Photo by Laura nguyen
Photo by Laura Nguyen

In a hard-to-miss spot in downtown Riverside on University Avenue, Lake Alice Trading Company offers the atmosphere of a bar under the guise of an all-ages restaurant. It definitely has the atmosphere of a bar, so if you’re looking for a quaint cafe or a chill spot for lunch, this isn’t really your scene. This is a place for drinking and laughter — the place where you can gossip in a slightly-too-loud-to-be-appropriate voice, the place where you make it your mission to get tipsy enough to talk to that hot guy a few tables away.


The restaurant and bar is decked out with pool tables, giant television screens and a shuffleboard. The place is also refreshingly spacious and clean. It has a slightly Vegas lounge vibe with its vacuumed carpet and cigarette-scented dining area. But it’s mixed with an old-fashioned, classic bar feel, complete with a brick wall behind a Hollywood-style bar counter. So, if you’re looking for a night out with your sorority sisters or thinking it’d be cool to chill with your boys and shoot some pool, this spot is perfect. Or if you’re looking to hit on some dolled-up RCC girls in miniskirts, you have a pretty good shot, too. This place screams, “I’m single, let’s mingle.”


Though the atmosphere was fun and flirty, the food itself wasn’t noteworthy. I ordered the Black and Bleu burger, a recommended menu item, and was satisfied but not overly impressed. It had the makings of a good burger — bleu cheese, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce and mayo — but the patty itself was a bit dry and tasteless. It wasn’t bad — it was what you’d expect from a burger at a bar, so no disappointment there. And I’ll bet after a few drinks it tastes a lot better.


The fries, which circled my burger like a deep-fried halo, were also on the “meh” side. They were deliciously seasoned (always a nice touch) but also a bit too thick for my taste (I prefer thin and crunchy).


My drink, however, was definitely nowhere near “meh” on the scale of satisfaction; it was more near “wow.” I ordered the LA Cherry Punch, the sweet result of Southern Comfort, amaretto, sloe gin and cranberry juice. It was much more impressive than the burger and tasted like a liquid maraschino cherry. They had a slew of other intriguing mixed drinks on the menu, all of which looked like they would taste equally sweet (a plus for those of us who want more fruit-taste, less nail-polish-remover-taste). Among the list was a drink for the Jack Daniels fan, the Tennessee Apple, as well as a few tropical mixes like Pirate’s Gold and the Tahiti Bikini. But if house drinks aren’t your thing, that’s not a problem. They have a huge selection of beers, wines, martinis, margaritas and “rocktails.” I can guarantee that you will find whatever drink suits your tastes and mood; they have everything from Bud Light to Jaeger bombs.


The pricing was decent; about $20 for a drink and meal. Maybe a little pricey for a broke UCR student, but if you want to splurge on a night out for yourself, it’s not a bad spot to spend that extra 10 bucks. It’s also entirely possible to split something with a friend; the portions are rather generous.


The menu also has a pretty wide selection of snack food to go along with your round of beers or your late-night socializing. Wanna share a basket of chips? Order a round of nachos or Tostitos and salsa. Wanna complete your sports night with the guys by satisfying those munchies? Gorge yourself on a heap of buffalo wings! Want something light to snack on? Share an order of curly fries with your calorie-conscious girlfriends.


I simply may not have ordered their best dish or perhaps I caught them on an off night, but I wouldn’t recommend this place if you just want to indulge in some great food. I would, however, recommend it for a fun night out and for a good, satisfying drink. But even if you can’t order a drink, the pool tables are open, the snacks are plentiful, and the televisions are streaming sports games all night. So if you’re ever bored on a Friday night and those frat parties ended up being lame, grab some friends and hit this neat little spot in downtown Riverside.