Culture and Cuisine in Lancaster
Story & photos by Greg Aragon
ancaster has always been one of those cities that I pass through on
the way to some other destination. But last week was different. I finally
took the time to explore the place and wow, was I surprised! I discovered
a downtown full of charm, culture, cuisine and community spirit.
My recent getaway began when a friend and I drove about
60 miles north of Los Angeles toward the Mojave Desert and checked into
the Towneplace Suites Lancaster, a business class hotel, with all the
comfort and amenities needed for a relaxing stay. Conveniently located
off the freeway, the hotel boasts rooms with fully equipped kitchens,
plush beds, free Internet, and a free buffet breakfast in the lobby.
Downtown Lancaster is full of charm, culture, cuisine
and community spirit
After unpacking, we drove to the Lancaster
Museum of Art and History (MOAH), for a sneak peek at its latest
exhibit Movers & Shakers, which runs through April 16. This display
was highlighted by the unique shoe designs of Chris Francis, whose creations
look like they could be worn by rock stars, cavemen, people from space,
The exhibit also features the intricate wood carvings
of Sedi Pak, who studies the light, texture and patterns of nature and
translates it into her large scale wooden sculptures. Another fascinating
artist on display is Charles Hollis, whose "Fifty Chairs, Fifty
Years" exhibit features mesmerizing chairs and furniture made from
acrylic and metal.
The Lancaster Museum of Art and History showcases
the art, history and culture of the Antelope Valley
From here, we strolled down Lancaster Boulevard, down
the Aerospace Walk of Honor, to MOAH Ceder, a smaller satellite museum
to experience the K. Wyatt Coleman photography show: Love, Peace, &
Equality A tribute to Martin Luther King and others who contributed
to the Civil Rights Movement. This exhibit is highlighted by beautiful
and thought-provoking photographs of African Americans serving their
community and family.
We then walked to Zelda's
bar for a drink in a classic, old fashion-styled bar. From Zelda's
we walked across the street to Pour
Dvino for dinner.
Zelda's is a fun, old fashion "speak easy"
Offering intimate dining, Pour Dvino boasts more
than 100 wines and beers to go along with an eclectic menu of steak,
chicken, pork and seafood dishes. My meal was the delicious Nautica,
with shrimp, clams, lobster and garden vegetables, tossed in linguine
with a light mushroom garlic butter sauce. My friend had the gourmet
grilled cheese, with aged cheddar, smoked gouda, Swiss cheese, tomato
and crisped onions pressed with white wine Dijon glaze.
Pour Dvino owner Jody Cherbonneaux serves
up a tasty menu of steak, chicken, pork and seafood dishes
While dining we enjoyed California red wine, live music
and the company of Pour Dvino owner Jody Cherbonneaux, and local
artist Edwin R. Vasquez, a self-taught Guatemalan artist, photojournalist,
and videographer who paints and creates art from recycled materials
salvaged from the Mojave Desert.
After dinner, Vasquez led an instructive art class.
Over wine and Pour Dvino desserts, he spoke about growing up in
Guatemala and moving to the Lancaster area a California desert
community, with open space, starlit nights, fresh air and the iconic
raven bird. The raven has become such a symbol to Vasquez, that he helped
us paint one on canvas with watercolors. This was much more fun than
Lancaster artist Edwin R. Vasquez is a local treasure,
as he creates and teaches art
The next morning we enjoyed a buffet breakfast at the
Towneplace Suites Lancaster and then went for a walk in the Prime Desert
Woodland Preserve. Nestled within an urban area, this scenic park, offers
more than three miles of trails across 100 acres of native California
desert landscape teaming with Joshua trees, tumble weeds, jack rabbits,
bats, coyotes, scores of birds and other wildlife. Next to the preserve
is the Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center, where kids and adults can
learn about local desert wildlife and native plants.
The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve offers trails
through native California desert
After the nature walk, it was back to downtown for a
tour of the giant, beautiful murals painted on the sides of buildings
by local artists. We then had lunch at Bex
Bar & Grill. Located on the newly renovated Lancaster Blvd,
Bex offers a full menu of slow roasted tri tip, rotisserie chicken,
baby back ribs, as well as seafood, burgers and desserts. I had an incredible
blacked salmon on top of a fresh garden salad. The place also features
a lounge with live music, an underground bowling alley, pool tables,
and big screen TV's.
We concluded our visit at the Lancaster
Performing Arts Center where we watched a funny British play called
"Run for You Wife."
Friendly and walkable, Downtown Lancaster features
public piano's and giant murals scattered about town
For more information on visiting Lancaster, go to: www.destinationlancasterca.org
Dulce and the Sierra Pelona Valley Viticultural Area; Oasis
in the Palm Springs Desert; JW
Marriott, Palm Desert; Fantasy
Springs Resort Casino; Moroccan
Martinis and Historic Pueblos in Desert Hot Springs