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Iconic Neighborhood Restaurants: Palmdale

According to local lore, the first Lutheran settlers to this desert in the late 1800s mistook the Antelope Valley's abundant Joshua trees for palm trees, and thus the village of Palmenthal (German for "Palms Valley") was born. By the turn of the century, the settlers to this area relocated closer to the South Pacific Railroad tracks and renamed the town Palmdale. Located 70 miles from Los Angeles, the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 brought more water resources -- and with it, people -- to the small desert town.

Agriculture was the main industry in this area in the early days -- like many fledgling communities -- but the outbreak of World War II brought a booming aerospace industry that remains today. Palmdale graduated from township to city in 1962, and was finally connected to the big city in 1964, when the completion of the 14 freeway linking Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley was finally completed. If you find yourself in town, check out an airshow or visit Blackbird Airpark and the Air Force Flight Test Museum to get a dose of aerospace history. Today, Palmdale's population hovers around 157,000.

 

Photo: Nadia Cakes

Photo: Nadia Cakes

Nadia Cakes: Fans of the Food Network show "Cupcake Wars" might recognize the name Abby Jimenez. Her Triple Berry Cheesecake Cupcake won her the reality TV baking crown in 2012. Jimenez and her husband opened up this spot in 2009 using just credit cards to get started -- quite a risky endeavor. A few years later, the credit cards are long paid off and Nadia Cakes is booming after her TV appearance -- they opened a second location in Minnesota in 2012. They make a variety of 135 flavors of cakes and cupcakes here, which rotate depending on the whims of the bakers. Even the pickiest eaters should have no problem indulging in something at this shop.
39604 10th St W Ste B Palmdale, CA 93551, (661) 349-8677

 

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Armani's Mediterranean Bakery & Food: This modest little spot won't win points for ambiance or decor, but the extensive Mediterranean menu makes it a great spot for people with a specific craving. The very definition of a mom and pop shop, everything at Armani's is fresh and made to order. They have everything from kabobs and beoreks to baklava and Lahmajune. Also, you know that delicious garlic sauce you find at Zankou Chicken? Armani's has its own version that rivals in deliciousness.
37935 47th St E Unit A29 Palmdale, CA 93552, (661) 285-2220

 

Butler's Coffee: If you're the kind of person that likes to park it at a coffee shop all day, Butler's may be your place. Pam and David Logan are the purveyors of this small, non-chain shop that looks like it was plucked right out of a 90s sitcom. A full-service coffee bar will keep you caffeinated, while a menu of smoothies and sandwiches will keep you satiated. A small stage hosts singer/songwriter types and comedians depending on the night. The wifi here is strong and free, and there are plenty of tables and chairs perfect for posting up with that script you've been working on.
40125 10th St W Ste I Palmdale, CA 93551, (661) 272-9530

 

Sinful Treats: Summer temperatures in Palmdale regularly hit the triple digits, so a good neighborhood ice cream spot is essential. You'll find chains like Baskin Robbins out here in the desert, but this place a notch above with 100% organic ice cream (plus other sweets to wreak delicious havoc on your waistline). Owner Crystal is a pastry chef from L.A., who has been honing her craft of ice cream making for years -- she's even been called an "ice cream goddess" by the owners of L.A. Creamery. 40008 10th St W Ste. C Palmdale, CA 93551, (661) 274-7688

 

Photo: Lee Esther's Creole and Cajun Cooking

Photo: Lee Esther's Creole and Cajun Cooking

Lee Esther's Creole and Cajun Cooking: Named after chef/owner Michael Brignac's mother, this is the only restaurant in the Antelope Valley focusing on authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine. Located in a small strip mall with a low-key sign, you might just miss it if you drive too fast, but it's a popular spot for locals. The menu is extensive with everything from jambalaya to po-boys to a full menu of barbecue ribs. Best day to go is on Saturdays, when Lee Esther's hosts a backyard shrimp and crab boil that Brignac promises will "knock your socks off." Top it all off with a fresh beignet made in-house.
830 1/2 E Ave Q6 Palmdale, CA 93550, (661) 266-0000

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