Maid Donuts is safe to stay. The original glaze, when it’s fresh and eaten right away, is delicious. The blueberry and strawberry flavors are skippable as they taste very artificial but the cinnamon roll donuts should be added to every dozen.
Be mindful of their store hours as they do close early!
Taqueria 2 Potrillos
Corona is generally pretty diverse with all of the cuisines available to somewhat satisfy your basic cravings. However, one can feel like the taste falls short compared to other foodie areas. While I am originally from Santa Ana, I was weary about how Taqueria 2 Portrillos will fall among my taste test. Surprisingly, I am a fan!
Taqueria 2 Portrillos feels and tastes authentic. They offer a variety of items including tortas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and combination plate along with a variety of meats that include asada, adobada, carnitas, chorizo, birria, pollo asado, chicharron and buche (see above for part of the menu).
The food is only part of what makes up a great taqueria. The other part is based on their salsa bar! Taqueria 2 Portrillos does not skimp on this. Just take a look at their offering above! It is equipped with different salsas, onions, cilantro, carrots and jalapenos for you to choose the right amount suitable for your tacos.
I recommend trying all of the meats they have to offer, especially the Al Pastor! Make sure to get one of their agua frescas, it’s delicious and refreshing!
Taqueria Los Arcos
A small restaurant with freshly cooked meats that aren’t sitting in silver tins under a heat lamp. If you dine in, you get free chips and salsa while you wait.
I got the al pastor and asada tacos. The tacos were priced fairly and the meat was very flavorful. The place is fairly new but it is definitely worth a try. The only downside is that there is no salsa bar, so they add the salsa on top of your tacos already for you. While the asada was good, I’d recommend the al pastor over the asada. I never got around to trying the other meats but I will certainly be back!
Norco’s Best Burgers
A typical burger joint, before the time of fast food burgers came to life. You order at the counter, listen for your number to be called, sit down and eat! Norco’s Best Burgers is a tier above fast food restaurants and a tier below gourmet burgers. The price also lands somewhere in-between but the portions are HUGE! The Pastrami Burger and fries are probably enough to split between 2 people.
A fast-food chain only available in the Inland Empire. Baker’s has been serving up burgers since 1952 and is a great alternative to the average McDonald’s and other national fast food chains. What sets Baker’s apart from McDonald’s is that they claim to be “America’s First Twin Kitchen”, meaning they serve both American and Mexican food.
They have a large menu to choose from whether you’re feeling burgers and fries or burritos. I always get the Papa #1 when I go and power size it to get a larger drink and fries. Then I take the fries and dip it in their spicy ketchup, which is not actually spicy. Quick and affordable for those who are on the go!
TAPS Fish House and Brewery
TAPS is another chain restaurant in Southern California and the Corona location is the second restaurant opened within the chain. There was something about this specific TAPS location, the service, and the food that made my visit a great one. Everything coincides with each other so well and so precisely. Happy hour is also offered here and the food is fantastic for a fair price. After you are done with your meal, there is a small lake outside that you can take a relaxing stroll with the breeze in your hair.
The highest rated place to get Indian food in Corona. There is a lunch express option, even available on the weekends! There are different levels of spicy curry that you can choose from and the naan is made fresh and from scratch. One combo is enough to share between two people but if you are riding solo be prepared to have some delicious leftovers for dinner. I was craving Indian food so this was good enough to satisfy my cravings.
Curry House Express
Now, I’m no Indian food connoisseur but I did enjoy the Chicken Tiki Masala and the Malai Kofta I ordered at Curry House Express. The cherry on top of my lunch was the garlic naan to dip with curry. DO upgrade your naan for $.50 extra to the garlic naan! You won’t regret it!
Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar
Bordering Corona and Riverside, Anchos Southwest Grill and Bar should not be missed. As you walk in, you are greeted with a homey feel, like you just walked into a restaurant in another country.
It is recommended to try one of the fajitas or combination plates. The food is delicious and Anchos gives you a massive portion. Be prepared to have leftovers if you order a plate for yourself. The food comes out piping hot and sizzling on a hot plate! So you know for sure that the food is made to order.
While Anchos specializes in fajitas, the real magic lies in their handmade tortillas. These hot and fresh tortillas are made with love and are surely the showstopper of the meal. The service was also top notch. As I celebrated my birthday here, they gave me strawberry ice cream and had other employees come out to sing for me! I always feel awkward when I am getting sung to but it was a sweet gesture.
The service was attentive and friendly. The atmosphere was clean and bright. What more could you want? Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar is the perfect package for a pleasant dining experience.
Sons of Liberty
Sons of Liberty is located in Norco and is 1 out of 3 breweries in the area, as the rest of the breweries are located in Riverside. I’m puzzled why there aren’t more breweries in Corona.
Sons of Liberty is tucked away in a business center in a small space with tables and chairs available to drink. It has a relaxed atmosphere with its quietness and small candles that dimly lit the place. The design in the brewery goes very well with the theme with nice decor. The beers were refreshing and it was convenient that they had beer flights, which came in a fun beer holder.
Okay, but not great.
Not your average size street tacos. These are bigger tacos, perhaps… super tacos? Since the tacos are a larger size, the price is about $2 per taco but it is more bang for the buck considering the amount of meat you get. Per usual, I ordered the asada and al pastor tacos and an all meat burrito. When they mean “all meat”, they mean “all meat” and nothing extra. The meat was a little on the dry side and was not very flavorful like I hoped. They do have a salsa bar but it was very difficult to grab things from it and the salsas were a bit lacking in spice and flavor. Great value if all you’re trying to accomplish is to get full. Okay, but not great.
Thai food is always a hit or miss and unfortunately, Seven Seas was a bit of a miss for me. The food and the service were lacking. I got the chicken wings, Pad Thai, Thai Boat noodles, larb and Roti Roti for dessert. All of which was standard to mediocre and was lacking the spice that the Thai cuisine is most known for. Seven Seas did not have an authentic, traditional Thai food taste that I was looking for. It wasn’t as flavorful and lacked the aroma of Thai chilis. You are able to choose on a scale of 1-10 and at a level 8 spice level, the spice was very nonexistent. Okay, but not great.
It is very difficult to find a great place for BBQ in California as the craft has not yet been perfectly mastered. Badlands BBQ takes a commendable stab at providing Norco with brisket, ribs and other meats. The brisket was made right as it was soft and almost butter-like melt in your mouth taste. The Jalapeno Mac n Cheese was the most favorited meanwhile, the other items were just average. The BBQ sauce was provided to adjust it based on preference and there is a Habenero BBQ sauce available (not spicy). Okay, but not great.
The Hot Dog Shoppe
The Hot Dog Shoppe is a popular place among the Corona community with its “Homewrecker Big Dog Challenge”. This consists of three 0.8 pounds of all beef Angus dogs covered in chili cheese, pepper mix, and habanero salsa for $25.99. If you complete the challenge, you win a t-shirt, your own hot dog creation on their menu, and your picture on their “Wall of Fame”. Do you have what it takes?
I didn’t, so I just ordered a hot dog from their menu. There were just so many different hot dogs to choose from that it eventually became overwhelming. The employees are welcoming and will help you with your decision. The one I randomly chose didn’t feel like it combined well together, but rather a large array of different flavors on a hot dog. I was told that the Hot Dog Shoppe had great mac and cheese. Luckily, I was able to sample it to determine that it wasn’t for me. The texture was rather mushy and soft than held together, as I prefer.
If you’re looking for a hot dog joint with bold topping combinations, The Hot Dog Shoppe is your place.
Tip: Sometimes they have Groupons available so check for it if you want to save some money before going.
Black Horse Tavern and Grill
There is a lack of restaurants that serve happy hour daily from Monday – Sunday. Black Horse Tavern and Grill fortunately does! There are drink and food specials from $3 – $5.50 served from 3 – 7 PM Monday – Friday, 11 AM – 4 PM Saturday, and all day Sunday. Although these prices are hard to beat, the food was very average. This was a prime example of you get what you pay for.
There is a bar in the center of the restaurant with tables surrounding. It is definitely a place you could drop by to a have a drink with some friends. Although happy hour missed the target, I would definitely recommend trying the main entrees aside from their appetizers to get a better idea of what Black Horse Tavern and Grill has to offer.