Our picks for romantic dining in Big Bear

Big Bear, located in the San Bernardino Mountains, has been one of my favorite local weekend getaways since I was a kid.   It is equally beautiful with each change of the seasons, and provides ample fun outdoors activities all year long — whether you like to ski, boat, hike, mountain bike, bird watch or just relax and soak in natural beauty.

So, when Jeff and I started looking for a weekend escape last summer to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, Big Bear seemed the perfect fit for us — all the more so by my parents gifting us a weekend at their WorldMark timeshare resort.  We planned a weekend filled with kayaking and mountain biking.  But, we also wanted to spend our actual anniversary evening at a nice restaurant with excellent food — instead of the usual ski lodge, bar or diner food that we each usually frequented on past visits.  I immediately threw a request for recommendations out to Facebook, and my friends Adam and Sarah Elwer promptly assured us that the Evergreen Restaurant – with its Beef Wellington for Two — was THE place to spend a special romantic dinner (it’s where they too spent their first anniversary).  Jeff and I booked a reservation there for Sunday evening, our anniversary, and decided to just explore dining options in Big Bear Lake Village on Saturday night.

Saturday evening, we ventured into quaint adorable (and crowded) Big Bear Lake Village in search of dinner.  Since other friends had also recommended both the Sweet Basil Bistro and the Peppercorn Grille, we initially investigated both of those eateries.  However, being a Saturday night, the lines and wait at each restaurant were ridiculous.  There was just no way I was going to wait an hour for a table.  So, we set off on foot through the village from the Peppercorn Grille looking for restaurants with a shorter wait.

Himalayan Restaurant in Big Bear

The Himalayan Restaurant in Big Bear. Photo courtesy of the Himalayan Restaurant.

Almost right across the street from the Peppercorn Grille, we came across the Himalayan Restaurant — a simple looking (from the outside) eatery that did not appear to have a line.  We were initially skeptical because it was one of the few restaurants without a wait, but we were hungry, we both love to try new ethnic foods (we frequently eat Indian food, but were not familiar with Nepalese cuisine), and the place looked very inviting once we peered through the windows.

Jeff and I were seated at table as soon as we entered.  The atmosphere inside the Himalayan was extremely cozy, with a hint of exotic, and it was packed with people who seemed to genuinely be enjoying the ambiance and the food.  And boy did the food smell good!  Our extremely attentive and helpful waiter helped us wade through the sizable menu to pick a variety of dishes that provided us with a good sampling of Himalayan cuisine.  The food and service were incredible, and the prices were extremely reasonable.

We both agree that we’ll return to the Himalayan any time we’re in Big Bear.

Big Bear Himalayan Restaurant

We started off with two excellent Himalayan regional beers.

Big Bear Himalayan Restaurant

Chicken Mo-Mo: Steamed dumplings stuffed with ground chicken.

Big Bear Himalayan Restaurant

Garlic Naan. Need I say more?

Big Bear Himalayan Restaurant

(Left): Lamb Sekuwa: Midly marinated tender boneless lamb served with mint sauce and fresh lemon. (Right) Chicken Tikka Masala: Tandoor-cooked chicken served in a cream sauce made with onions, ginger, and Himalayan herbs.

For our second evening, Sunday, we stuck to the plan and headed to the Evergreen Restaurant for our anniversary dinner reservation.  We were both a bit shocked, and apprehensive when we arrived, because from the outside the restaurant looks very plain and casual — it is located above a rug shop.  But, since Adam and Sarah were so convincing in their recommendation, we ventured inside.  We immediately realized the difference between dining in Big Bear on a Saturday evening and on a non-holiday weekend Sunday evening — the place was nearly empty, we really hadn’t needed a reservation.  But, fortunately, this meant that Jeff and I could have our pick of tables, and we selected one out on the patio that provided the nicest views of the lake at sunset.

The Evergreen Restaurant in Big Bear

The Evergreen Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Old Shoe Woman.

Big Bear Evergreen Restaurant

This was our view during dinner, out on the patio.

Although the entire dinner menu sounded fabulous, we opted to again follow Adam and Sarah’s recommendation to order the Beef Wellington for Two along with an assortment of appetizers and lemon cake for dessert.  The food, the view and the service were impeccable.  Our plates were garnished with fresh flowers, and the presentation of each dish was a work of art.

Despite its casual exterior appearance, the Evergreen is definitely five star quality, and it will continue to serve as one of our favorite frequented special occasion dining destinations.

Big Bear Evergreen Restaurant

The most original and beautiful shrimp cocktail I have ever seen.

Big Bear Evergreen Restaurant

Beautiful bacon-wrapped scallops.

Big Bear Evergreen Restaurant

Cheesy savory french onion soup.

Big Bear Evergreen Restaurant

The pièce de résistance, beef wellington for two, served with a creamy mushroom sauce and baked in buff pastry.