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Iconic Neighborhood Restaurants: Lancaster

There are conflicting accounts about the origin of the name Lancaster, but some local historians say it comes from real estate developer M.L. Wicks, who in 1884 named his tract of land in the area after his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. One thing for sure about Lancaster is that it owes its existence to the Southern Pacific Railroad. The rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles was completed in 1876, bringing new residents, travelers, and gold miners into the Antelope Valley. The construction of the 233-mile-long Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1908 brought more people to settle in the valley. But it wasn't until the 1930s when the first airplanes arrived that Lancaster really began to take off.

Lancaster's aerospace history centers around Edwards Air Force Base, a flight test center used to test many major aircrafts from World War II to the present. It's home to Chuck Yeager's history-making Bell X-1 flight that broke the sound barrier in 1947. Many of the first space shuttle landings took place at Edwards. Lancaster became incorporated in 1977, and has become the home to major defense contractors such as Boeing. Lancaster's population today reached approximately 156,000 and it's the 5th largest city in Los Angeles County.

 

Crazy Otto's: Founder Otto Lindsel moved his family to the Antelope Valley after spending years cooking up eats for lumberjacks in Northern California. In business since 1971, Crazy Otto's the go-to breakfast spot in the AV if you're fixin' for greasy spoon fare. Otto's was originally located adjacent to the train tracks on Sierra Highway, but was forced to move in 1994 after the city took over the property for the Metrolink rail line. The specialty here is the giant omelettes (they claim to have the "biggest omelettes in the world"), but you'll find french toast, waffles, pancakes as well as burgers, sandwiches, and salads for lunch.
1228 W Ave I, (661) 940-9177 and multiple locations

 

Photo: Lemon Leaf Cafe

Photo: Lemon Leaf Cafe

Lemon Leaf Cafe: Cute, family-owned cafe specializing in Mediterranean and Greek fare. You'll find this spot in the newly renovated Downtown Lancaster area named BLVD. In 2010, this downtown strip underwent a huge transformation to its former glory as a place for locals to hang out. It's a salad and pizza type of place, a little upscale -- just the type of thing residents are hoping for more of.
653 W Lancaster Blvd., (661) 942-6500

 

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Photo: Bravery Brewing

Photo: Bravery Brewing

Bravery Brewing: The craft brewing craze has made its way into the outskirts of Los Angeles County. Co-founded by Lee Ermey (who you might remember as the drill sergeant in the film "Full Metal Jacket"), Bravery Brewing has around 21 locally-brewed beers available via draught or bottled. You won't find food on the menu here, but guests are welcome to get food delivered or bring in their own from outside. You'll often find a food truck or two idling outside to feed hungry patrons. A stage frequently features live music, and well-behaved dogs are welcome in the tasting room as long as they're on a leash. Beer aficionados have made it a destination.
42705 8th St W, (661) 951-4677

 

The Whole Wheatery: The hungry and health-conscious among us will find an oasis of fresh juices, vegetarian, vegan, and organic products at this 32-year-old establishment. Half-market, half-restaurant, the Whole Wheatery has a mom-and-pop feel, and it's one of the few places in the Antelope Valley that specializes in health food -- so it's a niche favorite, of course. The staff is knowledgeable and willing to order products for customers if they don't currently stock them. The Wheatery also hosts lectures on various topics related to health and clean living, from mindfulness and meditation to the holistic properties in mushrooms.
44264 10th St W, (661) 945-0773

 

India Sweets & Spices: People who frequent Los Feliz or Culver City will recognize this Indian market and restaurant. One of nine locations established by owner Kumar Jawa, this little gem is located in a small strip mall -- like everything in the Antelope Valley. India Sweets is a treasure trove of Indian spices, products, incense and desserts that you can't find anywhere else in the AV. They have all the products and cookware you need to whip up your own tikka masala or palak paneer at home. Or, hit up their buffet-style restaurant for a quick and authentic Indian meal. Lancaster might not seem very diverse or interesting, but hidden places like this tell the truth.
1832 W Ave K #1, (661) 948-6059

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