“History Lives Here”
Restaurant Type: Traditional American
When you first step inside The Derby in Arcadia, you realize immediately you are in the midst of horse racing history. Originally called the Proctor Tavern when it opened its doors in 1922, the name change to The Derby occurred in 1938 when famed jockey George Woolf became a co-owner of the restaurant.
Woolf wanted to own a top quality restaurant near the Santa Anita racetrack that would be a place for both jockeys and racing fans to gather for great food and conversation. Its history is everywhere, from the trophy case full of horse racing history to the walls lined with paintings of tremendous thoroughbreds and jockeys throughout the ages.
Woolf became the rider on Seabiscuit when its jockey Red Pollard was injured. Seabiscuit ran a couple of memorable races at Santa Anita, barely losing a match race in a photo finish and then defeating Triple Crown Champion War Admiral. These memorable races caused The Derby to become even more popular, and you can find a lot of Seabiscuit memorabilia on display.
Tragically, Woolf was killed at Santa Anita in 1946 when he was thrown from his mount Please Me.
Fortunately for us, The Derby still is still thriving and serving great food.
We came here on Mothers Day with Tracy’s mom and our friend Pat.
After a satisfying Manhattan ($8), we were served The Derby’s complimentary Garlic Cheese Toast. It is almost impossible to resist. Today, The Derby served a special Mother’s Day menu, but most of these items are on the regular menu only with slightly different sides and sauces
I started with a terrific (albeit expensive) Shrimp Cocktail ($18 for six shrimp…big shrimp… is a bit excessive in price, but they were really good). The Horseradish Cocktail Sauce was killer!
The others had the House Salad ($10). I’m always the big spender. For dinner, Tracy’s mom tried the Northern Alaskan Halibut Filet, Grilled with a delicate Tomato and Caper Beurre Blanc Sauce ($32)
Pat and Tracy opted for the Chilean Sea Bass, Pan Roasted and Topped with an Orange Balsamic Glaze (Tracy got it on the side), a Large Shrimp and a Baked Potato ($34).
I went the beef route with a perfectly cooked, medium rare Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce a couple of tremendous Onion Rings, Green Beans and a Baked Potato ($40).
It’s rare that I pass up dessert, but I could only muster up ordering an after-dinner Cappuccino with Seven Liqueurs ($8.50).
As the others digested their food at the table, I walked around the restaurant looking at some of the mementos it possesses, from a painting of Secretariat to jockey Lafitt Pincay’s helmet.
One little corner had a tribute to Hall of Fame jockey Willie Shoemaker.
Since this place costs a chunk of change, we reserve going to The Derby only on special occasions. Even though the prices are high, at least the restaurant always delivers and by the time diners reach the finish line, everyone feels like a winner.
MaiTaiTom Rating Food + Ambiance + Value = 4.1 maitais (out of 5)
233 Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91106
Hours: Monday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. • Saturday 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Sunday 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.