Good, obscure eats in Pasadena - Paseo area
- Clare K Aug 30, 2006 08:40 PM
Just moved from Silverlake to the Paseo Colordado area in Pasadena (no, not IN Paseo). I am very familiar with old town, but not so much with that area (Los Robles/Lake/Arroyo/Fair Oaks). The only places I know are Parkway, Chop House, Houstons, Maison Akira and some bad Mexican joint named Don Julio's or the like.
It would be great to get a list of places around there - all prices/cuisines/shapes and sizes. I've seen a placed called Miyako...is that any good?
Clare, there are two decent places in the arcade next door to Maison Akira - El Portal, a Mexican joint that's OK if not as wonderful as they think they are, and a Japanese place up front (on Colorado) whose name I don't remember, but they've got some really good and cheap sashimi and stuff. A bit west from there is La Fiesta Grande, which I like but my wife hates (it's either too crowded and noisy or else there's live music). WildSwede, a Pasadena person writing frequently here, says they have the best margaritas in town.
Back into Old Town, but staying on Green Street, Kuala Lumpur is an Indonesian restaurant on the north side between DeLacey and Fair Oaks. It's gotten some dismissive reviews here, but all of our many meals there have been excellent.
And unless they fired and replaced everyone including the owners since we were there, avoid City Thai at all costs.
Some places I enjoy eating at:
Across the street from Vroman's is a Yucatan place called Yahaira's that we like to frequent. In that same arcade is a fairly decent Thai restaurant (the name escapes me though).
Matsuri on Green St. is great for Japanese food, and for wonderful sandwiches there's Connall's in north Pasadena on Washington Blvd.
Celestino on South Lake is excellent Italian, I had the spaghetti with fresh sardines recently--ohhhh soo good.
Across the street on Lake is Smittys: Don't do it! Food is so horrid.
Further down on Lake is Burger Continental, known locally as BC. It's a local hangout. Greek/Middle eastern, burgers, sandwiches; with belly dancing performances on weekends. Big plates of food. It's just kind of ok to me.
For incredibly superb Northern Italian: Tre Venezie on Green Street in Old town. It does not seem to get the fanfare that it completely deserves. Very regionally authentic northern italian food; all pastas made in the kitchen; unusual dishes; service is magnificent, I fell in love with the waiter on the spot.
re: Clare K
It can be, depending on what and how much you order (ie, sharing an app or two apps, same with dessert). But it's not exactly break the bank prices by any means.
They have this small menu of "conversation" drinks with a historical explanation of how these drinks were sipped in the "conversation" gathering room before (i think) a meal. Oh I wanted one of those! But did not partake, will next time.
Oh, I have too many to lists...but here are a few of my favorites over the years...Italian Kitchen (off Union & Colorado) for lunch and wine, Sushi of Naples on Green St, Cafe Verde on Green (amazing gourmet Mexican and killer Mojitos!), Cafe Bizou (great affordable french w/ $3. corkage!), Los Tacos for everyday Mexican (Fair Oaks & California), Monty's Steak house for fabulous American fair plus some really stiff drinks (price tag too), but great!; Green Street (Del Mar & Los Robles) for amazing grilled sourdough sandwiches (try the Stephen's) and a great NY steak with Diane's salad, OH and the Mediterranean Grill (off Del Mar and alleyway behind Lake) unbelievable grilled chicken & steak! Happy Eats! ;)
re: Guerrilla Dining
Green Street fka Green Street East (when it was on Green) is actually on Shoppers Lane (behind Lake Ave., not Los Robles) at Del Mar. Regardless, it's a good rec for good food, good portions, and good prices. Just don't go on Sunday around brunch time--inundated.
In addition to the numerous other places mentioned, you might check Wolfe Burgers at about Lake and, I think, Walnut, and Avanti (for pizza) in the same vicinity opposite side of Lake.
I do agree generally that sushi in Pasadena is mediocre.
Best new atmospheric respectable scene not so cheap find is Magnolia hidden away in the 300 block of South Lake. Good drinks, decent bar food. Actually a pretty decent, filling cheese and fruit plate for $9.
re: Guerrilla Dining
I'm so glad that someone else enjoys Italian Kitchen. It's always been one of my "hidden" spots, especially for meatball sandwiches and simple pasta dishes. No, it never pushes the envelope, but it's made well and tastes great.
Right on Green, a few blocks west of Lake, is a tiny Italian hole in the wall called Tarantinos.
The gelato stand in the Pacific Asia Museum (a block from Paseo) was just written up by Jonathan Gold and is fantastic.
On El Molino and Colorado is Zona Rosa, a pretty good coffee shop with great chocolate drink concoctions.
East on Colorado, just past Lake is Europane- one of the best bakeries in LA.
In the same mall is PresidentTwo Thai, which IMO is the best Thai in Pasadena and it delivers. Further East is Zankou and Haidar Baba for Armenian and Persian respectively.
North of the 210 on Lake and Orange Grove is Tonny's which is (a)the best Mexican in Pasadena, (b) open 24 hours, (c) has fresh squeezed juices and blended fruit drinks, (d) dirt cheap.
Also North of the 210 on Lake is Roscoes Chicken and Waffle.
nice list. the gelato stand you're referring to is called Bulgarini. it's only open at the pacific asia fri-sun. 11-6 and now he's serving at the laemlle on the weekends in the evenings. sweet! this is real gelato made the old fashioned way which many people are not accustom to and it's very good. the mango is outstanding and we just tried the hazlenut. whoa.
i need to try zona rosa another time with another barista before i comment.
our usual pasadena hangs are:
- saladang and saladang song
- pie & burger
- magnolia for the burger and salad
- la estrella tacos only on altadena and foothill
- celestino (but can be uneven) for the linguine with scampi and green peppercorn sauce
- din tai fung (arcadia, short drive) w/ a stop at phoenix food boutique next door
- chandra (because they deliver)
- scarlet tea room for lunch and tea
- fruit shopping at 99 ranch (arcadia)
- dining room @ the ritz-carlton
- sasson bakery for lamoujeen (sp?) on allen
- milkshakes @ connell's
- doner spitz, eagle rock
- auntie em's, eagle rock
- grapevine armenian, la verne
- xiomara for mojitos and duck tamales (service is not so good)
- cafe atlantic for sandwiches and brunch
- ruth chris
- i have yet to find sushi i will eat in pasadena
I'd also travel a bit south into South Pasadena for Firefly Bistro (alfresco dining) and Bistro de la Gare (Italian).
Then head east onto Fair Oaks and pick up pastries at Union Bakery, which btw, also has great lunch/dinner deals.
i don't mean to be corrective, but Bistro de la Gare is French (it means bistro of the station because it's next to the gold line and many bistros located near train stations are called this). i ate there for a second time on sunday and hate to say that overall, i was not at all impressed by the food. my entree, the special seafood with puff pastry was good, my husband's duck inedible. quelle horreur! a french restaurant with inedible duck magret?
the lamb i had prior was fine, not earthshaking. desserts were less than mediocre. service was very good.
i know some chowhounders really like this frenchie, so check out their posts too.
si triste...i like to sit on the sidewalk with my dogs and eat a nice dinner with a decent glass of wine. i really wanted to like it.
firefly is hit and miss for me. also check the posts for bistro k. i've only been once, so i'll wait to comment.
our experience was not bad.
service was good, actually, very good. setting is one of the most pleasant in the sgv. the food which is pretty much straight forward french food which is not edgy or too tricky to execute just wasn't that good. we will always say something about poor service or food that pushes the health code (or conversely great food and service), but otherwise we vote with our wallets.
alas, all marcona's are not created equal, so we might want to make sure it's apples to apples. when i ask the folks at bristol (now owned by albertsons) these open ended questions, they don't usually know. i've tasted the marcona's at bristol (not with rosemary) and i'm not so sure they're from spain; they didn't seem soft enough. maybe they're marconas and not fresh. or they may be californian and simply given the marcona-style treatment. i believe whole foods sells real marcona's, but i question the turn and freshness of the product. i find TJ's marconas with rosemary fine, but not top quality and not so fresh. are you sure it wasn't at TJs?
here's another almond example. almond paste. if you don't clarify, there are two different almond pastes nicole's sells. one from calif., one from france. they are completely different qualities. the french is much more expensive as it has higher almond content.
i find nicole's has a range of top-quality foodstuffs usually cheaper (but not guaranteed, of course) than places like bristol farms. i no longer get catering/wholesale pricing, but i still think it's overall, a good value. i assume this is because nicole's primary business is not retail, it's wholesale. she primarily supplies restaurants and caterers.
i've compared same brand honey's with julienne's. cheaper. same cheese with the same aging with bh cheese store (no offense to norbert). cheaper. compared to bristol. cheaper and BF doesn't adequately age or properly humidify their cheeses. tourchon du foie gras to bristol. can't compare. a gourmet market like bristol doesn't carry in so. pas.
also, for those looking for reasonable whole cakes or tarts, nicole's has wonderful tarte tatin and flourless chocolate cake for about $27. as a former pastry chef, i'd be hard pressed to make it myself at those prices. make sure you pre-order and avoid the charlotte (too dry).
Good list so far. Don't forget there is the Pasadena Farmer's Market on Saturdays from 8-ish to 1-ish at Pasadena High School on Sierra Madre, north of the 210. They have cheeses, baked goods, pasta, jams and condiments, soaps, various oils and vinegars, guacamole, dates, herbs, honey (get the chaparral - my fave!), fish, plants, and the usual suspects - fruits & veggies. The stall that sells mexican food has really, really good Posole. There is a woman in the parking lot (under a tree in the row directly down from the mexican food stall) that sells tamales and burritos. Her tamales are large (I am not really a tamale fan) and I think she only had beef the 2x I have bought from her. Much prefer her chicken burrito. I still have a chorizo and something one in my fridge which I have not tasted yet. I think they all run for $1.50 each.
Chandra was mentioned here in sort of a dismissive tone. I personally think they have some of the best Thai in town. Their service definitely lacks, that is why I order delivery about 99.5% of the time and I get their food about once every 2 weeks on average. Their Chicken Larb is the best I have ever had. Tom Yum soups are great as well. Spicy noodles, mint leaves & chili, yellow curry, hell, pretty much everything I have eaten here has been good except stay away from the Satay (dry) and I did not like their Yum Neu. Also, I give best Pad Thai and Basil Leaves w/Chili to PresidenTwo.
Also, El Metate is on Mentor just north of Colorado. I love their fish tacos.
Pita Pita! around the corner from El Metate on Colorado has pretty good Mediterranean, but my favorite would be Good Times Pita Kitchen on Fair Oaks, kitty-corner from Trader Joes. Look at their paper menus vs. the one on the wall as it has more items on it. Try their Gyros. Very good. My friend who is a vegetarian says their Falafel is the best she has ever had.
In South Pasadena on Fair Oaks there is Mama's Brick Oven. They have good pizza, but their piece de resistance (for me at least) is their Pizza Rolls. So good and not too expensive. Be sure not to miss their garlic rolls. Yum-mmy!!
I posted recently about a new find to me - an obscure corner market on Hammond/Summit north of Mountain, east of Raymond which has a little taqueria behind it. REALLY, REALLY good Al Pastor, Carne Asada, Carnitas and Chicken (just tried the chicken yesterday - he uses leg meat and it is in pieces, not shredded - really good). I got my favorite, Al Pastor burrito yesterday and was in sheer heaven!! You should defintely try it. Tacos $1, Burritos (huge!) $4.
I know you said you know Old Town, but have you tried Noodle World (next to Cheesecake)? They have a huge variety of asian foods - I love their Veggie Hand Rolls (I make a mix of all the condiments on the table and dip them into it!), Spicy Laht Nah, and the Pho is not bad (although I definitely prefer Pho 79 in Alhambra's). My friend loves their Seafood with Chili Sauce. They have gelato now since they re-opened, but I have not tried it.
For Chinese, Schezwan, I like Go China which is north of Union on Lake (east side of the street). I love their Kung Pao and Hot & Sour Soup. Their lunch and dinner specials are good deals - and they deliver!
For Italian/Pizza I like Carmine's which is on Fair Oaks right before you cross the 110 into South Pasadena. They have a great happy hour (great prices - where else can you get mozzarella sticks for $1.75?). They make my favorite pizza in the area (maybe anyplace) - order the thin crust, cooked well done. Their pasta pescatore with the pink sauce is also one of my faves along with their bruschetta, chicken tenders (hot) not on the menu, salads, soups, etc. They also deliver.
Don't forget Pie N Burger - on California east of Lake. Good burgers (get it with grilled onions) and pie. I would stay away from their fries (boring) and chili (bleh). They make their own salad dressings as well. They say their breakfasts are good, but have not had it yet.
La Caravana Salvadorean Restaurant on north Lake almost at Washington has really good Pupusas. I get the plate of mini pupusas on which you get 9 different types (they offer 10). They also have a very good Sopa de Res.
I have been to Terrace (corner Colorado and Los Robles) once for lunch and really liked their clam chowder (creamy with sourdough toast on it) and their French Dip sandwich. Friend liked their Turkey & Cranberry sandwich. A little over priced, but good and nice ambeiance.
Umm, I think I am out of places.
I do like La Fiesta Grande - they have an all-you-can-eat taco bar which is a great deal and their fish dishes and La Fiesta enchiladas are really good. Margaritas are so good!!
Th culinary school on Green has a nice little Cafe on weekdays which serves breakfast, sandwiches, salads, baked goods, etc.
Welcome to the hood!
I live in old town and here are some recommendations(may be some duplicates from above)
Absolute favorite place - Yardhouse - between their awesome happy hour apps and their well rounded selections, especially the Cheeseburger, Steak Sandwich or the Pork Sandwich, combined with a huge brew selcetion, you can't go wrong!
Mexican - Dona Rosa - especially for breakfast with their chorizo and eggs. Great Salsa as well.
Italian - I've given up on Celestino (way too salty!) and have yet to find anything worthwhile. Tra Venize looks great but the prices do scare some off. Can anyone recomend a true Boston style Italian place?
Thai - PresidentTwo on Colorado is by far the best Thai and a great value.
If you don't mind travelling a bit, I recommend Dish on Foothill in La Canada.
If you ever get a chance, the Lebanese Kitchen is my favorite felafel in town.
1384 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104
Call them to see if they're open first, though. They're family run and they sometimes close early.
Casa Bianca (in Eagle Rock) for Pizza, best pizza ever... better than chicago or new york and I have had pizza all over both cities. I could go on explaining but instead I'll let you search on chowhound and see how many billions agree! My recommendation: thin crust with sausage and garlic... never ever get the thick crust and keep toppings to a minimum
ozzygee, you rule! I always start people off with the sausage and unless they have a weak stomach I add garlic too. within 48 hours they're usually begging me to take them back and that's when I lay down the eggplant (with garlic of course). From that point forward they're hooked! I could charge them a $50 finders fee and they'd still tip me an extra $20.
A matter of fact and this is a true story, I had 3 friends from Chicago come visit LA. During their visit they went to Pinks on La Brea and of course hated it. So I took them to Casa Bianca and even after a 1.25 hour wait were ranting and raving how the sausage pizza was so perfectly proportioned with cheese, sausage, sauce, and olive oil. The crust was crisp, not as crisp as new york, but crisp. They always describe it as the pizza with the funny slices.
A week later I get a FedEx from Chicago, a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue as thanks.
thanks! My only complaint about the place is their "to go" pizza. For one, if you order the extra large (and you have to if you're addicted to the sausage and eggplant) it's a lot smaller than what you get inside (I guess they don't make boxes big enough for their regular sizes). Also, unfortunately, it doesn't travel well to pasadena. After 10 minutes in the box, it tastes like a shadow of its former self. Too bad, since the wait is sometimes killer, even with phone ahead "non-reservations."
Lots here - don't know if anybody mentioned Shiros in S. Pas. Upscale place that does a fried catfish with ginger, cilantro and ponzu sauce.. I dream about that fish. Also mushroom ravioli is really good.
I recently moved from the westside to Pasadena, so I enjoyed reading over this thread. Most places that I've liked have been mentioned above. A few things in the neighborhood that I've really enjoyed in the two months that I've lived here are:
Europane: vanilla custart tart with rasberries
Tonnys: chile verde plate
Pie and Burger: cheeseburger and fresh peach pie
Mediterannean Grill: falafel or kefta kabab sandwich
Z Sushi: omakase with main chef (actually compares pretty well with westside sushi)
Connals: chocolate-banana, chocolate-peanut butter or peanut butter-banana shake. all are very satisfying.
Bulgarini Gelato: pistachio and hazelnut
Yahaira: grilled vegetable tostada salad
Caribbean place on Lake Ave (n/o California): oxtail
Orean Express: vegan african burrito with super green soda
Marstons: blueberry buckwheat pancakes
Also, I was pleased to find a Gyu-Kaku japanese bbq open on Green near old town.
Most of the time I ate at Kiriko, Sushi Tenn, and the old Sasabune location on Sawtelle on the westside. Z Sushi doesn't have the exact same style or ambiance as any of those places, but in terms of skill of the chef and freshness of the fish it is comparable.
I tended to prefer the more rigid minimalist style of Sushi Tenn when I lived out west, but the chef at Z Sushi tends to do more creative types of things during omakase which has been a nice change for me. I've been three times.
i think its the north end of alhambra. its at the south side of a strange intersection of huntington, garfield, los robles and atlantic. it is difficult to get into the parking lot unless you approach from the south.
if you decide to try it, i would suggest sitting at the sushi bar and letting the chef know what you like. the main chef will be the guy on the left side of the bar as you approach from the front door. he's a nice guy.
omakase for two is about $80 (before tax, tip, alcohol). they also have a really pricey omakase option that you need to order a day in advance which includes blowfish... haven't tried. i think they have omakase set prices on the menu, but i've just told him to give us whatever he thinks is good.
note: if i still lived out on the westside, i don't think that i'd drive out just to eat here, but considering i'm in pasadena, it suits my needs just fine.
revets and clare,
fyi, i ate at Z Sushi last night. the sushi bar in front of Toshi was either reserved or occupied so we were seated in front of a younger japanese sushi chef who wore a dark colored bandana (didn't catch his name unfortunately). happy to say that there was no drop-off in quality, preparation, or presentation.
my wife and i split orders (one piece each) of: toro, kampachi, halibut fin, halibut cheek, pike fish, aji, albacore, salmon, hamachi, uni, and sea eel. also we had the fried shisito peppers stuffed with spicy tuna appetizer. i had a beer and my wife had a clam miso soup. plus they gave us small tastes of the black cod with miso and giant clam in butter. everything was great.
cost came out to $75 before tip. i didn't look too closely, but the bill always seems to be less than it should be. tippped generously and left very satisfied.
side note: if you are a sports fan there is a flat screen tv over the alchohol bar which can be seen by turning around fron the sushi bar. caught the very end of the sc-wsu game as we were eating. sc looked vulnerable...
we almost went on friday, but went to sushi zo instead and i have to say it was excellent...and expensive. i sometimes wonder if i should be just going to spago for a tasting menu dinner. our bill per person came out to what you paid for the two of you. i don't regret it, nonetheless. it gave us a chance to drive around culver city and take in the vibe. ford's filling station and bottlerock were all packed.
thanks for the review. we will be heading there soon, especially now that we know there's a TV, which is a major sell for my husband.
the trojans did look vulnerable against the unranked cougars. no dwayne jarrett, though. we took in the game with family over herb roasted chicken, quince, rösti yukon potato pancakes, brocolli/goji berry slaw, and the "fruit that's left in the fridge" pie.
the cal game should rock at the colosseum.
For some good heart clogging late night food, try Rick's drive-in off of Walnut. Their beef burritos are reminiscent of Taco Bell's extinct chili-cheese burrito aka "chilito" (imho the best thing taco bell ever had). They have tasty, crispy, airy fries. Also, their speciality is the spuderito - french fries, cheese, hot sauce wrapped in a tortilla. MMMmmMMMm Their burgers are not too shabby either. Rick's is far from gourmet food, but when you want a late night grease fix, you can't beat it in Paseo area.
cafe bizou on the corner of raymond and union, i believe... has the best steak au poivre... if you like that steak... man... you have to try that one. it is one if not the most expensive thing on the menu... and it's only about $20. the atmosphere is pretty great, for their most expensive entree being $20. i definitely recommend it.